Thursday, December 19, 2013

Great Alaska Cruise Sailing From San Francisco!

ALASKA is one of the most beautiful settings to take a cruise and Princess takes it one step further by offering 11-night Alaska Inside Passage cruise round trip from San Francisco! Sail away from the city on the bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge for an unforgettable, memory making 11-night cruise. Check out the flyer. Fares for this incredible cruise start at $1,298 per person double occupancy (based on the May 23, 2014 sailing). Fare does not include $185 per person government taxes and fees; fares and fees subject to change until booked. Limited capacity so call now and receive up to $75 On Board Credit per stateroom.

Chip's Luxury Travel
phone: 877-805-3948 Chip's Luxury Travel or email
California Seller of Travel Registration Number: 2089491-50 Registration as a seller of travel in California does not constitute the states approval.
Florida Seller of Travel Reference Number: ST37113
Iowa Seller of Travel Number: 960
Washington Seller of Travel Number: UBI#602775122

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tipping - When, Where, Who, How Much

Cruise vacations are very similar to All Includive Resorts except that they visit multiple locations. How much and when to tip can certainly be more confusing than college calculus. You do not want to appear to be cheap but then again you surely do not want to over-do it, especially when traveling on a budget. This is a quick guide to help you to not feel lost or uncertain in these vacation tipping situations.

Both the cruise crew and the All Inclusive staff work 10, 12, or more hours per day trying to make your vacation perfect. Thier pay is low and the hours are long but they depend on tips to improve their earnings and in many cases help to support their family. I recommend to show your appreciation for amazing service and excelent drinks in various situations. Let's look at the All Inclusive staff first.

Your waiter or waitress should be $1-$2 per person per meal. If you are feeling generous and the service was fabulous then show your appreciation with a couple more dollars. The recognition will be greatly appreciated and if you are seated with the same waiter or waitress again, most will go all out to try and better the last service for you. Considering what the same meal would have cost at a restaurant back home, it is still much less than the expected 15% many servers feel entitled to regardless of the quality of the service they provide.

If you enjoy your adult beverages, the bartender can be your best friend. For those quick cocktails here and there through the day, $1 to $2 is appropriate. Now if you are frequenting the same bartender who just rocks and sets you up just how you like your drinks, then by all means slip a $5 in once in a while. In comparison to the All Inclusive Resort, your bar tab back home would probably been $200+. A little appreciation for a pour well done can benefit you in later orders.

Housekeeping can have such an impact on your comfort in the room. Generically yes the room gets vacuumed and the bed gets made again; just the basics consider $2 per night. However, if you are lucky enough to have that Rock Star housekeeper who freshens the linens on the bed, provides fresh towels, freshens the mini-bar daily (as opposed to every other day or so) and even hangs up the clothes you left laying by the bed, consider $3 per night, more if staying at a high-end resort or if you have 4 or 5 in your room.

Room service is included at many All Inclusive resports so the delivery person will be happy with $2 to $3 per room.

SPA services are ussually not included at most resorts and is an add-on cost to you. This tip should be the standard 15% - 20%.

Airport or Tour drivers $2 to $3 per person is appropriate form most short to moderate distanced trips. If the drive is an hour or more amd the driver handles your luggage for you then use your judgement and tip as best as you can.

If you are having your wedding at the resort and using the event planning staff to coordinate your wedding for you, then tipping for the quality support and service level is at your discretion. It takes a lot of effort to make a wedding come together seamlessly. I am almost certain the event cooridinator would appreciate $50-$100 or a special gift (if you know a little aout their personality).

That is a lot of tipping information to digest. Now let's turn our attention to cruise vacations. A cruise is very similar to an ALl Inclusive resort except that the basic tips are automatically charged to the cabin account (unless you have chosen to prepay your gratuities). Still, there are situations to consider recognizing personal service with a tip.

The basic gratuities cover the cabin steward, dining room staff, and various other hotel staff members, kitchen staff and guest services. The auto-gratuities will run between $11.50 and $12 per day per guest depending on the cruise line. When you buy from the bars or specialty restaurants the tips are included as a service charge. When you cruise and consider how many crusie staff provide you with the various services this $12 per day is an incredible bargain.

Your cabin steward will freshen your cabin at least twice per day and replace both beach and bath towels as requested. Once you leave your cabin for breakfast or for activities the cabin will be freshened with the bed made, carpet vacuumed, and the bathroom cleaned and towels replaced if requested. In the evening when you are out for dining and evening activities, the bed will be turned down and in most cases a towel animal will be left for you. The cabin steward will accomodate your requests for extra blankets or pillows and handle any laundry requests for you. This is a lot of work and should be considered for an additional gratuity of between $2 and $5 per night depending on how many extras you request of him/her.

Room service, like at the resorts is included with your fare. The delivery person should receive $2 to $3 per room.

Adult beverages purchased at the ship's bars include a service fee (15% tip) in the price of the cocktail. If you are visiting the same bartender and they accomodate any special drink requests or gives you cocktail order extra attention; personal service above and beyond the expected, consider recognizing your regular bartender with $5 per day. It will usually pay dividends the next visit to the bar.

The dining room waiters have a lot of work each evening, providing dining for 2,500+ guests in a 3.5 hour span. When you think of that, not many, if any, land side restaurants can match that level of service. The head waiter does not much more than supervising the waiter and assistant waiter. Unless there is a special celebration or meal order that the head waiter personally handled there is not usually an extra tip. The waiter and assistant waiter are the drivers of a good dinner service. Is the wait team personable and accomodating to your requests? Are they great hosts and make dining fun? Do they cater to your children to ensure they enjoy diner also? If you feel they have provided the best dinner service you have seen the consider providing a cash tip to the waiter and assistant waiter on the last night of your cruise.

This group of crew members are very frequently over looked when talk of gratuities comes up. The are the counselors at the youth program who provide entertainment and care for your children while you are doing your cruise activities. There is no common thought as to the proper amount for a couselor tip but consider the patience and care needed to ensure that the particpants in the youth program enjoy their cruise. Afterall, if the kids enjoy the youth program, it gives mom and dad more time to enjoy the activities that appeal to them. How much is that worth? I can say that I have tipped my children's youth counselors $20 per child at the end of the cruise. With no common tip guidance for this position we are left to make a judgement call. My kids are easy to supervise and have no special attention required.

SPA services had add-on fees and tips sshould be the standard 15% to 20% as on shore.

The guide on a shore excursion should be considered for a tip. $2 for a half day excursion and $4 for a full day, more if the guide has spent some one-on-one time with you sharing more information about the tour or the area that others did not receive.

Have questions about All Inclusive or Cruise Vacations? Contact Chip at 877-805- 3948 or chipper@chipsluxurytravel.com

Chip Quass is a Cruise and All Inclusive Vacation Specialist and founder of Chip's Luxury Travel www.chipsluxurytravel.com

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Norwegian Cruise Line Fans - Limited Mexican Riviera Cruises in 2014

The Norwegian Star will be cruising limited 7-night Mexican Riviera cruises in 2014. Are you a NCL fan or have always wanted to try NCL? The 7-night itinerary sails roundtrip from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta from $529 cruise-only fare per person double occupancy. Does not include gov't taxes and fees of $95 per person, gratuities, on board purchases or shore excursion. Fare based on December 7, 2014 sail date.

Mexico Riviera Fall 2014 Cruise Deals

Who would you like to cruise with? Great holiday gift idea, a 10-night Mexican Riviera cruise from either San Francisco or Los Angeles. The gift of vacation memories to last a lifetime.

The beautiful Star Princess sailing 10-nights from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, and Puerto Vallarta from $999 cruise fare only per person double occupancy PLUS an $85 per cabin on-board credit. Does not include gov't taxes and fees of $120 per person, gratuities, on board purchases or shore excursion. Fare based on January 3, 2015 sail date, flyer

Just as beautiful is the Grand Princess sailing 10-nights from Los Angeles to San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Loreto, and Puerto Vallarta from $1,099 cruise fare only per person double occupancy PLUS an $60 per cabin on-board credit. Does not include gov't taxes and fees of $115 per person, gratuities, on board purchases or shore excursion. Fare based on October 14, 2014 sail date.

Cabo and Puerto Vallarta are standards for Mexican Riviera cruises but La Paz and Loreto are unique, smaller old school fishing communities. Great itinerary for something new on the West Coast.

Not able to get away for 10 days, the beautiful Crown Princess sails a 7-night itinerary from Los Angeles to Ensenada, Cabo an Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta from $649 cruise fare only per person double occupancy PLUS an $50 per cabin on-board credit. Does not include gov't taxes and fees of $85 per person, gratuities, on board purchases or shore excursion. Fare based on November 15, 2014 sail date.

Fares are subject to change until booked and space is limited. California Seller of Travel Registration Number: 2089491-50 Registration as a seller of travel in California does not constitute the states approval.
Florida Seller of Travel Reference Number: ST37113
Iowa Seller of Travel Number: 960
Washington Seller of Travel Number: UBI#602775122

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Carnival Inspiration Review

To be totally honest, I did not always have a good image of what a 3-night weekend getaway cruise would be like. I had visions of fall-down drunk post-college aged couples stumbling around the ship spouting four-letter words endlessly. Not quite the cruise getaway I pictured to bring my wife and kids but, the cruise pricing for the 3-night cruises are very good and hard to pass up. So I decided to grit the teeth and sail away to Baja Mexico on the Carnival Inspiration. More