Friday, May 31, 2013

So what exactly is on your stateroom account?

A nice thing about cruising is that cruise ships are generally a cash-free environment with all of your expenses charged to your onboard account.  You don’t have to carry cash or a credit card around with you for the shops, specialty restaurants, or even to pay for your ship-sponsored excursions.  A frequently asked question is what charges can one expect to find on their stateroom account?

In no particular order:

1.       Gratuities for specific ship crew members. Typically the stateroom host, dining room server, assistant dining room server, and head waiter receive a tip based on a recommended amount per day per passenger.  For DCL, this is $12 per day: $4 for the cabin attendant, $4 for the main server, $3 for the assistant server, and $1 for the head waiter of that section of the dining room.  These gratuities can be pre-paid or you can bring cash for them, but most people just have the amounts added to their stateroom account which they settle at the end of the cruise.

2.       Souvenirs from the ship shops.  In addition to cruise line and port specific gear, onboard shops sell a variety of goods such as jewelry, clothing, and perfume.  Some ships have extensive stores, sometimes competing with your local mall!  On the Disney Magic, there are two main gift shops, one that is mostly Disney themed items and the other is higher-end clothing, perfume, jewelry, and such.

3.       Photos.  If you don’t see a ship photographer, wait a minute and one will show up! Whether they are taking your picture as you board for the first time, before dinner with the characters, during dinner with a mouthful of food, or up on the sun deck, you can count on having your photo made. And they count on you liking them enough to buy some!  Disney Cruise Line sells the photos one at a time or you can buy a package or even a CD.  They use facial recognition to place all the photos they take of your party onto a CD for one (not low) price.

4.       Excursion fares.  Some cruise lines require pre-payment for excursions when you book them, but one thing we particularly like about DCL is that they don’t require payment until you board; then they add your excursion fares to your stateroom account.

5.       Laundry services.  Whether you use the self-service laundry or send your items out for pressing service, the cost will be added to your stateroom account.  If you use the self-service machines, on the Disney ships, you use your “Key to the World” card rather than coins to operate the equipment, and sometimes you might have a double-swipe show up on your account. It’s a good idea to check your account after you’ve done your laundry to be sure that you have been billed for only the number of swipes you used.

6.       Specialty restaurants, coffees, and bars.  If you go to any of the specialty restaurants on a ship, there is typically an extra fee for this, but by most accounts, the meal is extraordinary and the service impeccable.  Many ships have a specialty coffee cafĂ© where you can get high-end coffee, and of course any alcoholic beverages you have to pay extra for.  You can also get smoothies and other frozen drinks at the bars as well.

7.       Room service.  While most items on the room service menu are complimentary, some have an upcharge. And of course you’ll want to tip the person who delivers it to your room, so you can add the tip to your account or do what many people do which is keep a stack of $1 bills on hand.

A common joke among cruise directors giving their disembarking talk is that you’ll know how much fun you’ve had on your cruise by the sound of the thud as your stateroom account is left outside your cabin door on the last night, or by the number of pages it takes to print your bill.

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