Thursday, March 1, 2012
Finland, why art thou?
It has occurred to me that many of you may have no idea who or what Cruise Critic is. If you go to http://www.cruisecritic.com/ you will see a not very elegant interface (at least using Firefox; with Internet Explorer it looks a lot better!) and a wealth of information about ports, ships, news—you name it to do with cruising. And nary a critical entry anywhere, never mind the name “Cruise Critic.”
You can find reviews—most by real people, not professional reviewers—of ships and of ports; you can buy a cruise or plan a cruise; there will be news articles, often as the cruise-related news is happening—that’s how I found out about the Costa Allegra; and there are “Boards” or forums where you can share ideas or plan to meet on board your ship with like-minded people; There is an area for new cruisers; there is an area for your specific ship and for the part of the world you’re cruising to; there is a special interest cruising forum; if you want to know what cabin B433 on the Sun Princess looks like, there may be a picture of it. There is even a thread about weird things seen on a cruise ship. You do have to join the website, but it’s free and so much fun! Even if you’re not going on a cruise, it’s fun to daydream about going.
If you’ve looked at my checklists and thought I was nuts, I have a friend who just emailed me his spreadsheet for his two-month trip to China. I am so jealous! He is absolutely meticulous and thorough with his planning and he puts me to shame. I think I’m going to brazenly copy from him. I can hear my husband already, hitting palm to forehead and saying words to the effect of, “what is she going to think of next??!!” Of course later he thanks me for getting him into various interesting (my word, his is “weird”) situations.
Our ship is based in Australia, as you probably know by now, and so Australian customs are in order. One is no tipping. Well, what that means is that the tip is not added to our shipboard account as it is on most other cruise lines ($10-12 per person per day). For us, on a 104-day cruise, approximately $2,288 (funny, that's almost exactly equal to the onboard credit we have in our account). I won’t go into the Why-don’t-they-pay-them-a-living-wage argument, but what I am interested in is, How much should we tip? I don’t want to tip too much, but I also want to reward good service. I’m not Australian so it’s difficult for me to know exactly what to do. On an American ship I would tip the $2,288, distributing it to people who served us. I actually LIKE having the tip put on my shipboard account because I know there are lots of people I never see who take care of my needs behind the scenes and that way they will share in the money. And I don’t have to get those little envelopes and lots of cash and try not to miss anybody on the cruise who assisted me in any way.
A last thought: What is it about Finland folk who are apparently searching out my blog in droves? I do not know a soul in Finland but I have, depending on the day, more people viewing my blog from Finland than any place in the world other than the US. Finland and Australia viewers are pretty much tied. Today there have been 175 Aussie viewers and 171 Finish viewers. Don’t get me wrong, I love having lots of people view my blog, but I am so curious as to why, Finland?