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Cruises - tipping and sea sickness.
Old 02-02-2013, 10:06 AM   #1
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Cruises - tipping and sea sickness.

Next month we are going on our first ever cruise (followed by 2 more in August and September).

Does anyone have recommendations of the best meds to fight seasickness? (The first cruise will be N. Atlantic in March, New York to Southampton)

How about tipping - what are the guidelines for tipping the folks who clean your cabin, and other services we are likely to use while on board?
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:18 AM   #2
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I use Meclizine for seasickness. It works well for me as a preventative. If you're already sick, it's pretty much too late to really recover during the day. I added ginger pills last time, but not sure that helped much. I get motion sick very easily.

For tipping I just follow the ship's recommendations for the most part. They usually supply some guidelines and procedures at the end of the voyage. No need to do anything before then.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:22 AM   #3
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We've been on five or six cruises and DW has an issue with seasickness. She got a prescription for the Transderm Scop (Scopolamine) patch and it worked great to prevent seasickness. Several of our traveling companions used it as well with good results.

Unfortunately for my DW the side effects were pretty bad. She complained of thirst and dry mouth but the biggest issue was she fell into the "rare case" side effect category:

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In rare cases, unusual reactions to ordinary doses of scopolamine have occurred including confusion, agitation, rambling speech, hallucinations, paranoid behaviors, and delusions. In the case of such a reaction, stop using scopolamine and seek medical attention.
She did some really weird stuff, thankfully while falling asleep in our cabin and not when fully awake out in public!

Most cruise lines give you the option to include the tip for the cabin crew and other service providers in your billing - plus they provide guidelines on amounts. I don't recall the figures but tipping that way is a lot more convenient than when we first began cruising.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:41 AM   #4
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Next month we are going on our first ever cruise (followed by 2 more in August and September).
Cool! Hope you have as much fun as I've had on cruises!

One side suggestion - on future cruises, it could be beneficial to book land excursions sponsored by the cruise before you get on board, because some lines give you a discount. Of course, you'll find that some of them can be pricey - they can range from a simple bus ride from a distant port to the nearest big city (like stopping in the port in Civitiveccia and getting a bus ride to Rome), to an all-morning or all-day bus tour. For someone who's never been to the port before, they can feel unsure about other options before they get on board or want to buy excursions beforehand. If possible, do a little research of your other cruise ports to see if there are many options for simply walking around on your own, getting a cab for your own touring, etc., or if you really want to pay a few $ more for a cruise-sponsored excursion.

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How about tipping - what are the guidelines for tipping the folks who clean your cabin, and other services we are likely to use while on board?
Most cruise lines will publish this on their website ahead of time so you know how much it is. Last time I went (about 12 years ago.....gosh, has it been that long), it was maybe about $2/day per person for your cabin steward, $2/day/per person for waiter, and a few $ more for the matre d, and head cabin supervisor.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:54 AM   #5
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Excellent advice, thanks folks, it is much appreciated. The cruise in August is 14 days with stops at various ports in Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland so we will be sure to book up excursions through the cruise-line website before we go.

The other cruises are 8-day voyages with no stops, simply to transport us between the USA and England. (Queen Elizabeth out and Queen Mary back).
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:20 AM   #6
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We've been on five or six cruises and DW has an issue with seasickness. She got a prescription for the Transderm Scop (Scopolamine) patch and it worked great to prevent seasickness. Several of our traveling companions used it as well with good results.

Unfortunately for my DW the side effects were pretty bad. She complained of thirst and dry mouth but the biggest issue was she fell into the "rare case" side effect category:

She did some really weird stuff, thankfully while falling asleep in our cabin and not when fully awake out in public!

Most cruise lines give you the option to include the tip for the cabin crew and other service providers in your billing - plus they provide guidelines on amounts. I don't recall the figures but tipping that way is a lot more convenient than when we first began cruising.
I know many dive masters, boat captains, etc. who swear by the Scopolamine patches as well as some of my family. They seem to be the best current option assuming you do not suffer from the side effects mentioned (which I was actually not even aware of until reading this post). I very rarely experience any kind of motion sickness; so, I just take my chances.

Most cruises I have taken in recent years just roll the tips into your bill unless you specifically ask them not to do so. Unless service is really above and beyond (such as thorough cleaning of cabin head after a bout of messy motion sickness, etc.), I do not add extra to this.

Personally, I think most excursions offered by the cruise lines are overpriced even when purchased early. While it is a bit more work to arrange your own in various ports, I find this is not only less expensive but almost always results in a better experience (small groups, shorter waits, more targeted to my interests/abilities, etc.).
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:42 PM   #7
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Next month we are going on our first ever cruise ... (The first cruise will be N. Atlantic in March, New York to Southampton)
You don't mess around... starting with arguably among the most (ahem) challenging cruises for the faint of stomach.

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Personally, I think most excursions offered by the cruise lines are overpriced even when purchased early. While it is a bit more work to arrange your own in various ports, I find this is not only less expensive but almost always results in a better experience (small groups, shorter waits, more targeted to my interests/abilities, etc.).
I agree, but I've found for myself that when we go it alone I enjoy the excursions less because I'm so much more concerned about getting back to the ship. I never managed to get past that.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:45 PM   #8
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If you want to try non-drug alternative, DW & I have used these accupressure wrist bands with good results-
Buy Sea-Band The Original Wristband, Adult, One Size & More | drugstore.com

And watch the alcohol. Booze (esp hangover!) makes motion sickness worse
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Alan, you might want to look into the Reletex anti nausea device. You wear it like a watch and it delivers a very mild electric shock to the wrist every couple of seconds.

I know the method sounds weird, and it doesn't work for everyone, but i get motion sickness really easy yet I've been on 15 cruises and once i found the 'watch' I've never been sick again. Before the watch I used meclazine and would get so sleepy that i didn't enjoy the vacation.

Myth Busters did an episode on motion sickness and they proved that the device did work for some people.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:33 PM   #10
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We did a similar cruise last March, but round trip to S'Hamption via Norway, Faroe Isl. and Iceland -- it was great and actually very little in the way of rough seas thank goodness.

I'm prone to seasickness and brought a Transderm Scop patch with me (mentioned above) that I'd used on previous cruises, but didn't end up using it this time. As a preventive measure I did take an OTC seasickness product a few times -- the active ingredient is Meclizine Hyrdochloride (most chain drugstores have a generic -- I used a brand called Trav-L-Tabs). It is a 'non-drowsy' formula, so better than the old dramamine which really makes you want to sleep. It seemed to work okay since I wasn't sick, and no side effects I was aware of (but I don't have side effects from Transderm either, so YMMV).

Have a great time -- it's a wonderful itinerary!
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:44 PM   #11
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We did a similar cruise last March, but round trip to S'Hamption via Norway, Faroe Isl. and Iceland -- it was great and actually very little in the way of rough seas thank goodness.
We certainly would like to have similar weather. Thanks also for your other advice on meds.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:02 PM   #12
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I usually take Bonine for sea sickness . It does not make you drowsy .You can buy it over the counter at most stores. The guidelines for tipping should be available on your cruise line's website . I also take a lot of one's for tips for the porters & room service . Cruise Critic is a great source for everything you need to know plus trust worthy excursion dealers in different areas . The cruise line excursions are overpriced . We have gone on many non cruise line excursions and they are smaller groups and better guides usually .Cunard is a more formal line so be sure to check the dress guidelines . Have fun !
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:09 PM   #13
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On tips: I haven't been on any cruises in the last several years where they don't automatically charge the daily, comprehensive tip charge to your statement -- making changes upward or downward only if you ask them to (as CoolChange said above). In other words, if you don't do anything, you'll be fine! BTW, the tip covers everyone in a single feel -- stateroom attendants, waiters/assistant waiters, etc. etc. -- it all gets pooled and they divvy it up according to a formula). The daily rate seems to range between $10-12/day per person (on average). As others have noted, you can find out the rate by cruise line and ship by searching the internet.

On tours: It's definitely possible to organize your own thing in many places with a bit of research, often at lower cost, but not always significantly so. One thing to be aware of if thinking about doing self-organized tours -- if you're late back to the ship for any reason (vehicle breaks down, traffic's bad, you get lost, etc.), you are SOL -- the ship will leave without you. If the same happens on any of the cruise-organized tours, they will wait for you, no matter how late.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:13 PM   #14
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I've suffered from motion sickness all my life and also use Meclizine which is basically the non-drowsy Dramamine formula. It has always worked well for me with no side effects. Went on one small ship cruise once and encountered rough seas where ship was really rolling side to side. People were congregating on the center line of the ship trying to minimize the effect and I still had no problem. I recommend starting it one day ahead of embarkation and continue recommended dosage until the cruise is over.

Enjoy your trips!
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:06 PM   #15
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I have never been seasick, but on working cruises I really couldn't risk it, either. It is pretty standard among the oceanographers and seagoing men I worked with, to get a doctor to prescribe those seasick patches that go behind the ear. I guess they are scopolamine.

Be sure to put the patch on BEFORE the ship departs. The reason is that if you wait too long and start to feel a little nauseous, heaven help you because it will only get worse and you will be battling it from then on.

Conversely, if you have been at sea for half a day, have your sea legs, and do not feel sick at all (which was always the case with me), it is commonly thought you can just get rid of the patch.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:15 PM   #16
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You didn't ask, but I lived in Keflavik, Iceland for a year. You will be tempted to visit the Blue Lagoon. It is a big tourist trap. It is actually a geo-thermal plant of some sort with a big lake full of runoff water. They charge you to swim in this runoff with a bunch of non-Icelanders.

As an alternative, I suggest the Reykjavik public swimming pool. It will actually be full of locals and the water is much hotter and much cleaner than the Blue Lagoon. There are various temperature hot tubs, an olympic size pool, and a slide or two, not to mention steam rooms and tall blonde Icelandic women. It is probably 5% of the price of the Blue Lagoon
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:16 PM   #17
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I know many dive masters, boat captains, etc. who swear by the Scopolamine patches as well as some of my family. They seem to be the best current option assuming you do not suffer from the side effects mentioned (which I was actually not even aware of until reading this post). I very rarely experience any kind of motion sickness; so, I just take my chances.
The scopolamine patch works great. When my wife took it, she lasted about an hour before starting to puke up over the side of the boat when we went whale watching off the CA coast. Normally it would be 15 mins (she also can get sick in cars, airplanes).
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:32 PM   #18
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On tips: I haven't been on any cruises in the last several years where they don't automatically charge the daily, comprehensive tip charge to your statement -- making changes upward or downward only if you ask them to (as CoolChange said above). In other words, if you don't do anything, you'll be fine! BTW, the tip covers everyone in a single feel -- stateroom attendants, waiters/assistant waiters, etc. etc. -- it all gets pooled and they divvy it up according to a formula). The daily rate seems to range between $10-12/day per person (on average). As others have noted, you can find out the rate by cruise line and ship by searching the internet.

On tours: It's definitely possible to organize your own thing in many places with a bit of research, often at lower cost, but not always significantly so. One thing to be aware of if thinking about doing self-organized tours -- if you're late back to the ship for any reason (vehicle breaks down, traffic's bad, you get lost, etc.), you are SOL -- the ship will leave without you. If the same happens on any of the cruise-organized tours, they will wait for you, no matter how late.
+1

Just returned from our latest cruise, and the auto tip (included in bill) was $11/day.

My experience has been minimal cost savings from self tours.

I don't typically get sea sickness but, traveling companions who do seem to get good results from scop patches.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:40 PM   #19
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Just got back from a cruise. The tips were automatically added to our bill...you could chose to change the amount, but we did change the amount. We took a ship excursion and a non-ship excursion. There was not a huge savings on the non-ship excursion and I did worry about getting back late. We were fine...got back on time and enjoyed both excursions.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:25 PM   #20
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Tip: never eat buffet style. Not all cruisers wash their hands.
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