Ogden Point August 2011 Status and Passengers

Well, our local Alaska cruise-ships  docking at Ogden Point BC is now past the halfway point at 148 ships visited now out of a scheduled 210 official visits.
I’ve taken some more pictures this year and will post. The Harbour Authority has improved the area for passengers, transportation and the cruises ships with future plans for water taxis to the Victoria Inner Harbour from the ship next year.
Next week it is expected  that off the Holland America Ship Amsterdam we will welcome a passenger who makes up the 4th million visitor to Victoria as they disembark.
Interesting cruise news this week I read in ‘Ports and Bows‘ that RCL CEO has indicated the North American market is loosing its mark as the largest market as cruise ships move to the growing markets of Europe and Australia / New Zealand. The Alaska market is growing again and its departure ports are adjusting to allow folks to fly to more economical airports or less changes including the use of car / train and chartered buses.
It is expensive for folks to fly to Europe during the prime vacation periods what with taxes, fuel costs, surcharges and length of time at airports for security and boarding.
The large market for large ships seems  to be the 7- 10 day cruise length as it is very cost effective compared to a land vacation and resort for families.  I wonder if tipping will be adjusted to European customs, my humour for the day?
Cheers  /Rob

Royal Caribbean announces Gratuities Charge Increase

I saw this posted on the http://joscruisejollies.blogspot.com/2010/12/royal-caribbean-increase-gratuities.html
 link a few days ago.

” December 14, 2010
Royal Caribbean  announced this week that they are increasing their recommended gratuities charge on all sailings effective July 01, 2011. They are now recommending $11.65 per person for a standard cabin and $13.90 per person in a suite.
Royal Caribbean say that gratuities are at the discretion of the customer,  as they are added to your on board account (Auto tip)  You can have them removed from your account and tip individually but for RCL you must do this on your first day on board.”

They indicate it has been 13 years but other cruiselines have moved to the $10.50 earlier and not jumped as now.

My question is with the world economy in its deepest drop, interest rates and jobs at a low and even cruise prices though having a slight increase being offered at low prices to fill a ship , is this the right thing to do.?

A lot of British and European passengers are questioning the whole aspect of tipping, service charges , gratuity charges, what ever you may call the flavour of the day in asking folks to reward service.

Do not get me wrong,  I’m one of those folks who follow the recommended guidelines for on board gratuity charges and normally add more at the end of the cruise to staff who have provided direct service more than I expected.
I also applaud the cruise line who offers me the ability to Auto tip on my account and adjust in whatever manner I wish, leaving me not to worry about cash and correct change for envelopes. A large nuisance.

In an earlier comment I’ve made I believe we are now hitting the tip of the slide where passengers in large numbers will now line up at the pursers office requesting a change in the Auto Tip amounts.

RCL is putting into place an increase that is above normal wage increases and  moving from $9.75 US to $11.65 US can become the base on which folks will say enough is enough.
Increase your fares to benefit your staff not the tip structure base.
In essence they are applying a % increase much like current 15% on a can of Coke or a bottle of wine.
On a 7 day cruise per cabin it might be $15 – $20 but as a % to cruise price it hovers above  the
10 % level
At this tip level a cruise line needs to be upfront and demonstrate to us how much staff actually get in tips and what is the difference of Excellent service which I expect,  to Outstanding.
Thoughts.. ?

Buying Art on a Cruise Ship (Value or no Value)

Here is an update on May 11, 2010 about RCL not renewing their contract for Park West which was up for renewal.

Quote: ” Quick note #2 – our contract with Park West Art Services has expired and we have decided not to renew it. There is a wind down period in effect and the art auctioneers will finish on different ships at different times over the next few months. We are evaluating what if any art-related programming we may offer in the fleet in the future beyond Oasis of the Seas where Art Actually is our provider of art tours and art for purchase onboard. “”
See link from Cruisemates.com
April 24, 2010………………………………….
See links below
Their are many extra cost items that you can spend on a cruise while enjoying yourself during a sea day or even a port day.
Aside from the shops on board; casino, SPA, speciality restaurants, the list goes on.
Imagine viewing numerou Art Prints, copies of an original or an actual original Oil on Canvas. You sit back in a comfortable lounge chair, are given a free glass of bubbly called Champagne and relax while listening to a person wanting to ensure you will walk away with a special piece of Art.
Buyer beware is the first motto you should adhere to, if you do not want to part with your hard earned monies, more than you can ever imagine.

Here are some links,
This one is a balanced article

This article of 2007 shows what does buying Art on a Cruise Ship mean to the buyer and the seller.

An extract: —————————————
(Quote: Buyer beware
Each year, tens of thousands of tourists sail the seas. Many voyages feature auctions promoted with brochures, announcements and seminars. Cruise lines charge the art companies a fee but take no responsibility for their dealings.
Champagne flows freely. Auctioneers deliver spellbinding spiels.
The show, ….., is “informative and entertaining.”
It is also big business, and Park West is among the prominent oceanic entrepreneurs
. /Quote End)

Here is a link to the (Wikipedia, the free ) History of Park West itself..

Here is the Park West Blog

Note: The above is given for the cruiser to make ones own decision on to buy or not buy Art on a cruise ship,
The Web contains numerous items of interest