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About Bollinge

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    Coventry, England
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  1. As the ‘OP’, I must state that I worked on Cunard Line, and have travelled as a passenger on fifty-odd cruises on multiple lines, so I know exactly what goes on on cruise ships. I was just surprised, nay shocked, that the ‘gratuity’ does not go to the bar staff directly. I noticed when I gave an additional tip in cash it went into a glass rather than the pocket of the bartender, presumably to be divvied up between all the bar staff at the end of the shift. As the ‘service charge / gratuity’ should be anyway. More outrageous is the 15% surcharge on mini bar consumption, where you pay a service charge for serving yourself! 😂😂😂
  2. As you say, I have been on over fifty cruises, but this is the first time I have found the gratuity to be a surcharge and not a tip for the bar staff. I think it's a relatively new thing on MSC as I have never asked the crew about it before. MSC have jumped on the bandwagon of profiteering like everyone else!
  3. Two different bartenders told me that the 15% service charge or gratuity, call it what you will, does not go to them, and is merely a sneaky way of increasing prices. €9.80 for a Bloody Mary? All the cruise lines buy their liquor at duty-free prices!
  4. It’s only a bit more per diem for the Premium Package, which is well worth it. The Super-Premium Package, or whatever they call it, is not worth the money unless you want to drink cheap French Champagne all day or expensive ‘premium spirits’, only to dilute them with sodas. Anyway, Cheers!
  5. It was completely wrong for them to try to charge you corkage in the steakhouse - complete lack of training. When we were on Armonia in September, a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne mysteriously arrived in our cabin in lieu of Prosecco, as did another one a week later (we were on a back to back). Maybe we have friends in high places - I am just about to email the Hotel Director on Armonia with our cabin number on our next cruise on board Opera next month, to forewarn the crew there that troublemakers are on the way. We’ll see if anything comes of it. Anyway, although I am a Champagne addict, as evidenced by my nom de plume, we ended up giving both bottles away to two very worthy crew members. Nothing wrong with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, by the way. Cheers, John.
  6. We generally stay in a hotel the night before a voyage, so if we are in Europe we ship suitcases via UPS or Fedex straight there a couple of days before. We have just returned from a Caribbean cruise where two cases went missing between Birmingham (England) and Miami, thanks to Lufthansa / Air Canada. We got one bag back on day six in Cozumel, and the other we collected from the Air Canada baggage office in MIA on day eighteen, just in time to load it back onto the plane to England! Fortunately MSC don’t do formal, and we have just been reimbursed $500 for ‘essentials’ purchased in Miami before sailing. Who knew a lipstick cost $26? MSC were fantastic, they gave us free laundry for the whole cruise, and the Purser spent hours on a satellite phone to Air Canada’s call centre in India, trying to locate our bags. At least our luggage was not a total loss, and not damaged at all!
  7. In the Caribbean with sailings out of the US there are all kinds of bureaucratic problems regarding early disembarkation (unless you get kicked off!), but in Europe MSC seems to embark and disembark passengers at most ports on a voyage, so it should be no problem. Be sure to let the Purser’s Office know as early as possible, so they can get the ship’s manifest and other paperwork in order. You will probably get more sense out of them than trying to arrange it in advance with the booking call centre.
  8. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/dubai-prescription-drugs-rules-uae-medication-tourists-can-you-take-law-illegal-customs-a8143916.html
  9. You can buy most prescription drugs over the counter without prescription, but all drugs containing opioids (which may be legal in your country) are STRICTLY prohibited in Dubai.
  10. The tap water you drink on cruise ships is the safest water you will ever drink, as it starts off as distilled water, chlorine is added and then piped around the ship. It is constantly monitored and you are only a few yards from the reservoir (the sea).
  11. I did do a search before posting, but nothing came up!
  12. I have just returned from MSC Armonia, where I booked another cruise in the Mediterranean in December. Logging onto the MSC website today, on that future cruise I am shown as Diamond 💎 level in the Voyagers’ Club. Is that a promotion or demotion from Black? Anyone know the perks for Diamond? Cheers, John
  13. When I was on board last week it was closed off for a couple of days due to high winds. Didn’t bother going up there on the open days, even though I was not in a suite (I just sneak in), as there were plenty of uncomfortable sunbeds devoid of mattresses everywhere else.
  14. You need to get the address of MSC’s port agents in Miami. It will be on the Daily Programme if you still have one. Someone here will tell you who they are. Send your gift to the port agents, marked ‘Crew Mail, Seaside’ and the crew member’s name, and it will get through to its recipient the next time the vessel docks in Miami. Really, no problem at all. Cheers, John.
  15. Go for the one in the middle, whatever it’s called these days.The Easy package is very restrictive. With the mid-range one you will be able to have virtually everything you want, and not restricted to draught Heineken. Cheers! John.
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