Frequently Asked Questions about Cruising.
- Is cruising affordable and a good vacation value?
- How long are cruises?
- Where can I go?
- Are all ships and cruises fairly similar?
- What's an air/sea cruise?
- Can I book on short notice?
- Do I need a passport?
- Are there different classes of service?
- Will I get bored? Feel confined?
- What's there to do in port?
- Do I have to participate in the activities?
- Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?
- What's there to do at night?
- Is there a charge for entertainment?
- Is it easy to meet people?
- Will there be people like me?
- What should I pack?
- Will I need a tuxedo?
- Can singles have fun on a cruise?
- Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
- What about meal times and seatings?
- Is cruise ship dining as good as I've been told?
- Can I get a special diet?
- What if I don't like my tablemates?
- Are there non-smoking areas?
- Can we celebrate a "special" day?
- Is cruising right for honeymooners?
- Can we stay in touch with rest of the world?
- What about tipping?
- Are there medical services onboard?
- Are there laundry services onboard?
- Do cruise lines accept group bookings?
- Are there meeting rooms onboard?
- Can I extend my cruise vacation?
- Is motion discomfort a problem?
- Where do I leave my car?
- How old do I have to be to sail?
- Can pregnant women cruise?
- Are wheelchairs and strollers available on the cruise ship?
- Can I bring visitors onboard the ship?
- Is the casino open during Alaska and Hawaii cruises?
- Can I store valuables on the ship?
- What is the "muster drill?"
You Haven't Lived Until You've Cruised!
Every day, more and more people are discovering the all-inclusive pleasures of a cruise vacation. More singles, families, couples, honeymooners, second honeymooners, and groups of families and friends are sailing away on the vacation of their lives. Last year alone, over seven million people enjoyed a cruse vacation. When you add it all up, its easy to see why:
- The price of your ticket includes your meals and in-between snacks on-board; your stateroom, activities, parties, and entertainment; plus, an exciting voyage to some of the most enchanting and culturally enriching places in the world.
- You'll find that a cruise ship is a floating resort, with all the things a fine resort has to offer and more! You'll meet new friends who share the same tastes and interests as you.
- The hassles of an ordinary vacation are completely eliminated. A cruise is one convenient package. You don't have to worry about making dinner or nightclub reservations, running to make flight connections as you travel from one destination to another, or packing and unpacking.
- You can lie back and be completely pampered. Or, go non-stop. Dine like never before. Enjoy one great show after another. Let your cares float away.
It's a fact that cruises have a higher percentage of satisfied customers than any other vacation experience. Remember, there are some people that have never cruised and many people that have cruised many times. However, very few people will only cruise once!
Is cruising affordable and a good vacation value?
Cruising is the best vacation value! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Regardless of which cruise you choose, your cruise fare includes meals, your stateroom, room service, on-board activities, and entertainment, plus transportation from port to exciting port. So, for once, you'll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. Typically, your only extra expenses will be drinks, specialty restaurants, optional shore excursions, and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.
How long are cruises?
As long or short as you want. Cruise lines offer itineraries ranging from 2 nights to 3 months and longer.
Where can I go?
Wherever you want! Cruises visit over 1,800 ports worldwide and practically every destination accessible by water. And, you can embark on your cruise vacation from a wide variety of North American ports or exciting and exotic locations around the globe.
Are all ships and cruises fairly similar?
Far from it. Ships from yacht-like ships under 200 feet to mega-ships stretching over 1,000 feet long. You can sail with anywhere from fewer than 100 fellow passengers to over 3,000. Enjoy atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, contemporary to classic, or simple to ultra-deluxe. You can even choose between traditional propeller driven crafts, sail assisted cruise ships, or even a paddle-wheel river boat. The choices are yours.
An air/sea cruise vacation package includes much reduced airfare along with you cruise ticket. These money saving options are available from most major North American cities and include transfers between the airport and ship as well as baggage handling.
Can I book on short notice?
Even the most popular cruises sometimes have space available because of late cancellations. But, to get the ship, cabin, and sailing date you want, you should plan and book early. The days of the "last minute specials" are pretty much gone now due to the increased demand for cruises. Most cruise lines are focusing on early booking discounts for customers who plan ahead. In today's cruise market, early bookings are your best bet. Besides, if you do book your cruise early and the price drops, you'll be able to get the rate adjusted most of the time.
Do I need a passport?
Government issued photo identification is required for all guests, crew members, and visitors boarding a cruise ship. U.S. citizens require a passport OR a birth certificate (original or certified copy) PLUS a government issued photo ID card. Children under 16 do not require a photo ID. Non-U.S. citizens require a valid passport and visas (when necessary) in addition to an Alien Registration Card (ARC or "Green" Card). You'll receive complete information on required documents well in advance of your departure, so you'll have plenty of time to make arrangements.
Are there different classes of service?
Today's cruise ships are "one-class." Everyone onboard can use all of the ship's facilities. The price of a cabin is based primarily on its size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you'll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else onboard.
Will I get bored? Feel confined?
Hardly! Being at sea gives you a feeling of total freedom that no land-based resort can offer. Every time you look out a window or gaze off deck, there's some new and amazing view. And, there's plenty of room. Many ships today are like floating cities. It will probably take you a few days just to discover everything that's on board. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring many exciting ports of call.
Remember, cruise ships are floating resorts with all the choices fine resorts have to offer and more. You can lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the fresh sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, watch movies under the stars, or watch the ever changing seascape.
If you're more active, join in exercise or dance classes, and sports contests. Practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or take in some fresh air on the jogging deck. Or, you can swim, stretch out in the sauna, or work out in the gym.
There's way too much to do on the ship and in port to list here...you'll just have to experience it. The bottom line is that a cruise vacation is anything but boring and confining...it's truly liberating.
There's so much to do in port that you'll have a hard time choosing! You can explore on your own or take a guided tour (referred to as shore excursions). Search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids, or a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a waterskiing boat. If there's still time, play golf or tennis. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world's best beaches. Catch a marlin. Sail, snorkel, or scuba dive. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs.
In short, cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of new destinations and try all the things you've ever dreamed of doing while never having to pack and unpack!
Do I have to participate in the activities?
On a cruise, you do what you want, when you want, how you want. You can do everything or do absolutely nothing. It's your vacation...enjoy it any way you want!
Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?
More and more cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines make a special point of providing supervised activities for kids, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, they'll love a family cruise. You'll find that children adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won't have to wonder what they're up to every minute. The well trained youth counselors will help keep them safe, busy, entertained, and having the time of their lives. Ships even offer different types of age appropriate activities, suitable for toddlers to teens. Best of all, children often travel at reduced rates which makes cruising an even better vacation value for families with children.
When the stars come out, a cruise ship really turns on. There's dancing, live entertainment, nightclubs, lounges, feature films, and parties with all your new friends. Most ships also have casinos. If that's not enough, there's special events, the Captain's Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, guest lecturers, Broadway-style shows, Las Vegas-type revues, and much more.
Is there a charge for entertainment?
Never. On a cruise vacation, all of the entertainment is on the house. There's no cover, no minimum, and no charge for admission. The shows are live, the films are first rate, and it's all included in the cost of the cruise.
Is it easy to meet people?
A cruise ship is a great place to make new friends because everyone's so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial and relaxed. And, you'll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. Whether you're at dinner, at a cocktail party, hanging around the pool, or strolling along the promenade deck, you'll be surrounded by people that have something in common with you...the cruise they're enjoying. And, don't be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard ship again next year.
Will there be people like me?
There's no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises now. All ages. All walks of life. Singles. Couples. Families. Just ask us which is the best ship for you based on your tastes and lifestyle.
What should I pack?
Pack like you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you're on the ship or ashore. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. On ship and on shore, attire is dictated by occasion. At the Captain's Gala, for example, you'll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or a cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown.
Will I need a tuxedo?
On some cruises, formal dinners and parties are part of the fun. But don't buy a tuxedo just for the trip. If you do want to dress to the nines, many ships offer tuxedo rental services. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine for the dressiest occasions.
Can singles have fun on a cruise?
Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone because it's so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties just for singles early on so you can start to be involved right away. Some ships even offer gentlemen hosts who can be dance partners, dinner companions, or a fourth at cards.
Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
Most ships have 110 volt outlets in the staterooms. In fact, many ships even feature hair dryers in your cabin.
What about meal times and seatings?
Again, there are choices and more choices. During the day, there are many different dining options including in the formal dining room, on deck, in a pizzeria, at a buffet, or at an espresso bar, just to name a few. At night, most ships offer several venues. Some ships' dining rooms can accommodate all guests at one time but, most offer more than one seating time. To choose, just decide whether you prefer to dine early or late and specify your choice at the time of booking. Whichever seating you choose, remember that one of the best ways to make new friends is to ask for a large table. In addition, some ships offer alternative dining options. For example, theme such as Italian, Chinese, Japanese, or Southwestern restaurants separate from the main dining room may be available.
It's better than you've heard. You'll find a varied selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables, and desserts prepared by world class chefs every time you sit down. And, there's no limit on what or how much you can order. Can't decide between the steak or the lobster? Have both!
Just because the cruise lines offer plenty of delicious food doesn't mean that you'll come home out of shape. You can choose low-cal, low-carb, spa, or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu.
The only thing you'll never see while enjoying the cruise ship dining experience is a price so, bon apetite!
Can I get a special diet?
Most ships can accommodate salt-free, vegetarian, low-carbohydrate, low-cholesterol, Kosher, or other diet preferences. However, this request must be made with the cruise line in advance so be sure to take care of this at the time of booking.
What if I don't like my tablemates?
Rarely is this a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, speak with the maitre 'd. He'll make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions...discretely and politely.
Are there non-smoking area?
Today, virtually all ships are non-smoking in the dining area. Most ships still allow smoking in lounges and designated smoking areas.
Absolutely! Most cruise lines will accommodate your clients a tasty treat and chorus of "Happy Whatever" to honor the occasion. For an additional fee, you birthday or anniversary can be made even more festive with champagne, flowers, or canapés. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise the cruise line at the time of booking.
Is cruising right for honeymooners?
Without a doubt. Cruising offers an atmosphere that's just right for romance...cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away under the stars. Most cruise lines provide special services ranging from Sunday or Monday departures to champagne and breakfast in bed. In addition, some ships offer special programs for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing marriage vows.
Can we stay in touch with the rest of the world?
No problem. Today's ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes, and sports scores. Most ships have high speed internet cafes. Almost all staterooms are equipped with televisions and have satellite or cellular telephones. You can even call someone on shore through the ship's radio officer while at sea.
What about tipping?
Tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is to plan for about $2.50 to $3.00 per day per person for your room steward and waiter combined plus about half that for your bus boy. Plan on upwards of $10.00 per person per day for all tipping. Other shipboard personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion. Most cruise lines now allow you to automatically deduct your tips from your onboard account.
Are there medical services onboard?
Virtually every cruise ship (except for some small vessels operating in coastal waters) has a fully equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency.
Are there laundry services aboard?
Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and many provide dry-cleaning services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services. Many ships also have self-service launderettes.
Do cruise lines accept group bookings?
Most cruise lines will work with groups often at reduced rates depending on how many people are involved. Policies vary from company to company and sometimes during certain times of the year.
Are there meeting rooms onboard?
Just about every full size ship has public rooms to offer as meeting space for groups. If you'd like to make such arrangements, just contact the cruise line's group sales department to coordinate schedules and arrange for any catering needs. Many ships are also able to offer audio-visual equipment.
Can I extend my cruise vacation?
You can arrange pre- and post-cruise land packages at the time you book your cruise. And, in many cases, your airline ticket will include helpful options, such as free stopovers, that enable you to make your own special arrangements.
Is motion discomfort a problem?
Almost never. The most popular cruise areas boast some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, advance availability of accurate weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.
Where do I leave my car?
Secured outdoor parking facilities are available at each port of embarkation. Charges per day vary.
How old do I have to be to sail?
Generally speaking, all passengers must be at least 21 to stay in cabin without legal guardian (or at least someone who is 21 or older) on all cruise lines except Princess and Disney. Some cruise lines will make an exception for married couples, but they must present a marriage certificate at boarding. If the cruiser is under 21, there must be someone over 25 in the cabin. If in doubt, contact the cruise line in question directly.
Can pregnant women cruise?
Yes. Pregnant women can sail up until the end of the 24th week.
Are wheelchairs and strollers available on the cruise ship?
Wheelchairs are only available to help passengers on and off the cruise ship during embarkation and disembarkation. All cruise lines will allow a stroller. At this time only Carnival Cruise Lines has stroller rentals on select ships. If a stroller is required during the cruise, the client should plan to bring your own.
Can I bring visitors onboard the ship?
Due to heightened security, visitors are not allowed on board cruise ships unless they are members of a wedding party and prior arrangements have been made with the cruise line.
Is the casino open during Alaska and Hawaii cruises?
Gambling is not legal in the state of Alaska. However, the cruise lines will open the casino during the period when you are sailing in the international waters around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. At all other times, the casino will be closed. Casinos are also not open while sailing through Hawaii.
Can I store valuables on the ship?
Most of today's ships have mini-safes in all rooms. For additional security, most ships also have safe-deposit boxes available at the reception desk.
The muster drill is conducted either when your ship departs or shortly thereafter. It is a safety drill that you are required to attend per U.S. Coast Guard and international safety regulations. You will be asked to take your life vests from your room and meet at a designated spot on the ship when the ship sounds its alarms. The ship's officers will also announce the drill on the ship's PA system. Once at your meeting spot, the ship's officers will demonstrate procedures in case of an emergency. The drill rarely lasts more than about twenty minutes, and it is conducted for your own safety. Please take it seriously