Q- Is cruising affordable?
A- 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. Look at the chart below to see the financial advantages of a cruise versus a land vacation:
|Expense||Typical Air/Sea Cruise Vacation||Typical Land Vacation|
|Port to port Transportation||Included||$|
|Nightclub & Shows||Included||$|
Q- How long is a cruise?
A- You can cruise anywhere from 2 days to 150 days and longer. You can decide. Each cruise line has options for those who only want a quick weekend getaway and for those looking to really get away for an extended period of time.
Q- Where can I go?
A- 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.
Q- Are all cruise ships the same?
A- 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.
Q- What is an Air/Sea cruise?
A- 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.
Q- Can I book on short notice?
A- 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.
Q- Do I need a passport?
A- 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.
Q- Will I get bored or feel confine?
A- 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.
Q- What’s there to do in port?
A- 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!
Q- Do I have to participate in the activities?
A- 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 the way you want!
Q- Is cruising family friendly?
A- 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.
Q- What can I do at night?
A- 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.
Q- I’m traveling solo, is it easy to meet people?
A- 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.
Q- What should I pack?
A- 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.
Be sure to print out our Packing list.
Q-Will I need a Tuxedo?
A- 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.
Q- Can singles have fun on a cruise?
A- 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. Norwegian Cruise Line has a section just for solo travelers. This includes solos cabins and a solo lounge area.
Q- Can I use my hair dryer or electric razor?
A- Most ships have 110 volt outlets in the staterooms. In fact, many ships even feature hair dryers in your cabin.
Q- What about mealtime and seating?
A- 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 on 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. Which ever 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 form the main dining room may be available. Nowadays some cruise lines are doing away with assigned dining times and seating. For example Norwegian Cruise Line, you can eat where and when you want to eat and with whomever you choose.
Q- What if I’m on a special diet?
A- 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.
Q- What about smoking?
A- Today, virtually all ships are non-smoking in the dining area. Most ships still allow smoking in lounges, casinos and other designated smoking areas.
Q- Can we celebrate our special day?
A- 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 canapes. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise the cruise line at the time of booking.
Q- Are there medical services onboard?
A- 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.
Q- Are there laundry services aboard?
A- 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.
Q- How old do I have to be to sail?
A-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.
Q- Is the casino open during Alaska and Hawaii cruises?
A- 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.
Q- Can I store valuables on the ship?
A- 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.
Q- What is the “muster drill”?
A- 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.