Most "first-timers" have a lot of questions - so here's a list of questions most commonly asked to help you get ready and ensure "smooth sailing" both before and during your cruise. If your question isn't here, please do not hesitate to call me.
HOW DO I PAY FOR ITEMS ONBOARD AND IN PORT?
The Cruise Lines will open an onboard account for bar purchases, soft drinks, souvenirs, to pay for shore excursions, etc, which you can settle by credit card, travelers checks or cash at the end of the cruise. The purser's office will also cash travelers checks for you. In addition, most of the duty-free shops onboard and most shops in port will also cash travelers checks. Most shops in port will accept major credit cards as well as American dollars or travelers checks. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CASH PERSONAL CHECKS ONBOARD THE SHIP.
WHAT ABOUT TIPPING ONBOARD SHIP?
Tipping with most cruise lines is now included on your onboard account. While this makes tipping the proper people more convenient, you may alter these amounts according to your cruise experience in these areas. Your tips will affect these services on your cruise ship: Your Cabin Steward, Waiter and Assistant Waiter. These amount will range from $9.00 to $10.00 per person per day on most cruise lines. On luxury cruise lines these amount may be higher. If you wish to change the amounts either by reducing or adding to your account, you should visit the purser onboard your cruise ship. Note: most cruise lines add gratuities to bar tabs.
Always check your bills.
DO I NEED TO PACK A TUXEDO OR FORMAL DRESS?
Many cruise lines allow you to rent a Tuxedo onboard. This will reduce additional packing and you will have a pressed Tuxedo on each formal night of your cruise. Although prices may vary on different cruise lines, the average price is between $75 & $85. This will cover all cruises of 11 days or less. Included on Standard Tuxedo Rental Package are 1 Black Jacket, 1 Pair of Black Pants, 2 White Formal Shirts, 1 Black Cummerbund and Tie Set and 1 Set of Cufflinks and Studs. There is also a White Dinner Jacket Package, and a Package for both The Standard Black and White Dinner Jacket Tuxedo's
Note: Shoes and Socks are additional.
Rentals are available for the Ladies as well on Celebrity, Holland, Princess and Royal Caribbean. If you are sailing on "back-to-back" cruises (two consecutive sailings of the same ship), then each voyage is considered a separate rental. If you are not sure, please call our toll free number where a customer service representative is ready to assist you.
Not all Cruise Lines have a "Formal Night".
WHAT ABOUT MOTION SICKNESS?
Ships today are so well stabilized that most of the time you won't notice you are even moving! It's a good idea though to take along some Motion Sickness precaution (follow the directions on the box) as well as aspirin and sunscreen. If you do have a problem onboard, all ships have a doctor and a nurse aboard. And be sure not to forget any prescription drugs you are taking. These should be put in your carry-on-luggage. Consult your physician before taking any medication.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY LUGGAGE AFTER I LEAVE
IT AT THE AIRPORT (OR PORT, IF YOU ARE DRIVING)?
If you are using the cruise line's airfare program, you will affix the luggage tags sent with your cruise documents and check your luggage at the airport. The next time you see it will be in your cabin! There are a few ports where you will need to claim your luggage at the airport--this will be indicated in your cruise documents and, again, call me if you have any questions. If you are flying but NOT using the cruise line's airfare program you still need to affix your cruise line tag but you will need to claim your own luggage at the airport baggage area when you arrive in your port city and take it with you to the port. If you are driving to the port, you will check your luggage when you arrive at the port, and they will take your bags to your cabin. It's a good idea to check your cabin about 1/2 hour before sailing to be sure your luggage has arrived and to check with your steward or the purser's office if it is not there. They have thousands of bags to deliver to cabins and it does take a while. The most important thing is your luggage tag -- without it, how will they know where to find you?
On the last night of your cruise you will be asked to put your luggage (except your carry-on bags) outside your cabin so that it can be taken to the holding area, and off loaded early the next morning. You will claim your bags in the customs area, don't worry all this will be explained on the ship. It would be a good idea to pack an overnight bag on your cruise.
HOW CAN I BE REACHED ONBOARD THE SHIP IN AN EMERGENCY?
RCI...888 724 7447
CEL...877 266 1020
PCL...900 225 5744
NCL...888 627 4477
CCL...877 225 7447
HAL...800 426 0327
DIS...888 322 8732
HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON ONBOARD
THE SHIP, OR FIND OUT ABOUT SHORE EXCURSIONS?
There will be all kinds of "goodies" about this in your cabin when you arrive and prior to sailing is a good time to explore and get your bearings as to where the dining room, gym, lounges ect. are located. There will be a daily program of activities put in your cabin each night for the next day. For first timers, it's best to work with your Cruise Planners Travel Advisor to seek the best possible options. Through their knowledge and contacts, your Advisor will recommend an excursion perfect for you and your budget. It is recommended that shore excursions be prebooked so once you board the ship, your days are already planned and all you will need to do is relax.
IS IT BETTER TO TAKE A SHORE EXCURSION
OR EXPLORE PORTS OF CALL ON MY OWN?
A lot of that is really up to you! Most ships include a program of their shore excursions with your cruise documents but if not, you will have one in your cabin when you board the ship. We recommend that you plan and schedule your excursions before you board so that your vacation is truly a vacation. We have access to some of the best shore excursions in various ports and can help you choose one that is right for you and your budget. We recommend considering at least one shore excursion in order to really experience your port of call.
Some of the islands/ports that are easy to explore on your own (by cab, or even on foot in some places) are: St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Key West, Freeport, Cozumel, San Juan, Bermuda, Canadian ports especially Quebec City, Greneda and St. Barts.
Many cruise lines now offer e-docs and you can check-in at anytime using the cruise line's website. If you are expecting cruise documents through the mail and they have not arrived 2 weeks before your departure, contact your Cruise Planners Travel Advisor. Always check your documents to ensure they show your correct name, ship, sailing date and cabin number (if you have been assigned a cabin at booking). Also be sure your airline tickets if applicable, are accurate and reflect the correct name transport to the correct port. If you are using the cruise line air program you should also have vouchers for transportation from the airport to the port and back. All document packages should contain luggage tags and many will also include form to fill out for boarding passes, on board credit programs. All of these should be filled out before you leave. If you think you are missing anything or would like me to go over them with you, just let me know.
BON VOYAGE!! Please contact me when you return and let me know what a great time you had. It's feedback from clients that helps me assist all of you in making good choices for your cruise vacations!
MAY ALL YOUR SEAS BE SMOOTH. Happy Cruising!
P.S. If you are using the cruise line's transfer program, be sure to check your cruise documents for voucher for transportation from the airport to the pier. When you disembark the plane, look for the Cruise Line Representative in the baggage claim area. They will direct you to the bus or van. If you don't happen to see them right away(and this rarely occurs) just ask a rep from one of the other cruise lines to "point the way"!! Sometimes one person has to meet two planes at once and all the cruise people help each other out at the airport.