Cruise Planning and Advice - Preparation

From The Editors of Cruise Traveler Magazine

Frequently Asked Questions - Tips To Make The Best Of Your Cruise - Friendly Reminders Of Things To Do Before, During And After Your Cruise - Know Before You Go.
Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Purchase Travel Insurance.
Cruise Traveler Magazine is an online cruise magazine offering an unbiased cruise guide, latest cruise news, cruise reviews, tips, feature cruise articles, and need to know information about cruising. Featuring community member contributed content. Cruise Reviews. Cruise Ship Ratings and Cruise Line Rankings. Editorially independent of travel providers or cruise lines.
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The Official Cruise Guide 2006: Everything You Need To Know Before Your Go On A Cruise or Cruisetour: Presnted By Cruise Direct Online
Cruise Guide: Everything You Need To Know Before You Go.

Cruise Guide
Introduction
Welcome to the ultimate source of information about your cruise. We've added some new sections to the Ultimate Cruise Guide, so even if you've been here before, you should take a good look around. Do you have a question about cruising? Or a subject you want to learn more about that we haven't covered in the guide? Is there a resource you can't find? Send an E-mail to our Cruise Guide Editor, at editor@cruisedirectonline.com , so we can make the guide even more helpful to you.

This guide is intended for reference purposes only. It is generic in nature, the content is subject to change without notice and is not intended to replace or supersede the information provided you by the cruise line. You should consult the cruise line's most current brochure and your cruise documents for information specific to your particular cruise.

To start off,

How can my Cruise Travel Advisor Help
There are many breathtaking destinations and activities to peruse through. Your Cruise Travel Advisor can help you quickly narrow down the choices that are best for you, depending on the type of traveler you are.

Your Cruise Travel Advisor can point out some of the most popular onshore destinations, activities you won't want to miss, items to be sure to pack, and maybe even out-of-this-world foods to sample on board.

Your Cruise Travel Advisor can explain the fine print. Are there restrictions? Time limitations? What's the cancellation policy? We've made all this information available to you online, of course, but your Cruise Travel Advisor can help make sure it all makes sense.

What else will my Cruise Travel Advisor do?

  • He or she will review the proper immigration/passport/birth certificate documentation.
  • Arrange any special needs -- such as a handicap-designed stateroom, or a special diet.
  • Inform you of your dining choices and ask if you prefer early or late seating , or "freestyle" dining where you can dine with whom you want, when you want... and arrange for any special occasions you might be celebrating like a birthday or anniversary. 
  • Explain the importance of travel insurance to cover the unexpected such as trip delays, missed cruise connections and lost or delayed baggage.
  • Give you General Information materials that cover the "Things to Know Before You Go". 
  • Point out your stateroom on the deck plan ( select deck plans available online ).
  • Request air deviations and arrange pre-or-post cruise land packages.
  • Advise you about tipping; packing; clothing; flights and schedule options; shore excursions, etc.

Read The Brochure
Take the time to read your cruise brochure thoroughly. Each brochure varies, but in general, you will find information concerning:  Itineraries & ports of call, ship's deck plans & services, pre & post cruise tours, air sea programs, payment, deposit and cancellation policies, legal disclaimers, proof of citizenship, visa requirements, customs & immigration regulations, medical services, etc and much more.

You will find in this guide a sampling of questions you have most often asked. In addition to those mentioned here, read "Cruising Q&A"  for an expanded list of the most frequently asked questions.

What's included in my cruise purchase
The price of your cruise ticket includes sea transportation, all of your meals and in-between snacks on-board; your stateroom, on board activities and entertainment; plus, an exciting voyage to some of the most provocative and culturally-enriching places in the world.

What’s not Included
Generally speaking, depending upon cruise line, air transportation, shore excursions, medical services, items of a personal nature – such as bar beverages (except coffee, tea, or milk with meals or when expressly specified) gift shop purchases, photography, beauty salon/barber shop and spa services, gambling and service/porterage gratuities are not included in the cruise fare. Also not included are charges for passports, visas, inoculations, laundry, travel insurance, postage, telegrams, telephone calls and surcharges, any items of a personal nature, Guests are urged to read the cruise line’s brochure and cruise line confirmation from the cruise line for complete details on what is or what is not included.

Fares, Non-Discountable Amount, Taxes, Surcharges

The Cruise Line reserves the right not to honor any published prices that it determines were erroneous due to printing, electronic or clerical error. The Cruise Line shall have the right to refuse or cancel any bookings made at an incorrect price whether or not the order has been confirmed and your credit card charged. If your credit card has already been charged for the purchase and your order is canceled, The Cruise Line shall immediately issue a credit to your credit card account in the amount of the incorrect price. Fares quoted are those currently in effect. If cost factors dictate the need for fare increases, The Cruise Line may do so at any time prior to departure. Guests can cancel (without paying a cancellation fee) rather than accept a fare increase. This right does not apply to increases in Taxes or to Surcharges, as described below.

Your cruise fare includes a "Non-Discountable Amount." That portion of the fare is both non-commissionable to travel agents and not subject to reduction in the event of a percentage discount promotion, 2 for 1 promotion or otherwise.

In addition to your cruise fare, you will also be charged an amount for Taxes. That term, as used by The Cruise Line, refers to certain taxes, fees and charges imposed by governmental or quasi-governmental authorities, including port authorities, relating to any aspect of your cruise or tour. If governmental action results in any element of Taxes exceeding the estimates used by The Cruise Line for purposes of computing the quoted amount, we reserve the right to pass through the extra amount. Similarly, The Cruise Line reserves the right to impose or pass through fuel surcharges, security surcharges or similar incidental surcharges. No right of cancellation exists under either of these circumstances.

 

Introducing Cruise Line E- Docs ( electronic, online printing of documents )

 

Preparing for your  cruise is now easier, faster and more convenient. Your cruise line may issue E-Docs. With E-Docs ( each cruise line may have a different name for this service ) you can access comprehensive, up-to-date information on all aspects of your cruise. You can review your personalized information, print only what you want and have convenient access to everything you need for your cruise in one place. And it’s easy to email — or leave copies of — your itinerary and important information with friends and family. No more waiting for mailed documents.

 

The E-Docs notification arrives electronically approximately 50 days before departure (after your final payment has been made).

 

Q — What is the difference between paper documents and Express Docs?
A — Paper documents are the traditional printed documents received in the mail approximately 30-14 days prior to departure. E-Docs provide the same information in electronic format and are available for you to access at your convenience for each person on the booking. E-Docs are available online 24/7, approximately 75-50 days prior to departure at your cruise lines official web site.

Q — What are the benefits of having E-Docs?
A — There are several benefits to having E-Docs:

  • You may access Ex-Docs online 24/7 at your convenience, within 75-50 days of departure.

  • You may print selected pages or the entire E-Docs form.

  • Each person on a booking can have his or her own set of E-Docs.

  • It’s easy to leave copies of your itinerary with your family or friends.

  • There is no need to wait for documents to be reissued when you add a package or make a change to your booking.

  • There is more time to review your itinerary for accuracy.

  • There is no charge to have documents reissued with E-Docs.

  • While you are online, it is easy to navigate to the Shore Excursions page and view your Personalized Shore Excursion Brochure, as well as book Shore Excursions early.

  • E-Docs are a more environmentally friendly option.

  • With E-Docs, international guests no longer run the risk of document delivery delays at the border.

Q — How will I know when E-Docs are ready for my booking?
A — The cruise line or your travel agent will send an email to each guest booked to notify you that E-Docs are ready once the booking is paid in full and approximately 75-50 days prior to the departure date.
 
Smoking, Drinking and Gaming
For the comfort of guests, most cruise ships have designated smoking and non-smoking areas available throughout the cruise ship. Guests are urged to read the cruise line’s brochure for complete details. Staterooms may not be designated at all or designated as smoking, non-smoking or smoking optional. Passengers must be 21 years of age or older to purchase or drink alcohol or gamble aboard all ships at all times.

Dietary Requests
Low-sodium meals, kosher meals, and certain other diet-restricted meals may be available. Dietary requests should be made at the time of booking.

Celebrating an Occasion
If you are celebrating an anniversary or birthday while onboard on the ship, we can let the maitre d' know. The cruise lines have a special cake presentation at dinner one evening. Celebration requests should be made at the time of booking.
 
Rules To Remember
( Just a few, but certainly not all. Be sure to read the back of your cruise brochure for more )
 
Ports of Call: The cruise line reserves the right to cancel or substitute any scheduled port of call at any time and for any reason whatsoever without prior notice, and shall not be liable for any loss to guests by reason of such cancellation or substitution.
 
Age Requirements: Children under the age of 21 cannot be in a cabin by themselves. Cruise lines require guests under the age of 21 years to be accompanied by a parent, relative or guardian 25 years of age or older in the same stateroom.  On most cruise lines Infants must be at least 4 months old to be eligible to travel.  Check with your cruise line to make sure you understand their age requirements. Failure to comply could result in denied boarding.
 
Restricted Fares: If you are purchasing a restricted fare of any kind, as an example, a Senior Citizen Rate (1 guest in each stateroom must be 55 or older) or a Resident Rate (1 guest in each stateroom must be a resident of the state), you may be asked to produce proof of age or residency at the pier.  If you do not qualify for these fare restrictions or cannot prove it, the cruise line may be collecting the additional fare at the pier. Additional restrictions may apply.
 
Note: Women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy as of their embarkation date and infants under 12 weeks old may be refused passage on most cruise ships due to safety concerns.  Check with the cruise line regarding these restrictions on your cruise ship. You could be denied boarding, if so, you will not get any refund. 
 
Airfare Limitation: Due to limited availability, during peak travel dates, if you have purchased airfare through the cruiseline, it may be necessary for them to assign charter flights, non-prime air schedules, or schedules which require an overnight stay, either prior to or after your cruise.
 
Airport/Pier Check In : Many airports, as a result of heightened security procedures, may have passenger processing times of between two (2) to three (3) hours or longer. Expect delays and longer lines at the airport and the pier. The Embark and Debark process at the pier may take longer due to additional security measures. So, if you are flying to your cruise ship port of embarkation we recommend you plan to arrive at the pier at least 4 hours prior to sailing and that you do not plan your return flight home until at least 1:00PM on the afternoon of your return to the cruise port.
 
Surcharges: Due to the nature of travel in general, fuel and security surcharges may be imposed. Your travel agent will do everything possible to get your cruise at the lowest price, but  cannot be responsible for cruise line or governmental imposed surcharges. These additional charges, even on paid reservations, are your responsibility.
 
Dietary Requests
Low-sodium meals, kosher meals, and certain other diet-restricted meals may be available. Dietary requests should be made at the time of booking.

Celebrating an Occasion
If you are celebrating an anniversary or birthday while onboard on the ship, we can let the maitre d' know. The cruise lines have a special cake presentation at dinner one evening. Celebration requests should be made at the time of booking.
 
Guests Under 21
Guests under 21 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or chaperone who is at least 25 years old; one adult chaperone is required for every five people under 21. Parents, guardians and chaperones are responsible for overseeing the on board conduct of minors. Alcoholic beverages will not be served to guests under age 21.

Minors under age 18 traveling to any foreign country must be accompanied by both parents or have a notarized letter of consent signed by the parent(s) not traveling. If the other parent is deceased or the child has only one legal parent, a notarized statement must be obtained as proof. Your travel agent can provide additional information about this requirement.

What If I Have A Problem
What if there is a change in the ship's itinerary or a problem onboard. Does that entitle me to some compensation? You may find that answer under "Terms & Conditions" on the back of the cruise line's brochure.  If you encounter any problems on board such as problems with your accommodations, cruise ship staff, your bill etc. contact the Guest Services (aka Reception or Pursers) desk immediately. Try to resolve any problem on board rather than waiting until you get home to write a complaint letter. It may take weeks for your complaint letter to be investigated and processed.

Did You Know
Below is an abbreviated and simplified explanation of some things you may not be aware of.


  • Did you know that your cruise fare entitles you only to the specified number of days aboard ship, your accommodations as chosen and paid for, and all listed inclusions such as meals and entertainment. Your cruise fare does not guarantee specific ports of call, or the order in which the ship calls on them.
  • If a ship changes its itinerary (either before you embark or during the voyage), the cruise line may not be obligated to compensate you. Cruise lines are not in absolute control of the ports, and they may have to cancel a port call or change an itinerary for a number of reasons, ranging from medical, weather or mechanical problems.
  • Cruise departures can be canceled for many reasons, like shipyard delays, mechanical problems or a full-ship charter. If that happens, the cruise line is only responsible for refunding your cruise fare. If you've booked airfare or pre/post cruise arrangements separately, the cruise line is not liable for those costs.
  • If you're denied boarding due to incomplete, insufficient or total lack of proof of your citizenship/proof of your identity, you are on your own and you will not get a refund from the cruise line: It is the passenger's responsibility to verify immigration requirements and secure proper proof of citizenship.
  • The cruise lines require that you report missing or damaged luggage directly to the line upon boarding (or before you leave the pier, if disembarking). In most instances, the cruise lines limit their liability from $100 to $500.
  • Even if you booked air through the cruise line, the lines disclaim any responsibility for airline problems or delays. Nor are they responsible for problems or delays encountered with ground transfers or shore excursions.

Remember this above all else: Flip to the back of the brochure and read all of the terms, conditionsand fine print. All guests are responsible for understanding and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions of the cruise line.

Recommendation
We recommend arriving at the city of your port of embarkation one day prior to the day your ship sets sail. You may encounter during the winter months or at times of bad weather, or flight problems, an en-route delay on sailing day. Be sure to ask your Cruise Travel Advisor about custom air arrangements, and pre-cruise hotel packages. After all, you don't want to be waving goodbye on the pier as the ship sails out of port without you!

If you are flying on the same day as your cruise sets sail, plan to be at the pier for check-in at least  least 3 hours prior to the time the ship is scheduled to depart. Also, due to heighten security at the pier and at the airport, when scheduling your return flight home allow for several hours between the time you get off the ship and the time you need to board your flight home.  We recommend no earlier than 1:30PM for a flight home.


Identification

Proof Of Citizenship/Proof Of Identity


What form of identification should I bring

 

PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS   IMPORTANT Passport Rules Change, so check with your cruise line for the latest information.

In most cases all guests must carry a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the completion date of your travel. This will enable guests to fly from the U.S. to meet their ship at the first port should they miss their scheduled embarkation and allow guests that must disembark the ship before their cruise ends due to an emergency to fly back to the U.S. without significant delays and complications. Guests are responsible for all costs associated with their travel including but not limited to costs related to arrangements to obtain entry to countries they visit and re-entry to their destination country.

 

For U.S. and Canadian Citizens only:

Air:

A valid passport is required for all air travel except travel within the United States for US citizens and within Canada for Canadian citizens.

Sea:

For voyages that complete outside the U.S., a passport that is valid for six months beyond the completion date of your travel is required.

For voyages that begin and return to the U.S., all guests must carry one of the following documents:

  • Passport

  • Passport Card

  • State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License ( not the ordinary one )

  • Other documents approved by the Department of Homeland Security

For a list of approved documents visit: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html#compliant_document

 

There is an exception for U.S. citizens on CERTAIN closed-loop cruises (a cruise which embarks and disembarks in the same U.S. port) and visits Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and/or CERTAIN SPECIFIC COUNTRIES OF THE CARIBBEAN REGION. Current countries of the Caribbean region for which the exception is applicable are as follows: Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Said Eustatius, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Note that if the cruise itinerary includes a country other than Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or any of the Caribbean countries listed above, the exception DOES NOT APPLY.

For travel on closed-loop cruises that are eligible for the exception, U.S. citizens may use a birth certificate AND a valid government issued photo I.D. A PASSPORT IS STILL THE

 

PREFERRED DOCUMENT.

Governmental regulations in some ports require Guests to carry a photo ID in addition to their Ship ID.

Children: U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 will be able to present their birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card. Birth certificates can be an original, photocopy or certified original. For more information, please visit www.travel.state.gov/passport or call the National Passport Information Center toll free at 1-877-487-2778 or TDD/TYY at 1-888-874-7793.

Non-U.S./non-Canadian citizens: You must have and carry a passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your travel. Please carefully verify the existing identification requirements for your particular travel situation. In addition, non-U.S. citizens who have previously been admitted to the United States for permanent residence must carry their Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), commonly known as a Green Card. Resident aliens not in possession of this must obtain one at the nearest office of the U.S. Immigration Service.

VISAS

Some countries require that you obtain official authorization (called a visa) before entering the country. Usually a fee is required. You are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas. If you do not hold proper visa documents, you could be denied boarding without compensation. Guests who do not have the proper legal identification, visas and other required documents, will be denied boarding. Each guest’s nationality and status is unique. It is the guest’s responsibility to obtain any necessary legal documents for entry and exit to the countries visited.

For U.S. or Canadian citizens, if you have questions about visa requirements, you may call Zierer Visa Service (a CIBT Company) at 1-866-788-1100 or send an email message to: info@zvs.com or visit their website: www.zvs.com/home.aspx?login=75005

Non-U.S./non-Canadian citizens may be required to hold a Canadian visa when traveling to Alaska or Canada. Please visit the Canadian government website at www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp to verify your nationality’s requirements.

 

Visas

Some countries require that you obtain official authorization (called a visa), before entering their country. Usually, there is a fee required. You are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas.

For U.S. citizens, if you have questions about visa requirements, please contact Zierer Visa Service  at info@ZVS.com or call them at (866) 788 1100.

For Canadian citizens, if you have questions about visa requirements, please visit Visaconnection at www.visaconnection.biz, email at toronto@visaconnection.biz or call them at (877) 972-8472.

For non-U.S. or non-Canadian citizens, please check with the embassies or consulates of each of the countries in your itinerary regarding visa requirements.

NEW Visa Waiver Program Requirements:
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is undergoing changes. The US government plans to implement the Electronic System for Travel Application (ESTA) by January 12, 2009. ALL VWP travelers to the U.S. will be required to have an approved electronic travel authorization via ESTA.

Guests who are citizens of following VWP countries:
Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

For more details please go to the US Department of State's Visa Waiver Program page
 

New Canadian visa requirements affecting all Alaska sailings, Alaska tours and Canada & New England sailings that enter Canada:

If you are a NON-U.S. or NON-CANADIAN citizen, you will be DENIED BOARDING without compensation if you do not hold the proper VISA documents! Regardless of what your Consulate official may advise, Canadian officials WILL NOT allow guests to remain onboard while in a Canadian port without proper documentation, so you will be denied boarding if the visa is not presented at the pier at the time of your scheduled cruise departure. To learn more, please visit: http://canada.gc.ca

U.S. citizens are NOT required to obtain a Canadian Visa. To verify if your nationality requires a Canadian visa, please visit the following Canadian immigration website, which may be useful to determine what is required: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp

Security and enforcement at the Canada-United States border has been heightened. For this reason, more U.S. and Canadian citizens with past criminal charges or convictions are refused entry into Canada. Almost all convictions (including DUI, DWI, reckless driving, negligent driving, misdemeanor drug possession, all felonies, domestic violence [assault IV], shoplifting, theft, etc.) make a person inadmissible to Canada, regardless of how long ago they occurred.

It is recommended that persons who have been charged in the past or who have past convictions obtain the necessary documents before attempting to enter Canada.

To learn more about applying for these documents we strongly recommend you visit the following website for details: http://geo.international.gc.ca/can-am/washington/visas/inadmissible-en.as

 

The bottom line? Our advice to guests is that if they're traveling on a cruise in January 2007 or beyond, they should plan to get a passport."
Time to go passport shopping. Don't dilly-dally either, since U.S. passport services are likely to be deluged when and if the new rules take effect. Passport applications generally take six to eight weeks to process, though expedited service is also available (see below).
If you don't currently have a passport, the State Department website (http://travel.state.gov/passport) provides information on obtaining one. Current fees are $97 for citizens age 16 and older, $82 under age 16.
To get a passport for the first time (or if you have an expired passport issued more than fifteen years ago, or issued while you were under 16), you need to go in person to one of 6,000 passport acceptance facilities located throughout the country, bringing two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship (an expired passport, certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, or consular report of birth abroad), and a valid form of photo ID, such as a driver's license. Acceptance facilities include many federal, state, and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. Find the one nearest you using the State Department's search page, at http://iafdb.travel.state.gov.
Citizens who need a new passport for travel within two weeks may visit one of thirteen regional passport agencies, listed at http://travel.state.gov/passport/about/agencies/agencies_913.html. Appointments are required, and you'll need to bring a completed passport application (downloadable at http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/forms_847.html), appropriate ID, proof of citizenship (see list above), and two regulation passport-size photos. Expedited service costs $60 plus any mailing fees, above and beyond the regular application fees.
If you don't live near a passport center, you can apply for expedited service at a local passport acceptance facility, located in post offices, courthouses, and so on, and then follow up through overnight mail.
You can renew an expired passport through the mail as long as you were over age 16 when it was issued and still have the same name (or can provide legal documentation of a name change) and your old passport is undamaged and was issued within the past fifteen years. Forms are downloadable at http://travel.state.gov/passport/forms/forms_847.html. Fees for renewal are currently $67. Expedited renewal services are available for an additional $60 plus mailing costs.

More Resources:


I have a minor with me, without his/her parent. What should I know before I go

For Minors (under the age of 18) traveling without parents, ( say, going with a friend and his/her parents)  other documents may be required by the cruise line and/or the countries being visited.  Minors under age 18 traveling to any foreign country must be accompanied by both parents or have a notarized letter of consent signed by the parent(s) not traveling. If the other parent is deceased or the child has only one legal parent, a notarized statement must be obtained as proof. If only one parent is going on the trip, the other parent must sign a release form.  If neither parent is going, then BOTH parents must sign. Your travel agent can provide additional information about this requirement. For example, Mexico requires a notarized affidavit signed by ANY parent not accompanying the minor. 

 

PLEASE NOTE: In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry and exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. ( Check with your cruise line for their requirements ) Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry or departure. For specific information regarding the country you are traveling to, please visit the U.S. State Department website for country-by-country information. Parents, guardians and chaperones are responsible for overseeing the conduct of minors in their care. As such, minors may not be left unsupervised on board the ship. A parent or legal guardian MUST accompany all children under the age of 18 on all tours for safety and liability reasons.

 

Important Note: If you arrive without proper proof of citizenship, a visa if required, or other required documentation, you may be denied boarding and unable to cruise. Further, you will not get a refund if you fail to bring the required documentation.

Without exception, it is the responsibility of the individual traveler to obtain visas and other documents required to enter a foreign country. Simply put: If you find yourself being turned away for a lack of documentation, your options for recourse are nil. Always contact the embassy or consulate of any country you'll be visiting and request a copy of its entry requirements. Make copies of the photo page of your passport, and leave one copy at home or at the office where  someone can find it if necessary. Take one copy with you on international trips, and carry it with you
but not together with your passport. In the event your passport is lost or stolen, take the copy and other identification to an American embassy.
 

Immunizations

International travelers can take a number of simple steps to avoid potential health problems before and during travel:

  • Contact your local physician ideally 4-6 weeks prior to departure.

  • It is important to receive current health information on the countries you plan to visit.

  • Obtain all necessary vaccinations and preventative medications. It is important to address any special needs.

  • Immunizations may be recommended or required for countries visited on your cruise itinerary. If you are traveling to (or transiting through) Africa or South America, for example, you may require a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. This vaccination can be administered only by a state approved clinic.

It is also a good idea to bring along a record of your immunizations as requirements for immunizations may change.

 

Travel Insurance  

We highly recommend that everyone be insured. You can purchase trip insurance from the cruise line or through other insurance providers. Each Cruise Line's Vacation Protection Plan is different but in general covers trip cancellation, trip interruption and delay, baggage protection, medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation. There are monetary limits and restrictions that apply to such coverage's. The price varies based upon length of cruise.
 

Travel Insurance offered by the cruise lines do not cover you if the cruise line goes out of business. Only certain 3rd party insurance companies cover that possibility
Some policies do not cover preexisting medical conditions, while others require that the insurance be purchased within seven to 14 days of making the initial cruise deposit.
Many policies purchased from the cruise lines exclude coverage for preexisting medical conditions. Find out more about travel insurance online with Travel Guard International
 or visit Access America, another company that offers trip insurance.
 

To be sure you are getting the kind of coverages you want, read all the fine print and understand fully the benefits and limitations of the policy on offer, before you buy.

In addition to what most policies provide--trip interruption, travel delays, baggage loss, emergency medical expenses and medical evacuation, here are some suggested questions to ask when calling Travel Guard or Access America or any insurance provider:

  • Will the policy cover loss due to default or bankruptcy of travel suppliers?

  • Does the policy cover travel delay due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances?

  • Will the policy cover cancellation charges and expenses due to injury or sickness of your traveling companion though he/she is not your family member?

  • Will the policy cover cancellation charges and expenses due to injury or sickness of a member of your immediate family though he/she is not traveling with you?

  • Will the policy cover cancellation due to outbreak of strike, riot or civil disturbance at your destination or places en-route?

  • Does the policy cover loss or injuries due to war, acts of terrorism, hijacking and natural disasters?

  • Will the policy cover cancellation due to any natural disaster happen to the insured person's residence before or during your journey which requires your presence on the premises?

  • Will the policy cover breakage or damage to fragile articles or documents in your luggage?

  • Will the policy cover loss of travel documents, and/or travel tickets and additional travel & accommodation expenses incurred to replace them?

Cancellation Policies

Note: Policy varies from one cruise line to the other, so check with your cruise line for their policy.

 

As an example only, For most cruises and cruisetours, a full refund (except for amounts paid for Cancellation Protection Plan) will be made for written cancellations received by The Cruise Line  at least 76 days before the date on which you are to commence travel (by air, rail, sea or otherwise). Passengers who cancel after that date for any reason, including medical or family reasons, are subject to the following per-person cancellation fees:

75-57 days before commencing travel: an amount equal to deposit requirement

56-29 days before commencing travel: 50% of gross fare

28-16 days before commencing travel: 75% of gross fare

15 days or less before commencing travel: 100% of gross fare

 

For certain cruises and cruisetours, different cancellation policies apply. Please consult the brochure for your cruise or cruisetour to confirm the applicable cancellation policy. Cancellation fees apply to the entire cruise booking, including cruise fare, non-discountable amounts, air add-ons, ground transfers, pre-cruise and post-cruise hotel and tour packages.

Given that the resale of cancelled space will likely result in a lost opportunity to sell other space, these fees are due regardless of resale. Fees incurred as a result of cancellation cannot be applied to future bookings. Refunds will normally be made to your travel agent. Travel agents may impose their own cancellation fees. Agency fees of any nature are a matter to be decided on solely by the agency and passengers.

 

Name changes require the prior approval of The Cruise Line and may not always be possible. Cruise and Cruisetour Contracts are nontransferable. Name changes and departure date changes are considered reservation cancellations and are subject to cancellation fees.

 

Flight Changes/Cancellations

Changes to existing reservations initiated by guests will result in a rescheduling charge of a minimum of US$100 per guest if the changes are made after the final payment due date. Airline tickets are issued based on fares which are highly restrictive and often cannot be reissued or exchanged for another carrier or routing.

 

Itinerary Changes

With very limited exceptions (such as our Panama Canal cruises), U.S. law prohibits a person from beginning their cruise in one U.S. port and ending it in a different U.S. port. For this reason, voyages originating and ending in the same U.S. port will not allow embarkation or disembarkation in an alternate U.S. port. If you do not adhere to the cruise itinerary and, as a result, violate this law, any resulting fines (currently US$300/person) will be your responsibility. If the fine is assessed due to a flight delay, we will pay the fine if you were participating in our Home City Air program. Please note that this is a U.S. government regulation over which The Cruise Line has no control.

 

Upgrades

The Cruise Line reserves the right to upgrade a guest or guests to more expensive category accommodations at no additional cost

 

 

Pre-Cruise Check List       
Here are some things you should keep in mind to prepare for your cruise.  Not all of these may apply to you, so feel free to use what you can and just ignore the rest.
 

Get Your Paperwork In Order

Read about the identification required for your cruise. (see the notes above) If you need to replace your birth certificate, apply for a  passport, or renew one now is the time to do it. Don't wait until the last minute. Apply for any visas that may be required. Ask your Cruise Travel Advisor if one is needed for where you are going.

 

Start Planning Early

  • Start a packing list. (see the suggestions later on in this guide)

  • If you have animals to board, make a reservation now.

  • Arrange for someone to look after your house or apartment while you are gone.

  • Leaving the kids home? Arrange for childcare.

  • If you purchased airfare with your cruise, call your Cruise Travel Advisor for the details of your airline schedule.

  • Get out your luggage and make sure the locks and zippers work properly.

  • Make two photocopies of your passport or ID and credit cards. Leave one copy with a friend and carry the other separately from the originals.

  • Get cash and/or traveler’s checks at the bank. If you use traveler’s checks, keep a separate record of the serial numbers. Get a supply of one and five dollar bills for tipping.

  • For some destinations, covert your currency ahead of time.

  • From booking your shore excursions to packing your bags, there’s a lot to remember when preparing to leave for your cruise. Refer to this information to ensure a smooth departure:

  • Reconfirm your cruise reservations by contacting the cruise line or a Hotwire Cruise specialist at 1-866-266-9392.
    Remember travel insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of injury or sickness.

  • Where available, complete the advanced registration information on the cruise line’s web site to reduce the check-in time at the pier.

  • Be prepared to provide your reservation number, passport information, and other details to complete the registration.

  • Reserve shore excursions, spa and salon appointments, and dining reservations as much ahead of time as possible. Many cruise lines allow you to reserve online.

  • Be prepared with cash. Some cruise lines require that you use cash for tipping and casino gambling. It’s also handy to have cash in port and for parking at the pier. Most cruise ships have ATMs on board; however, the ATM service fee may be significant.

  • Pack efficiently, leaving enough room to bring home souvenirs. Most cruise ships offer laundry services, so you may not need to bring as many clothing items as anticipated.

  • If your ship has formal nights, men should bring a dark suit or tuxedo and women should bring a pantsuit or cocktail dress.

  • Remember to bring your travel documents (e.g., cruise ship itinerary/tickets, passports, personal identification, shore excursion confirmations, etc.) along with photocopies.

Boarding Your Ship

  • Upon arrival at the pier, you’ll proceed through the embarkation process, making your way through customs and cruise ship check-in. The process can move quickly, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Arrive at the pier early. Ship boarding begins as early as 4-5 hours before the ship is scheduled to depart.

  • All passengers must be onboard at least 90 minutes prior to departure.

  • Parking is available at most of the piers – for a fee. Be prepared with cash as many pier parking lots accept cash only.

  • During the embarkation process, you’ll likely need to show personal identification more than once, so have your passport and cruise documents in-hand to speed check-in.

Customs Regulations
To avoid having to pay customs tax on previously owned property upon re-entry, U.S. residents should have a receipt or should register with customs prior to departure for their foreign-made cameras, expensive jewelry, video cameras, radios and other electronic equipment. Customs will issue a certificate of ownership so you can avoid duty and taxes upon your return home.
For all the details, contact the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Customs Service, Washington, D.C.

 

In order to make returning home as smooth and easy as possible, please take note of the following tips. For more information, consult your Customs Agency. Guests returning to the United States can also check the official website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection at www.cbp.gov/.

Registering Your Valuables

We strongly recommend that you register your valuables with Customs before leaving home. This should be done well in advance of travel at a Customs office near your home. Items that should be registered generally include those not manufactured in your country. If you cannot prove that you owned an item prior to departure, Customs officials may charge you duty to bring it back into your country. Customs pays particular attention to cameras (including special lenses and video equipment), binoculars, radios, laptop computers, foreign-made watches and other similar appliances. Customs officials will not be available at the ship during check-in to register valuables.

Transportation of Currency

You may take as much currency or as many monetary instruments as you wish on your trip. However, if you take out or bring into the United States more than US$10,000, you are required by law to file a report with the U.S. Customs Service. Please remember that many other countries have a similar policy when going ashore and you will be subject to their currency allowances at the current exchange rate.

Customs Allowance

Each U.S. resident is usually allowed a duty-free exemption of US$800; it may be more or less depending upon your itinerary and recent travel outside the country. An additional US$1,000-worth of articles may be brought in and taxed at a reduced flat duty rate. After an absence of seven days or more, Canadian citizens may bring back to Canada up to CA$750 worth of duty-free merchandise, which may include a maximum of 40 ounces of liquor or wine and 200 cigarettes. Guests who are neither U.S. nor Canadian citizens should check with the Customs agency in their country for allowance information before departing. Additional information concerning Customs matters will be provided during your cruise.

 

Read All The Fine Print

Your cruise tickets and documents will be mailed to you a few weeks before your sailing date. Be sure to read all the fine print and if you have any questions call or e- mail your Cruise Travel Advisor right away. Don't wait to the last minute to find out something is missing in your document package or your documents are in error.
The document package may include:

  • Airline and cruise tickets

  • Embarkation card

  • Shore tour/excursion booklet

  • On-board charge account form

  • Ship's guide to services

  • Ship's telephone and fax contact numbers

  • Luggage tags and bon voyage gift selection form

  • Passenger Contract

What kind of weather should I expect during my cruise
Click here for a list of high and low temperatures for worldwide destinations to help you plan your vacation.


How can someone reach me on the ship in case of an emergency
To provide some peace of mind while you are away from home. give friends or relatives the ship's contact information on how to telephone you.  First check the information provided with your cruise documents on how to contact the ship. Here is a list of numbers for your reference. They are subject to change, so always check your cruise documents or contact the cruise line to verify the latest emergency call numbers.
 

If the ship’s telephone number is not included in your documents, in some areas, you may be reached at

800-SEA-CALL.

Carnival Cruise Line    
Celebrity Cruises       
Disney Cruise Line     

Holland America Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

Princess Cruises

Royal Caribbean

877 225 7447

877 266 1020

888 322 8732

900 225 5425

888 627 4477

900 225 5744

888 724 7447


Medical

  • Be sure to carry a supply of all prescription drugs and medications sufficient to last until you get home. You may not be able to get your particular medication on board or in port. 

  • Be sure to place all medications in a carry-on bag. Checked baggage could be delayed or lost. 

  • Be sure to carry a written list of all medications - and their dosages - on your cruise. Written prescriptions if possible.

  • If you have a medical condition, bring medical records from your doctor. If you have a heart condition, bring your most recent EKG. 

  • Always carry your all your physician's phone numbers. 

  • If you are at risk for medical emergencies, inform your doctor about your cruise plans.

The cruise ship may not have all equipment and/or medications necessary to meet your needs. Make sure all special needs (mobility aids, oxygen, ADA equipment, etc.) are told to the ship prior to your cruise.  Don't leave home without travel insurance. Coverage should include pre-existing conditions,  medical evacuation and emergency treatment worldwide. 

 

Planning For Healthy Travel

One of the most important practices in reducing and preventing illness from infections while traveling is washing your hands regularly. Travelers should wash their hands often with soap and water. In absence of running water, the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is recommended to help prevent disease transmission. This is especially important before and after meals, when participating in activities where you are in contact with surfaces that many others could have touched (i.e., railings, buttons, countertops, etc.), handling money and after using the restroom.

Travelers' diarrhea (TD) is the most common illness affecting travelers. Each year between 20-50 percent of international travelers, an estimated 10 million persons, develop diarrhea. The onset of TD usually occurs within the first week of travel but may occur at any time while traveling, and even after returning home. The most important determinant of risk is the traveler's destination. High-risk destinations are the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

In areas where chlorinated tap water is not available or where hygiene and sanitation are poor, travelers should be advised that only the following may be safe to drink:

  • Beverages, such as tea and coffee, made with boiled water.

  • Canned or bottled beverages, including water, carbonated mineral water, and soft drinks.

Norwalk-Like Virus (NLV) can be identified by symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fever. NLV is not an upper respiratory virus such as influenza. NLV typically runs its course in 24-48 hours without serious or long term health effects. It is spread by person-to-person contact. Those travelers with chronic illnesses and those who are immunocompromised are at greater risk.

 

More detailed information is available at www.cdc.gov

The Cruise Line has a comprehensive plan in place which has generally proved effective in limiting the spread of the illness. The plan includes rigorous cleaning protocols and changes in operating practices depending on any onboard illnesses. Any crewmember who becomes ill is immediately isolated.

 

Have a safe a healthy trip - and remember that the first and best line of defense against illness is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly!

 

Medical Emergencies

If passengers become ill or injured during the voyage and the diagnostic and/or care needs exceed the capabilities of the infirmary, passengers will be transferred to medical facilities ashore. Please note that Medicare and many health insurance plans DO NOT cover the cost of medical care at sea, in foreign countries, or for air evacuation. Guests are encouraged to obtain travel medical insurance prior to travel in order to be reimbursed for services rendered.

 

Medical Facilities and Services ( varies by cruise line )

Most cruise ships have an onboard Medical Center staffed by physicians and nurses. While not a full-service hospital, the Medical Center is well equipped to handle most emergencies and routine medical procedures.

A customary fee ( often much higher than you pay at home )  will be charged for services and medications dispensed. If you become ill or injured during the voyage and your diagnostic and/or care needs exceed the capabilities of the medical center, you will be transferred to medical facilities ashore. Please note that Medicare and many health insurance plans DO NOT cover the cost of medical care at sea, in foreign countries, or for air evacuation. Guests are encouraged to obtain travel medical insurance prior to travel in order to be reimbursed for services rendered.

If you have a chronic medical condition, please bring a recent report from your physician. The medical staff on board is not available for daily care, unless you are hospitalized in the Medical Center. You must be able to care for yourself, including dressing, eating and attending the ship's safety drills. If you are unable to function independently in these areas, you must bring a caregiver with you. Because of the limited medical facilities, infants 6 months or younger at the time the cruise commences and women who will be 24 or more weeks pregnant during the course of their travel are not permitted to participate in the cruise. If you are pregnant, please provide a medical note from your physician stating your expected due date and medical fitness to travel. Keep medication close at hand in your purse or carry-on bag. Be sure to bring enough prescription medicine to last throughout your cruise, as it may not be available on board or in some of the countries visited.

 

Medications and Prescriptions

Pack enough medication. Refill your medicine prescriptions sufficient for the duration of the cruise. Keep it with you at all times and remember to leave all medication in its original container. It is also a good idea to bring your immunization records and prescription for eye glasses or contacts. Keep medication close at hand in your purse or carry-on bag. Be sure to bring enough prescription medicine to last throughout your cruise, as it may not be available on board or in some of the countries visited. Your prescription medication should be kept close at hand in your purse or carry-on bag rather than in your checked luggage. Be sure to bring a sufficient supply of medication and transport it in the original container. It is also a good idea to carry a written list of your medications in case they are lost. The list should include the name of the drug, dosage and times taken. In case of emergency, The Cruise will assist in filling prescriptions. However, please note that additional charges will apply.

 

The Cruise Line: Committed to Serving Everyone

The cruise line's are committed to providing safe, easy, and accessible accommodations for all persons with disabilities, to the extent that is feasible.

Mobility Equipment
Most  Cruise Lines offer a limited number of staterooms designed to be wheelchair and scooter accessible. There are, however, size and weight guidelines for scooters. If you plan on bringing a scooter on the ship, please contact the cruise line. For the safety of all guests and crew:

  • Scooters and other mobility equipment need to be securely stored and charged in the guest's stateroom; not in hallways or elevator lobbies.

  • Scooters left in these areas could restrict people needing to travel through these areas in an emergency, particularly other guests using mobility aids, since they would have no way of getting by a scooter left in a hallway.

Ship Transfer Options
Certain ship transfer operations (i.e. during tendering and at the gangways) may not be fully accessible to wheelchairs or scooters. When a ship is unable to dock, guests are taken ashore on smaller boats called tenders. Some guests with limited mobility may find it difficult to embark or disembark the ship at certain times while at dock or while tendering due to steep gangways and steps, particularly during low or high tide. Also, please note that scooters and wheelchairs which are more than 100 lbs. without the battery are not allowed to be transferred from the ship to tender and/or from tender to shore.
 

Wheelchairs
For persons not capable of walking on their own, the use of a wheelchair will be the primary mobility assistance aid for getting on and off the ship. Some ships may have a limited supply of wheelchairs onboard. In order to accommodate guests, wheelchairs are reserved exclusively for embarkation and disembarkation situations. If you will require regular use of a wheelchair, we recommend that you bring your own wheelchair with you. You may also make advanced rental arrangements prior to your sailing and have a wheelchair delivered directly to the ship. Situations may occur in which mobility-impaired guests may not be able to go ashore at the time they desire or are unable to go ashore at all in certain ports. For the safety of all concerned, the Captain shall make the final determination regarding the carrying of mobility-impaired guests and their mobility assistance device (wheelchair, scooter, walker, etc.), taking into account all appropriate matters including, but not limited to, weather conditions, ship's location, weight of the guest, etc.

Cruise lines is no longer able to provide complimentary wheelchair assistance for any purpose other than embarkation, disembarkation, and emergency situations. The Cruise Line wheelchairs are also not available for shore excursions.
 

For additional details on the prearranged rental program, please contact one of the below companies:

Special Needs at Sea
Phone: 800-513-4515
Fax: 800-513-4516
E-mail: info@specialneedsgroup.com
www.specialneedsatsea.com

CareVacations/CruiseShipAssist
Phone: 877-478-7827
Fax: 780-986-8332
E-mail: res@carevacations.com
www.cruiseshipassist.com
 

Guests must be aware that certain third party transfer and shore excursion facilities may not be fully accessible to guests with disabilities. Although we endeavor to make sure these companies comply with legal requirements, we cannot guarantee all are able to provide facilities that are accessible to persons with disabilities. For detailed, up-to-date information on accessibility issues involving shore excursions, we strongly recommend visiting the Shore Excursion Office on board.

In limited situations (either on board or ashore), we may find it necessary to ask the individual to make alternative travel arrangements, such as if an individual with a disability is unable to satisfy certain specified safety and other criteria, even when provided with appropriate auxiliary aids and services. Guests who are unable to care for their basic needs (e.g. dressing, eating, and attending safety drills) MUST have a capable traveling companion. It is essential that we be notified of any special medical, physical, or other requirements you may have as soon as possible, including whether you intend to bring a scooter with you.

 

Oxygen and Oxygen Deliveries Onboard ( for cruise lines and ships that accept delivery - Check with your cruise line for their policy )
The ship is not equipped to provide guests with these services other than on an emergency basis in the Ship's Medical Center. For security and safety reasons, we suggest contacting Special Needs at Sea and CareVacations/CruiseShipAssist as outside vendors who can deliver oxygen supplies. Check with your cruise line for the names of companies they work with.

Special Needs at Sea
phone: 800-513-4515
Fax: 800-513-4516
info@specialneedsatsea.com
www.specialneedsatsea.com

CareVacations/CruiseShipAssist
phone: 877-478-7827
Fax: 800-648-1116
csa@carevacations.com
www.cruiseshipassist.com

You are also welcome, however, to bring your own oxygen and/or oxygen equipment from your home. Please note that staff and crew are not permitted to handle your oxygen and/or oxygen equipment during the embarkation and disembarkation process. Thus, you must be able to handle your supplies if you bring your own. Please contact the Access & Compliance Department prior to sailing if you will require oxygen while on your cruise.

 

More Contact Information

For information regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s Screening Tips for Persons with Disabilities, please visit the Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions section of their website at www.tsa.dhs.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/.

 

For information regarding requirements and restrictions of service animals in foreign ports of call, please visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s website.
 

Inoculations and Health Advisories
Passengers are advised to check with their doctor regarding inoculation requirements in the ports they will be visiting. Some ports strictly enforce these requirements, and certain documents may be needed to go ashore. In addition to contacting your personal physician for the appropriate inoculations, for your protection we strongly recommend that you contact the Centers for Disease Control prior to traveling to learn of any health advisories for the region you will be visiting.


What about motion sickness
If you are prone to motion sickness, you should take along some Dramamine or consult your doctor about other options. If you do have a medical problem onboard, there is a doctor and a nurse aboard.  There are various over the counter medications (Dramamine & Bonine) and, of course, the prescriptions medications scopolamine (the patch behind the ear) and Antivert. In addition, Consumer Reports indicates the acupressure wrist bands are effective. Available brands include Sea-Band and Travel-Eze. Consult a doctor for the medication that's best for you.
 

Home Work

  • Arrange to have your mail held at the post office.

  • Stop newspaper delivery.

  • Arrange for lawn, houseplant care or snow removal.

  • Check out your photographic equipment. Buy film and check the batteries.

  • Leave your itinerary, the ship’s telephone number (plus the name of your ship and your stateroom number), and a house key with a relative or friend.

Just Before Sailing

  • Re-confirm your airline flights and times.

  • Write a note with your name, address, and itinerary inside each suitcase.

  • Fill out your luggage tags and read about when and where you should attaching them.

  • Reorganize your wallet/purse. Leave home in a safe place any check cashing cards, department store, gas cards, debit cards etc.


Remember to Bring With You

  • Camera and film ( film is too expensive on-board or ashore, so bring a good supply ) 

  • Binoculars, especially on Alaska and other adventure cruises 

  • Travel guidebooks about your destination and ports-of-call

  • Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses

  • Prescription medications

  • Proper sneakers or other walking/sport shoes for deck sports or using the fitness center

  • Personal electrical appliances, such as shavers, hairdryers, irons, steamers, curling irons etc. that are compatible with the ship's electrical current.


Baggage Requirements

Although there is no baggage limitation aboard most ships, for your own comfort, it is recommended that you limit the number of pieces you bring. Note: If you are flying to your port of embarkation, the airlines will usually permitted only two pieces of checked luggage (not including oversized bags and sports equipment) and a carry-on bag. Check with your airline for specific restrictions and limitations.


IMPORTANT: Do not pack your passport, medications, cruise documents or airline tickets. Keep them close at hand in your carry-on bag, purse or jacket pocket. We also strongly suggest that you carry important items such as perishables, medicine, liquor, cash, credit or debit cards, jewelry, gold, silver, or similar valuables, securities, financial instruments, records or other valuable or business documents, laptop computers, cellular telephones, cameras, hearing aids, electric wheelchairs, scooters, or other video or electronic equipment, binoculars, film, videotape, computer disks, audio disks, tapes or cds on your person or in your carry-on bag. (Remember that checked baggage might not be accessible at all times.)
 

Ships Electrical Current Capability

  • Most cruise ships:  North American standard, 110 volts AC

  • Some also have use European standard 220 volts AC

  • Some require an outlet adapter if only equipped for European standard.

  • Be sure to check with us about the electrical service on the cruise ship you are sailing on.


What to Wear
 
Day Time
for both men and women:

 

  • Swimsuit and cover-up

  • Walking shorts, jeans, blouses or polo shirts

  • Lightweight slacks or skirts

  • Sneakers, walking shoes

  • Comfortable, walking shoes

  • Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen lotion.

  • Just in case: rain gear for that afternoon shower or a light sweater for cooler days in winter.

  • Rain Gear: There is always a possibility of rain. Since we will be outdoors quite a bit and since we will be going on our shore excursions rain or shine you should be prepared. Plastic ponchos are one option that is highly portable, inexpensive, readily available, and effective.

Local customs sometime prohibit or frown upon short-shorts, halter tops or provocative clothing. Check with the Cruise Director on board if you are unsure of what to wear ashore.
Clothing - Shore Excursions:
Our recommendation for shore excursion wear is, with the exception of socks, wear nylon outerwear. When you do get wet your clothes will dry very quickly. This will also reduce or eliminate the need to have a change of clothes with you. Also if you are wearing a nylon t-shirt it could be worn during all water activities as part of your sunscreen strategy.


As far as socks are concerned cotton is the worst possible material in just about any situation. When cotton gets damp it loses its cushioning ability, it is extremely slow to dry, it holds moisture against your foot (softening your skin), it stretches, becomes abrasive, and can cause blisters. The best materials for walking/athletic socks are acrylic, polyester (Coolmax), nylon, spandex, bulk orlon, olefin, etc. These materials, retain their cushioning abilities, don't stretch, don't become abrasive, and wick moisture away from your feet. Yes cotton is a bit less expensive initially, but the synthetics are better in every way and last much longer, so in the long run they can end up being less expensive.

One of the most important items of clothing to bring is a pair of reef walkers, also known as aqua socks, water socks, wetshoes, etc. Basically they have elastic uppers that fit snugly around your ankles and a rubber type sole. They are made to be used in the water and they keep sand and other materials out and protect the soles of your feet. When we do the river tubing, for example, it is possible to get a cut or abrasion on unprotected feet. Highly recommended.
In Alaska summer temperatures could be in the 70s. Spring and fall as low as the mid 40 to 60 range. 

  • Shirts and blouses

  • Slacks or pants

  • Sweaters, and a light to medium jacket for cooler days

  • Lightweight windbreaker for misty weather.

  • Comfortable, walking shoes

  • Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen lotion.

  • When visiting museums, churches, government buildings or cathedrals, dress conservatively. Perhaps a dress that covers the knees or long pants. Cut-off tops and shorts, not allowed.

Insect Repellent: It's summer in the tropics and, since we are going to be spending a considerable amount of time in natural settings, everyone should have insect repellent with them.
Products containing at least 30% deet are regarded as most effective.

Consider the following products:

  • Off Deep Woods For Sportsmen I 98% deet pump

  • 3M Ultrathon34% deet cream

  • Off Deep Woods For Sportsmen IV30% deetaerosol

  • Cutter Unscented Outdoorsman30% deetaerosol

  • Ben's 30 Wilderness Formula30% deet pump

Sunscreen: Whether you are a sun worshipper or not you should definitely have sunscreen with you. The sun in the tropics is very aggressive and, if you've ever had a really bad sunburn, you know it can literally ruin the whole trip. Also consider bringing a hat with you to protect your scalp. The best sunscreen products contain a chemical, recently approved by the FDA, called Mexoryl. Sunscreens based on Mexoryl have been available in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world since 1993. There are two forms available: Mexoryl SX (water based) and Mexoryl XL (oil based). Both are very effective, but of the two Mexoryl XL lasts longer in hot and wet environments. Some products contain both types. Brands containing Mexoryl, that are available on the internet, include: Ombrelle, Capital Soleil, L'Oreal, Anthelios, and La Roche-Posay. It is unlikely that products containing Mexoryl are available in local stores yet.


Night Time
There are three distinct types of "evenings" on board most ships - casual, smart casual and formal. Suggested guidelines for these evenings are as follows.
 

Casual Nights;

  • Pant-suit, dress slacks or skirts, and blouses for women

  • Sport shirt and slacks for men.

  • No Jeans, Cut-Offs etc.

  • Informal Smart Casual Nights;

  • Dress or pant-suit for women

  • Jacket, shirt and  (optional ) tie for men.

  • Formal Nights;

  • Cocktail dresses or long gowns

  • Dinner jackets and dark suits

  • Tuxedo (Optional ) Not necessary on most cruises these days.

  • If you want to wear one, but do not have a tuxedo, one can easily be rented before you sail or through the cruise line.

Three and four-night cruises consist of one formal night and two or three casual nights.
Seven-night cruises include two formal nights, one smart casual night and four casual nights.
Ten, 11 and 12-night cruises consist of three formal nights, three smart casual; all other nights are casual.
14 & 15 night cruises have three formal nights, four semi-formal nights and the remainder are casual.

 

Again, these are guidelines and your evenings attire is left up to your discretion. In addition, many cruise ships now provide alternative casual dining on each of our formal evenings. Many cruises include formal evenings include the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party and Dinner, the Captain's Farewell Dinner, and a third or fourth "formal" night for those cruises sailing more than seven nights. Be sure to read the daily newsletter, delivered to your stateroom each evening for the appropriate attire the following evening.


Theme nights afford a great opportunity to get dressed up for the occasion. Check with us for specific scheduled events on your cruise.
 
Bring an overnight bag for your last night at sea. Staff will collect your bags the night before disembarkation, and you will need an overnight bag to carry your night clothes and toiletries.
Don't forget your camera, and binoculars.

 

Packing Tips and Advice

The Cruise Line cautions against the use of garment bags with hanger hooks protruding from the top. We also suggest that you consider placing articles in clear plastic bags inside your luggage to minimize handling by airport security screeners. Pack shoes on top of other contents in your luggage to expedite the screening process. Finally, make sure that you label the inside of your carry-on and checked luggage with your name and contact information. Bear in mind that the screening process for any point of embarkation is similar to that at an airport. As such, all weapons and dangerous devices are prohibited and may result in denied boarding. For complete, updated information regarding travel, please check the official website of the Transportation Security Administration.

 

Please Note: Firearms, explosives, fireworks and illegal drugs of any kind are prohibited without exception. Important: Do not pack your passport, medications, cruise documents or airline tickets in your checked luggage. (Remember that checked luggage might not be accessible at all times.) Keep these items close at hand in your purse or jacket pocket. We also strongly suggest that you carry or otherwise keep with you important items such as perishables, cash, credit or debit cards, jewelry, gold, silver or similar valuables, securities, financial instruments, records or other valuable or business documents, laptop computers, cellular telephones, cameras, or other video or electronic equipment, hearing aids, electric wheelchairs, scooters, binoculars, film, videotape, computer disks, audio disks, tapes or CDs. The Cruise Line assumes no responsibility for the items listed above.

 

Packing for an Alaska Cruise or Cruise Tour with The Cruise Line

The experts at Alaska Cruisetours Online, have some tips on packing when you're headed north on a cruise or cruisetour.

Southeast Alaska

On an Inside Passage cruise you will be traveling along the protected waterways of Southeast Alaska, also known as "the Panhandle." The weather here is temperate, with summertime highs usually between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, climbing occasionally into the 70s and 80s.

North Alaska and the Arctic

If you venture farther north you will find the climate to be drier. Summer temperatures in Fairbanks and other parts of the Interior often reach 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the Arctic, for those traveling to Prudhoe Bay or Nome and Kotzebue, temperatures are cooler, in the 40s and 50s.

General Packing

Alaska is casual, but be prepared to dress for dinners (see Dinner Dress below). The best approach is to bring clothes that can be layered: more layers for cooler, windier weather, fewer layers for warm, dry days.

Be sure to also bring:

  • A lightweight, waterproof coat or jacket, as well as a sweater or warm vest for strolling the decks of the ship and for glacier viewing

  • A warm hat and gloves

  • Women may want to bring two or three pairs of washable slacks or jeans (combined with polo shirts, blouses or light sweaters and accessorized with a belt, scarf or jewelry this basic outfit can be worn just about anywhere. Depending on weather and occasion, add a blazer, cardigan or windbreaker jacket)

  • Men may want to add an extra pair of slacks, but they'll find that the same basic dress theme works for them, too (there is no place in Alaska a man cannot go in a sport coat and slacks. Also, a dark suit is appropriate for dinner on board ship)

  • Sturdy walking shoes for every day use (two pairs are suggested) both leather, to stand up to rain if necessary, and a pair with a good arch support

  • One or two pairs of dress shoes to accompany your dinner outfit

Dinner Dress

There are three smart casual and two formal evenings on every seven-day cruise. Please note, informal wear or formal wear is recommended at the Pinnacle Grill at all times.

Informal nights - sport jackets for men and dress slacks, casual dresses or skirts for women

Formal nights - jacket and tie required or tuxedo suggested for men, cocktail dress or gown for women

Please note: Your daily program will contain a notice of the dress for each evening. Jeans, t-shirts, hats, shorts, tank tops, swimwear and workout attire are not permitted in the dining room or Pinnacle Grill at any time, but are allowed in the Lido restaurant. Not sure what to wear? While on ship, contact the cruise director or other cruise staff at the Front Desk and they will gladly offer advice.

Exercise Clothes

If you're a fitness fan or just like to stroll around the decks be sure to pack your exercise clothes. There are aerobics classes on the ships, treadmills, exercise bikes and other equipment in the fitness center on board each ship. The free Passport to Fitness program has the added fun of a reward at the end of the cruise for participating in onboard activities. Be sure to bring your running or aerobics shoes, swimsuit and a cover-up (for lounging, if not for warming up).

Items You Probably Won't Need

  • Bulky or winter-weight sweaters or jackets

  • Rain boots and long underwear (outfitters throughout Alaska provide special gear needed for their activities, such as warm "moon boots" for walking on glaciers, waterproof rainwear, boots and life vests for river rafting or sea kayaking)

Don't Forget To Take

  • Be sure to take toiletries and prescriptions for both medication and eye glasses to aid in replacement in the unlikely event they become misplaced

  • A travel alarm clock (although wake-up calls are offered on all The Cruise Line cruises)

  • Binoculars if you enjoy bird watching or would like a closer look at wildlife and glaciers

  • Your camera film is available just about everywhere you will visit

Laundry Service

The Cruise Line has laundry service, dry cleaning and pressing service on most ships.

  • There are self-serve laundry rooms complete with ironing boards and irons (laundry soap is available for purchase) on most ships.

  • Self-service laundry facilities may also are available at many of the hotels at which cruisetour passengers stay

Airlines, limousines and other transfer vehicles have luggage allowance policies which may limit the amount and/or weight of luggage you may take with you and/or impose excess luggage charges. You are responsible for complying with the policies. Please keep this in mind when packing.

Traveler advisory - Baggage fees and other charges may be directly assessed by airlines or airports. Once you are notified of your flight details, please contact your airline.

 

Baggage Insurance

Please be aware that the Cruisa Line cannot guarantee there will be no loss of, or damage to, your luggage or belongings. For this reason, we suggest you purchase luggage insurance before you leave home. Your travel professional can provide you with additional information if you are interested in this option.

 

Baggage TIP

IMPORTANT: Do not pack your passport, medications, cruise documents or airline tickets. Keep them close at hand in your purse or jacket pocket. We also strongly suggest that you carry or otherwise keep with you important items such as perishables, medicine, liquor, cash, credit or debit cards, jewelry, gold, silver, or similar valuables, securities, financial instruments, records or other valuable or business documents, laptop computers, cellular telephones, cameras, hearing aids, electric wheelchairs, scooters, or other video or electronic equipment, binoculars, film, videotape, computer disks, audio disks, tapes or CDs. (Remember that checked baggage might not be accessible at all times.) The Cruise Line assumes no responsibility for the items listed above.

 

Carry-on Baggage

Use a carry-on bag. Keep your travel documents, identification, medication, jewelry, camera, film, cash and other valuables with you at all times.

Do not pack your passport, medications, cruise documents or airline tickets in your checked luggage. (Remember that checked luggage might not be accessible at all times.) Keep these items close at hand in your purse or jacket pocket. We also strongly suggest that you carry or otherwise keep with you important items such as perishables, cash, credit or debit cards, jewelry, gold, silver or similar valuables, securities, financial instruments, records or other valuable or business documents, laptop computers, cellular telephones, cameras, or other video or electronic equipment, hearing aids, electric wheelchairs, scooters, binoculars, film, videotape, computer disks, audio disks, tapes or CDs. The Cruise Line assumes no responsibility for the items listed above.

 

Clothing & Dress Code

Clothing & Dress Code The right clothing can make a big difference in the enjoyment of your cruise. First and foremost, dress for comfort. Daily life aboard ship and in ports of call is relaxed and casual. Warmer climates call for clothing made of lightweight, breathable fabrics. For cooler climates, we suggest casual clothes that can be layered easily and possibly a raincoat and waterproof hat or umbrella and gloves. Certain shore excursions may require particular attention to clothing. For example, certain churches or other places of worship may not allow tank tops or short pants. Bring a swimsuit as all of our ships have pools and whirlpools. You may wish to bring more than one outfit for the water. We ask that you wear shoes and a cover-up over a bathing suit when walking through the interior of the ship. If you would like to jog on the sports deck or work out in the fitness center, bring workout gear. Footwear should include comfortable walking shoes for visits ashore and sandals or rubber-soled shoes for strolling on deck. Evening dress falls into two distinct categories: Formal or Smart Casual. Smart Casual can be defined as slacks and collared shirts for men and casual dresses, slacks and informal evening wear for women. T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are not allowed in the restaurants or public areas during the evening hours. On festive Formal evenings, ladies usually wear a suit, cocktail dress or gown and gentlemen wear a jacket and tie, dark suit or tuxedo. There are approximately two formal nights per week. In order to complement your fellow guests, The Cruise Line asks that you observe the suggested dress code throughout the entire evening.

 

Baggage & Luggage Tag Information

 

For guests who have The Cruise Line’s Express Docs:

  • A luggage tag is included in your E-Docs. If you need more, printable luggage tags are available at the Online Check-In start page.

For guests who have paper documents:

  • Luggage tags can be found in your document wallet that you received.

Please Note:
Luggage tags will be also available for you at the airport on the day of sailing and the pier prior to your final check in. The luggage tags are clearly marked with your ship name. Please attach a tag to each piece of luggage you will be checking on the cruise. There is a space on the tag for you to print the following information; Name, Stateroom Number, and Sailing Date.


 
TSA approved luggage locks:
You should consider the purchase of enough TSA approved locks to completely lock your checked on luggage. These come in the form of key or combinations locks. The nice thing about the combination type is that you can set them all to the same combination and don't have to carry extra keys. TSA approved locks can be opened by the TSA, thereby eliminating their need to cut them off. Some may think they don't need locks because they don't intend to pack any valuables in their checked on luggage, but remember: It's just as important to make sure nothing is put INTO your luggage as it is that nothing is taken out! You can use the price comparison links and search for TSA locks. They are probably also available locally in luggage stores. Master Lock TSA approved lock (Model: 4680DBLK). They are metal cased, 3 digit combination locks, with a lifetime warranty. The warranty includes replacement if the TSA cuts the lock off - if you return the cut lock to Master Lock.

See the notes above under "What to Wear" for daytime and evening clothing to pack for just about any cruise. The notes below highlight destinations with more suggestions.
 

Alaska, Canada / New England
Days onboard are casual.  Pack several sweaters, jeans, slacks, a jacket and a windbreaker or raincoat. Don't forget your camera, binoculars and a swimsuit!, for the occasional warm day. In port, wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots.
Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda
Days onboard tend to be casual. Pack sports clothes and resort wear. Bring more than one swimsuit.
In port, wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen.
Mexico, Hawaii, Panama Canal
Days onboard are also casual. Pack sports clothes, resort wear and swimsuits.
In port, wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sunscreen.
Europe/Scandinavia
Casual clothes onboard; comfortable walking shoes in port. If you are cruising to Scandinavia: Bring sweaters as the nights are cool, jackets and long pants. Also pack a raincoat, and hiking shoes

 What about blow-dryers, electric razors, etc.
 Bring your own blow-dryer and electric razor. On most ships you don't need an adaptor.
 

Are there laundry services aboard
 Many of the new cruise ships have guest self-service launderettes.There is additional charges for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services.
 

Generally speaking;    

  • Use the cruise line luggage tags, which should be filled out and affixed to each piece before you leave home.

  • Insure all luggage and valuables.

  • Cruise Direct Online and the cruise line cannot be responsible for their loss or damage. Baggage insurance, as well as medical and trip-cancellation insurance, is available. Call us for information about these important coverages.

  • Check to see that your tickets, boarding card and other documents are in order, and pack them in a bag that you carry with you.

What about Religious Services
Most cruise ships provide Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant services on the following religious holidays: Passover, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Chanukah and Christmas.
 

Transportation

'If you are providing your own transportation to the ship, make sure you arrive at the embarkation area at least two to three hours prior to sailing time. With increased security measures in place be prepared for long lines both at the airport and at the pier. Driving to the embarkation port Need directions? Check these ports of embarkation. Parking is available at the port.  Rates vary.
Check with www.seaportsinfo.com  for more information.

When can I expect to receive my final documents
Final documents will be sent to you 2-3 weeks prior to departure. These documents will include cruise tickets, airline tickets and transfer vouchers (if applicable), immigration forms, general ship information, shore excursion information, embarkation details and baggage tags.

When will my airline itinerary be made available
Air arrangements purchased through the cruise line are generally made available about 3 weeks prior to departure. Please note that air schedules are booked at the discretion of the cruise line and cannot be changed. Anyone requiring special itineraries/air carriers must arrange for custom air prior to final payment. The minimum charge for custom air itineraries is $35-$50 per person and additional charges may apply. Custom air should be booked as early as possible to ensure flight availability. It is the traveler's responsibility to confirm seat assignments and other special services, such as special meals or wheelchair assistance directly with the airline.


Should I reconfirm my airline reservations
Since arrival and departure times are subject to last-minute changes by the airlines, we recommend that you call your airline(s) 24 hours before your initial flight departure to verify all the flight numbers, departure and arrival times shown on your ticket. (Reconfirm international flights 72 hours prior to your departure from home.) Plan to be at the airline counter at least 2 hours before flight time for domestic flights and 3 hours before flight time for international flights.

Is parking available at the pier
Parking is available at most of the piers, for a minimal fee (usually about $10/day). At some piers only cash is accepted.

How do transfers work
Most cruise lines include transfers between the airport and the pier on embarkation/disembarkation day if you have purchased an air/sea package directly with them. Passengers providing their own air must get their own transportation to/from the pier. Prepaid transfers can be purchased separately from most cruise lines. Flight information must be provided to the cruise line with final payment if separate transfers have been purchased.

Welcome Aboard


Check-In
Complete immigration/embarkation and onboard credit card application forms before you register at the check-in desk.

Boarding Procedures
Embarkation times are printed on the cruise ticket that you receive with final documents. Generally, you will be allowed to board two or three hours before the ship sails. Keep in mind that you must be on the ship at least one hour before departure.
 
Visitor Policy
For security reasons most cruise lines have implemented a "no visitor" policy aboard their vessels.

 

Smoking

For the comfort of all of guests, most indoor areas are designated non-smoking . Ships do not have "nonsmoking" staterooms; however, all rooms are thoroughly cleaned after each cruise to assure the comfort of our guests. All showrooms are nonsmoking during performances. Cigar and pipesmoking is permitted on the outside decks only.

 

Pets

With the exception of qualified service animals for guests with disabilities, animals or pets are not allowed on board most ships. If you plan to bring a service animal, you must call the cruise line way in advance.  You will need to provide health certificate documentation for the animal.

 

Multi-Lingual Staff

Each cruise line has experienced, award-winning English-speaking staff and crew that work to make your cruise an unforgettable experience. Depending on the ship and itinerary, multi-lingual staff may also be available to assist  guests.

 

Currency & Exchange

On board most ships, U.S. dollars is the only currency accepted. They may also accept U.S. travelers checks. A currency exchange service will be available for selected itineraries, such as  European, Asian and World Cruise programs. In most ports of call you may easily exchange your U.S. dollars into the local currency at banks, airports and major hotels. In many countries, you can use your ATM card to obtain local currency. Most locations will accept major credit cards and some will even accept U.S. dollars. If you choose to use U.S. dollars, carry smaller denominations--ones, fives, tens and twenties. Please note: Foreign currencies cannot be accepted or exchanged by the Front Office.

Cash Advance

Cash advances may be available at the Front Office. All cash advances are subject to restrictions. A service fee will be added to your onboard account for all cash advances.

 

Bringing Alcoholic Beverages Onboard is not allowed.

Except for wine and champagne, alcoholic beverages purchased in the vessel's shops or otherwise brought on the ship cannot be consumed on the ship. Bottles and other containers will be collected for safekeeping and delivered to your stateroom on the last day of the voyage. A corkage fee applies to wine and champagne brought to the restaurants or bars for consumption.

Room Service offers reduced-price stateroom beverage packages for in-stateroom consumption of alcoholic beverages.

 

Check in at the reception desk at the pier.

Look for signs that show the first letter of your last name. If you've reserved a suite, a separate VIP check-in area may be provided. Ask for a receipt if you are asked to hand over your passport.  At this point, you will be required to complete ship check-in formalities. For this procedure, you will need to present your travel documents, including your cruise ticket, all completed immigration forms provided with your final documents and the required identification as noted above.


What's an onboard account
On most cruise ships there is a "cashless" system in operation. Upon completion of check-in, you will receive a guest identification card. This card will serve as your identification on-board. It will also serve as your identification for security procedures when embarking and disembarking the ship and when making purchases on board.
You will be asked to open an onboard account to pay for bar purchases, soft drinks, souvenirs, spa treatments, or to pay for shore tours and excursions.  You simply sign for your purchases and services on board by using your American Express, MasterCard, or VISA card; or settle your account on the last day of the cruise with cash or traveler's checks. At the end of your cruise, you receive a completely itemized statement. Most shops in port will accept major credit cards as well as American dollars or travelers checks. Personal checks are not accepted onboard or ashore.


Boarding pass in hand,  proceed through a security check point, then to the gangway. Ask the nearest cruise line staffer, If you need assistance with boarding.

Your first encounter will likely be the ship's photographer, who will ask if you want your picture taken. Ship's photographers take pictures throughout your cruise.  You under no obligation to buy the photo's taken of you. If you wish, you can politely decline to be photographed. Once onboard, a member of the ship's cruise staff will greet you, help with your carry-on luggage and show you to your cabin.


Take A Look Around

The door to your cabin should be open. If it's locked, the steward will open the door. (On the newest ships, you will probably receive an electronically coded key card in place of an actual key.)

 

Stateroom Furnishings

Your stateroom is furnished with a ship-to-shore telephone which enables you to easily call anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day (prices are found in your stateroom directory).

You'll also find ample closet and drawer space, individually-controlled air conditioning, a television for viewing news, movies and onboard features.

Most staterooms are equipped with standard 110 AC and 220 AC outlets. If your shaver operates on standard 110 AC, by all means bring it (guests with pre- or post-cruise hotel packages may want to bring converters and/or adapters for their hotel stay). You may wish to bring a travel alarm clock as they are not available in staterooms. Hairdryers are available in staterooms on all ships.



Tip: Once inside your cabin, take a good look around. Is it clean? Are the beds properly made? Is there ice in the ice container, towels and soap in the bathroom? The housekeeping aboard most cruise ships is very good, but sometimes little things may get overlooked.

Bring any concerns to the attention of your cabin steward immediately. Or call the purser's office or reception desk and request that someone in a supervisory position see you to resolve the problem.

Tip: Note the phone number for the ship's hospital or doctor in case of emergencies. Book shore excursions as soon as possible, and make reservations for the main dining room and any alternative dining spots.

Tip: If you're cruising on one of the larger ships, make appointments for massage and beauty treatments in the ship's spa (or at the beach facilities of the ship's "private island") as early as possible, so you get the time slots you want.

 

Religious Services ( vary by cruise line )

In order to serve the spiritual needs of our guests, we provide the following services. Your Daily Program will list times and locations.

Catholic. Mass is held daily.

Interdenominational. An interdenominational service is conducted each Sunday and on appropriate religious holidays.

Jewish. A Sabbath Eve is held each week. Anyone wishing to volunteer to lead this service should contact the Cruise Director. A Rabbi is on board for High Holiday services


Shore Tours and Excursions

With your cruise documents you will receive a complete description of shore excursions. For some cruise lines you will receive several weeks before your cruise, a pre-cruise document packet with shore excursion details and an order form.

How do I reserve and pay for shore tours and excursions
Contact the Shore Excursion or Guest Services Desk as soon as possible after boarding the ship as space on some tours are limited. For better selection, book your choices online before your trip. Shore excursions will be charged to your onboard Account. Note: During local or national holidays of the country you are visiting,  museums, cathedrals, and some sightseeing tours and shopping may not be available.


Extra Costs

Cruise lines charge for soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi etc.and alcoholic beverages. Cruise lines charge you extra to eat in the alternative restaurant, for laundry or dry cleaning, use of the internet, put put golf, ice skating, rock climbing ,spa treatments and many other things. Most cruise lines automatically add a 15% gratuity to any drink purchase.

Prepare to budget yourself for an average of $200-300 per person in spending money.

Here is a quick look at what some "extras" can cost:

Soda: $1.50
Beer: $3.50
Cocktail: $4.50
Glass of Wine: $2.50-3.00
Bottle of Wine: $18.00 and up
Ice Cream Cone: $1.50 or more
Shore Tours and Excursions: $35 to $150 or more
Massage: typically $75 to $125


Safety Tips

  • Always lock your stateroom/cabin door and never leave the keys around where someone else could steal them.. Never leave your stateroom/cabin door open or unlocked. 

  • Arrange to place all valuables in the ship's safe ( at reception ) or in your stateroom's safe.

  • Always determine the identity of a person knocking at your door. If you didn't call the stateroom/cabin housekeeper or order room service, it's safer to not open the door.

Safety is always paramount on cruise ships, so shortly after sailing or during the first day at sea, you will be required to participate in a lifeboat drill. Listen for announcements and follow instructions carefully. Be sure to attend the mandatory life-boat drill and be come acquainted with the ship's safety features like life jackets, lifeboats, and emergency evacuation plans.


To get the most enjoyment out of a port-of-call; If you're setting out on your own to tour the area, ask the Cruise Director's staff, reception or Guest Services which areas are best to visit and those areas to avoid.  Be careful and cautious at all times. Never let those souvenirs you just purchased, your purse, handbag or camera out of your sight.


As you settle into your stateroom, be sure to let your steward, stewardess or housekeeper know if there is anything you need. Then, before you begin enjoying all the wonderful things awaiting you on a cruise vacation, take a few moments to review this important information:
 

Dinner Reservations        


Every effort is made to meet your specific requests such as main or late seating, table size, or special dietary requirements.
Your early or late seating requests are presented to the cruise line. They are never guaranteed. If a table assignment card is presented to you, your reservations are confirmed. The sitting on which you have been confirmed will be shown on your cruise ticket. The Maitre d'  will have a list of those passengers who are waitlisted for each dining seating. Should seats become available, he will contact waitlisted passengers on board as appropriate.  If there is no card, check with the Maitre d' or Restaurant Manager.
 

If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, tell the Maitre d' or Restaurant Manager  or your wait staff.  They can arrange for a cake and a song in celebration of the happy event.
 

Special Meals
Low-sodium meals, kosher meals, and certain other diet-restricted meals may be available. Please request special meals at the time of booking.

Some cruise lines such as NCL, Princess and Carnival have instituted flexible dining programs  ( known as freestyle, personal choice etc ) that allow you to dine when and with whomever you wish. Check your cruise documents for the dining plan that pertains to your cruise.


What about Room Service
On most ships it's available day and night‚ from the stateroom service menu.
The following is a guideline to the dining times for cruise lines that have fixed dining programs, of course these can change and do vary somewhat from cruise line to cruise line.

Early or Late Dining, which do you choose

  You may want Early Dining ( around 6-6:30PM ) if:

  • Your young children's bedtime is the same every day.
  • You get to sleep between 10 pm and Midnight.
  • You wake up early even on vacation.
  • You definitely want to visit the midnight buffet ( if offered )

  You may want Late Dining ( around 8-8:30PM ) if:

  • After a full day of sightseeing you don't want to rush off to dinner.
  • You like to relax, be refreshed, perhaps have a cocktail before dinner.
  • You don't care for the midnight buffet.


 

Service

Seating Times
"Wake Up" Coffee 6:00 AM
Casual Buffet Breakfast 7:00 AM to 10:00-10:30 AM
Dining Room Breakfast Early Sitting 7:30 -7:45 AM 
  Late Sitting 9:00 AM 
Casual Buffet Lunch 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Dining Room Lunch Early Sitting 12:00 Noon 
  Late Sitting 1:30 PM 
Afternoon Tea ( some ships ) 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Dining Room Dinner Early Sitting 6:15 PM
  Late Sitting 8:15 PM
"Midnight" Buffet ( some ships) 11:30 PM to 12:15PM

 

As You Wish ( Freestyle, Open seating etc )  dining ( Cruise Lines have different names for this service )

From a festive five-course affair to a quick, casual dinner for two,  As You Wish dining lets you choose the venues and style that suit you.

The  main Dining Room

  • Five-course menus with offerings from classic preparations regionally inspired cuisine to vegetarian options

  • Your choice of traditional pre-set seating and dining times or a flexible open schedule

The Specialty Restaurant experience ( additional charge for this service )

  • Intimate dining featuring regional specialties,  beef and fresh seafood

  • Luxurious appointments

  • Extensive wine list

Other delightful ways to dine ( varies by cruise line )

  • Fresh, cooked-to-order specialties in the Lido ( Buffet ) Restaurant for breakfast and lunch

  • Made-to-order dinner entrees and tableside waiter service in the Lido Restaurant for dinner

  • Complimentary 24-hour in-room dining

  • The Outdoor Grill on deck

  • Late-night snacks, perhaps a Chocolate Dessert Extravaganza

  • Café featuring pastries and espresso drinks

  • Daily Afternoon Tea service.

Special dietary needs, such as vegetarian, diabetic or gluten-free meals, are easily accommodated with advance requests. Kosher meals and a Health Conscious Dining option are also available. To arrange special meals, please contact the Ship Services Department at least 60 days prior to departure.

Gratuities ( Tips )

The following are recommended guidelines:

Staff Suggestion
Waiter $3.00-$3.50 per person per day
Cabin Steward, Stewardess, Housekeeper $3.00-$3.50 per person per day
Maitre d' or Dining Room Captain $1.50 each person per night
Assistant waiter or Busboy $1.50 each person per  night


In most cases,  a 15% tip is included for beer, wine, soft drink and liquor purchases at the bar. Today some cruise lines post to your onboard spending account the cost of tipping automatically. If you wish to change or alter the amount of gratuity you will need to see the ship's Purser. At the end of your cruise these amounts will appear on your check-out bill.

 

HOTEL SERVICE CHARGE ( How gratuities to staff on some ships is done )

Ships crew works very hard to make sure that every aspect of your cruise is well taken care of. This includes those crew members who serve you directly, such as the dining room wait staff and the stewards who tend to your stateroom each day. There are also many others that tend to your care that you may never meet, such as galley and laundry staff. To ensure that the efforts of all of our crew members are recognized and rewarded, a daily Hotel Service Charge( Could be US$11 or higher depending upon the cruise line's policy )  per passenger is automatically charged to each guest's shipboard account. If the cruise line's service exceeds or fails to meet your expectations, you may be able to adjust this amount at the end of the cruise. The Hotel Service Charge is paid entirely to crew members, and represents an important part of their total compensation package. A 15% service charge is automatically added to bar charges and dining room wine purchases. In terminals, airports, ports of call and on shore excursions, we suggest that you extend gratuities consistent with customary local practices.

 

Here's a look at some cruise lines' tipping programs. All are subject to change.
  
Carnival: The line has an automatic gratuity program on 10 of its 16 ships, with a daily charge of $9.75.  In alternate dining rooms (outside the main one), the reservation fee includes a tip. Bar bills include a 15 percent gratuity.
 
Costa: On Caribbean cruises, the suggestion is $3 each for steward and waiter, $1.50 assistant waiter, $1 headwaiter. On European cruises, the amounts are $1.50 steward, $2.50 waiter, $2.50 "assistant waiter team," 50 cents for maitre d' and "headwaiter team." Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
 
Cunard: An automatic gratuity program, begun in 2000, charges $7 on Caronia and $11 to $13 on the Queen Elizabeth 2, depending on cabin category. Bar bills include a 15 percent gratuity.
 
Crystal: The line suggests $4 each for stewardess and waiter in the main dining room; $2.50 assistant waiter, $4 for butler (penthouse only); an additional $6 per meal for alternate restaurants. Passengers can tip in advance when they book the cruise. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
 
Disney:  On average per day, about $3.60 for steward, $3.70 server, $2.70 assistant server, 90 cents head server.  Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
 
Holland America: Tipping is not required, but some people do depending upon the level of service received.
 
Norwegian: Automatic gratuity program charges $10 per day for ages 13 and older, $5 for children 3 to 12, no charge younger than 3. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
 
Princess: Automatic gratuity program charges $10 per day. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
 
Radisson Seven Seas: Tipping is not required, but some people do depending upon the level of service received.
 
Royal Caribbean: It suggests $3.50 each for waiter and steward, $2 assistant waiter, 75 cents headwaiter. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
 
Seabourn: Tipping is not required, but some people do depending upon the level of service received.
 
Silversea: Tipping is not required, but some people do depending upon the level of service received.
 
Windstar: Tipping is not required, but some people do depending upon the level of service received.

If you are looking to get the very best of service you may want to tip the suggested amount for the week to your Cabin Steward, Wait Staff and Maitre`d, the first evening of your cruise. Not much you can do to insure great service if you tip at the end of the week.  Make out some envelopes before you leave home with a note that says...This is a just a part of our gratuity to you for your great service, Thank you.  By tipping the suggested amount on the first night, you let them know that you appreciative and expect great service (not just good service) and they can expect an additional tip at the end of the cruise. At the end of the cruise If you got that extra special care, give an additional $20 to the waiter, $10 to the assistant waiter ,$10 to the Maitre'd and $10 to the cabin steward. On the other hand,  if you did not feel their service was over the top, don't give them their "bonus".
 
Shows and Entertainment
 Every evening at sea sparkles with dazzling entertainment. Designed to indulge your individual preferences, Your entertainment choices range from Broadway-style productions, captivating shows and lively discotheques to the glamour and excitement of Monte Carlo-style casinos and specialty lounges. Or, if you're feeling like a quiet evening, you can take in a first-run movie.
Shows and entertainment services on board on most ships vary. If you have early dining then your main show is after dinner, and if you have the late dining then the show can be before or after dinner. It varies on the sailing. You will be advise on board. Lounges and bars are open throughout the evening and a schedule is posted in the onboard newsletter.
 

The following activities and entertainment are just a sample of what is available on most cruises:

* Welcome Aboard Party * Captain's Cocktail Party * Singles Cocktail Party * Grandmothers and Honeymooners Party * Midnight Deck Party * Captain's Gala Dinner * Supervised, year-round Camp Carnival children's program * Vegas-style shows every night at sea * Spa program * Full gambling casino * Variety of bands and orchestras * Nightclub and midnight shows * Variety of bars and lounges * Ping Pong * Shuffleboard * Volleyball * Art auctions * Guest Talent Show * Bingo sessions * Aerobics classes * Dance classes * Gaming lessons * Deck games and contests

Activities and entertainment vary from ship to ship, so not all of these may be available on your cruise. A daily schedule listing all the activities scheduled for the following day is delivered to all guest cabins, each evening.
 
Age Requirements
On most cruise ships: No guest under the age of twenty-one (21) will be booked in a stateroom unless accompanied by an adult twenty-five (25) years of age, or older. This age limit may be waived ( depending upon the cruise line ) for minor children sailing with their parents or guardians in adjacent staterooms or under-aged married couples (proof of marriage is required). Please note: An individual's age on the date of sailing determines his or her status for the entire cruise vacation.


On most cruise ships the age policy for gambling and consumption of alcoholic beverages is as follows:

  • Guests eighteen (18) years of age and older are welcome to play in some casinos.

  • Guests eighteen to twenty (18-20) years of age are welcome to enjoy beer and wine on some ships.

  • Guests twenty-one (21) years of age and older are welcome to enjoy all alcoholic beverages.

  • Applicable age restrictions apply while the ship is in port, in accordance with local age limitations

Liquor Policy  - varies depending upon cruise line
 As an example, guests who purchase liquor onboard from one of the ships gift shops, for in-cabin consumption, may be sold liquor at an in-cabin consumption rate (non-duty free rate which is comparable to retail rates), which in turn can be taken immediately to their cabin. If a guest decides that they would like to purchase duty free liquor from any of the gift shops, then they would pay the duty free price and their respective liquor purchase will be delivered to their stateroom on the last night of their voyage.
In addition, any liquor purchases that are made by a guest in a land based location, will be stored onboard when they enter the vessel, and will be delivered to their stateroom on the last night of their voyage. For those guests who bring wine and champagne to celebrate a special occasion onboard, these products will be tagged and stored by our personnel, and delivered to the guest stateroom or their dining venue, as per their request. If these special wines or champagnes are consumed in a dining room or specialty restaurant, or for casual dining, a corkage fee may apply.
 

Children's Activities

On most cruise ships activity programs may be available for families with children ages 3-17, year-round or during seasonal and holiday sailings. Group or individual babysitting may be available, and costs a nominal fee.  Check with us about these programs on your particular sailing.
To see a list of activities by cruise line visit www.familycruiseonline.com

 

Sample Activities by Age Group

Not all listed and activities vary on all ships


Ages 5 - 8
Storytelling
Indoor Games
Arts & Crafts
Sport Olympics
Card Games
Ice Cream Parties
Puzzles
 Bingo
Sing-Along
Ages 9 -12
Golf Put Put
Disco Parties
Pizza Parties
Deck Sports
Sport Olympics
Ping Pong
Movies
 Bingo
Karaoke
Ice Cream Parties
Video Games

Teens
Teen Disco
Video Games
Teen Sports
Card Games
Trivia Contests
Sport Olympics
Movies
Karaoke


E-Mail, Internet

Many cruise ships have Internet Cafes. Not all so you need to check with your cruise line.

Internet cafe's may be open as much as 24-hours a day and features private workstations with the latest flat panel computer terminals. Guests may have the ability to send and receive e-mail, access Internet sites and transmit a 20-second video postcard to friends and family back home. Guests can either use their own "web-based" e-mail address or obtain a temporary account while on board.

The cost is not cheap.  Charge to utilize this service can be as much as $.75-per minute or more. On some ships, guests can purchase a block of minutes for a set price plan. As an example: 100 minutes for $55.00 ($.55 per minute), or say 250 minutes for $100.00 ($.40 per minute).

Charges for this service are be billed to the guest's onboard account. If the guest needs to obtain a temporary account while on board, then expect a set-up charge of around $3.95. To send a 20-second video postcard, the charge may be $4.95. You even have to pay to print information, around $.50-cents per page.

 

Mobile Phones

Through an agreement with Wireless Maritime Services (WMS), a leading provider of maritime cellular service at sea, Most  cruise lines let you take advantage of your wireless devices while at sea. Using your own mobile phone and telephone number, you can make and receive calls to and from fellow travelers who are on the ship, as well as friends, family or business associates back home. If you currently have the service through your home provider, you can also send and receive text messages. Other available wireless services include use of PDAs, such as your Blackberry.®

All charges for calls, text and data usage made while on the WMS network are billed at rates similar to international roaming by your home carrier on your regular monthly phone bill.

The use of the service requires compatible wireless/mobile phones or devices and qualified wireless service with a home mobile service provider that has a roaming agreement with Wireless Maritime Services. Please contact your carrier prior to sailing to make sure your plan qualifies and you will have service while at sea. For a complete listing of carriers worldwide go to www.cellularatsea.com.

Availability of service is not guaranteed; it depends on the participation of your home mobile service provider and service permissions. Please also note that some prepaid phone plans are
not supported.

 

Telephone, Fax & Mail

Telephone: Ship to Shore
Direct ship-to-shore telephones are provided in each guest stateroom. You may easily place a call to friends, relatives or business associates during your cruise, reception permitting.

All phone calls, whether inbound or outbound, are charged a satellite tariff. Outbound calling rates are posted near your cabin telephone and will be billed to your on-board account. These charges are applied to ALL calls including calls to 800, 877 and 888 numbers. Please do not use a credit card or phone card; your on-board account will be billed in addition to the cost of the phone card or charges to your credit card. Collect calls are not possible from the ship.

Telephone: Shore to Ship
A credit card is required for all inbound phone calls to a ship. The rate ( subject to change ) could be as much as $USD16.00 per minute and billing begins at the time specified. Please have the ship's name, your party's name and stateroom number. Contact the cruise line for procedures.

Fax
Facsimile service is available on board. Please contact the Front Office for cost and other information if you wish to take advantage of this service.

Mail
Letters and postcards may be mailed from the ship while in ports of call. Guests may buy stamps in port or purchase them with U.S. cash from the Front Office. All mail is subject to local postal office procedures and rates in the port mailed.


Beauty Salon and Spa Services
On most ships, Beauty salon services include, hairdressing for men and women, coloring, manicure and pedicure. A full list of services and rates may be obtained on board. Appointments are set on board the ships, and services may not be available at all times on all ships. Guests may also choose to pamper themselves with health spa treatments such as a facial, massage, personal training or hair removal (waxing). A full list of services and rates may be obtained on board. Appointments are set on board the ships, and services may not be available at all times on all ships.


Onboard Purchases
On most cruise ships there is a "cashless" system in operation. You simply sign for your purchases and services on board by using your American Express, MasterCard, or VISA card; or settle your account on the last day of the cruise with cash or traveler's checks. At the end of your cruise, you receive a completely itemized statement.
Personal checks cannot be accepted, and only U.S. currency is accepted on board.

 

Benefits of Booking a future cruise Onboard ( each cruise line has different offers and procedures )

The best time to book your next cruise is while cruising. Book your next cruise while on board and you may receive up to $200 per stateroom shipboard credit, good for your next cruise.

Limited time offer, Savings for On Board Bookings Only
Book on board and you can reserve your next cruise at a reduced deposit of only $100 per person. (If you choose to take advantage of The Cruise Line's Cancellation Protection this payment will also be due at time of initial deposit.) No additional deposits will be due until final payment. Should you need to cancel your reservation, your reduced deposit will be applicable to another  cruise within the next four years. Your reduced deposit will be subject to cancellation penalties if the booking is within the published penalty period.

Book the Stateroom or Suite You Want
When you book on board, you have a much better opportunity of receiving the stateroom or suite that best suits your traveling style; this includes preferred accommodations on our most popular and unique itineraries. That's because your Future Cruise Consultant has immediate access to The Cruise's reservation system and can view all availabilities on all sailings. The time to reserve your desired stateroom, suite and dining preference is now.

Your booking will be credited to, and finalized by, your preferred Travel Professional

The cruise line's appreciate the relationship you have with your travel professional and want to assure you they will be credited for bookings made onboard, just let us know. In addition, The Cruise Line will honor any pricing or amenities that your travel professional extends in addition to your onboard offers.

To book, or for more information, simply visit your Future Cruise Consultant.

United States Customs
 Due to U.S. and local customs restrictions, passengers may not leave the ship until all luggage is off-loaded. With this in mind, we suggest that you relax in one of the many public lounges to wait for customs clearance and disembarkation by pre-designated groups.

Customs and immigration inspectors will review with you the customs declarations form upon which you have listed all the dutiable articles bought in foreign ports or in the ship's boutique. U.S. residents returning to the U.S. are allowed a duty-free exemption of $400 per person, which includes the cost of one liter of alcoholic beverages (if purchased onboard or ashore) for each passenger 21 years of age or older. Canadian citizens, when out of the country for more than eight days, may bring back up to $300 (Canadian) duty-free. It is recommended that passengers keep their sales receipts handy for declaring their purchases. Food items should not be landed in U.S. ports.

On cruises calling at ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, or American Samoa, U.S. residents are allowed an additional exemption of $400 when returning to the U.S., including four liters of alcoholic beverages provided you have the proof of purchase from the designated ports. For further customs information, we recommend that you attend the Cruise Director's disembarkation talk given during the last days of the cruise.
 
Disembarkation and your last night at sea.

What do I need to do on the last night of the cruise
Here's a quick checklist of things you should do on the evening before you return home:

  • Don't forget to tip any staff members who extended "over the top" service to you and made your cruise an unforgettable experience. Exchange addresses and phone numbers from your new found friends.

  • The cruise staff will give you instructions about disembarkation procedures and assist with any special arrangements.

  • Bags will be collected from outside your stateroom on the last night on board.

  • Your cabin steward will give you colored tags for each piece of luggage.

  • Make sure bags are properly tagged.

  • Keep a carry-on bag with things you'll need on the last night (such as jewelry, cameras, clothes, medications, toiletries, etc.).

  • Gather together your personal identification, airline tickets, customs forms, medications, and other important items along with the clothes and shoes you intend to wear the next day. Place them in your carry-on bag or on your person so you can access them easily.

Morning Arrival at the Pier
 

Express Check Out
As do the finest hotels, most cruise lines offers a quick and easy express checkout service to create smooth sailing from the beginning to the end of your cruise.  The cruise line will provide you with updates on the items charged against your account and you will be presented with a final billing on the day of disembarkation. If this billing is completely to your satisfaction, then everything will be taken care of for you without another visit to the front desk.
Baggage Identification
On the majority of  cruises, you will be asked upon leaving the ship to identify and clear your luggage through customs. Your luggage will be arranged dockside by color-coded tags which are distributed on board.
Transfers
If you have purchased a ship-to-airport transfer or a post-cruise package, you will be directed by cruise line representatives to the transfer departure point. Detailed information specific to your cruise will be provided on board.
Meeting Family and Friends

If your friends or relatives are meeting you at the pier, please be advised that disembarkation usually takes approximately 2-3 hours after the scheduled arrival of the ship in order to clear immigration and customs.
 
The End Of A Great Cruise Vacation
 By the time you finally walk down the gangway, you'll know what we mean by "You haven't lived until you've cruised" and chances are you'll already be planning your next cruise vacation with Cruise Direct Online.

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All promotions/pricing and cabin space is subject to availability at the time of booking and the prices shown or quoted at this web site are for reference purposes only. These rates are for new, individual bookings only. The actual price of your cruise may vary. Prices quoted and availability are NOT GUARANTEED until confirmed by the cruise line AND a deposit or full payment if required is made. Discounted savings off cruise fare only. Port charges (NCF), taxes, airfare, air taxes, transfers and any other costs associated with your cruise are not discounted. Discount limited to select cruises including holiday sailings. Not every ship, not every sailing is discounted. Call us to find out about your cruise selection.  Travel Direct Corporation is not responsible for last minute changes of price or itinerary by cruise line, or any errors or omissions in the content of this web site. Some restrictions and cancellation penalties may apply.

*Subject to availability at time of booking.  All offers are capacity-controlled. cruise only, based on double occupancy. Other restrictions may apply