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FAQ's for the first time cruiser...


What kind of clothes should I pack?

While each cruise experience may vary in what would seem to be appropriate attire, generally speaking a seven-day cruise will have at least two formal evenings. One of these is formal and the other semi-formal. The remaining evenings would likely be casual in nature. Often the cruise will feature one or two theme nights on these casual evenings, such as 60’s rock-and-roll and or country western. It is suggested that one check with their travel agent, who is the best source of information as to what to pack for a specific cruise experience.

If you are freestyle with NCL/NCLA or Princess cruising then packing formal wear is not an issue unless you decide that you want to dress for the optional formal night (s)

Do I need an evening gown?

If you enjoy the chance to dress up, this is your opportunity. If not, you will feel totally at ease in a dressy cocktail dress. The description of an evening gown has become rather wide in range. On a formal night on a cruise, ladies will be wearing anything from full-length evening gowns to short cocktail dresses. A dressy business dress or suit would also be appropriate.

Do I need a tuxedo?

Some gentlemen enjoy wearing their tuxedo and others well…. If you have a tuxedo, by all means bring it along. If you would like to rent one on board ship this can also be arranged. Ask your travel agent for assistance with this. On the other hand, it is perfectly acceptable for a gentleman to wear a dark suit or dark sport coat with slacks on formal night.

How much luggage can I bring on the cruise?

If you are flying from your home city to your cruise departure point, you will only be able to bring as much luggage as is allowable for that airline carrier. They have recently tightened up the restrictions on checked and carry-on luggage at most airlines. Therefore, be sure to ask your travel agent for this information so you may pack accordingly. The cruise line is not concerned about how much luggage you bring. Closet and drawer space in some staterooms may be a bit limited so be cautious about over packing….

Do I have to carry my own luggage aboard the ship?

No, there are porters available curbside at the cruise ship terminal to tag and see that your luggage is delivered to your appropriate stateroom. Be sure to have your luggage tagged with your stateroom number, name and address. If you are picking up your cruise documents at the pier, you can simply ask the porters to check the manifest for your cabin number. They will be happy to tag your luggage for you. A gratuity is expected.

Should I pack snacks and alcohol to eat and drink?

Finding something to eat just about any time of day on a ship is not a hard task to accomplish. Therefore, packing snacks is not necessary. Bringing alcohol on board ship is generally not allowed (with the exception of wine). There are bars and lounges open till the wee hours. Again, your cruise professional can get you the details on whether or not you can bring alcohol on your cruise.

What if I need to wash some of my clothes on the cruise?

Laundry, cleaning and pressing services are always available. Each stateroom will be have a laundry list and bag to use if you should need this taken care of. Additionally, some ships have self-service laundry facilities for passenger use. They are equipped with washers, dryers, ironing boards, irons and detergent for purchase. The washers and dryers are generally coin operated.


How will I know what to wear for dinner?

Each evening while you are enjoying dinner, your cabin steward magically appears to clean and refresh your stateroom. They will usually leave a daily activities program in your cabin featuring the following day's events as well as other information. The dress for the following day is always noted on this activity sheet. You can usually pick up this program at the purser’s desk as well. If you should have questions about the appropriate attire while on the ship, simply ask the purser’s desk for their assistance.

How do I pay for my meals?

All meals you enjoy while on board ship on your cruise vacation are included in the cruise fare. There is no additional cost for meals on a ship unless your ship offers alternative restaurants for dining. In this instanc there is usually a nominal cover charge to dine in the restaurant.

Do I tip the waiter?

It is not customary to tip the waiter or other servers during your cruise. Instead, you will find envelopes placed in your stateroom on the last day of your cruise vacation. You can also pick up these envelopes and instructions on the appropriate tipping allowances at the purser’s desk. Your travel agent can also assist you with the guidelines. Some cruise lines have a no-tipping policy. This means that the servers are being compensated in their pay for service and you are not expected to tip. However, if you have received exemplary service from a server, you might wish to offer them a token of your appreciation at the end of the cruise.

If you are using the ship's room service or require services from staff other than your room steward you should tip the person providing the service.

What if I want more food?

Just ask! Most ships feature 24-hour room service should you get hungry and not feel like leaving your cabin. Somewhere on the ship food is likely being served just about anytime of the day or even during the night.

What if I require a special diet?

Be sure to let your travel agent know if you have special dietary needs so they can make arrangements for you in advance. Even if the cruise line was not notified, they will prepare meals around whatever special dietary needs you have.

How will I know where to sit?

When you board the ship your meal time and table assignment will already be made for you. There are usually two seatings for dinner; the main seating and the late seating. Usually the main seating starts around 6:00 to 6:30 PM and the late seating around 8:00 to 8:30 PM. Your table assignment is made for the entire cruise and you can choose the number of passengers you dine with. They cruise lines usually offer tables for 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 guests.

Which is the best seating for dinner?

It all depends on your personal preference. By all means, if you are traveling with children select the early seating. Much can be said for both seatings and each can make their own decision when booking the cruise.

What if I don't like my tablemates?

While changing tables mid-cruise is considered inappropriate, if you simply cannot get along with your table mates you can request a change from the Maitre d'. If you want intimate dining be sure to let your travel agent know that you want a table for two. Also, many ships offer "alternate dining" restaurants for a change of pace. NCL, as an example, offers their Bistro, a separate restaurant that you can enjoy one (or as many as you like) nights as well as many other fine restaurants.


What if my table mates smoke and I don't?

If your tablemates smoke and it is upsetting to you immediately inform the Maitre d' and request a change to a non-smoking table. The ships usually limit smoking to a certain area of the ship for the comfort of everyone.

Can I celebrate my anniversary on the cruise?

Absolutely! If fact there is no better way to celebrate s special event. Simply let the Maitre d' know a day in advance of any special occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, engagements, just about any occasion) and he will arrange for a special cake or dessert and get the waiters to acknowledge your event.

How much do the shows cost?

There seems to be no end to the entertainment on a cruise. Every evening there is a major show to attend. They run the range from comedians, magicians, and juggling acts to Las Vegas style reviews, musical productions and name entertainers. The shows are an excellent way to spend an evening after an excellent meal and never cost a thing. Since the shows ar4e always open seating it is advised that you get there early to get good seats for shows you are particularly interested in. All of the entertainment on board the ship is included in the cruise fare.

What if I don't want to attend the shows?

In addition to the main show in the showroom there are usually many other events taking place to enjoy. There are always several lounges that offer music, karaoke, entertainment and dancing to choose from. Many ships offer full feature movies to enjoy and other activities as well.

What time is breakfast and lunch?

If you want to eat in the main dining room for breakfast and lunch the dining times will be posted in the daily newsletter you receive the evening before. The ship will usually present two seatings unless they are in port (in which case they will offer the entire ship open seating) There are always alternate dining options should you be a late riser and miss your breakfast seating. Usually a breakfast and lunch buffet will be offered in one of the cafes on the ship.

What if I want to just hang out by the pool for lunch?

Virtually all ships make food available for those that want to enjoy lunch poolside. Usually hot dogs and hamburgers, fruit and such is accessible to the pool so you do not have to dress to eat.

OK, What is the midnight buffet?

As if eating all day wasn't enough, most cruise ships put on a lavish midnight feast for their passengers at least once during a cruise. Many cruise lines have gone to serving snacks in certain areas between 11 pm and midnight and this seems to be a little more realitic rather than eating a full meal. If you enjoy food, many folks have chosen the early (or main) seating for dinner so that they can be ready to eat again when the midnight buffet rolls around.


Will I get seasick?

Cruises today and seasickness do not really go together. Today most modern cruise ships have stabilizers for passenger comfort should the seas get a bit choppy. In today’s technologically savvy world, it is easy for the bridge to know well in advance of any serious storms. Therefore they are able to make the necessary routing changes to offer the passengers the most comfort. If you are concerned about this possible discomfort, simply ask your physician for their suggestions on preventative medication.

Will I get bored?

Getting bored would be a difficult task on a cruise. The multitude of activities on board ships the exotic ports of call, the exciting nightlife along with all the other fine service and amenities would make it almost impossible to get bored. Perhaps you want to just lie on a lounge chair on deck, relax, eat fine food and throw and occasional coin into a slot machine. Or perhaps you want to take as many shore excursions as you possibly can fit in, attend every party, buffet, and dance the night away…. The options are endless and yours to choose from. However, if you choose the wrong ship you might end up mismatched with the other passengers. You need the advice of a cruise travel agent on this one.

Above all else, never be afraid to ask questions either in the looking before booking stage or once aboard ship. There are always people around who are more than willing to help you!



Many people who are thinking about going on their first cruise ask this. So here is a fairly lengthy 'what is/what isn't' list for you....

What's Included In The Price Of A Cruise?

There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best travel value for your money, because almost everything is included in the upfront price. Your fare includes:

* Accommodations
* Destinations
* Dining
* Entertainment
* Activities
* Service
* And Special Programming
* Air travel but only if booked as part of the package

For once, you'll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. The only things not included are things you choose to buy.

What's Not Included In The Upfront Price?

* Air travel if purchased seperately
* Alcoholic and some non-alcoholic drinks while onboard
* Gratuities/Tips (although some lines are operating autogratuities, check with TA)
* Some ships have speciality restaurants which have a cover charge - usually around $10-$20 per person
* Shore excursions
* Photographs taken by the ship's photographer
* Spa & Salon treatments


How do I book a cruise?

Planning a cruise vacation can be complicated - more so than booking an airline ticket, hotel, or rental car. A cruise vacation can truly be vacation of a lifetime. It can be a significant investment of both time and money. Therefore, we highly recommend you enlist the services of a professional Cruise TA to help you choose the right cruise for you.

Thereare literally thousands of different cruise options to choose from and the best vacation for you depends on how you answer these questions:


When do you want to go? For how long?

What do you want to see? Which is more important? Beaches? Shopping? High Adventure? Relaxation? History? Folklore? High Adventure? Sports?

What's your cruise experience? What's your other vacation experience? Which cruise line is best for you? What type of accommodations?

How are you getting to the ship? Do you need transfers? Using frequent flier miles?

Are you taking kids? How old are they? How many cabins do you need? Do you need cabins near one another? Do you want to sit together at dinner? Are you celebrating a big anniversary? Does everyone need the same type of cabin? Do you qualify for a group rate?

Do you have special needs? Crib? Wheelchair? Special diet?

What kind of rate do you qualify for? Are you AARP? A Platinum Card Holder? Retired from a Fortune 500 company or part of Credit Union? Work for an airline? Military? Teacher? Resident of a certain city? AAA or Union Member? Are you a past passenger of the cruise line? What's your past passenger number? Do you have any coupons or upgrade certificates?

As an FYI, many online websites like Travelocity and Expedia may let you book a cruise online, but you could be paying more than if you just picked up the phone and call a Cruise TA who will take the time manually research all the rate programs for which you qualify.

Are all ships and cruises fairly similar?

Far from it. Cruise ships can range from under 200 feet to over 1,000 feet. You can sail with anywhere from fewer than 100 fellow passengers to over 3000. Experience atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, classically simple to ultra-deluxe. You can even choose between traditional propeller-driven craft, sail-assisted cruise ships, or even a paddle-wheel river boat.


Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?

Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms. But do check with your TA or cruise line to be sure, adapters for appliances such as shavers, phone/laptop chargers etc can be purchased before you leave for your cruise on onboard ship. Many ships can have hair dryers in your cabin.

Can we stay in touch with the outside?

Quite easily. Most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores. Staterooms on all of today's modern cruise ships are equipped with satellite televisions and in some cases in-cabin internet connections. While most ships now have telephones in passenger cabins, you can also call someone on shore through the ship's radio operator while at sea. And, you can make phone calls from most ports. In addition, many ships have fax capabilities and newer ships offer Internet access and e-mail capabilities to passengers.

Can we celebrate a "special" day?

Absolutely! Most cruise lines will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus of Happy Whatever to honour the occasion. Your birthday or anniversary can be more festive with champagne, flowers, canapes, wine or cheese. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise your TA or cruise line in advance.


Is cruising safe?

Ships must follow an extraordinary number of rules and regulations that assure passengers' (and crew members') safety while on board. The Coast Guard conducts rigorous quarterly inspections of all ships operating from U.S. ports, looking to make sure they comply with its emergency-response requirements. Rather than sinking a la Titanic, fire is the biggest concern, and when it comes to fire safety, ships operate under international rules known as Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The rules require most ships to have smoke detectors, sprinklers and low-level emergency lighting for escape routes. Within the first 24 hours of sailing, everyone on your ship is required to participate in a safety drill that includes trying on a nifty orange life jacket and locating your assigned lifeboat, on the odd (and rare) chance that you need to use it.

Is there good security?

Given the current world environment, increased emphasis has been put on cruise ship security by the Coast Guard and others. New international rules have been established that among other things require all ships and ports to have both security officers and security plans. Cruise lines are now required to report names of passengers before each sailing, and the lines have tightened policies that require guests and crew to provide identification when boarding and re-boarding a vessel (passengers are issued special boarding cards, and in some cases ships even have a machine that takes and stores your photo for identification purposes). It is very very rare thesedays for anyone who is not meant to be onboard your ship to be there. All ships carry security officers, who are rarely seen but are always there incase a problem occurs onboard while cruising.


What happens if someone travelling with me dies while away?

If a death should occur while travelling or on holiday, dealing with bureaucracy can make the situation even worse. Here is some advice on how best to deal with the situation.

Travelling abroad is statistically very safe, but of course, deaths do occasionally happen. Of the 60 million foreign trips made by British nationals each year, 2,000 deaths are reported. It is estimated a third are due to natural causes and the rest are caused by accidents and criminal acts.

Dealing with a death abroad should be straightforward for relatives if the deceased was on a package holiday. Under the most countries code of conduct, tour/cruise operators have a duty of care to help customers in this situation.

For independent travellers the first port of call are the ship crew/medical officer or if on a shore excursion the Embassy or consulate and the ship, which should be able to provide help and advice.

Here are some tips in the unlikely event of a tragedy abroad:

* Make sure you take out a travel insurance policy that includes adequate repatriation, as related costs can run into thousands of pounds/dollars.

* If you are on a package holiday, let the tour/cruise operator/crew do as much as possible on your behalf.

* Never sign anything unless it is crystal clear what it means - particularly if it is in a foreign language.

* Chase up the insurance company - the insurer will employ a foreign funeral director on your behalf.

* If the insurance does not cover repatriation, try to use a reputable agency. It will help to reduce the stress as the bureaucracy involved in arranging everything yourself is potentially overwhelming. In these cases, the cruise line should be able to help you sort repatriation out for you.


From British Airways website.....

New simpler baggage policies - major changes announced
We are introducing changes to simplify baggage policies and to reduce queues at the airport. These changes will also bring our policies into line with the UK Department for Transport recommendations and the requirements of the UK’s main airport operator BAA.

The new policies will bring changes to hand, checked and excess baggage allowances and will be phased in from early July 2006 across the airline’s global network.

Hand baggage allowances are changing from 5 July 2006

All passengers will be able to carry one standard-sized bag and one briefcase, laptop computer bags or equivalent on all flights.
The maximum size of the bag, 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in) has been set in line with the UK Department for Transport recommendations.
Passengers must be able to lift their bag unaided into the aircraft overhead locker.
Briefcases, laptop computer bags or equivalent must fit under the seat in front.

Free checked baggage allowances
A single allowance system based on the number of bags that can be checked in will be introduced from 11 October 2006.

FIRST, Club World, Club Europe and World Traveller Plus
Passengers will be able to check two bags into the aircraft hold free of charge.

World Traveller*, Euro Traveller and UK Domestic
Passengers will be able to check one bag into the aircraft hold free of charge.

Infants will be allowed to check one bag, plus a collapsible baby buggy, into the aircraft hold free of charge in all classes on all routes.
For any connecting journey, the most generous allowance will apply.
Passengers will be able to carry one piece of sporting equipment free of charge in addition to their checked baggage allowance.
A maximum bag weight of 23kg (50lbs) will apply to all bags.

*World Traveller passengers travelling to or from the US, Canada, Caribbean, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico will continue to be allowed two checked bags in line with the local government regulations.

Excess baggage charges will be standardised across the network from 11 October 2006

All baggage in excess of free checked baggage allowances will be charged at a fixed fee depending on the length of the journey.
From 12 July 2006, passengers who prepay online for their excess baggage will receive a 20% discount on airport charges.
Passengers transferring flights, a single charge based on the longest flight will apply.

Maximum weight and size

We will not accept any item of baggage that weighs more than 23kg (50lbs) or oversized items exceeding 2.4m x 0.75m x 0.75m (94in x 29in x 29in).
Advance notification is required 24 hours before departure for exceptional items that weigh between 23kg - 45kg (50 - 90lbs) and which cannot be repacked e.g. musical instruments, electrical wheelchairs, some sporting items, TV news cameras, commercial spares.

We will no longer be able to carry pets as baggage. From 11 October 2006, these will only be carried as cargo.



What is the muster drill?

Before your ship sets sail, everyone on board must participate in a compulsory safety drill to comply with coast Guard and International safety regulations. The drill requires you to report to a designated ship location (your location is listed in your cabin) wearing your life vest (also found in your cabin). The whole process takes about 20 minutes. And, when its finished, the ship can depart.

Do I need a passport?

This depends on the type of cruise and your destination. Your cruise provider will mail you detailed information about entry and document requirements. However, it is the responsibility of the individual traveler to check with local immigration offices and/or respective embassies or consulates to determine specific document requirements. There will be no refund issued if a passenger is denied boarding by local immigration officials due to lack of proper documents.

Below are some guidelines:

* A valid passport with at least six months validity past your return date is required for travel outside of the United States. However, for itineraries that are within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas or most parts of the Caribbean, an original birth certificate with raised seal or a certified copy AND a government-issued photo identification such as a driver's license are acceptable "proof of citizenship." Non U.S. Citizens must contact the consulates of any countries that they will be visiting for information on documents required to enter each country.

Some itineraries that depart from Hawaii may require a passport. Check with your Travel Agent or cruise line to find out if your itinerary requires a passport.

* VISAS: In addition, visas are often required for U.S. citizens visiting exotic ports such as Turkey, Australia, Russia, South America countries, Asia and the Middle East, to name just a few. It is recommended that you contact the consulate of each country that you are visiting (or check their embassy websites) to verify the exact documents required.

Two helpful Websites are http://www.tyzo.com/planning/embassies.html OR http://www.travisa.com.


Currencies....how do I find out what the exchange rate will be?

There are many websites with this information or your local bank/bureau de change will be able to help.

This link takes you to one of the most popular and easy to use conversion sites...




How can I prevent identity theft while I am away?

• Clean out your wallet before a trip. Remove unnecessary credit cards, your Social Security card and other unneeded documents that could compromise your identity if they are lost or stolen.

• Remove documents such as insurance or Medicare cards that have Social Security numbers as part of the identifying information. Make photocopies and black or cut out the last four digits of the Social Security number and carry that with you.

• Photocopy or make a list of the remaining contents of your wallet. Keep a copy of that list in a secure location and with a trusted individual you can contact in case your wallet is lost or stolen.

• Do not leave your wallet or any documents containing personal information in your hotel room or cabin. Use a hotel/cabin safe, or hand them to the Purser who will then give you a signed receipt which you must show in order to collect the items.

• Use traveler's cheques (which don't contain personal identifying information) or credit cards (which usually protect their holders).

• Don't discard your boarding passes. Not only can they contain identifying information, but you will also need them if a mistake is made in crediting frequent-flier miles to your account. Once miles have been credited, shred the passes.