Ask The Cruise Experts: FAQ
RESERVING AND PAYING FOR YOUR CRUISE
- How do I reserve my cruise?
- Can I Use Frequent Flyer Miles to pay for my cruise?
- What is cruise Travel Insurance and do I need it?
- When do I pay for my cruise, Can I get a refund?
- Why is taking a cruise so Great?
- What's included in the cost of my cruise?
- Will I get Sea Sick when I take a cruise?
- How do I arrange transportation to or from the cruiseship?
- What travel documents do I need to cruise?
- What should I pack and how much luggage can I bring on my cruise?
- What is a Theme cruise?
- Are there Fitness/Spa/Beauty Salon Facilities on cruise ships?
- Is a Cruise a good option for Seniors Married or Single?
- Is a Cruise Really all that Romantic?
- Can Singles really have a good time on a Cruise?
- Will my teenage children enjoy taking a cruise?
- Can anyone scuba dive?
- Can I keep my Golf game up while on a Cruise?
- What will the weather be like in the ports I'm visiting?
- What is there to do onboard the cruise ship?
- Is there a special dress code on board cruise ship?
- Is the cruise dining experience really as good as I've been told?
- Is there an extra charge for certain beverages?
- What is the tipping policy onboard ship?
- Embarkation - When can I get onboard?
- Can I have visitors onboard?
- Are there Medical Facilities on board ship?
- What are shore excursions?
- Can I get my emails and make phone calls during the cruise?
- Are there group meeting rooms onboard?
CRUISING WITH KIDS
RESERVING AND PAYING FOR YOUR CRUISE
How do I reserve my cruise?
You can book your cruise online through THE CRUISE EXPERTS AGENCY website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or please call (888) 804-CRUISE(2784) M-F 7am to 7pm, Sat & Sun 9am to 4pm and one of our friendly CRUISE EXPERTS would love to assist you with all your cruising needs. For online bookings you can use all major credit cards or alternatively your CRUISE EXPERT will accept your deposit and final payment by check.
Are my frequent flyer miles or travel vouchers redeemable through THE CRUISE EXPERTS AGENCY for the purchase of my cruise?
No. Unfortunately you will have to make your reservation through the airline, travel club, car rental company, etc. to realize those benefits.
What is Cruise Travel Insurance and do I need it?
Travel insurance protects you in the case an illness, accident or other unexpected situation requires you to cancel or cut short your cruise vacation.
Here at THE CRUISE EXPERTS AGENCY we know your cruise vacation is a significant investment and since we want this to be the most relaxing vacation you've ever experienced, we recommend you purchase travel insurance for that extra peace of mind.Travel Insurance coverage includes:
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption
- Medical Expense
- Emergency Medical Transportation
- Lost, Stolen, Damaged Baggage
- Trip Delay
- Baggage Delay
- Accidental Death/Dismemberment
When do I have to pay for my cruise and can I get a refund if I change my mind?
In order to reserve your cruise and guarantee your final price you'll need to provide a deposit. That deposit can range from 10% to 25% of the total cost depending on the cruise line. The final payment for your cruise will typically be due 45 to 90 days before the sailing date.
Each cruise line has a unique cancellation and refund policy, but with all of them, the closer to the sailing date the greater the penalty. Your CRUISE EXPERT will be happy to assist in determining your specific situation. Just call us at (888) 804-CRUISE(2784).
Why is Taking a Cruise so Great?
It's simple, there's just no better "VALUE" in leisure travel, and there's a cruise to suit every budget. Think of your cruise ship as a floating resort. It's your mode of transportation between some of the most exciting ports in the world; It's your hotel in which you only unpack once; All of your meals are included, you'll be amazed by the variety and quality; and finally, you'll have access to non-stop, high quality entertainment and activities to suit any taste. All of this for one price. It's almost like a magic carpet ride. Your vacation will be as exciting and relaxing as you want it to be.
What's included in the cost of my cruise?
Almost everything: accommodations, meals, entertainment, port charges, and most onboard activities are all included. You don't have to incur any additional expense, but you'll probably want to. Extra costs are typically things like most alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, beauty salon services, exciting shore excursions, shipboard gift and sundries purchases, Internet usage, long distance phone calls, tips, and casino gaming.
Will I get Sea Sick when I take a Cruise?
It is highly unlikely you or your children will experience motion sickness on a cruise. The size of modern cruise ships and the stabilizers they are equipped with have affectively eliminated the movement associated in the past with cruising. In addition cruise lines have advanced weather forecasting systems that help ensure they'll pass through the calmest seas possible. For that added sense of security check with your doctor for the latest preventative medications, and if you still want to go the extra mile have one of our CRUISE EXPERTS book you a cabin on the most stable part of the ship, then sit back, relax and dream about the vacation of a lifetime.
How do I arrange transportation to or from the cruise ship?
That's another advantage of taking a cruise - you don't have to. For an extra charge every cruise line provides air packages that get you to your ship and back home again. Most even include transportation between the airport and your cruise ship. Best of all you only have to be concerned with one invoice that covers everything.
What travel documents do I need to cruise?
United States Citizens - For most travel outside the United States a passport, valid for at least six months after your cruise departure date, is best. This is true even for minor children. If you don't have one you can apply at your local post office or passport office, but don't wait until the last minute because it will take three weeks or more to get your passport. If you're traveling to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, instead of a passport, you can use your original birth certificate or a notarized copy and a government issued picture ID such as a driver's license.
Non-US Citizens - If you live in the United States but you're not a citizen you'll need to bring your Alien Registration Card along with your passport, valid for at least six months after your cruise return, and any visas and photo ID's required. Just to play it safe you should check with the consulate of the country you're traveling to, to see if any additional visas are needed.
Families with Step Children - If you are traveling with your step children you'll need a notarized letter from the parent not traveling giving permission for the child/children to cruise.
Mothers traveling with infants - When traveling outside the United States it's best to include baby's name on Mom's passport and bring along a copy of the baby's birth certificate.
What should I pack and how much luggage can I bring on my cruise?
The most important consideration when determining how much luggage to bring on your cruie is how much do you want to hassle with. Remember, you have to get it to the cruise ship and once in your room figure out what to do with your suitcases. If you're arriving at your port city by air, you'll have to conform to your airline's baggage policies. Once you check in at the cruise ship, your luggage will be whisked away and delivered directly to you cabin. That part is easy.
As far as what to pack, that part is easy too. Just bring whatever you would for any other resort based vacation: comfortable, casual clothing for the day, and swimsuits and workout clothes for the pool and health club. For cruise dining attire see the note on Dress Code.
Experienced cruise travelers know it's always smart to pack your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, in your carryon bag along with any other necessities, just in case your luggage is delayed.
Most cruise ships have 110 volt electrical outlets in your cabin which will accommodate your hairdryer. Most new cruise ships have hairdryers already in the cabin.
What is a Theme cruise?
A Theme Cruise is just like a theme party. It could feature a certain historical period such as a 70's disco, roaring Twenties or 50's sock hop theme; in which case you'd be encouraged to bring along period clothing that fits in with the cruise theme. A theme could also center around an activity such as a particular sport, fitness, culinary arts, wine tasting, arts and crafts, history, dance or even a particular holiday, like Christmas or New Years. In any case seminars, classes, guest speakers and other activities supporting the cruise theme could be expected.
You don't want to take part in the cruise theme activities? Don't worry you don't have to. That's what is so nice about a cruise, you decide what you want to do.
Are there Fitness/Spa/Beauty Salon Facilities on the cruise ships?
Absolutely! You can stay in shape, pamper and beautify yourself to your heart's content.
Health clubs are free to all passengers and are equipped with stationary bikes, stair climbers, treadmills, weight machines and free weights. Most scheduled aerobics classes are also free, and all but the smallest cruise ships even have running tracks. Personalized (one on one) conditioning and training programs are usually available for an extra charge. Of course the larger the cruise ship the more complete these facilities will be.
Spas offer massages, facials, special body wraps, skin conditionings, Thalassotherapy sessions and detox treatments for an additional costs. Go ahead pamper yourself you're on a cruise vacation.
Beauty Salons offer all the services you've come to enjoy for about the same cost or just a little bit more than back home.
Is a Cruise a good option for Seniors Married or Single?
You bet it is. All cruise ships offer a wide variety of activities, including activities that traditionally appeal to those who want to meet others with the same seasoned interest. Activities ranging from bingo, shuffle board, and gambling to fine dining and ball room dancing are just a few. Most cruise ships even have dance hosts, so if you're single or have a spouse with two left feet you never have to sit it out, but can dance to your heart's content.
Many cruise lines offer special senior prices on selected sailings for guests over 55. Call one of THE CRUISE EXPERT AGENCY'S professional CRUISE EXPERTS and let us tell you which ones.
Is a Cruise Really all that Romantic?
Yes, it really is. What better way could there be to enjoy that special person in your life than to escape together to a place where worries and decisions evaporate? Regardless of whether you're looking to get Married, Renew Your Vows, Honeymoon, celebrate your Anniversary or maybe simply just celebrate being together, you'll feel truly pampered. Let one of our CRUISE EXPERTS help you with those special plans. Call us at (888) 804-CRUISE(2784).
Can Singles really have a good time on a Cruise?
Yes indeed. Especially if you enjoy being in a pampered environment with activities galore and the opportunity to meet exciting people who share your interests. The cruise ship environment is more sociable and friendly than just about any setting you'll find back home. In addition cruise ships offer singles-oriented events for those who want to meet others with similar interests. You can even request to be seated at a dinner table with other singles, and the cruise ship will do it's best to accommodate your wish. Remember the cruise line you choose is dedicated to making sure everyone on board has the time of their life and that includes their single guests.
Will my teenage children enjoy taking a cruise?
Of course they will! Independence and fun are the two things teenagers want most, and they'll have both on a cruise. They'll have the run of the ship with very little chance of getting into trouble. A parents dream come true. Instead of structured activities, which teens hate, cruise ships offer the ingredients for fun such as teen discos, internet access, video arcades, science and technology projects, lip-sync and karaoke parties, teen beauty makeovers, talent shows, pizza parties, virtual-reality theaters, pool games, volleyball, Ping Pong, and some cruise ships even have inline skating, ice skating and rock climbing. Of course the larger the cruise ship the more variety, but regardless, in no time at all your teen will become his or her own activities director. Call one of our CRUISE EXPERTS and let them help you pick the cruise that's best for the entire family.
Can anyone scuba dive?
Yes, provided you're physically fit and meet the minimum age requirements which vary between 10 and 12 depending on the cruise line. Scuba Diving is one of those activities considered to be a shore excursion so there is an additional charge.
You don't have to obtain a scuba certification if you only want to dive while on the cruise, but if you plan to continue after the cruise you'll need to have a certification from one of the recognized dive associations like PADI or NAUI. At THE CRUISE EXPERTS AGENCY we recommend you get your scuba certification before you come on the cruise, that way you can spend more time in the water. Some cruise ships do offer certification programs onboard, but keep in mind you'll invest about 30 hours of your time in the program. Our CRUISE EXPERTS will be happy to give you all the details.
Can I keep my Golf game up while on a Cruise?
Yes. A number of ships have golf simulators on board along with putting greens and onboard golf instructors, but best of all is the adventure of playing golf in the ports of call you'll visit. The Caribbean, Mexico and Canada have the best variety of courses, comparable to the United States. Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal have some great courses as well.
The best months for golf are May through August for Scotland, May through October for the rest of Europe, May through September for Canada and year round in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.
What will the weather be like in the ports I'm visiting?
If you've ever looked up the average weather conditions for a place before visiting it you likely were surprised by the weather when you got there. That's because average is just that average. For that reason we recommend you click on the "Weather" option under the Travel Tips section of the Cruise Experts website a few days before your trip and check the weather forecast for the area you're taking your cruise.
What is there to do onboard the Cruise ship?
More than you'll ever be able to take in. A cruise ship is a floating resort staffed by entertainment professionals determined to make sure you enjoy yourself. The bigger the cruise ship the more activities, but regardless it's virtually impossible to take part in everything going on. Some of the activities are: live entertainment, Broadway style shows, shore excursions, water sports, pool activities, theme parties, fitness centers, spas, casinos, dance lessons, bingo, talent contests, karaoke, wine tasting, movies, lectures given by renowned experts, sports contests, exercise classes….almost anything you can think of, or you don't have to do anything; you can just lie back on the deck of your cruise ship, soak up the sun, read a good book, breath the fresh air and watch the scenery go by.
At night your cruise ship provides for your enjoyment fine dining, dancing, nightclubs, discos and lounges with live entertainment, feature films and many special events.
Best of all all of this is included in the cost of your cruise. You never pay extra.
Is there a special dress code on board cruise ships?
Dress during the day, onboard ship and in port, is casual. Whatever is comfortable and tasteful is acceptable. Around the pool and in the health club swimsuits and workout clothes are the norm.
Dining room dress codes vary each day. They include:
Casual: Slacks and sport shirt for men (no jeans); slacks and blouse, sundress or pantsuit for women (lunch and some evenings).
Informal: Jacket with or without a tie for men; dress or pantsuit for women (some evenings).
Formal: Dark suit or tuxedo for men; evening gown or cocktail dress for women (only on designated Formal Dinner evenings).
Cruises up to 4 days usually have one formal night; 7 day cruises will typically have 2 formal nights, while 10 day cruises normally have 3 formal nights. Obviously the longer the cruise the more formal nights.
Men, you don't have to buy a tuxedo; a dark suit is just fine. If you just really want to dress up that little bit extra, some cruise ships have tuxedo rental shops on board. Ask one of our CRUISE EXPERTS and we'll tell you which ones.
Is the Cruise dining experience really as good as I've been told?
And then some! It's hard to describe the quality of the food and the service you'll experience. The main dining room is in a setting equal to a fine restaurant. Each night you'll choose from a list of appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables and deserts that will be memorable. If you have special dietary needs just make that request when you book your cruise and every effort will be made to accommodate you.
In addition you'll have several casual dining options to choose from throughout the day. Most cruise ships even have 24 hour room service. You'll be able to eat when you want to and you'll be amazed by the selection of foods available, and it's all included in the cost of your cruise.
Is there an extra charge for certain beverages?
That depends a bit on the cruise line and the ship, but the general rule is that coffee, tea, milk and juices are included in the cost of your cruise. Most alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are available for an extra charge.
What is the tipping policy onboard cruise ships?
Cruise Line's typically charge a flat rate per person, per day, which then gets divided amongst all the staff that you come in contact with during your cruise vacation.Tipping Varies from one cruise line to another:
- Carnival - $11.50 per person/per day
- Celebrity - $11.50 per person/per day
- Princess - $11.50 per person/per day
- Holland America Line - $11.50 per person/per day
- Royal Caribbean - $11.65 per person/per day
- Norwegian - $12.00 per person/per day
- Oceania - $14.50 per person/per day (Scheduled to increase in 12/2013)
Embarkation - When can I get onboard?
Embarkation usually begins four hours prior to the cruise departure time. Keep in mind that all cruise passengers must be onboard at least 30 minutes before time to sail. Many of the onboard services will be available as soon as you board.
Can I have visitors onboard?
Due to security measures visitors are usually not allowed on board during embarkation or while in other ports of call.
Are there Medical Facilities on board cruise ships?
Virtually every modern cruise ship has a professional medical staff and fully equipped medical facility on board to handle almost any medical or health concern.
What are shore excursions?
A shore excursion is just about anything you do off the ship in a port of call. It''s usually a planned group activity for an additional fee. It could be scuba diving, deep sea fishing, a guided trip to ancient ruins, a visit to a local museum or cathedral, the list is endless. Be sure and ask what's available when you book your cruise.
Can I get my emails and make phone calls during the cruise?
Most newer cruiseships have internet cafes which, for a fee, provide access to the internet and the ability to check emails. These newer cruise ships also have ship to shore phones, sometimes even in your stateroom, but the cost is high.
Are there group meeting rooms onboard cruise ships?
That's what makes a cruise such a great place for a group event. Virtually every cruise ship has rooms to offer for group meetings. Ask one of our CRUISE EXPERTS to get you the details.
CRUISING WITH KIDS
Is going on a cruise fun for kids?
Absolutely, in fact they'll probably have more fun than you will. Most cruise lines offer age specific supervised activities that'll keep your children entertained and informed. The best part is that while they're in these supervised activities you'll be able to relax and enjoy yourself.
Do children pay the same as adults?
Usually not. There are lots of deals offered to families. Almost all cruise lines offer reduced rates for third, forth and fifth passengers sharing a cabin with two adults. That means the kids get a discount. On some cruise lines children under two pay only port taxes and government fees.
Will there be baby-sitters available on my cruise ship?
Most cruise lines have qualified baby-sitters available during specific hours for an additional charge, some even provide nurseries. Check with one of our CRUISE EXPERTS for specific details.
Do I need to book my family cruise in advance?
Absolutely! The most popular cabins for families are almost always guaranteed to sell out first. Plan your cruise well in advance to avoid being disappointed.
Do I need to bring my own crib and stroller on my cruise?
Usually you can reserve a crib if you book your cruise early enough. Strollers are a different story. Even though a few cruise lines have strollers available you don't want to risk not getting one. Cruise ships are large and you'll be glad you went to the extra effort to bring yours if the cruise ship runs out.