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 Frequently Asked Cruise Questions

Tom Ogg
Questions About Cruises

What makes cruising so great?

Everything! The cruise experience is like sailing the seas on a floating deluxe resort with all the amenities and more! Once you have boarded, you settle in your cabin and unpack for the week only to begin to discover the "joy of cruising". The options for enjoyment are endless and yours to choose from. It is truly the vacation of a lifetime.

What is the difference between traditional cruising and freestyle cruising?

Freestyle cruising is offered by NCL and to a lesser extent by Princess Cruises. Traditional cruises feature two seatings for meals (main and late) with fixed dining times in the same restaurant. Freestyle offers numerous different restaurants and a "dine when you want" philosophy.  It is kind of like going to a resort with several different dining venues where you decide when and where you want to dine.  Ditto for the entertainment.  Traditional cruising generally offers two shows with bars and lunge entertainment after the shows.  Freestyle has various entertainment venues available and you decide what you want to experience.  The bottom line is that if you want to dine at the same table with the same folks every night then select traditional dining, if not select freestyle. One last difference is the dress code.  On a traditional cruise you are expected to dress for formal nights and will feel out of place if you do not.  Freestyle cruisers can choose whether they want to dress or not.  If you don't particularly care for dressing for dinner then freestyle cruising is for you.

Will I save money if I book at the last minute?

Not necessarily, in fact cruise lines sometimes offer booking incentives in the form of lower prices, cabin category upgrades and maybe even free air for early planners. Your professional travel agent will have all the answers for you and research to find the quality you are looking for. Focusing on the cheapest price will almost guarantee a less enjoyable vacation.  Cruise pricing reflects supply and demand.  The more demand there is, the higher the price. As an example, if you are planning a Christmas family cruise you will need to book it immediately and will probably pay the brochure price.  On the other hand, cruises in the Caribbean during hurricane season can be a tremendous bargain...but then.

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 professional on this one.

What is an air/sea cruise?

This term applies to a cruise and airfare package price. Often the airfare may be at a reduced rate when included with the cruise. In addition, when you purchase an air/sea package the transfers to and from the airport to the cruise ship terminal are usually included in the air/sea price.

What is included in the cruise price?

Included in your cruise price would be your accommodations, all of your meals for the length of your cruise, endless entertainment and activities, and all of the amenities of a floating resort and more! Some cruise lines have introduced alternative dining venues that do charge a nominal cover charge but they are well worth it and only an additional option.  All cruise lines still offer traditional dining restaurants with no cover charges.

Will I need a passport?

You will need a passport and/or proof of citizenship depending on your cruise destination and ports of call. Your professional travel agent can assist you with determining the documentation you will need. Be sure to check on this well in advance of your vacation so you can prepare accordingly.

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 professional travel counselor, who is the best source of information as to what to pack for a specific cruise experience.

If you are freestyle 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 counselor 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 cruise professional 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.

I tend to take my dry cleaning items onto the ship and have them laundered rather than doing it a home and then packing them where they will be substantially wrinkled by the time they get hung in the closet on the ship.  The rates are comparable to those dry clearners at home and the clothes are always fresh with no wrinkles.

Dining and Entertainment

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.


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