Q What kind of drinks are free on the ship? What do the non free drinks cost?
A. On Carnival and Royal Caribbean, (the other cruise lines will be included) tea, juices, milk, and water (not bottled water ) are free. You have to pay for your soda and alcohol and specialty coffees. For those, there is a 15% gratuity added on for each drink. You can purchase a soda card (available on both cruise lines) if you are going to buy 3 or more sodas a day. The card costs $7 day for an adult. $5 for a child ??? Cans of soda are $2.25 (true price anyone?)
CCL- Coffee on Lido deck is free. However the specialty coffees on the Promenade cost extra.
Soda card Ė Fun Fountain Card - http://carnival.com/CMS/FAQs/Fountain_Fun_Card.aspx
BUT, you can get free espressos and cappuccinos in the formal dining room during lunch and dinner.
Q My cruise documents say embarkation starts at 1:30p.m. When is a good time to be at the port to unload, park, and get in line in? Can you board prior to 1:30?
A Official Embarkation start time is 1:30 PM (some lines start at 1:00 PM.) But they often allow boarding earlier than this. Sometimes you can start boarding before noon. This all depends on how long it took to get through the disembark process for the previous cruise AND can vary from port to port depending on the port size and the US Customs ship clearance times on a given day. So, there are 2 trains of thought on this. First is to arrive early (10:30 or 11AM) and stand in line hoping to be allowed on early. Then you can go eat in the buffet and start enjoying the cruise early (my preference) Second method , for those that donít do lines, is to arrive later (3 PM) after most of the people have boarded. Though I have never seen this work because with the size of the ships lately, there seems to be a long line up until 4PM! So you can do whichever thinks suits you better.
Q. How much money/cash will I need?
A. This is a difficult question to answer. This truly depends on your spending habits. Obviously a credit card is very handy but you will need some cash (budgeting $100/day per person per port day) is a good guestimate. This normally covers taxis, entrance fees, food/drink, tips, etc. For many people this is a smaller amount., but itís a good starting point. Shopping can most often be done with a credit card, but there are always local vendors that would prefer cash or bargain more if you have cash. Note that you should always notify your credit card company that you are going to be traveling and to where so that they will know that charges are ok. Do you like to gamble? You can get money from your credit card for this, but some cruise lines (CCL will charge a 3% fee for cash advance) So, to avoid this bring cash for gambling (travelers checks are good for this as the casino will freely cash them for play.)
Other cash needs are - extra tips on board the ship. Bring small bills so you have change for tips. we usually take about $50 in ones and get more change on board. So from that you can judge your cash needs. If you wish to pay off your on board charge account, bring enough cash to do so. Again, travelerís checks are better for this. Or just plan on paying the bill when you get home and you will not have to fuss with the cash.
Q Please explain how to apply a countdown ticker to my signature.
A. Cruise tickers need to be put into your signature (change your signature by editing your profile) in BB code format. To create one, go to the Cruisetickers.com website (there is a sticky post on it at the beginning of the General Cruise Chat section) Use that site to create the ticker of your choosing. Once you have it made there should be a button to "copy" the source code for the ticker. Be sure to copy the "BBcode" version, HTML will not work. Once you have the ticker copied, got to your profile and paste the code you copied into the end of your signature. Then save your profile. Assuming you copied correctly, everything else is automagic. After a few hours, every post you made will have the new ticker applied.
Q. Do the rooms have irons to press my clothes with?
A. No. Cruise lines do not permit irons in the staterooms. The general policy for cruise ships is that items with heating elements or open flames are not permitted. This includes clothing irons, hotplates, candles, incense and any other item that may create a fire hazard. (Curling irons and hair dryers are allowed.) Some of the larger ships have launderettes on the guest floors which have irons available for use. Most of the seasoned cruisers recommend the travel steamers for de-wrinkling your clothes.