Cruising General Q and A's
Is a cruise affordable and a real vacation value?
Absolutely! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best vacation value for your money. Your cruise fare includes all meals, your cabin, onboard daytime activities, nighttime parties and live entertainment. So for once, you'll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. (Your only extra expenses will be drinks, gratuities, optional shore excursions, shopping and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.)
How long are cruises?
As long or as short as you want. Most itineraries can range from as little as three days to as long as three months!
Are all ships and cruises more or less the same?
Cruise ships range from intimate and yacht-like to vessels that are longer than three football fields. You can sail with less than 100 guests and more than 2,600. Some ships are casual, others formal. Some contemporary, others classic. You can even choose ships that actually have sails (Windstar is great if that's what you want!).
Depending upon your preferences, you can select a ship that is like a resort, or a special interest cruise that offers less on board and instead allows you to immerse yourself in the cultures that you visit. There are cruises designed to suit virtually every interest and personal preference.
The choices include: boutique; luxury; large, contemporary ships; classic vessels; and special-interest or exploration cruises that specialize in unique destinations with an accent on cultural enrichment.
There are cruise lines that feature soft adventure expeditions to such unusual and rustic frontiers as Antarctica, the Amazon rain forest or African Serengeti. Or discover historical legacies closer to home with enlightening itineraries to New England, French Canada and the Colonial America coast.
For experienced travelers, destination-focused cruises specialize in premium, culturally-rich ports of call with itineraries dedicated to illuminating such historic, world-class treasures as the antiquities of classical Greece, the Polynesian paradise of Hawaii or the fabled splendor of Norwegian fords.
For many, the perfect vacation includes the non-stop fun and sun of a tropical resort-style cruise to the Caribbean, where you can sample a variety of island cultures and cuisines while working on a terrific sun tan.
Plus, many cruise lines create special "themes" on-board, with entertainment ranging from jazz festivals and classical music concerts to golf clinics and murder mysteries at sea!
What's an air/sea cruise?
A air/cruise or an air/sea vacation package is when your cruise purchase includes airfare to and from the ship's port of embarkation. Airfare is usually available from most major North American cities. When you purchase air from the cruise line, you also receive include ground transfers between the airport and ship as well as baggage handling.If you want specific flights or a particular airline, inform your CRUISES 24/7 Travel Pro when booking and he or she can explain the "air deviation policy" of the cruise line with which you have booked. For an air deviation fee, plus any difference there may be in the airfare, you can usually obtain your preferred flights and/or airline.
Can I book on short notice and what is a last minute booking?
Even the most popular cruises sometimes have space available because of late cancellations. But, to get exactly the ship, cabin and sailing date you want, you should plan and book your cruise early. Most cruise lines also offer early booking discounts for customers who plan and book ahead of time. Last Minute Specials do become available, but don't last long. Get on the CRUISES 24/7 Email HOT LIST! for the Last Minute and up-coming special deals.
Do I need a passport or travel visa?
You will need to present proof of citizenship which may be in the form of a passport, or in many cases, you can present an original raised seal birth certificate and a photo identification. Your photo identification will also be required to board your flights. Depending on your itinerary, you may also require a visa or other paperwork.
The cruise line will provide you with detailed information about entry and document requirements. However, it is your responsibility 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:
DHS to Require Digital Photos in Passports for Visa Waiver Travelers
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries will be required to produce passports with digital photographs by Oct. 26, 2005 .
A valid passport with at least six months validity past your return date is required for travel outside of the United States. 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. Please check our current information at International Cruise Client and Passport Requirements
New Requirements for Travelers Between the United States and the Western Hemisphere
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.
This is a change from prior travel requirements and will affect all United States citizens entering the United States from countries within the Western Hemisphere who do not currently possess valid passports. This new requirement will also affect certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States. Most Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and to a lesser degree, Mexican citizens will be affected by the implementation of this requirement.
Some itineraries that depart from Hawaii may require a passport. Check with your CRUISES 24/7 Travel Pro to find out if your itinerary requires a passport and/or visa.
VISAS: In addition, visas are often required for U.S. citizens visiting exotic ports such as Turkey, Australia, Russia, South American countries, Asia and the Middle East, to name just a few. We recommend that you contact the consulate of each country that you are visiting (or check their embassy websites) to verify the exact documents required. A helpful website is http://www.travisa.com
Can I extend my cruise vacation?
We can arrange pre- or post-cruise land packages at the same time you book your cruise. And, in many cases, your airline ticket will include helpful options, such as free stopovers, that enable you to make your own special arrangements.
Is motion discomfort a problem?
Today's modern cruise ships are quite large and contain hi-tech stabilizing devices and advance weather notification processes, so many people don't experience seasickness as often. Many cruisers who are prone to seasickness feel more comfortable on a lower deck. When choosing your cabin selection during step 3 of the 8-step process, refer to the diagram of the ships deck and request a cabin on a lower deck. If you are prone to seasickness, it's best to seek advice from your physician in advance of sailing. In the unlikely event you experience motion discomfort, there are a number of over-the-counter solutions to ease your concerns. These include Bonine, Mecklizine, Dramamine, Transderm Scope Patches, and Seabands. Always consult with your physician or pharmacists before taking any medication.
Can we communicate or keep in touch with the outside?
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 PLUS, depending on the strength of your cell phone signal, you may be able to use your cell phone while the ship is in port. Many ships have televisions in the cabins, complete with CNN and a host of other channels. In addition, many ships have fax capabilities and newer ships offer Internet access, WI-FI and e-mail capabilities available to passengers.
Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
As ship amenities vary, it is best to check with your Cruise Travel Pro. However, for the most part, most ships have outlets that are 110V/60Hz. Standard US electrical appliances will work on board. Furthermore, most cabins will have a hair dryer in the bathroom for you to use.
Can we celebrate a wedding or reunion?
Absolutely! Most cruise lines will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus of Happy Whatever to honor 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 us in advance. Without a doubt, cruising offers an atmosphere that's just right for romance... cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars). Most lines provide special services -- from Sunday or Monday departures to champagne and breakfast in bed. For more details just check out our honeymoon section. Also, some ships offer special programs for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing your marriage vows.
Is there laundry service?
Almost all ships have self-service laundry facilities and a great many also provide dry-cleaning at an additional charge. This can be particularly handy for families traveling with children.