Your cruise documents will be arriving shortly and that means it’s only a few short weeks until your sailing date. Most “first-timers” have a lot of questions so here’s a list of questions most commonly asked to help you get ready and ensure “smooth sailing” both before and during your cruise.
First-Time Cruisers WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO TAKE?
Travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada will be required to 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.
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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.
HOW DO I PAY FOR ITEMS ONBOARD AND IN PORT?
The Cruise Lines will open an onboard account for bar purchases, soft drinks, souvenirs, to pay for shore excursions, etc, which you can settle by credit card, travelers checks or cash at the end of the cruise. The purser’s office will also cash travelers checks for you. In addition, most of the duty-free shops onboard and most shops in port will also cash travelers checks. Most shops in port will accept major credit cards as well as American dollars or travelers checks.
YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CASH PERSONAL CHECKS ONBOARD THE SHIP. WHAT ABOUT TIPPING ONBOARD SHIP?
Tipping with most cruise lines is now included on your onboard account. While this makes tipping the proper people more convenient, you may alter these amounts according to your cruise experience in these areas. Your tips will affect these services on your cruise ship: Your Cabin Steward, Waiter and Assistant Waiter. These amount will range form $9.00 to $10.00 per day on most cruise lines. On luxury cruise lines these amount may be higher. If you wish to change the amounts either by reducing or adding to your account, you should visit the purser onboard your cruise ship. Note: most cruise lines add gratuities to bar tabs. Always check your bills.
DO I NEED TO PACK A TUXEDO OR FORMAL DRESS?
Many cruise lines allow you to rent a Tuxedo onboard. This will reduce additional packing and you will have a pressed Tuxedo on each formal night of your cruise. Although prices may vary on different cruise lines, the average price is between $75 $85. This will cover all cruises of 11 days or less. Included on Standard Tuxedo Rental Package are 1 Black Jacket, 1 Pair of Black Pants, 2 White Formal Shirts, 1 Black Cummerbund and Tie Set and 1 Set of Cufflinks and Studs. There is also a White Dinner Jacket Package, and a Package for both The Standard Black and White Dinner Jacket Tuxedo’s
Note: Shoes and Socks are additional.
Rentals are available for the Ladies as well on Celebrity, Holland, Princess and Royal Caribbean. If you are sailing on “back-to-back” cruises (two consecutive sailings of the same ship), then each voyage is considered a separate rental. If you are not sure, please call our toll free number where a customer service representative is ready to assist you.
First-Time Cruisers WHAT ABOUT MOTION SICKNESS?
Ships today are so well stabilized that most of the time you won’t notice you are even moving! It’s a good idea though to take along some Dramamine (follow the directions on the box) as well as aspirin and sunscreen. If you do have a problem onboard, all ships have a doctor and a nurse aboard. And be sure not to forget any prescription drugs you are taking. These should be put in your carry-on-luggage. Consult your physician before taking any medication.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY LUGGAGE AFTER I LEAVE IT AT THE AIRPORT (OR PORT, IF YOU ARE DRIVING)?
If you are using the cruise line’s airfare program, you will affix the luggage tags sent with your cruise documents and check your luggage at the airport. The next time you see it will be in your cabin! There are a few ports where you will need to claim your luggage at the airport–this will be indicated in your cruise documents and, again, call me if you have any questions. If you are flying but NOT using the cruise line’s airfare program you still need to affix your cruise line tag but you will need to claim your own luggage at the airport baggage area when you arrive in your port city and take it with you to the port. If you are driving to the port, you will check your luggage when you arrive at the port, and they will take your bags to your cabin. It’s a good idea to check your cabin about 1/2 hour before sailing to be sure your luggage has arrived and to check with your steward or the purser’s office if it is not there. They have thousands of bags to deliver to cabins and it does take a while. The most important thing is your luggage tag without it, how will they know where to find you? On the last night of your cruise you will be asked to put your luggage (except your carry-on bags) outside your cabin so that it can be taken to the holding area, and off loaded early the next morning. You will claim your bags in the customs area, don’t worry all this will be explained on the ship. It would be a good idea to pack an overnight bag on your cruise.
HOW CAN I BE REACHED ONBOARD THE SHIP IN AN EMERGENCY?
Royal Caribbean 1-888 724 7447
Celebrity 1-877 266 1020
Princess Cruise Line 1-900 225 5744
Norwegian Cruise Line 1-888 627 4477
Carnival Cruise Line 1-877 225 7447
Holland America Line 1-900 225 5425
Disney Cruises 1-888 322 8732
HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON ONBOARD THE SHIP, OR FIND OUT ABOUT SHORE EXCURSIONS?
There will be all kinds of “goodies” about this in your cabin when you arrive and prior to sailing is a good time to explore and get your bearings as to where the dining room, gym, lounges ect. are located. There will be a daily program of activities put in your cabin each night for the next day. For first timers I suggest you attend the “shore excursion talk” or at least part of it, and the debarkation talk, both of which will be listed on the daily program, These are very informative and all the cruise directors do a pretty good job of making the fun.
“Also Note” that “shore excursions” should be booked as soon as you arrive on the ship. They do tend to sell out the more popular ones first. Some cruise lines will allow you to book “shore excursions” right through your TV in your cabin. This will save time. This procedure is available only on a few cruise lines
IS IT BETTER TO TAKE A SHORE EXCURSION OR EXPLORE PORTS OF CALL ON MY OWN??
A lot of that is really up to you! Most ships include a program of their shore excursions with your cruise documents but if not, you will have one in your cabin when you board the ship. Lots of the sailing and snorkeling excursions are lots of fun and much easier that trying to arrange them yourself. Some of the islands/ports that are easy to explore on your own (by cab, or even on foot in some places) are: St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Key West, Freeport, Cozumel, San Juan, Bermuda, Canadian ports especially Quebec City, Greneda and St. Barts. If you’re not the real adventurous type, consider a shore excursion in at least one port. We have lots of information on all the Caribbean islands, Cozumel/Cancun, Bermuda, Hawaii, Alaska and Canada. “Note” things have changed in our world today. There is a lot of unrest in many countries and ports of call. We highly recommend that you book your “shore excursions” with the cruise line that you are sailing on. If you’d like to get a little more information before you go, just contact us. Although you may save some money by booking your own shore excursion, please be aware that if you miss your cruise ship because you booked your own shore excursion with an outside company, your are on your own. This can be a very expensive ordeal. Booking passage from any port of call to either fly to the mainland or to meet the ship at the next port of call can be very expensive.
If your cruise documents have not arrived ten days before your departure date please let me know. When they arrive, please check them IMMEDIATELY to be sure they show your correct name, ship, sailing date and cabin number (if you have been assigned a cabin at booking). Also be sure your airline tickets if applicable, are accurate and reflect the correct name transport to the correct port. If you are using the cruise line air program you should also have vouchers for transportation from the airport to the port and back. All document packages should contain luggage tags and many will also include form to fill out for boarding passes, on board credit programs. All of these should be filled out before you leave. If you think you are missing anything or would like me to go over them with you, contact us.
If I don’t talk to you before you leave, BON VOYAGE!! Please contact us when you get back and let us know what a great time you had. It’s feedback from our clients that helps us assist all of you in making good choices for your cruise vacations! MAY ALL YOUR SEAS BE SMOOTH!!!
P.S. If you are using the cruise line’s airfare program, be sure to check your cruise documents for voucher for transportation from the airport to the pier. When you disembark the plane, look for a representative from the cruise line you are sailing on near the gate or at the end of the concourse. They will direct you to the bus or van. If you don’t happen to see them right away(and this rarely occurs) just ask a rep from one of the other cruise lines to “point the way”!! Sometimes one person has to meet two planes at once and all the cruise people help each other out at the airport.