It’s not easy selecting a cruise destination or itinerary that’s just right for your, considering the thousands of options out there. But after you’ve researched the cruise lines, examined possible itineraries and come up with a cruise to suit (a travel agent can be really helpful here), don’t forget to also factor in th following aspects associated with a cruise holiday.
Ships leaving from destinations other than your hometown will have to be reached. Flights are not included in the cruise rates. Unless a special package has been built. You will need to book a flight to the city of departure of your chosen cruise. It would be advisable to get to the appropriate town the day before departure.
It is essential to bring a passport when cruising, even if you think you won’t need one! You must attach luggage tags to all of your bags. Fill out any boarding paperwork before you board the ship to avoid log jam behind you on the gang-plank.Many cruise lines have boarding paperwork available on their websites to print and fill out in advance.
People check onto a cruise ship en masse. Thousands of pieces of luggage are received in a matter of a few hours, which means your luggage may not arrive at your cabin until a few hours after you’ve boarded.Carry on (hand luggage) is the key. Pack everything you may need to get you and your family to dinner time. This packing strategy should save you should the cruise line (or airline)misplace your luggage!
Every cruise line has a specific dress code for eveinings, which can change daily (check your travel documents before you pack, each day’s dress code is sometimes listed). It could be formal, which means a suit for men and an evening gown for women, or casual (cotton pants for men and skirts for women). Norweigan cruise lines, for example is so casual that you can wear jeans to dinner.
Cruise lines have a variety of policies regarding how much alcohol you can take on board with you. Some do allow you to bring a bottle or two of wine or spirits, others do not. Take a look at your lines policy on alcohol before a potentailly embarrasing scenario arises.
Laundry and Dry-cleaning services are offered by most cruise lines.Some offer self service laundry rooms and vending machines that dispense small boxes of detergent.
The majority of cabins/ staterooms include standard 110-volt AC electrical outlets and hair dryers. Check your ship’s specifications to determine whether you will need an adaptor. Most cruise lines’ cabins include a mini-safe, and almost all have televisions.
These drill are set in place for passengers to practise the steps they’d take in an emergency situation. You will go through procedures such as putting on life jackets and assembling in assigned areas. The drills typically take place before the ship sets sail. Attendance is mandatory and you should take this security procedure seriously. Be forwarned that the crew members check that people are not hiding in their cabins!
CHECK OUT THE SHIP’S DAILY NEWSLETTER
The ship’s newsletter in slipped under your cabin door each evening and will reveal the events for the following day. It will tell of the port you are about to visit, what shows are on and the times, what lectures are being held the next day and even what the drink of the day is. You will have full knowledge of all that is taking place on the ship the next day.
You will be able to book shore excursions a few months before your cruise on the cruise website, should you wish to book excursions in advance. Bookings can also be made onboard at the ship’s excursion desk and can in some cases be booked via the stateroom TV. It is wise to book two or three excursions in advance as the popular tours do sell out.
CRUISE TOURS VS…. GOING IT ON YOUR OWN.
The answer largely depends on the port city and the preference of each the passenger. If you prefer a tour operator to take care of everything and make sure you explore all there is to explore and then get you back to the ship on time for departure, then you should go with the organised shore excursions. For those on a first time cruise it may be advisable to go with the organised shore excursions. Some people prefer to explore on their own and are free to do so.
KEEPING IN TOUCH
Many cabins contains for ship-to-shore call, however the charges per minute are quite costly. Most cruise ships are cell phone friendly and while phones work best within sight of land, you can often still connect while miles out to sea. Be sure to leave your family members the name of the cruise line and your itinerary and the ship’s phone number in case of an emergency.
Most ships have internet cafe`s. Some ships offer a package (eg Royal Caribbean offers a 150 min plan for $55). Many ships offer wireless Internet cabins.Those bringing laptops abroad can often purchase a wireless access package.
Some cruises can be bought as “ALL INCLUSIVE”, there are often several things not covered in your cruise fare. A few examples: Wine; beer; cocktails; shore excursions; and spa services. In oreder to make payment easy you will receive a swipecard up-on check in (and can double as your room key)for charging various items and services to an account that can be settled at the end of the trip. Some cruise lines will prefer that your on-board credit card contains a credit balance for your purchases, or you can provide them with your credit card details for your charges.
Cash and Currency: Many cruise lines will cash traveller’s cheques at their purser’s desks. Ports of call usually have ATM facilities that will work with foreign debit cards. It is advisable to carry a small amount of local currency in foreign ports for taxis and purchases at street vendors. It would be wise to notify your credit card company that you will be abroad and using your credit card so they will not put a hold on your card for purchases made out of your home country.
Onboard Doctors: A Physician and nurse for temporary illness and accidents are stationed on the ship for your use but the visit is very expensive and you will have to pay up before disembarking and then submit a claim to your Medical Aid Company.Many commonly used deications are kept onboard the ship and can be prescribed by the ship’s doctor.
If you are sailing on a ship with assigned seating times, you will be notified and receive confirmation of your assignment once on board.You are not restricted to eating in the dining room every night even if you have assigned seating. You have a variety of places to dine at, from pizza parlors to the ship’s buffet and speciality restaurants. And of course there is always room service, which is free on most ships.Some liners offer open seating dining in their main restaurants as well as at alternative ones.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR PARENTS
Cabin Service: If you have a child that takes a nap each afternoon be sure to speak with your steward on the first day to make arrangements to have your cabin cleaned either before or after that time.
Baby sitting availability: While several cruise lines offer in-cabin baby-sitting, many do not.Most cruise liners have facilities to keep your toddlers to teens occupied during the days sailing.
Tipping: Gratuity policies vary widely. For example, Carnival Cruises add the suggested gratuities @approx. $10 per person per day) to your onboard account on embarkation day. After that, you have the ability to increase or decrease the amount at the information desk. Other lines provide envelopes toward the end of the cruise for you to put cah in and distribute to the appropriate waiters and rooms stewards.
Settling your account: On the last evening you’ll receive an itimised bill of your charges. Be sure to look it over and contact the cruise line’s prser or hotel desk to dispute any charges. If all looks good, just keep the bill as your receipt; the balance will be charged to the credit card you provided. Queues can be long on at the pursers desk on the day of disembarkation, so it is advisable to check your statement at the pursers desk or through an in-cabin interactive TV system, prior to the last night.
Many cruise liners require you to pack your bags the night before you disembark and to place them outside your cabin to be collected. Utilise your carry-on again for toiletries and any remaining items. And don’t forget to leave out a change of clothing for the morning so you don’t have to exit the ship in your pyjamas.