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General Questions About Cruising


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Can I afford to go on a cruise? Is it good value for my vacation dollar?

Absolutely! There are cruises available to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to ultra luxurious. Cruising is one of the best travel choices for maximum value for your money. Your price includes all meals, your accommodation, most shipboard activities, evening parties and entertainment. Cruising is great value because you pay for most of your holiday before you go. (Your only extra expenses will be drinks, optional shore excursions, tipping and personal services such as spa treatments or salon services.)


When should I cruise?

Cruises are offered year round, so no matter when you want to go, you are almost guaranteed that there is a cruise to somewhere. Cruises to the Caribbean are available year round. Other destinations are available seasonally. For example: you can only cruise to Alaska between May and September; to Europe between April and November; to Bermuda, between April and October; and the Panama Canal between September and April.



What about Hurricane Season?


The greatest concentration of hurricane and tropical storm activity tends to be between late August and mid-October. However, this doesn't mean you shouldn't cruise at this time of year. Some of the best cruising deals are available and you can rest assured that the cruise line and Captain on board would never put you at risk. Cruise ships are safer than land-based Caribbean holidays because they can move away from the storm. Today's ultra-modern cruise ships are equipped with state-of-the-art weather equipment that keeps the Captain and his crew fully aware of a storm's position. If there is any risk to the guests, crew, or the ship the Captain can alter the ship's course and avoid the storm.



Are there certain times of the year that are more affordable to cruise?

Less expensive cruises are frequently offered between the end of August (when summer vacation is over and people are back to work and school) and the sailing before Christmas. During this time there are great deals to be had like 2-for-1's, and reduced rates for 3rd and 4th guests. Special deals for senior citizens, regional offers, past guest discounts, or last minute deals are often also offered more frequently during this time than during the Winter, Spring, or Summer months. Cruises during Christmas and New Year's, Thanksgiving and Spring Break tend to be more expensive as this is a popular time to travel.



Where can I go on a cruise?

Anywhere you can possibly imagine! Cruises visit practically every destinations accessible by water -- the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Bermuda, Europe, Hawaii, the Greek Isles, the Mediterranean, the Orient, Australia, Tahiti, the Galapagos Islands, South America, India, the Panama Canal and more.

How long are cruises?

As long as you want! Many of the most popular cruises are between 3 and 14 days. However a cruise can vary from three days to three months. Whatever your schedule, we'll do our best to find the cruise for you.

Are there many differences between cruise lines and ships?

You bet. Ships range from small, intimate vessels under 200 feet long to mega-ships over 1,000 feet. You can travel with as few as 100 other guests on board, or as many as 3000 of your closest friends! On board atmospheres range from casual and laid back to glitzy and formal. You can even choose traditional propeller-driven craft, sail-assisted cruise ships, or even a paddle-wheel riverboat.



How do I know what cruise is best for me if I've never cruised before?


You may have to do some homework to answer this question or speak to a Cruise Connections consultant who can help you with your decision.
Selecting a cruise depends on many factors - your personality, your likes and dislikes, where you want to go and how much money you want to spend. The best cruise line for you might not be the best line for someone else. There are many cruise lines and ships to choose from, but if you can zero in on one which may be best for you, you can be assured you'll have a great time and get the most for your vacation dollar.

Some of the things you should consider are:

  • Price - how much do you want to spend?
  • The Ship (its age, size, style of accommodations) - what's your preference?
  • Itinerary- where do you want to go?
  • Passengers (interests, ages, etc.) - what do you like to do?
  • On board activities and shore excursions - what interests you?

There are also some excellent cruising guides (available at libraries or bookstores) and magazines (Cruise Travel, Porthole). Additionally, each cruise line produces a brochure and most have informative web sites.



Are there different classes of service?

Today's cruise ships do not have booking class distinctions and all guests on board can use all of the ship's facilities. Cruise pricing varies with your stateroom category, which differ primarily on its size and location on the ship. You'll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else on board regardless of what category you purchase. (The only exception is the Queen Elizabeth 2 where your stateroom category dictates which restaurant you will dine in.)



What if I get bored and feel confined?

This likely won't happen. With so much to see and do, this usually isn't a problem. Cruise ships make great use of on board space, making you feel like there is lots of room for everyone on board. It'll probably take you a few days just to figure out where everything is! Cruising is great because it gives you the choice to do as much or as little as you please. You can spend time alone lounging on deck enjoying the sun or reading a good book. Or, you can join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests and other organized deck activities. Take in a game of tennis or go for a jog around the deck. Swim, relax in the spa or try your luck in the casino. You can see a feature movie, attend a lecture by renowned experts, or enjoy a game of backgammon or bridge. The activities don't end there. Shore excursions and tours are a popular way to spend time in port. Or maybe you'd prefer to walk around, shop and explore on your own. The beauty of a cruise is its flexibility - you can do whatever you want.



Will I get seasick?

Probably not. Many popular cruise destinations (like Alaska, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean) have some of the calmest waters for sailing in the world. Stabilizers on modern ships and advanced weather information also help to ensure a high level of comfort for guests on board. Additionally, the development of preventative medications, have aided in minimizing incidents of motion sickness. If you have concerns, it may be beneficial to speak to your physician and see what he/she recommends.


What does my cruise fare include?

Your cruise fare includes your accommodations, meals and entertainment on board. Items of a personal nature are not included, such as alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, spa treatments, certain specialty exercise classes, laundry, photographs, casino, ship-to-shore phone, e-mail, Internet, fax communications and shore excursions. Government taxes and fees are also not included.

What if I don't want to do any organized activities?

On a cruise, you do what you want to. You can do everything. Or lie back and do absolutely nothing. It's your vacation. Activities are a great way to meet people and there are so many you can choose from - everything from pool games, to wine tasting, to bingo, to dance lessons, but you never have to participate in any of these programs if you are not interested.

What kind of evening entertainment is available?

Nighttime is when life aboard a cruise ship really turns on. There's dancing; live entertainment in nightclubs, discos and lounges; feature films; and parties with all your new friends. Most ships have casinos where you can try your luck at the slots, or maybe play a little blackjack. There are also many special events you'll want to attend such as the Captain's Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, the Masquerade Parade, the Late Night Buffet (just for one last bite to tide you over until breakfast). And the night can go on as long as you want. Even until the spectacle of a sunrise at sea. Just be sure to get enough rest for the things you have planned for the next day!

Do I have to pay for on board entertainment?

No - the cost of entertainment is included in your cruise fare. You are free to attend all the shows and see as many bands as you want. Many popular movies are shown on board and there is no charge for these either.


What can I do when the ship is docked in port?

So much you'll have a hard time choosing! You can explore on your own or take a guided tour (referred to as shore excursions). Most cruise lines offer organized shore excursions and tours that you can arrange on board. These are guided outings that take you on everything from tours of ancient ruins and city sightseeing, to snorkeling or diving to shopping. Or you may choose to venture off on your own to see what the port has to offer. Either way, you're free to do what you like, as long as you are back in time for departure. Many ports offer great duty free shopping where you can pick up some excellent bargains. Perhaps you'd rather spend the day on a local beach; partake in a game of golf; or climb a waterfall or pyramid. The choices are literally endless and your trip will be what you make of it. In short, cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of new destinations and try all the things you've dreamed of doing, while never having to pack and unpack!

If I don't go on a shore excursion, what else is there to do?

If you don't want to go on an organized tour, you can always venture off on your own. Many destinations offer their own tours, which can usually be arranged close to the port. You can take a leisurely stroll around the port town or city you are visiting. Sample the local cuisine or shop for great souvenirs. Or you can always stay on the ship. Often on days in port, most people go ashore. This leaves areas like the pool deck quiet with no crowds - perfect for soaking in the sun, or taking a relaxing swim in the pool.
You can also choose to go ashore for a few hours and then return to the ship for the balance of the day. You are free to come and go as you please. Just don't be late when the ship is set to sail!
Organized tours can provide great insight in a short period of time into the destination you are visiting. Local guides with a great deal of knowledge and pride about their town host many of the excursions and you can learn many interesting things from them. Tours are well organized and usually well worth the money you pay for them.
If you are cruising in Europe, and some other parts of the world, organized shore excursions may be the easiest and most efficient means of getting to the area's attractions. With many destinations, local portside transportation is to the port city only. However, the area of interest may not be in the port city itself but may be a distance away and not as accessible. For example, Rome is located three hours travelling distance from the port city of Civitavecchia.

Are there age restrictions to go on a cruise?

There are two parts to this question:

1. How old do you have to be to cruise without a guardian?
Most cruise lines have a minimum age requirement of 21 for young people travelling without their parents. If any occupant in the cabin is under 21, then a passenger at least 25 years old must be booked in the cabin with them. This rule applies to married couples as well.
The only exception is that children under age 21 may be allowed to have their own cabin as long as the parents are booked in the cabin next door or across the hall. In other cases, the cruise line will require that, for booking purposes, one parent is placed in each cabin and then guests can switch around once on board.

2. What is the minimum age to get on a cruise ship?
Some family-oriented cruise lines, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney, may have minimum age restrictions on their very young guests travelling with their parents. In other words, they require that babies be at least 12 - 16 weeks old to travel and maybe older for longer and exotic itineraries. Even if a child meets the age requirement, some lines require that they be at least 2 - 3 years old to join the children's activity program. Other lines, such as Princess and Disney, capacity-control the number of children of any given age on every sailing, especially over holidays. And some cruise lines do not accept any guest under age 17. As each cruise line is different, it's always best to check with your Cruise Connections agent about the policy of the cruise line you are considering.

On board facilities for children and families can vary widely so be sure to investigate this fully. Some cruise lines charge a child's fare based on the cabin type being purchased. Budget and contemporary cruise lines usually have the most to offer and may have a child's fare available. The luxury and specialty products may not offer third or fourth occupancy in a cabin or even a reduced fare for extra guests. Once again, check with your Cruise Connections agent for the most accurate rate quotes and the cruise line's policies.


Is there a minimum drinking age on board?

You must be at least 21 years old to legally consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages on a cruise ship. You may even be asked to present identification to the bartender, so be sure to have this handy.


How easy is it to make new friends?

A cruise ship is the perfect environment to meet people because everyone is so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed and comfortable. And you'll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. Dinner is probably one of the easiest places to make new friends, particularly if you are seated at a large table. You'll also strike up conversations during cocktails; around the pool; along the promenade rail, or in the gym. And don't be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard ship again next year.


Will there be others with similar interests to me on board?

Most likely! Cruises attract all kinds of people, from every background and different walks of life. Cruise passengers are any age and can be singles, couples, families and friends. You are bound to find several just like you! No matter what you've heard to the contrary, there's no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! Just ask your Cruise Connections agent for advice on the best ship for you based on your preferences and lifestyle.


I'm looking for a vacation for my family. Is cruising appropriate for children?


Families with children book one third of all cruise vacations. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate. Most cruise lines have specific services and provide supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. Many have specially designed children's programs that divide kids up into age groups and offer age-appropriate games and sports. Most new cruise ships are built to accommodate children and have dedicated specific public rooms to children's activities and interests.
With all there is for kids to do on board, you can be assured they won't get bored! The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained - allowing you the peace of mind to relax because you're on vacation too.

Are cruises a good choice for single people?

Cruising is ideal for people travelling alone because making new friends is so easy. Most ships have parties just for singles early on in the cruise, so you can start to be involved right away. Some ships also have single stateroom accommodations, as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, a cruise line can even find you a roommate (same sex) to share a double cabin if you ask.

Would honeymooners enjoy cruising?

Definitely! Cruising has the perfect atmosphere for romance...cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars) and so much more to remember forever. Many cruise lines have sailings that depart on Sunday or Monday making it easy to plan around a Saturday ceremony. Honeymooners may also be treated to welcome champagne and breakfast in bed. (And, speaking of beds, most ships have them in double, queen, or king sizes!) Also, some ships offer special programs for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing your marriage vows in port. These vary by cruise line and ship - ask us for details!


Isn't this too good to be true?

The one major complaint heard time and again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it's hard to find any negatives. With only having to unpack once, and so many great destinations to enjoy, how can you not have fun? The food is fabulous, the entertainment exciting, and there is so much to do that it's hard to know where to start first! The only job you have is to relax and enjoy your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member on board is dedicated to making your cruise vacation the best vacation of your life (until you top it next year with your next cruise!)


What if I still have some questions?

There are some excellent guidebooks available on cruising (Fodor's, Frommer's, Berlitz, etc.). These should be available at your library or local bookstore. There are also great magazines for the consumer on both cruising and travel in general. Popular cruise magazines include Cruise Travel, Ocean & Cruise News and Porthole. These are available at bookstores and also by subscription and provide lots of great information and reviews you might find interesting and helpful. CLIA - Cruise Line International Association also has some good information about cruising in general on its website - www.cruising.org
27. What else do I need to know to ensure I have a great cruise?
If you go into your cruise vacation with a positive attitude you will have a good time. Cruising, and any holiday for that matter, is all about what you make of it. The cruise line provides choices beyond compare with something for everyone. With 100 to 3,000 people on board they work very hard to keep everyone happy. But we all know that you can't please all of the people, all of the time. Recognize that everything can't be just the way you want it. Get to know the crew members - dining room staff, cruise director and staff, your cabin steward, etc. It's their job to ensure you are well taken care of, but it never hurts to makes friends with the people that clean your cabin or bring you dinner. Of course there are people who will never be happy - they are everywhere and seem to make it their job to be unhappy. Just make sure you are having a good time!


What else do I need to know to ensure I have a great cruise?

If you go into your cruise vacation with a positive attitude you will have a good time. Cruising, and any holiday for that matter, is all about what you make of it. The cruise line provides choices beyond compare with something for everyone. With 100 to 3,000 people on board they work very hard to keep everyone happy. But we all know that you can't please all of the people, all of the time. Recognize that everything can't be just the way you want it. Get to know the crew members - dining room staff, cruise director and staff, your cabin steward, etc. It's their job to ensure you are well taken care of, but it never hurts to makes friends with the people that clean your cabin or bring you dinner. Of course there are people who will never be happy - they are everywhere and seem to make it their job to be unhappy. Just make sure you are having a good time!