Booking Questions

How do I pay for my cruise? What are the deposit and final payment requirements?

Always, always, always use a credit card to book your trip. . They’re convenient, they are safe, and you get extra protection for your holidayfrom your credit card company. But if you must, we will accept cheques payable to CruiseAway for payment.

If you are booking your cruise early (outside of four months prior to travel) the cruise line typically requires a deposit ranging from $100 per person for a 3 or 4 night cruise, $200 – $250 per person for a 7 night cruise, and $300 or more for longer cruises. Your cruise must be paid in full at least 65 days prior to travel for most cruise lines (some require final payment even sooner). CruiseAway will discuss payment terms with regards to your particular cruise.

You will get a comprehensive receipt for every payment and will receive a final payment reminder to keep you on top of your payments. If you would like to make periodic payments on your trip, you may do so provided all payments are completed prior to the final balance due date.


Should I buy cancellation insurance? Is it worth it? What does it cover?

Without insurance, if you cancel your cruise after final payment, you will suffer penalties. There is no question about it. It could be $50 per person or could be the full cost of the trip. The cruise line doesn’t care if it was your life savings, if it was a heart attack, a death or if you promise to rebook and say good things about the line. You will not get your money back after final payment without insurance.

We mention insurance to everyone. We don’t push it on anyone. But you should consider your own situation before deciding for or against it?

* Would losing the total cost of trip hurt?
* Do you have family members who are ill or at risk of illness that if their condition turned worse you would abandon your travel plans? Young children or older family members?
* Do you have a pre-existing medical condition?
* Is your trip relatively expensive? Are you leaving the country for 10 days or longer?
* Are at a point in your life where you are susceptible to accident or illness?
* Are you booking your own air transportation?
* Have you ever experienced baggage delay or loss by the airlines?
* Does your insurance cover medical expenses in a foreign country? Probably not?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to consider insurance. Insurance typically costs about 10% of your total trip cost and usually covers baggage, trip delay, trip interruption, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. The cruise lines’ insurance typically doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions but we have other insurance we sell to cover this situations. Ask us for a brochure explaining it in more detail?

Is Insurance worth it? If you have to use it, definitely? But insurance also buys peace of mind, which is not a bad reason to have it either?


Can I extend my cruise vacation?

CruiseAway can arrange pre- or post-cruise land packages at the same time you book you cruise. These are available through the cruise line and usually include transfers or a rental car.


Do the cruise lines ever give free Upgrades?

Everyone either knows someone, met someone on a ship, or they themselves have been upgraded to a higher category than they paid for. Yes, it does happen and but not as frequently as people think. How do upgrades work? Who knows? We’re still trying to figure it out, but here’s our theory.

Most upgrades go to passengers who book early and buy the lowest category on the ship in the form of a “Category Guarantee.” A “Category Guarantee” means that when you book your cruise, you are not assigned a cabin number, you are simply guaranteed that category or better. Since most people who cruise simply want to get the best price, “Guarantees” are a great way to fill the ship with people looking for a good rate.

The cruise lines always sell more guarantees in a category than there are cabins in that category. For example, the lowest rate on Celebrity Cruise Line’s Zenithis a Category 12, inside cabin. There are approximately 6 category 12 cabins. However, on each sailing, Celebrity will sell between 40 and 60 Category 12 guarantees. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that 34 people are going to get a free upgrade. Usually these upgrades are given on a first come first serve bases.

Most upgrades are often from low inside cabins to higher inside cabins, or low outside cabins to higher outside cabins. Rarely do passengers get upgraded from inside to outside but it does happen. But don’t book an inside cabin expecting a free upgrade to an outside. It probably won’t happen.

If you are assigned a cabin when you deposit on your cruise, your chances of an upgrade are very small. If you are travelling in a quad, your chances are very rare in that there are relatively few quad cabins on a sailing. Cabin assignments on guarantees are usually made between a few weeks and the day of sailing. If you don’t like the cabin they give you, tough luck, you’re stuck. So if you’re afraid of being at the front, back, top, bottom, under the dining room, then don’t take the chance. Take an assignment at time of booking.


Why Can't I Just Deal With The Cruise Line Directly?

You can actually make reservations with some cruise lines, but usually this is not to your advantage. As a Top Producer with most cruise lines, we often get special rates that are not available to other travel agents, much less the public. Furthermore, CruiseAway, you deal with one agent with whom you’ve developed a relationship. Most cruise lines have hundreds of reservations agents. To them, you’d be just another passenger. To us, you’re a valued client.

If you booked directly with the cruise line because we weren’t available or you didn’t know about us, the cruise line will release your booking us provided you do so prior to your final payment.


What about these rates I see in my Sunday newspaper? Why aren't they ever available?

The rates you see in your Sunday newspaper in January are often for sailings during the most affordable week in the fall and on the shortest cruise. Since this pricing is based on the lowest category on the ship (which also happens to have the fewest cabins), they sold out by the time you call. Furthermore, until this year, all rates were quoted without airfare and port charges. It’s very difficult at times to explain to a client that a seven night cruise with airfare and port charges in an outside cabin from Kansas City is $1,099 per person when they saw and ad in their paper stating their cruise rates were from $199 per person. $199 would be for a three night cruise in a bunk bed cabin without airfare and port charges. It’s very misleading and we try to avoid such Advertising.


Do the cruise lines have Senior Citizen Rates? Family Rates? Last Minute Discounts?

Most of these promotions are available in the off peak booking seasons, right after the first of the year and between September and mid-December. Anyone can qualify for a senior rate provided one of the passengers in the cabin is 55 years old or older. Usually these rates a $50 to $100 per person lower than the normal rates. CruiseAway will post Senior Rates on the Internet as they become available. Family Rates are programs that cruise lines use to fill the third and fourth berths on cruises on soft sailings. For example, the third and fourth person in a cabin may pay $499 per person on a typical seven night cruise. However, to help fill a ship, the cruise line may reduce this rate to $99 or even offer free passage to 3rds and 4ths. We will post these specials as well. Finally, Last Minute Discounts are less popular than in the past. Today, the cruise lines are trying fill the ships with better early booking discounts like Royal Caribbean’s Breakthrough Rates and Carnival’s SuperSavers. They can now tell about three months prior to sailing if a sailing needs help. If they do, they’ll institute Past Passenger Discounts First, Senior Rates second, Regional Promotions Third, and then drop the rates if necessary. Either way, if you book early and the price comes down after putting down your deposit, some cruise lines may lower your rate to the new promotion (booking change fee applies). You’re always better off booking early.


Can I book on short notice?

Even the most popular cruises sometimes have space available because of late cancellations. So, have CruiseAway check or visit our site for periodic updates. But, to get exactly the ship, cabin, and sailing date you want, you should plan and book early. Most cruise lines also offer early booking discounts for customers who plan ahead. Then, just sit back and anticipate all the fun you’re going to have!


Is it better to book my cruise early or wait for a last minute Discount?

It depends on your level of flexibility, but overall, it is better to book early. The cruise lines will often lower your rate if a better promotion comes along after your book your trip. Some guidelines are listed below for when should consider booking, but again what they really come down to is flexibility.

Book early(at least 6 – 8 months in advance) if:

o It’s an inaugural cruise
o You want specific cabin, i.e.
· suites or mini-suites
· location (port, starboard, middle of the ship, bedding, etc.)
· handicapped
o It is a unique itinerary (holiday, infrequent)
o You’re not flexible with dates (honeymoon, vacation, etc.)
o You need a cabin for 3 or 4 people
o You need multiple cabins (family, group, etc.)
o You are particular about seating at dinner (especially if you want late seating)
o You plan to use frequent flyer tickets to get to the port (especially foreign cruises)

Book late if:

o You have lots of flexibility (itinerary, dates), especially if only two people are cruising
o You don’t care about the location of your and you will take an inside cabin
o You can drive to the port (and none of the other guidelines apply)
o You feel it isn’t any fun unless you have lots of pressure :-)

Some cruise lines will now guarantee dinner seating and take a lower deposit when you book early (this may only be for repeat passengers).

Most people book 8 months to as much as 18 months in advance. You can always cancel, but of course you have to outlay the money for the deposit. Refunds on deposits are slow, however, and may take up to two months.

In the Caribbean at this time, where they have obviously built too many ships (especially in the winter when the ships are not in Alaska/Europe), some of these rules may not apply. Anyway, they are only Guidelines.


Why are your rates better than what my local travel agent is quoting me?

Top Producing Cruise Only Travel Agencies have better buying power than over 90% of the travel agencies across the country. Our margins are often better because we buy in bulk. Often we have group rates that your local agent doesn’t have. We are informed immediately of special regional, last minute, and senior promotions. Our agents are trained to ask for the best deal and most corporate intensive agencies are not. By specializing in cruises, we’re also very good at finding them at the best prices, often passing on our margins to you in the form of greater Discounts.


I'm in Brisbane and I've never done business with you. How can I be sure you're legitimate?

Very good question and one you should ask any agency you’re working with. We’re a member of the International Cruise Council of Australia , Travel Agents Licence No 32070. You may contact the cruise line that you are considering and ask them about us. We can give you references of other clients in your area. We will be glad to give you any information that will make you feel comfortable with us.


Why should I book with CruiseAway?

There are a number of reasons to book with CruiseAway. Among them: fast, courteous service with the best rates in the country. For more information about us, please visit our Corporate Profile.


How do I book a cruise?

Simply call CruiseAway at 1-800-887-590 or submit an online Request For Proposal and one of our enthusiastic, knowledgeable representatives will be glad to help you. We will help you pick the cruise that fits your vacation schedule, tastes, and budget; then make all the arrangements to get you from your doorstep to your stateroom and back.


Cabin Questions

Is there any difference between cabins on the lower decks and cabins on the higher decks?

On today’s newer ships, there are basically four types of cabins:

Inside Cabins – these are cabins without windows

Oceanview Cabins – basically the same size as inside cabins only they have port holes or picture windows.

Deluxe Cabins – about the same size as an oceanview cabin, except it may have a private balcony which adds to the overall square footage of the cabin.

Suites – significantly larger than other cabins on the ship, often with a private balcony or verandah.

You find the Deluxe Cabins and Suites on the higher decks of a cruise ship, so, yes, there is a difference here. However, Standard Inside Cabins and Oceanview Cabins are basically the same on any deck. For example, a Category 4, Inside Cabin on Carnival’s Fantasy on the Riviera Deck is the same size as an Oceanview Category 9 on the Empress Deck. The difference become evident in the Cat 11 and Cat 12 Demi-Suites and Suites.


How many people can I get into my cabin?

Most cruise ship cabins are built to accommodate two passengers. However, there are many on each ship that can accommodate three and four passengers. Carnival, The Big Red Boat, and Disney all have ships that sleep five in one cabin. These cabins are obviously very popular among families and go quickly during family vacation times. So book them early if you need them.


Is an oceanview cabin worth the extra Money?

Our clients tell us the the biggest advantage of having an oceanview cabin is that it makes your cabin seem so much bigger. It’s amazing what natural light will do for a room. It also gives you some perception of time. When you wake up at 7:00 am in an inside cabin, you can’t tell if it’s 2 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon. For them an oceanview cabin is worth it for this reason alone. Want to know what the weather’s like? Open your curtain. With an inside cabin, you throw on some clothes, run outside and run back again.

On the other hand, our other valued clients say the opposite. “Who needs a window. I’m only going to be in there when I sleep anyway. I could use that extra money on shore excursions, my bar tab, or my next cruise.”

Who’s right? They both are. It’s really up to you. Oceanview cabins generally cost about $100 more per person for a 7 or 10 night Caribbean cruise and about $200 more per person for a European or Exotic itinerary. Our agents will be glad to discuss the features and benefits of both types of cabins without pressuring you into something you don’t want.

The only itinerary where we highly suggest an oceanview cabin is Alaska. With daylight hours approaching 20 – 22 hours in the peak season, it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy it from your cabin.


Where is the best location for my cabin if I'm concerned about the ship's Motion?

While motion sickness shouldn’t be a major concern on today’s ships, you should still know the best way to avoid it if possible. If it’s available, you should request a cabin that is relatively close to the middle of the ship. If you can imagine a see-saw in the play ground, it’s the ends that go up and down, not the middle. (No, cruises are not like see-saws). You should also look for a cabin that’s closer to the bottom of the ship, not the top. The higher you are, the greater the potential to feel a left to right rolling motion. Example, the top of a tall palm tree will always sway more in the wind than the bottom of the tree.

Again, today’s ships are fully stabilized making your cruise comfortable in virtually any location. As a matter of fact, if motion discomfort were such an issue, the suites on a ship wouldn’t be at the top and near the front.

To make sure you get the best cabin for you, book early, book early, book early. If wait, you’ll have less to choose from.


Do the cruise lines ever give free Upgrades?

Everyone either knows someone, met someone on a ship, or they themselves have been upgraded to a higher category than they paid for. Yes, it does happen and but not as frequently as people think. How do upgrades work? Who knows? We’re still trying to figure it out, but here’s our theory.

Most upgrades go to passengers who book early and buy the lowest category on the ship in the form of a “Category Guarantee.” A “Category Guarantee” means that when you book your cruise, you are not assigned a cabin number, you are simply guaranteed that category or better. Since most people who cruise simply want to get the best price, “Guarantees” are a great way to fill the ship with people looking for a good rate.

The cruise lines always sell more guarantees in a category than there are cabins in that category. For example, the lowest rate on Celebrity Cruise Line’s Zenith is a Category 12, inside cabin. There are approximately 6 category 12 cabins. However, on each sailing, Celebrity will sell between 40 and 60 Category 12 guarantees. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that 34 people are going to get a free upgrade. Usually these upgrades are given on a first come first serve bases.

Most upgrades are often from low inside cabins to higher inside cabins, or low outside cabins to higher outside cabins. Rarely do passengers get upgraded from inside to outside but it does happen. But don’t book an inside cabin expecting a free upgrade to an outside. It probably won’t happen.

If you are assigned a cabin when you deposit on your cruise, your chances of an upgrade are very small. If you are travelling in a quad, your chances are very rare in that there are relatively few quad cabins on a sailing. Cabin assignments on guarantees are usually made between a few weeks and the day of sailing. If you don’t like the cabin they give you, tough luck, you’re stuck. So if you’re afraid of being at the front, back, top, bottom, under the dining room, then don’t take the chance. Take an assignment at time of booking.


I don't plan to spend much time in my cabin. What's the most affordable way for me to get on the ship?

Very good question, and one we hear quite often. The most affordable way to get on the ship other than stowing away is to book an “inside guarantee.” The rate is often a little lower than the rate for the lowest category on the ship. You will not receive a cabin number when booking. It will be assigned as late as the day of sailing. And your cabin assignment could be in any category on the ship. You could receive the lowest category on the ship or the highest. You never know. However, expect an inside cabin. The drawback is that you don’t know where you’ll end up. It could be the front, back or middle, so if that’s a concern to you, we recommend avoiding this pricing program.

Since most cabins on today’s ships only differ by the fact they’re on a different deck, most folks don’t mind taking a chance of where they end up. Most of our clients who take advantage of this deal are quite satisfied with their accommodations. If you seriously plan to spend little time in your cabin, then consider this Promotion.


Dining Questions

Can I get a special diet?

Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, Kosher, or other diet preferences. However, this request must be made in advance, so be sure to advise your agent of this requirement when you book your cruise.


What if I don't like my tablemates?

Rarely is this a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, speak with the maitre d’. He’ll make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions…discretely and politely.


Can we get a table for two?

On the more upscale lines like Crystal, , Seabourn and such a table for two is usually no problem. It’s on the mass market lines where this request is a little more difficult to confirm.

The newer ships (circa 1995 and later) are being built with more tables for two. We can never confirm a table for two, we can only request it. Table and Dining Assignments are made by the ship’s Dining Coordinator who works in the cruise line’s corporate office. This person makes the assignments 2 weeks prior to sailing and submits the list to the maitre’d the week before sailing. We make your request by submitting a letter to the Dining Coordinator 30 days before sailing, but it is your responsibility to remind us to do this for you. Again, we can’t guarantee you’ll get it, but we will make the request.

If you get on board and you didn’t get a table for two, see the Maitre’d. Maybe he can do something for you if it’s available.

I Am Not A Morning Person, Will I Miss Breakfast?

This may not be a bad idea after a couple of days on the ship, but the answer is – NO. (Unless you sleep right into lunch). Breakfast and lunch are always available in the buffet (Lido or whatever it is called). Breakfast is usually served until 10 a.m. or later.

Breakfast and lunch used to be served at two seatings, but many ships now have an “open” dining room – which means you can come at any time when they are open (i.e. 12 – 2 for lunch). This not to be confused with “open seating” which means that you’ll sit at whatever table is open (sometimes at their direction).


Can I eat anytime I want? What about room Service?

Most ships have room service available 24 hours a day. Some lines are even letting you order off the dinner menu (during dinner hours) if you prefer to eat in your cabin.

You can eat all day if you want. Let’s look at a day on the Carnival Destiny:

* Room Service at 6:00 am
* Breakfast in the Dining Room at 8:00
* Still serving Breakfast on the Buffet till 10:30 am
* Lunch Buffet is open at 11:00, I think I’ll just have a salad. I’m cutting down
* Lunch in the Dining Room at 12:00 pm
* 2:00 pm, I think I’ll have Chinese at the Chinese Grill
* 4:00 pm by the pool, I could use a pizza from the 24 hour pizzeria
* 6:30 pm, time for dinner
* 10:30, let’s have a sandwich at the Pizzeria
* 12:00, Midnight Buffet
* 1:30 am, Scrambled Eggs and Bacon on the Late Night Mini-Buffet
* 3:30 am, I’m through dancing, let’s another pizza.
* 4:00 am, Honey, how about a Turkey Sandwich from room service. “Shut up and go to bed we’ve got room service coming for breakfast in 2 hours.”

The answer is yes, you can eat anytime you want.


Are there non-smoking areas?

Today, virtually all ships have smoking and non-smoking table and/or sections in the dining rooms and lounges. In fact, many cruise ship dining rooms are now totally smoke-free, reflecting passenger requests. If you want your dining table in a non-smoking area, just tell your CLIA-affiliated travel agent. Onboard, in open-seating situations, you can advise your waiter or the maitre d’.


Can we celebrate a special day?

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, canapés, wine or cheese. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise your mytravelco.com agent in advance.


What about tipping?

Tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is to plan for about $2.50 to $3.00 per person per day for your room steward and dining room waiter, and about half that amount for your busboy. (A few cruise lines include tipping in the price and will so inform you.) Other ship board personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion.


What can I wear to dinner?

Dinner falls into 3 categories: Formal, Informal (also called semi-formal) and casual. Since there are many types of outfits women can wear, we won’t comment on this – just dress to compliment the guys.

Breakfast & Lunch: no special dress code, even in the dining room. Shorts and tasteful t-shirts are acceptable. No swim suits or cover-ups.

Dinner: no shorts (although I have seen this on casual nights)

Casual: slacks (nice jeans) and sport shirt
Informal: suit or sports coat with tie; some ships don’t mention a tie (i.e. Holland America)
Formal: dark suit or tuxedo. I see many men in nice sports outfit.

Some newer ships (i.e. Sun Princess) now have alternative dining facilities where you can dress almost any way you want to.

On a seven night cruise they will normally have two formal nights and one or two informal nights. 3 and 4 night cruises have one formal night.

If you would really like to go informal, look into one of the “sailing ships” (Windstar Cruises; Windjammer) or one of the smaller ships (Clipper, etc).

Is cruise ship dining as good as I've been told?

Everything you’ve heard about cruise ship dining is true. You’ll find a varied selection of entrees (appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables, and desserts, too) every time you sit down. And there’s virtually no limit on what or how much you can order. Just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food doesn’t mean you’ll come home out of shape. You can choose low-cal, spa, or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. You can also jog, do aerobics, work out in the gym, swim, golf, play tennis, and much more. Burning calories was never so much fun! Best of all, the one thing you’ll never see on a cruise ship menu is a price!


Which is better, Early or Late Dining?

As a rule of thumb, Early Dining means you’ll have dinner between 6 pm and 6:30 pm. Late Dining means you’ll have dinner between 8:15 and 8:45 pm. There are many reasons why one dining may be better for you than an other.

You may want Early Dining if:

* You are travelling with small children who need to stick to a set meal and bedtime schedule.
* You don’t enjoy that bloated full feeling before bedtime
* You generally go to bed between 10 pm and Midnight
* You are taking a very “At Sea” intensive itinerary.
* You are an early riser

You may want Late Dining if:

* You are a night owl, you catches their second wind later in the evening
* You don’t want to feel rushed for dinner after a day in port
* It takes you or your spouse a long time to get ready for dinner.
* You don’t mind finishing your meal around 10:15 or 10:30 pm

There are some trends that we have noticed with regards to itineraries and the popularity of a particular dinner seating.

* Eastern Caribbean cruisers like Early Dining because of all the days at sea
* Western and Southern Caribbean Cruiser like Late because of all the ports
* 3 and 4 night cruisers like Late because they party into the night
* Family Reunion Groups like Early because of the variety of age groups travelling
* European and Exotic Cruisers like Early because the older passengers who sail prefer to eat earlier

Many of today’s cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess are now offering alternatives to having dinner in the dining room or room service. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines now has the Bistro on all of their ships. This is a separate a la carte restaurant open between 6:30 and 11:00 pm where you can go to dinner anytime you’d like. Carnival, Princess, and NCL are now using their upper deck breakfast and lunch facilities to offer a buffet version of their dinner menus. These restaurants are more casual allowing you to be more flexible with your meal time and dress.

Since the Caribbean is our most popular destination, Late Dining always books first and is often on a wait-list 6 months prior to sailing. (Carnival does not confirm dining at booking).


General Questions

Can singles have fun on a cruise?

Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone, because it’s so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties just for singles early on, so you can start to be involved right away. Most ships also have single cabins as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, a cruise line will even find you a roommate to share a double if you ask them.


When is the most affordable time to take a cruise?

If you are looking for the very, least expensive time to take a cruise, then consider sailing between the end of August and the sailing before Christmas, but not over Christmas or Thanksgiving. Most families have children that are back to school, folks begin saving vacation time for holiday travel, and everyone’s saving money for the holiday season. Considering all of these factors, expect to cruise prices that are better than 2-for-1 with reduced rates for 3rd and 4th passengers. A 7 night cruise that normally sells for $899 per person in the summer could be $499 pp during this period with the 3rd and 4th sailing for $99. That’s a potential average of $300 pp for a one week cruise.

If you’re looking for a senior citizen rate, a regional promotion, a past passenger promotion, or a last minute deal, you’ll likely find it during this period. Not the Winter, Spring, or Summer.


Is cruising right for honeymooners?

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) and so much more to remember forever. Most lines provide special services from Sunday or Monday departures 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.


Where can I go?

Where do you want to go? Cruises visit practically any destination accessible by water — the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Bermuda, Europe, Hawaii, the Greek Isles, the Orient, Australia, Tahiti, the Galapagos Islands, South America, India, the Panama Canal and more. If you can name it, we can probably get you there by ship.


What Is The Secret To Having A Great Cruise?

Believe it or not- there is a secret. It’s called attitude.I believe that if you go in with a positive attitude – you will have a good time. This may be put to the test when the ship starts to sink – but even then you can get pictures and get rich selling them to CNN. :-)

We have found that a cruise is what you make of it. The cruise line provides the resources, and it is up to you how to use them. And recognize that everything can’t be just the way you want it. With 1,000 to 3,000 people on board they have to keep everyone happy – more or less.

Get to know the crew members – dining room staff, cruise director and staff, your cabin steward, etc. I think it makes a difference it you show some interest and you might even learn something. I always find out where the people are from, etc.

Of course there are people who will never be happy – we’ve run into a few on cruises. Just remember, these people are HAPPY – being unhappy is their goal. I think some of these people may have a computer :-).


Are all ships and cruises fairly similar?

Far from it. Ships range from under 200 feet to over 1,000 feet. You can sail with anywhere from fewer than 100 fellow passengers to over 2,600. Experience atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, classically simple to ultra-deluxe. You can even choose between traditional propeller-driven craft, sail-assisted cruise ships, or even a paddle-wheel river boat.


Where Can I Learn More About Cruising?

A good source might be your library – they may have guidebooks on cruising (Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Berlitz, etc.). Of course, you can also buy these right from our Website.


I have never been on a cruise. Which is the best cruise line for me?

This is a common question, and the answer is – it depends. It’s like asking what is the best car? The best cruise line for you might not be the best line for someone else because everyone has different priorities, interests, etc.

This may be bad news – but you’ll probably have to do a little homework. You’ll be spending quite a bit of money so it will be worth it. The good news is that you probably will enjoy the cruise on any line – they all do a good job. But if you can zero in on one which may be best for you, you may even have a better time.

Some of the things you need to consider are:

* Price
* Ships (age, size, accommodations)
* Itineraries
* Passengers (interests, ages, etc.)

Fortunately there is a lot of information. One of our agents will be glad to help you. There are also cruising guides (library, book store); magazines (Cruise Travel); recommendations from friends; and one of the most important – the cruise brochure.


It all sounds too good to be true! Is it?

The one major complaint we hear over and over again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it’s hard to find any negatives. After all, you don’t have to run to make plane connections to get from one port to the next. You don’t have the hassles of making dinner or nightclub reservations. You don’t have the bother of packing and unpacking as you move from place to place. You don’t get unexpected, expensive surprises at restaurants or nightclubs. You have a wealth of options for shopping, adventure, sightseeing, exploring, entertaining and sports activities. All you have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member onboard is dedicated to making your cruise vacation the best vacation of your life (until you top it next year with your next cruise!)


Are there different classes of service?

Today’s cruise ships are one-class. Everyone onboard can use all of the ship’s facilities. The price of a stateroom is based primarily on its size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you’ll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else onboard.


Will I get bored? Feel confined?

Hardly. Being at sea gives you a feeling of freedom few places can offer. There’s plenty of room. And it’ll probably take you two or three days just to discover what’s onboard. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring new and exciting ports of call. Cruise ships are like floating resorts with all the things fine resorts have to offer. You can be by yourself and lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing view. Or, you can join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests and other organized deck activities. Perhaps you can practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or shoot some baskets. You can go for a swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym. You can see a feature movie, attend a lecture by renowned experts, play backgammon or bridge. And that’s just when you’re onboard!


Is motion-discomfort a problem?

Not really. The most popular cruise areas boast some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, advance availability of accurate weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.


What's there to do in port?

So much you’ll have a hard time choosing! You can go off on your own. Or take a guided tour. You can search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids, a bicycle down the side of a 10,000 foot volcano, or ride a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. See the birthplace of civilization or listen to steel drum bands. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a water-skiing boat. If there’s still time (and you aren’t ready to rest yet), enjoy a folkloric show. Play golf or tennis. Eat native foods. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world’s best beaches. Catch a record marlin. Sail, snorkel, or go scuba diving. Go to a nightclub or glittering casino. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs. In short, a cruise is the easiest way to see new places and do all the things you dream of. Cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of destinations that you may want to return to for another vacation…and you never have to pack and unpack the destinations come to you!


But what if I don't want to take a tour?

Well, then don’t – although if everybody felt that way I think they would run out of transportation real fast. You can do what you want in port. You will either tender (small boat to shore) or dock. It depends on the port and how many ships are there. But if you tender it will usually be done efficiently.

You can take tours arranged by the ship, take your own tours (rent a car, cab, etc.), just walk into town, or stay on the ship. You can have lunch on the ship – you can always come back, even with tender, they run all the time. If it’s an all-day tour, and they will usually include lunch. The half-day tours are timed to get you back for lunch (or leave after lunch).

They will review all the tours for you on the ship and you should go if you’re interested. Even if you want to do it on your own, you may pick up some ideas.

In the Caribbean and Alaska you certainly don’t have to take tours – but many people do and are quite happy with them.

If you are cruising in Europe and some other parts of the world it may be different. Unless you just want to go into the city. They usually run shuttle buses which will take you ‘downtown’. But this is only to the port city. For example, the port for Paris might be Le Havre. If you want to get to Paris, you’re on your own. Sometimes you’re close to a train station – all depends.

Ship tours are usually well organized and usually well worth the money. We know sometimes you can do it cheaper on your own, but remember that you are also paying for a guide, admissions, etc. Not to mention peace of mind – the ship won’t leave until all the tours are back. If you go on your own you may have to build in extra time to be sure you won’t miss the ship.

If you’re highly independent we’re sure you can always do things on your own. But for the rest of us – the tours are just fine. And if you’re worried about waiting for stragglers, this rarely happens in our experience, especially if you are on a cruise in Europe, Asia, etc. Experienced cruisers know how to behave. And if they don’t they are brought in line very quickly – believe me!


Do I have to participate in the 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.


Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?

32% of cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines make a special point of providing supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, they’ll love a family cruise. You’ll find the kids adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won’t have to wonder what they’re up to every minute. The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate.


What's there to do at night?

At night, 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 even have casinos. There are also many special events like 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 sunrise at sea.


Is there a charge for entertainment?

Never. On a cruise vacation, the entertainment is on the house. There’s no cover. No minimum. No charge for an admission ticket. The shows are live. The movies are first-rate. The variety is limitless.


Is it easy to meet people?

A cruise ship is a great place to make new friends, because everyone’s so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed. And you’ll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. At dinner. At cocktails. Around the pool. Or along the promenade rail. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard ship again next year.


Will there be people like me?

No matter what you’ve heard to the contrary, there’s no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises…of all ages…from all walks of life…singles, couples and families. Passengers can vary from ship to ship and cruise to cruise. Just ask your consultant for advice on the best ship for you, based on your tastes and Lifestyle.


What's the best time to take a cruise?

Anytime is the best time to take a cruise, but it also depends on where you’d like to go. The Caribbean is fantastic year round; however, some of the more exotic destinations are seasonal. For example, you can only cruise to Alaska between May and September; to Europe between April and November; to Bermuda, between April and October; the Panama Canal, between September and April. So you see, no matter what time of year it is, it’s a perfect time to cruise.


Is cruising affordable and a good vacation value?

Yes! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best travel value for your money. Your fare includes all meals, your cabin, onboard daytime activities, nighttime parties and 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, optional shore excursions, and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.)


How long are Cruises?

As long or short as you want. There are cruise lines that offer itineraries from three days to three months. Whatever your schedule, we’ll do our best to find the cruise for you.


Shipboard Questions

Will I need a dinner jacket?

On some cruises, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. But don’t buy a tuxedo just for the trip. If you do want to dress to the nines, many ships offer tuxedo rental services. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine for the dressiest occasions.


Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?

Most ships have 240-volt outlets in the staterooms so you should be able to use your hair dryer and shaver. However, most new ships include air dryers in the room. Ask us if your ship has them or not.


Are there safes and safety deposit boxes on board a ship?

Yes, there are. As a matter of fact most new ships have safes right in the cabin with instructions on how to use them. If you would like a safety deposit box, the purser’s desk will get one for you.


Are wheel chairs available or do I have to bring my own?

As a rule of thumb, wheel chairs are available for passengers who are injured after they get on board. Most suggest that you bring your own collapsible one if you will need it throughout the cruise Check with your agent when booking regarding your ship’s policy on providing wheelchairs to passengers.


Can we stay in touch with the outside?

Quite easily. Most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores. Staterooms on many ships are even equipped with televisions. While many 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. In addition, many ships have fax capabilities.


Are there medical services onboard?

Virtually every cruise ship (except for some smaller vessels operating in coastal waters) has a fully-equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency.


Are there laundry services aboard?

Yes. Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and a great many provide dry-cleaning services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services. Some ships also have self-service launderettes on board simply because many of their itineraries are 11 nights or longer. Most people don’t have enough underwear for a 96 day world cruise. Can you imagine your laundry bill on a trip that Long?


Do they take cash on board a ship?

Today’s cruise ships have made the transition to a “cashless society.” All passengers are given an onboard charge card that typically doubles as their boarding pass. You would use this card for all purchases including drinks, souvenirs, shore excursions, boutique services, spa services, and etc. Cash is accepted in the casino, for gratuities to the staff that served you, and at the purser’s desk to settle you onboard account.


Can I pre-pay my shore excursion so that I don't have to wait in line on board?

Most of the mass market lines like Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Princess let you pre-book your shore excursions to their more exotic itineraries like Europe and the Orient. Currently, only Premier the Big Red Boat allows you to prebook shore excursions in the Bahamas. However, we know that we will be able to pre-book your Caribbean Tours directly with the line prior to travel within the next year or two.

If you are travelling with a group of six or more, we can pre-book your Caribbean and Alaska Tours prior to travel.


Do I need a passport?

Every cruise requires some proof of Australian Citizenship before they allow boarding. While a passport is not required for the some cruises a notarized copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal and picture identification is. No, you may not use military ids, voter registration cards, or a library card. You must have a notarized photo copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal if you do not already have a passport.

Some ports even require a visa but the cruise line will inform you on proper documentation in plenty of trim prior to travel or even final payment.

It’s a sad, sad, sad thing to see someone denied boarding for lack of proper documentation. Make sure you have your documentation well in advance. Don’t assume it’s in your safe the night before your cruise. Look for it by the time you make your final payment.


What should I pack?

Pack like you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or ashore. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. As on shore, attire is dictated by occasion. For the Captain’s Gala, for example, you’ll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown.


Tour Questions

What do Shore Excursions Include?

Shore excursions include transportation according to the itinerary, and meals, refreshments, guides, and entrance fees as indicated in the tour description book. Fares for shore excursions are subject to change without notice.


When and where do Shore Excursions depart?

Most tours depart from the pier adjacent to the ship’s berth. When the ship is at anchor, staff will be on hand to assist you to the departure point. Prior to arrival in each port of call, departure times will be confirmed by the ship’s staff or daily activity bulletin.


Is it possible to "Miss the Boat?

All guests are required to be back aboard their ship no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time, which is listed in the daily bulletin and at the gangway as you leave the ship. The scheduling of all shore excursions conform with this requirement. However, if you leave a tour en route, it will be your responsibility to secure transportation and return to the pier on time. If you don’t make it, they’ll see you at the next port at your expense.


What type of transportation is used for Shore Excursions?

Standards of transport vary considerably from country to country; however, excursions utilize the best quality transportation possible in each port. Air-conditioned vehicles are not always available. Guest wishing to travel together with friends should leave the ship together, as this will help the tour staff allocate space in the same vehicle.


Will transportation be available to the city centers?

There are many ports that are not located in the city center. For the convenience of their guests, some cruises have shuttle bus services arranged in those ports that are located a 1/2 mile or more away from the closest city center and do not have adequate local transportation available. (Believe us, finding local transportation is not a problem in most ports. They will find you.) Schedules and days of operation are usually posted in the ship’s Bulletin.


How should I tip our Guide/Driver?

Extending a gratuity to your guide or driver is strictly optional; however, in some countries, these personnel may anticipate that if you were pleased with their services, you will reward them in a monetary way. A commonly accepted guideline is $1 per person for a half day and $2 per person for a full day.


How can I find out more about the ports we'll be visiting?

On most cruises, a qualified lecturer will hold informative talks on each port of call you visit. If you still have questions, the Port Lecturer will be glad to answer them. You should also do a little research before you go. Your local library should have all kinds of books pertaining to your destination. Formers and Fudo’s also have wonderfully informative books identifying local points of interest, culture, and history.


Will I miss meals when I go ashore?

Most tour departure times complement the ship’s meal service hours, so you can enjoy your meal aboard then go ashore. However, on some full day tours, or if you take more than one tour in a day, your return on board may not coincide with meal hours. A buffet, snack, or room service is usually available all the time.


What should I wear?

Other countries may have more conservative ideas about dress than you’re accustomed. Attention is drawn to this matter so as not to offend. Cruise Away suggest when visiting places of worship (cathedrals), you dress conservatively, avoiding shorts or sundresses. Attend the port lectures for guidance.

Guests should wear comfortable walking shoes at all times. When visiting ruins or walking on cobblestone streets, wear rubber-soled shoes. It’s also smart to wear a sun hat.


Will I have time to shop?

Whenever possible, shopping time is allocated within the framework of the excursions. However, tours are not designed primarily for Shopping.


How do I pay for Shore Excursions?

Your tours will be added to your shipboard account. You would settle all charges at the end of your cruise.


When should I reserve my shore excursions?

Some shore excursions can accommodate only a limited number of participants. Since they are sold on a first come, first serve basis, we recommend you purchase them as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment.

Exotic Itineraries like Europeand and the Orient allow you to book them in advance. Close to your final payment date, you will receive a complete description of your tours and a shore excursion order form. Some lines require you to prepay, others will simply bill your shipboard account.


How physically challenging are the Shore Excursions?

It really depends on the tour. For example in some of the European cities you’ll be visiting are ancient. Their quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets have been in existence long before motorized transportation. To preserve their beauty, some cities and old towns are pedestrian only. Most tours require some degree of walking; however, some excursions require extensive walking. Likewise, grand entryways and sprawling gardens of certain castles and cathedrals make walking and stair-climbing a necessity.

Most cruise lines indicate which tours are more physical than others in their brochures and at the Shore Excursion Desk. Whatever your fitness level, we highly recommend comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes.