Cruise Travel Frequently Asked Questions - General Questions


General Questions
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.

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 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.

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.