FAQs - First-Time Cruisers
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Dear Steve & Russ,
I've been thinking about taking a cruise
but have no idea where to begin. I feel like I'm lost in a sea of information…
Find a good cruise travel agent!
If you need a doctor, lawyer or even a car mechanic, the first thing you would
probably do is ask your friends for a referral. Well, it's no different
with travel agents. If you are going to invest hundreds or even thousands of
dollars on your vacation, shouldn't you get professional advice? Like
other professionals, travel agents have specialties. You want to be sure to
find a cruise specialist that has knowledge about the type of cruise you desire.
Just as most garages can patch a leaky tire, most cruise travel agents can help
you with a 3 night Bahamas cruise. However, if you want to cruise to Alaska
or Europe, or find the cruise ship with the best kid's program, or that
specific itinerary that includes an overnight stay in Aruba, then you need a
If you don't have a referral,
call a cruise travel agency and speak with the agency's Sales Manager.
Explain what you'd like to do on your vacation and then the he or she
can match you with the agent who specializes in what you're looking for.
The best thing your agent can do for you is LISTEN! Tell the agent about your
interests and lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, your expectations of your
vacation and, of course, your budget. A good cruise travel agent will listen,
give you qualified information tailored to your needs and will help you make
an informed decision - something a computer just can't do. Just because
a ship out there has everything available for the sports enthusiast, your idea
of the perfect cruise may be a Big-Band themed cruise with plenty of ballroom
dancing, not rock climbing and in-line skating. If you are booked on the wrong
ship, the lowest price in the world is not going to make up for it.
Dear Cabin Closeouts,
What is the test to determine
if I have a knowledgeable cruise travel agent working for me?
--Looking for the Right Agent
a cruise travel agent, you want one in which you can have complete trust. Be
sure to interview the cruise agent, and don't be afraid to ask how many cruises
the agent has been on. Would you buy a car from someone who doesn't drive?
If you don't feel comfortable with one agent, move on to another. An agent that
can describe the ships or destinations from personal experience far outweighs
the one who just reads about it. A good agent will even keep a photo album at
her desk to show you. Don't forget, this is YOUR vacation and you need
to be sure you are getting the most for your investment. A good cruise travel
agent can provide you with a wealth of information. Things you might not think
to ask, like: what a guarantee cabin is; why you should pack a bathing suit
for Alaska; what is “duty-free”; why you need to “tender”
in some ports; and what to do if you need to cancel, a good cruise travel agent
can advise you on. A good cruise travel agent will become especially valuable
if you have any problems on your vacation, with your airline or while on the
cruise. Remember, this may well be the most important two weeks of your year
– don't trust your Rolls Royce to the backyard mechanic.
I'd like to take my family cruising. What will my cruise price include?
What will my cruise price not include?
--Mother of 3
Most cruises include your selected
shipboard accommodations, 24 hour cabin service, standard meals in the dining
room and/or numerous buffets, various ports of call and most entertainment:
from bingo to 5 star Broadway productions aboard the vessel. Children's
programs are extensive and included, so you have some time alone. Airfare and
transfers may also be included for an additional fee.
Most do not include organized shore
excursions, meals at alternative restaurants, alcoholic beverages or carbonated
soft drinks (drink packages may be purchased and are a big savings for thirsty
families), photographs, gratuities, spa and beauty treatments, medical services,
casino expenditures or other miscellaneous items you may purchase on board.
As a mother, you'll especially
appreciate the variety of dining options that pleases all ages and the most
finicky eaters, as well as the free recreation opportunities on board to keep
Dear Steve & Russ,
What is the difference between an inside, outside & balcony cabin?
--Love the Sea
An inside cabin has no windows,
an outside cabin (ocean view) has a window or porthole and a balcony (verandah)
cabin has a glass door leading out to a balcony (private or semi-private) usually
equipped with a small table and two chairs. Beware! Balcony cabins can be addictive
to a lover of the sea.
My husband is afraid he will be bored on
a cruise ship. I have cruised only once before and of course he will not believe
me. What can I do to convince him?
Chances are that whatever activities
your husband really enjoys can be found while cruising. He needs to know that
cruise ships are like floating resorts and offer just as many options as a fine
resort does. The activities on board a cruise ship are amazing and he should
be prepared to be dazzled with too many choices. Typical activities include:
shore excursions, water sports, pool activities, fitness centers, live entertainment,
casinos, bingo, dance lessons, talent contests, karaoke, wine tasting, movies,
and much more. In addition, you have the opportunity to explore new and exciting
ports of call. Golfers cannot resist a round of golf at a challenging island
course; gourmands love experiencing the dining available on ship or in port;
explorers can find adventure in every port. You know your guy. Make sure he
knows how much a cruise can enhance his favorite pastime.
Dear Cabin Closeouts,
When is the best time to take
--Timing is everything
Really, whenever you want to go!
Alaska cruising season runs May through September; Europe between April and
November; Bermuda, April through October; and Panama Canal, between September
and April. Cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas, of course, run year-round.
Dear Steve & Russ,
Will we need a passport for
A passport is required. Non-U.S. citizens who are residing in the U.S. are required
to travel with their Alien Registration Card and valid passports. Non-U.S. citizens
should contact their consulates to be sure.
Why choose to cruise? Is it really a good deal?
not only the best travel deal there is, according to CLIA, Cruise Lines International
Association; cruises also have a higher percentage of satisfied customers than
any other vacation experience. On a cruise, there's fun for every family member:
adults, kids, teens and grandparents. Maybe the best part is that you can do
it all - or none of it. It's your option to pick and choose exactly what's most
appealing. It's all laid out for you, so there's no need to study travel books
and planning guides before you leave home. Take your hotel and restaurant with
you, no daily packing and unpacking. On a land-based vacation, you'd be doing
it every time you drove to a new city. On a cruise, once you unpack, you're
done, and best of all, almost everything is included up front. Published statistics
indicate that, in general, a 7 night cruise for two is about 35% less than 7
nights at a comparable resort. Now that's a deal!