TIPS FOR CRUISING:
Here are tips on what documents you will need for your cruise, how to book the right cruise, what to expect while onboard the ship and much more.
These tips should answer most of your questions about cruising. If you have any further questions please contact us at 419-293-2276 or email us at
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TIPS BEFORE YOU CRUISE:
In order to check in for your cruise, you must have two (2) forms of ID. You must have a certified birth certificate or a passport. If you are traveling into Canada,
you will need a passport. Please check with your travel agent to insure you can use a birth certificate for your particular cruise. You will also need a government
issued, photo ID. The name on your ID MUST exactly match the name on your reservation. If it does not, contact your travel agent and have this corrected
immediately. The cruise line can deny you boarding if this is not correct.
Passports are HIGHLY recommended! We suggest you get one before cruising. Once you have applied for your passport, it can take several weeks before it
arrives so be sure to apply for it well in advance of your cruise. Click here to see how to apply for your passport.
The cruise lines are also requiring that passengers complete immigration and pre-boarding information online prior to the cruise. You will need to print off the
cruise documents after your final payment has been made and take them with you to the dock when checking in. Doing this will speed your check in time.
We always try to fly in the day before the cruise departs. This is not necessary but, in our experience, it saves a lot of worry about flight delays or cancellations and
lost or delayed luggage concerns. If you do fly in the same day as the cruise, allow yourself sufficient time to get from the airport to the dock. You must be
checked in at least one and a half hours prior to the ship's departure. You also need to allow sufficient time for your return flight. Most cruise lines suggest you
book your departing flight no earlier than 1:00 PM. Remember - Check with your airline regarding their size, quantity and weight limits for your luggage.
Remember that most air lines now charge a fee for your checked luggage. SOME CRUISE LINES ALSO HAVE WEIGHT AND SIZE RESTRICTION FOR
YOUR LUGGAGE! Check with your travel agent for information about any restrictions your cruise line may have.
Choosing a Cabin
Accommodations on board the ship are referred to as either a "Stateroom" or "Cabin". Both of these terms mean the same thing. Be sure to choose your cabin
carefully. The middle of the ship has the least amount of motion and the front of the ship having the most motion. If you are at all claustrophobic, you will want to
avoid an inside cabin. These staterooms are very small and have no windows. They are usually smaller then the other types of cabins on the ship. Cabins with a
port hole or a window might suit you better. The best option is a cabin with a balcony. They are usually larger than other rooms and enable you to go outside and
sit on your own private balcony. The balcony cabin usually has at least two chairs and a table on them.
If you are traveling with a family, most newer ships have larger cabins designed for families. These are larger in size and sometimes have a separate sleeping areas.
For a much larger cabin, you could choose a Junior suite, a regular Suite or an Owners Suite. If you have any accessibility concerns, there are also handicap
accessible cabins. There are few of these types of cabins available on board the ship. If you need an accessible cabin, book early and be sure to request one with
your travel agent when booking. You will be required to fill out a form showing the need for this type of cabin. This is an easy form to fill out and your travel
agent can submit it for you. All cabins will include a private bath with a shower, limited closet space, a phone, and television. Some cabins also include a
refrigerator, mini bar and a bath tub.
Purchasing Travel Insurance:
Should you purchase travel insurance? Ask yourself these questions:
Can you afford to lose your vacation investment? Without travel insurance would you be able to pay all of your emergency expenses out of pocket and in
advance? Would you be covered if you injured yourself on your trip and required emergency assistance or medical evacuation back to the U.S.? Remember that
many personal health insurances do NOT cover you when you are out of the country.Would you be able to leave immediately if a family member passed away or
there was a medical emergency in your family back home while you were on your trip? Would you get your money back if something happened before your trip
and you needed to cancel?
Sickness, injury or worse things can occur when you are least expecting it - not only to you but to your non-traveling family members. Travel insurance helps
protect against unforeseen emergencies which can occur at any time. It also helps protect you against other circumstances like travel delay, lost or stolen baggage
and personal items, missed connections, hurricanes and so much more. In short, travel insurance is Peace of Mind. It allows you to relax and enjoy your vacation
without worry. If you don't think it's worth the cost, just ask someone who's needed to file a claim. Ask your travel agent about insurance for your vacation!
Check with your cruise line about their policies on bringing alcohol on board with you and the age limit for purchasing and consuming alcohol while on board. Most
cruise lines will not allow you to bring your own alcohol on board. Some cruise lines allow you to bring a bottle of wine, if you are celebrating something special.
If you purchase alcohol onboard or on shore, the cruise line will retain your purchase until the end of your voyage. Your purchases will be delivered to your cabin
on the last night of the cruise. The age limit for purchasing and consuming alcohol onboard is generally determined by the age you are when you board the ship,
not the age you might be turning while on the cruise. The age limit ranges from 18 to 21 years old.
Sea sickness should not be much of a concern. The newer ships now have stabilizers that keep the ship from rocking side to side. Unless you are in stormy
weather, the ships do not have a lot of motion. If this is a concern, pack sea sickness medication in your carry on bag. However, if you should experience sea
sickness (or any other illness) and have no medication with you, there is an infirmary on board. There is a charge for using this service which will be billed to your
sail card. You can also purchase over the counter medicines in the Sundries store on board, after sail away. If you do experience sea sickness, ask your cabin
steward if they have any sea sickness medicine, as some times they offer them to passengers at no charge.
On modern ships, nearly everything is handicapped accessible. However, this is not the case on shore and with some shore excursions. Some destinations require
you to step from the ship onto a small tender boat to get to shore. When the ship docks, some locations have narrow, broken sidewalks. You may also encounter
uneven terrain. Many stores are not handicapped accessible on shore. If you have questions prior to sailing, you should check with the special needs or accessibility
department of the cruise line. They will be able to give you a more detailed description of the area. Onboard, the Purser should be able to answer questions about
the ports you will be visiting and help you with any special needs you have while on board. If you have any special dietary needs, be sure to tell your travel agent
so he or she can notify the cruise line. This will be noted on your information in the dining room. If you have other special needs, such as needing to keep
medicine cold, notify your travel agent or cruise line so that the cruise line can meet all of your special needs. If you have questions before you book your cruise or
prior to your sailing, please email us. We have years of experience cruising with mobility imitations. We have used a mobility scooter while on the ship and can
give you some first hand advise. We can ALWAYS help you in booking your cruise and answering questions about your cruise.
There are several tips we can give you on packing. For a convenient packing list, click here. Make sure you pack both casual and dressy clothes. One of the most
important things to pack is comfortable shoes. You will do a lot of walking and comfortable shoes are very important. If you take any kind of edication, be sure to
pack it in a carry on bag. Your luggage may not be delivered to your stateroom for several hours after you have boarded the ship. If you are flying, be sure to pack
your medications in a carry on bag. Remember to check with your airline regarding weight limitations, fees for checked luggage, number of bags allowed, the
allowable size of your carry on and restriction of carry on items. Soft sided luggage is best. There is very little room to store your luggage in your cabin.
Remember, there is usually room under your bed to place empty luggage. It is a good idea to use brightly colored luggage. If you do not have brightly colored
luggage, tie colorful ribbons on your luggage or use some kind of distinguishing marking. At the end of your cruise, EVERYONE'S luggage is placed in a large
room, grouped by deck floors or color codes. It is very difficult to pick yours out of the 3,000 plus pieces of luggage.
BOARDING AND LIFE ONBOARD THE SHIP
You may book your transportation to and from the airport with the cruise line when booking your cruise. There is a fee for this service and it varies depending on
which port you are departing from. A representative of the cruise line will meet you either at the gate or at baggage claim and direct you to their transportation
busses. If you do not book this ahead of time, you can also purchase the cruise line transportation at the airport. Just ask one of the cruise line representatives about
doing this. You will find a representative either at the gate or baggage claim area. If you fly in a day before your cruise, you will need to go back to the airport to
catch the cruise line shuttles.
Another option is to take a taxi or shuttle bus to and from the airport. This is usually much quicker than waiting on the cruise line bus to fill. However, it may be
more expensive, depending on the port you are going out of. If you are flying in the day before your cruise and stay at hotel, check with the front desk to see if
they offer a free shuttle to the cruise port. If not, there are usually taxi's available at the hotel to transport you to the cruise port. You can also ask the front desk
of the hotel to call a cab for you.
If you live close to the departure port or if you are driving to the port, most cruise port have a parking areas. These parking areas will charge a fee to park there. If
you are staying in a hotel prior to your departure, check to see if they offer a "park and cruise" rate. Many hotels, close to cruise ports, allow you to park your
vehicle at their hotel while you are on your cruise. They usually will include transportation to and from the cruise port in this hotel rate.
Embarkation & Check-In
It is recommend you go on your cruise line's website and fill out your PRE-BOARDING information or ask your travel agent to do this for you. You will be able
to print off your boarding pass and it will speed up the boarding process.
When you arrive at the ship dock, Porters will take your luggage and place it aboard the ship. Be sure you do not give them your carry- on bag. Also, be sure you
have not packed your cruise documents or any medication you need in your checked luggage. These item should only be placed in your carry- on bags. FYI: The
porters do not work for the cruise line. Always tip the porters directly, at least $1.00 per bag (we tip $2.00 per bag).
You may have to wait to check-in if you arrive at the dock early. There is a waiting area for passengers. Normally you can begin check-in by 11:00 A.M. Have
your documentation, boarding pass and ID's ready when you go to the check-in desk. At this desk, you will be asked for: two (2) forms of ID (passport or certified
birth certificate and Government issued photo ID), your pre-boarding pass, (which should be completed online prior to arriving at the port), and a credit card for
your onboard purchases. You will be issued a "credit" card from the cruise line. This is your charge card for all onboard purchases, including beverages and
onboard shopping. This will also be your room key and your ID to get on and off the ship. It is important that you do not lose this card. It is encoded with your
credit card information and it is your ID that allows you to get on and off the ship at shore. If you do misplace this card, check with the Pursers desk to obtain a
new one or to see if anyone has turned your lost card into them. At check-in, you will be assigned your dining room table number and dining time. This
information usually is written on your sail card. If you do not already have a cabin assigned to you, this is when you will be given your cabin number.
You may be given a ship Deck Plan. Keep this handy at all times. It guides you to all various facilities on the ship. It's easy to get lost and this will help you find
your way. Some of the newer ships have an electronic guide aboard the ship that will assist you in finding the area you are looking for. You will be allowed on the
ship around noon time. However, you may not be allowed in your cabin until 1:00 PM or later. Check with your cruise line or travel agent to inquire about
boarding times. You MUST be at check-in at least 90 minutes prior to your sail time. There is always lunch ready on the ship when you board - so don't eat lunch
prior to boarding!!!
Before the ship sets sail, every passenger is required to attend the Muster Drill. An announcement will be made over the loud speaker instructing you to go your
muster station. Every passenger must do this. The crew will search cabins to make sure everyone is at the drill. This is required by the Coast Guard. This drill is
designed to show everyone what to do in the unlikely event you have to abandon ship. This drill will take approximately 15 minutes. Your assigned Muster Station
is located on your cabin door and sometimes on your sail card. If you have any question about where your Muster Station is, ask your cabin steward or any crew
Each evening you will have a "Ship Newsletter" delivered to your cabin. This will detail the times and places for all of the ships activities. It will also tell you what
time each of the dining venues, bars and pools open and close. It will also tell you what the weather forecast is, information about the next port of call and much
more. Here's a TIP - Carry a Hi Liter with you to mark the activities you are most interested in.
On Board Activities
There is always something going on! Most ships offer a spa, a fitness center and a jogging track. There are usually several swimming pools and hot tubs for public
use. Some ships have movie theaters, rock climbing walls, skating rinks, mini-golf courses, driving ranges and Flow Riders.
For those who want more relaxing activities, the ships have a library where you can check out books or sit in a quiet area to read. There is also a card/game room
which will have table for playing cards or playing games.
Most cruise lines offer an internet cafe. For a charge you can log on to the internet. Most of the newer ships have Wi Fi throughout the ship and in the cabins for a
The crew also organizes various activities throughout the cruise. They host talent contests, trivia games, bingo games, gambling tournaments, swimming pool
games and a variety of other activities. Get your bingo cards early! Bingo is very popular on board! They do a "Jack Pot" Bingo game on every cruise. Other
activities include a Las Vegas style shows in the main show rooms, live bands or DJ's in the lounges, DJ's, sing-alongs and much more. On some cruise lines, they
offer a midnight buffet during the cruise.
If you plan to do some shopping on shore, you should attend the Cruise Director's shopping talk. These talks are informational and entertaining. They will give you
guidelines on where to shop for the best bargains and their recommended stores. Some cruise lines offer guarantees on your purchases, but only at specific stores.
In most ports, you can bargain with the vendors on price. Almost everyone speaks fluent English in the stores. All shops take U.S. currency and prices are usually
in U.S. dollars. However, should you purchase from a shop that does not take U.S. dollars, you can use your credit card. Be aware that most credit card
companies now charge a currency exchange fee.
There are several shops on board the ship as well. These shops sell cruise line logo items, alcohol, tobacco products, sundries, jewelry and much more.
Shore excursions are a wonderful way to experience the sights, culture, and arts of the ports of call. There are several ways to purchase shore excursions. The
cruise line offers a large variety of on shore excursions. You can book these either prior to your cruise (these must be booked no later than 10 days prior to your
sail date), or on board. Either way you reserve them, book early, as they do sometimes sell out. The best part about booking excursions through the cruise line is,
the crew will guide you to and from the transportation for the excursion and if the tour is delayed, the ship will not sail without you!
You can also purchase tours on shore through local tour companies. Sometimes, this is less expensive. Another option is finding a taxi and have them take you
where you want to go. The taxis are always at the end of the dock. You can bargain with the taxi drivers on price. Make sure you agree on a price before you get in
the cab. Have exact change for the cab or the driver may try to make you believe they can't make change. The disadvantage to booking excursions on your own is,
if you are delayed and do not get back to the ship on time, the ship could leave without you! In your daily newsletters, there is always a phone number for the port
agent where you can reach the ship. Be sure you ALWAYS take this phone number with you on shore.
You have several choices for dining on board. The main dining room is a real treat. You are assigned a specific table and dining time, which you can dine at each
night. You can choose from several items on the menu. The same waiters will be serving you each night. If your travel agent has informed the dining room staff
of any dietary needs you have, your head waiter should already be aware of this. It won't hurt to mention this to the wait staff to insure they know what your
needs are. Depending on the length of your cruise, there are both formal dress nights and casual dress nights. Your daily newsletter will tell you the type of dining
dress code is recommended each evening. Most cruise lines do not allow you to wear shorts, bathing suits, tank tops, caps/hats or t-shirts when eating in the main
dining room. If you want a more casual dining atmosphere, there are buffets and specialty grills available in different areas of the ship. You can also order room
service 24 hours a day. Room service menu options sometimes are limited to a few select items. Ask your cabin attendant if there is a special room service menu
available for evening dining.
Some cruise lines are now offering "Any Time", "My Time" or "Open" dining. With this option, you can eat in a main dining room but are not required to eat at a
specific time. You can either call each night for a reservation or go to the entrance of the dining room and request seating. There may be a wait period if you do
the later. You will be seated at a different table each night. Some cruise lines allow you to request the same dining time each night if you like.
There are also "Specialty Dining" available on some ships. There is a fee for this type of dining, ranging from $15 to $150 per person. These meals are served in
several courses and are worth the extra money.
Tipping is optional but highly recommended. Most cruise lines allow you to prepay your gratuities or they automatically add the charges to your cruise charge
account on board. Ask your travel agency (hopefully us) about your cruise line policy on this and how to pre-pay the tips. Prepaying is a real time saver. It
eliminates the hassle of coming up with cash at the end of your cruise to give tips. The charges are based on the suggested tipping guidelines for each cruise line.
You can, at any time prior to the last night of the cruise, increase or decrease these tips on your account. You may be given envelopes on the last night of the
cruise to place either your tips in or the vouchers for your pre-paid tips. Printed on the outside of the envelopes will be the department name you are giving a tip to.
You can hand these envelopes directly to the person who served you throughout your cruise. Some cruise lines have gone to an all paperless system and no longer
hand out the vouchers and envelopes.
FYI - When purchasing beverages onboard, the gratuities are automatically charged to your sail card and are included on the bill they hand you at the time of
purchase! No need to tip each drink waiter separately.
Traveling with Children
If you are traveling with children, there are many activities especially designed for your children. Each cruise line has their own children's programs. These
activities are age specific. The children are usually grouped by age and are in separate area of the ship. For a fee, baby sitting services are available on board the
ship. Check with your cruise line or with the Pursers desk for information about these services. If you need a crib in your cabin arrange for this with your cruise
line prior to your cruise. Your travel agent can inform the cruise line for you. Children in diapers are NOT permitted in the pools or hot tubs. This is a health issue
and the cruise line will ask you to remove a child wearing diapers from the pool or hot tub.
On the last night of the cruise, you will need to prepare for debarking the next morning. You will be given forms to fill out for customs. You will also have to pack
and have your luggage sitting outside your stateroom by a specified time. You will be given color coded luggage tags to place on your luggage prior to setting your
bags out. Don't forget to keep clothes toiletries and medication out for the next morning. On the morning of debarkation, everyone will be told what area of the
ship they are to gather in while waiting for customs and immigration officials to clear the ship. In order to facilitate an orderly debarkation, passengers are called to
leave the ship according to your deck or your color coded luggage tag. If you have an early flight scheduled, be sure to let the Purser and your cabin steward know
in advance. You will be permitted to disembark earlier than your normal deck assignment.
Most cruise lines now allow "Self Debarkation". If you can carry all of your bags off the ship with no assistance, you can debark the ship at any time after the ship
has been cleared. If you plan to do this, DO NOT place your bags outside of your cabin the last night of the cruise.