Cruise tips for first time cruisers

Tags: first time, tips

Items to take They say that half the fun of going on a vacation is anticipating and planning it. Preparing your wardrobe and packing for the cruise are part of that fun! The bottom line: Don't get carried away! (Typically, first-time cruisers pack at least twice as many clothes as they need). One or two bathing suits, a couple of shorts and shirts, a few sets of nice casual wear, and a couple of more dressy outfits should work out just fine. Don't overpack! Think in terms of essentials. Save room for the stuff you'll be buying (inevitably) on your trip! Once you finalize your list of things to take, stick to it. Too often people develop a superb list, only to ignore it during the actual packing. Caught up in the heat of the moment, they start tossing things into the suitcase with abandon. Usually these items are never used on the vacation. Bring an attractive cover-up that will carry you elegantly from pool to cabin. Pack workout gear if you plan to take advantage of the health-club facilities onboard. On most cruise ships, the formal dress code for men requires a suit or tuxedo. Don't go through the expense of buying a tuxedo if you don't have one... a suit works just as well. People often get carried away when it comes to shoes, which take up a lot of luggage space. Try to bring just one pair of walking shoes, one pair of versatile casual shoes, and one pair of dressy shoes. Pack some moisturized wipes. They will always come in handy, especially when cruising with children and while on shore excursions. Because of the variety of food offered onboard the ship, you may be tempted to try different types of spicy foods for the first time. Pack an antacid, just in case! On a cruise, women can get a lot of use out of leggings. Not only can they be dressed up or down very easily, but they can also be hand-washed. Bring a night light to place in the bathroom or a small flashlight for use in the middle of the night. This will be especially useful for passengers with inside cabins. If you wear glasses or contact lenses or take prescription medicine, pack extras, along with the prescriptions. Pack clothing with elastic waistbands. You will feel more comfortable at the end of the cruise, when it is likely you have gained a pound or two.... or five! Don't bring more than a couple of T-shirts. You will probably buy some in the ports of call or in the shops onboard the ship. Surely don't forget to bring sunblock or sunscreen and sunglasses! Men will find nylon swim shorts with pockets to be very versatile. They can be used as walking shorts, and they dry quickly. Pack some toiletries and a change of clothing in one of your carry-on bags. In the event your check-in luggage is lost or stolen and does not arrive at the ship, you will have some essentials to keep you fresh for a couple of days. Pack wrinkle-free clothing in the event the ship does not have an ironing room. Otherwise, you can give your clothing to your cabin steward to send to the laundry onboard the ship (but there is a cost for this service). If all else fails, hang your clothes in the bathroom, turn the shower to hot, and close the door. The steam will help eliminate the wrinkles. Extra tips when packing Tie a closed identification tag with your name, cruise line and ship, and address and phone number to the handle of each piece of luggage, including your carry-on bags. As an additional means of identification, tape the above information inside of each piece of luggage in case the outside luggage tag gets torn off. In most cases, you will be taken directly to your cabin when you embark on the ship. Your luggage may not arrive for two or three hours. Don't panic. The crew members on the ship have nearly 3,000 pieces to sort and distribute--- it takes time. If the ship is ready to sail and you have not yet received your bags, contact the purser's desk or the housekeeping department to ask for assistance. Travel documents Never pack cash, traveler's checks, travel documents, prescription medicine, or other valuable items in your check-in luggage. Keep these with you in a secure carry-on bag. Embarkation Embarkation is a very busy time for the staff and crew members. When checking in at the cruise-ship terminal, have all of your cruise documents filled out and ready to hand to the staff. This will help to speed up the embarkation process immensely. After your cruise documents have been checked, you will be told where to go to walk onto the ship. There is usually a photographer standing at the entrance of the ship, ready to snap a picture of you with your windblown hair, faded makeup, wrinkled clothing, and exhausted smile. Don't worry, you can use that photograph as your "before" cruise picture! If the ship's crew members escort you to your cabin, it is always nice to tip them, but it is not a requirement. Just like hotel employees, these ladies and gentlemen are accustomed to receiving a couple of dollars for their service. Once you have unpacked your clothing, get a small map of the ship and start exploring! As soon as you get onboard, your cruise experience begins in a most welcome way: You will be offered a light meal or sometimes large buffet lunch in one of the restaurants. Money Your onboard "cruise card" is like a charge card (as well as your identification when you leave and board the ship). Don't forget ---- as with any charge card, this bill has to be paid at the end of the cruise! If you are on a budget, check your balance daily to monitor how much you are spending. Personal checks are rarely accepted onboard a ship, so be sure you have enough traveler's checks and credit on your personal credit card to pay for your onboard purchases. Some cruise lines now have ATM machines onboard in the event you need extra cash, but don't depend on this, because some don't. At the end of your cruise, you will receive an itemized statement for all of your onboard purchases. After checking it over to make sure everything is correct, you can use your credit card to pay your account. If you give the purser's staff an imprint of your card the first day of the cruise, they will automatically transfer your charges, and you will not have to wait in a long line the final night to pay your bill. If you disagree with anything on your bill, discuss it with the purser's staff on the final night or the final morning. Telephone calls Most cruise ships have telephones and voice mail in each cabin. Those without individual phones will have message centers, so you can be reached in case of an emergency. Remember to leave the Emergency Contact Information (which will come with your tickets) for your relatives, etc. Before making telephone calls from the ship, find out how much it will cost. Sometimes a call may cost up to $15.00 per minute! Thus, if you need to reach someone at home, wait until the ship docks in port and call from a pay telephone. If you do not have a calling card, in many cases there will be a calling booth nearby where you can buy one. On some ships you can make calls from your own cellular phone. If it's important for you to be easily accessible by phone, ask your local cellular dealer for details about cell phones with a "roam" feature. When using a calling card at a pay phone that has a push-button system and you want to make more than one call, don't hang up the telephone when you have completed your call. If you press the # (pound) key after the other party has hung up the telephone, you will get another dial tone and won't be charged an additional connection fee. The staff and crew The cruise staff are the fun people onboard the ship, or they should be. Whenever they are involved in an activity or event, you can expect a good time. If they ask for a volunteer to help them out, do it! You'll be glad you did and will have a lot of fun! Get to know the staff early in the cruise. They can give you some wonderful inside information regarding the ports of call, excursions, activities, and so on. At the end of the cruise, you will be asked to fill out a comment card. If you received particularly good service from any staff members, be sure to note their names. This is how many employees on cruise ships get their promotions and raises. If you are going to criticize something or someone on the comment card, suggest how the problem might be solved. Cruise lines are more receptive to complaints if they are accompanied by a solution. Tipping guidelines Some cruise lines include tipping in the price of the cruise fare; others do not. If gratuities are not included in the fare, give what is recommended by the cruise line directly to the people who are supposed to receive the tip. The majority of the cruise lines recommend the following gratuities: Cabin Steward - $3.00 per guest per day; Waiter - $3.00 per person per day; Busboy - $1.50 per guest per day. For your convenience, a 15% gratuity will be automatically added to your bar bill each time you order a drink! Tipping your Maitre D' and Head Waiter is at your discretion, not mandatory. Cruise etiquette Use the right nautical terminology. The ship is called a ship - not a boat. And the port side of the ship is on the left and the starboard side is on the right. (It is easy to remember this because port and left both have four letters.) The front of the ship, or pointy end, is called the bow; the blunt end the aft. To mail postcards and letters from the ship, take them to the reception desk. The receptionist will have them posted in the next port of call. In most cases, of course, you will have to pay the postage. There should be complimentary stationery and postcards in your cabin. If you do not find any, contact the information/reception desk. Cuisine Since meals are included in the cost, a cruise ship is a good place to try different kinds of foods. Be adventurous - you might fall in love with an entirely new kind of cuisine. By all means indulge in the midnight buffet, but take small plates. You'll be able to sample everything, but in smaller portions. You'll sleep better for it! Very often, table mates in the dining room start the cruise as strangers and finish as good, life-long friends. But if you sense a personality clash early on, don't hesitate - be pleasant during the meal, and later on discreetly arrange with the head waiter or the maitre d' to be moved to another table. Health and beauty Make your hair and beauty appointments early in the cruise. Even if the ship is large, the days at sea are extremely busy in this department. Massages are especially popular on cruise ships, so make an appointment early. When you get a haircut or other beauty treatment from one of the salon attendants, proper etiquette is to tip at the end of that service, as is standard practice on land. If you are interested in keeping your daily workouts going, consult with the sports instructor onboard the ship to develop a program to follow during the cruise. Don't sit in the Jacuzzi more than twenty or thirty minutes at a time, especially during the day. Doing so will make you mopey. In the evening, under the stars, is ideal! Casino Budget your gambling money carefully each day, unless you want to find yourself washing dishes at the end of the cruise! Take only the amount of money you are willing to lose. Casino chips can be charged to your onboard credit account -- but, of course, at the end of the cruise, you do have to pay for them! Activities and entertainment Carry a copy of the daily program with you so that you know what time the activities are and where they are located. Many cruise ships offer vegetable-carving and ice-carving demonstrations. People who like to cook especially enjoy these. Sea air makes many people especially hungry and sleepy. Take a power nap in the afternoon so that you have reserves of energy to enjoy all the wonderful things available to do on the cruise in the evenings! Most activities are free, but a few are not. Be sure to ask the staff in advance if you will have to pay to participate. Trapshooting, wine tasting, and some craft activities may require a nominal fee. Of course, Bingo and the Horse Races also cost money, so budget accordingly! Some cruise ships offer art auctions. If you collect art --- and even if you don't --- stop by to see what is available. Many times the prices of these pieces are a fraction of gallery prices. (If they serve complimentary champagne at these auctions, be careful how much you drink. You may end up buying something you later will wish you hadn't!) If you love the entertainment, reward the performers with a standing ovation. It's not easy to sing and dance on a ship that is moving about! If you would like to sit close to the stage during the evening shows, skip dessert to arrive earlier and nab the choice seats. You can always satisfy that sweet tooth at the midnight buffet! Most engine rooms are off limits to passengers, but you can sign up for the galley and bridge tours. These will give you a good look at the behind-the-scenes-operations of a cruise ship. When performers ask for volunteers to come up on the stage and participate in the show, do it. You may feel silly at first, but it will be the first thing you talk about when you get home! Onboard shoppping Most cruise lines provide duty-free specialty shops onboard their ships. (Duty-free means there is no tax on the item.) Daily sales often sprout up, so stop in and see what is discounted each day. Compare the prices of the merchandise sold onboard the ship with the same items sold in the ports of call. In some cases, you will find better prices onboard the ship. Photographers and photographs There is no obligation to purchase any of the photographs taken by the photographers onboard the ship. Give them a smile wherever they may be! Ports and shore excursions Reserve shore excursion tickets early in the cruise. The most popular tours often sell out on the first couple of days. Find out as many details about the shore excursions as you can. If the staff doesn't have the answers, ask them to find out for you. This will help prevent unpleasant surprises, such as going on an excursion that involves a half-mile hike up a waterfall --- when you twisted your ankle two days before! Use the rest room before leaving the ship. You never know when Mother Nature will call or how long it will be before you find a facility in port --- or what shape it will be in! Before going into port, check the time that you must be back onboard. (Usually it is thirty minutes before sailing time.) If you miss the ship, you will be responsible for getting yourself to the next port of call to rejoin the cruise ---- a very expensive mistake! Ask the shore excursion staff about the tipping policy in the ports you will be visiting. For example, in many places, tips for waiters are included in the restaurant check. If you have a bus driver and tour guide on your excursion, proper etiquette is to tip each person a couple of dollars when the tour is complete. When riding on a tour bus, try to sit in the front section so you can see more easily and have a smoother ride. Carry a small bottle of water with you in case you become thirsty. But don't drink too much, unless there is a rest room nearby! Collect a postcard from each port of call and make notes on the back, recalling your experience there. Be aware that people may badger you for handouts as you walk around some ports and tourist spots. If this would bother you excessively, you will be probably be happier taking a guided bus or taxi tour of the port of call. If you decide to hire your own taxi for sightseeing or to go into town, make sure you agree on the price with the driver before you get in. The cruise director will advise you during the talks on the different ports as to what the going price is, so it is important to attend any of these talks for the ports you will be doing on your own! It is very exciting to be outside when the ship is approaching or leaving any port of call. Walk around and take in the view. Shopping If the cruise line provides one, use the recommended shopping map. Not only will you be getting some good deals, but if anything should break or stop working when you get home, you'll have the guarantee from the cruise line that it will replace it. In addition, the recommended shops have your "lucky cabin number" posted in their shop, which would give you a complimentary gift. Some of the ports are terrible tourist traps. Ask the port lecturer or shore excursion staff where the bargain places are in town. Before you start to buy things in the first shop you see, look around and find out what the prices are in some of the other shops. You'll be very upset if you find out the bag you paid $70 for was only $50 at the store down the street! In many parts of the world, bargaining is a form of shopping etiquette, especially in street markets. In these situations, never accept the first price offered. Make a counter-offer of less than half what the vendors ask, and go from there to the price you are willing to pay. Have fun while you are bargaining. This isn't life or death! The haggling should remain a friendly exchange. If the vendor (or you) gets too pushy or heated, it's time to leave! If you want to buy several items in one store, ask the manager to make a deal, such as 10 percent off everything. Renting a car Get a map from the rental agency and ask for clear directions to the places you want to visit -- and, more important, the way back to the agency. You don't want to spend all of your time driving around in circles! Some countries may require you to pay a fee, as much as $25, for a nonresident driver's license (typically valid for several months). Remember, this expense when deciding whether renting a car is a good way to get around. Inspect every inch of your rental car before driving it away. If you see any dents or marks, make sure they are documented in your contract; otherwise, you will be charged a very hefty sum when you return it! Check with your credit-card company before you rent a car -- your rental insurance may be covered by the company, which will save you a lot of money. Before you drive away, make sure you have the name and telephone number of the rental agent in the event you need to call for any reason. Ask the agent if there are any areas in town that you should avoid because of construction or crime. Playing it safe in port Drink only bottled water and other beverages, and avoid salads and other fresh vegetables. If you go swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving, look for posted signs that may caution you about a strong current or undertow. The excursion office onboard the ship can also advise you on safe areas to explore the underwater world. Never leave valuables like a camera, watch, or Walkman unattended while you are swimming in the ocean. Ask a friend or someone you can trust to watch it for you until you return. Don't get stranded! If you are taking a taxi to a beach on the other side of the island, make a deal with the taxi driver to come back at a certain time and bring you back to the ship. To guarantee you get picked up, agree to pay him for the entire trip (both ways) when he returns! Crowded marketplaces are a haven for pickpockets and thieves. Secure your purse, wallet, and jewelry. Never carry a wallet in your rear trouser pocket. It is too easy for pickpockets to steal. Keep it in a front pocket of your pants or in an interior pocket of your jacket. Carry your identification card from the ship at all times! Ship safety The captain will not risk the lives of any passengers or crew members. Should threatening weather or political conditions crop us in a particular port or region, the itinerary of the cruise may be changed. If this happens, go with the flow. Don't grumble -- such shifts in plans are made for your safety. Check the life jackets in your cabin. Are they properly maintained, with a whistle, proper ties, and a light (when the jacket hits salt water, the emergency light attached to the jacket automatically goes on)? Sometimes these items are missing. If this is the case, ask your cabin steward to solve the problem. After participating in the lifeboat drill on the first day of the cruise, look down the hallway near your cabin and locate the closest fire extinguisher and emergency call buttons. Many doorways and thresholds on the ship have elevated ledges to cross over. Be extra careful when walking through them. Should there be an emergency, you will be told where to go. Do not push or shove other passengers, and follow the instructions given by the crew members in charge of the muster station (the place where you gather). Security Lock the door each time you leave your cabin. (If you happen to lock yourself out, the purser's desk will arrange to have someone come by and open the door, or you can ask the nearest cabin steward for a hand.) If there is a safe in your cabin, use it to secure your valuables, including your travel documents. If your cabin does not have a safe, ask at the purser's desk to use a safe-deposit box. These boxes are usually available at no extra cost. Medical care If you use the doctor's services or the hospital facility onboard the ship, you will be charged. Your medical insurance should cover this -- but be sure to check with your insurance company before leaving on the cruise. Get everything in writing! Preventing seasickness Avoid looking out the window of your cabin or of one of the lounges. The up-and-down motion can make you nauseous. Take an anti-seasick pill at least two hours before sailing time and throughout the cruise, if needed. If the directions on the medicine says it can cause drowsiness, take half a dose. This will allow you to enjoy the activities and entertainment without being too sleepy. Some people wear a medicated patch behind their ears to prevent seasickness. Ask your doctor about this option. When the seas are rough, don't read a book, write postcards, or do anything else that focuses your attention downward. This may cause you to get seasick. Old-fashion cures that sailors have sworn by: If you do begin to feel sick, go outside, look at the horizon, and stay in the middle section of the ship. Also, eat some dry crackers or bread sticks, and stay away from liquids. Preventing sunburn The sun is very deceiving on a ship. Because the breezes are blowing, keeping you cool, passengers tend to think they are not getting blasted by ultraviolet rays. Always use plenty of sunscreen or sunblock. In the first couple of days, use a sunblock with a SPF of 25 or higher, and do not lie in the sun longer than an hour. You'll get a base of color, but you likely won't be scorched! Passengers have been known to get serious third-degree burns on days when the sky is cloudy. Don't let the overcast sky fool you --- wear protection. Apply sunscreen or sunblock after each dip in the pool or ocean. (Consider getting a spray for quicker application.) Don't forget to apply sunblock on your lips, ears, and feet! The beach or poolside are not the only places you have to be concerned about getting a sunburn. Put on plenty of sunblock when on a shore excursion, shopping, or strolling onboard. If you go snorkeling or scuba diving, put extra sunblock on your neck, back, arms, and legs. The sun's rays can go directly through the water, so wear a T-Shirt to protect your back. Believe me, you'll be grateful you did! Use aloe vera gel or cream to relieve sunburn pain. Products with aloe vera are also good moisturizers. Packing up Don't forget to gather all of your personal items from your cabin safe or from the safety deposit box at the purser's desk. If you forget something on the ship, contact the cruise line's corporate office. (Unfortunately, not all items are turned into the lost and found, so remember to check everywhere before you leave.) You will be asked to place your luggage outside your cabin door the night before disembarkation; the ship's staff will take it to a central area for distribution. Make sure you have kept a change of clothing for the following day -- you don't want to walk down the gangway wrapped in a shower curtain! Pack all valuables in your carry-on bags and carry these off the ship yourself. Disembarkation A day or so before you leave the ship, the cruise director will hold a briefing, explaining all of the procedures to follow regarding disembarkation. At least one person from each family should attend this talk, as the information will provide a smooth transition for you to leave the ship. This briefing will also give you an opportunity to ask questions. Bring a paper and pen and note the most important points. You can realistically count on two to three hours of waiting around before the actual disembarkation from the ship begins. Keep a crossword puzzle, cards, or a book handy to amuse yourself during this time. If you are on the air/sea package, you will be transferred to the airport by the cruise line representatives. The earlier your flight, the sooner you will disembark from the ship and be transferred. On the morning of disembarkation, breakfast hours will be moved forward one hour -- This will be your last opportunity to eat before leaving the ship, so if you want breakfast, plan on getting up early! Passengers are not allowed to disembark from the ship until all of the luggage has been taken off the vessel and arranged in the terminal building, usually according to a number or colored tag that you placed on your bags the night before. This procedure can take a good couple of hours. Be patient! Getting irritated won't speed it along. Porters will be available in the luggage terminal to help you transfer your bags. It is customary to tip these gentlemen $1.00 per bag. Room service and bar service are discontinued on the morning of disembarkation. When the captain receives clearance from the port authorities, disembarkation can begin. In some cases, not only will you have to wait for this clearance, but you will also have to pass through customs. If there is a "lucky comment-card drawing" at the end of your cruise, make sure you enter. Sometimes cruise lines give away a discount on a future cruise. Also, be as honest as you can with your comments -- the cruise lines will appreciate any advice you can give to better their product. After your cruise When your cruise is finished, you arrive home and begin your re-entry into real life. Slowly, you will begin to get into your daily routine again -- whether or not you want to! But something will feel different. You'll find that you are craving something unlike anything you've ever hungered for before. It isn't a sick feeling, but an overpowering sense of want, desire, and obsession. It is a condition called cruise-itis (The technical name is "frequent floaters disease!) The symptoms? You can't stop talking about your cruise. You thrive on other people's cruise stories, and you even look for ways to top them. The best cure ---- call us to start looking at cruise brochures again, and begin planning your next cruise for next week, month, or year!...

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Cruise tips for cruisers with kids

Tags: kids, childrens, childs, tips

Taking a floating vacation with kids, no matter what their ages, doesn’t have to be fraught with anxiety.How do you keep it together when you’re cruising with your offspring? Here’s how you should do it: Plan with your kids Can you imagine being put on a boat and not knowing where you are going? This is exactly what it feels like to your kids when they are not involved in the planning of the trip. This is a family cruise and they all need input. Go shopping for some port guides, do some Internet research, go visit a good travel agent — talk to someone who has been there and knows the lay of the land. You will gain valuable information about any local events that may be happening while you are docked. Armed with that information, make a list of your “must-do’s” and the “wanna-do’s.” Delegate pieces of the research to each family member and then finalize your plans together. Prepare your kids Once you have your cruise and ports outlined, make sure everyone know what’s happening. Do you have an eight-hour stopover? What are you going to do? Browsing the bookstore gets old after 15 minutes (make those 3 minutes for very young kids). Be sure you load up with some snacks, small toys, books, and a CD player to keep everyone entertained during the trip to the ship as well as on board. Don’t forget about the transfer from the airport to the ship. If it is a three-hour transfer, it is best to be prepared. If they know, you can avoid the “are we there yet?” conversation but you are on your own for the “I gotta go to the bathroom.” Finally, equip each family member with their own disposable camera. After the photos are processed, I guarantee that you will see the vacation in a totally different light — there’s nothing like a three-year old’s perspective. Be flexible Things rarely go as planned. Face it: planes are late, ports of call are cancelled, shore excursions are sold out, and cruise ships don’t wait for you. Don’t focus on the disruption, focus on the solution. Before you head from home, make sure you know the name and number of the port agent. They can be a lifesaver when you literally miss the boat. When things go wrong, having a travel agent back home working on your behalf makes a lot of sense as well.Ditch your kids. Your cruise is a time to get away from it all — and “all” includes your kids. Hey, they probably want to get rid of you as well. Most cruise ships have children’s programs for all ages. One of the best is Royal Caribbean Cruises and its Voyager Class ships. You can sign in the young ones to a supervised center and let the older ones venture on their own while you finally have that romantic dinner you have been planning for the past ten years. Don’t forget to set the rules, but cut them loose for a bit and everyone will be a lot happier. Play with your kids I know, I know, I just said to ditch them. But again, this is a cruise and it is time for play. Go ahead and act like a kid — chances are no one will know you there, anyway. Break out of the parent mold and challenge them to see who can scale the rock climbing wall on the cruise ship. Do a cannonball in the pool. Participate as a family in the shipboard activities. Not only can you have a new vacation experience; you might just get a brand new kid experience as well. So who is family friendly? Aside from Disney Cruise Line, whose ships the Magic and Wonder are made for kids, two of the best lines are Royal Caribbean Cruises and Princess Cruises. Both have programs for children as young as two, and I think you will find that once your kids get a taste of the onboard life, you may be hard-pressed to get them out of the kids’ club.So about that cruise we were almost booted from. I remember it well. The idea seemed perfect — seven days of sun and pampering. I felt the idea turning south, with a couple bouts of sibling rivalry, my son, JT, spoiling the magician’s act because he knew the trick, and that unfortunate onboard scavenger hunt that turned up a lacy, racy nightgown.If you can involve everyone in the planning process, expect the unexpected, and let your hair down a little, your family’s floating vacations will become lifelong memories for you, too....

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Cruise departing tips

Tags: departing, tips

Before you leave Pre-reserve popular shore excursions, Lotus Spa appointments, arrange for flowers to be delivered to your stateroom and much more! Click on a topic headline to view detailed information relating to your selection. Pre-Reserving Shore Excursions Exploring ports of call will be one of the highlights of your cruise, and one of the best ways to do this is on a shore excursion. Tours are operated by local independent companies, not by Princess®. You will find a variety of shore excursion options selected specifically with families in mind. Discounted rates for children and family-friendly activities may be available to make the most of your time in port.You can reserve shore excursions for your voyage before you depart with Cruise Personalizer®. Just log-in using your reservation name and booking number, and you’ll be able to secure your place on any of the land-based adventures offered in every port. Pre-Reserving Lotus Spa Appointments Like the Lotus flower, the Lotus Spa offers a tranquil environment where you can renew your mind and body with exotic spa therapies from around the world. As you embark on this sensory journey, you’ll instantly achieve a blissful state of nirvana — leaving you completely revitalized as you welcome another day. To help you achieve this revitalization, the Lotus Spa offers a full range of personalized spa treatments, including hair and beauty services, massage, sensuous wraps, aroma therapies and even teeth whitening.Spa advance reservations are accepted between 120 to 7 days prior to departure. Guests must be 18 years or older to indulge in any body treatments and at least 16 years of age to utilize the fitness facilities. Other Spa services are available to guests 13 years and older when accompanied by an adult.Visit Cruise Personalizer® to pre-reserve your Lotus Spa appointment today! Boarding Passes and Luggage Tags The Boarding Pass provides information required at embarkation. There are two types of Boarding Passes: Regular and Preferred. Regular Boarding Pass The booking has been paid in full The required immigration information has been added to the booking A credit card has been registered for onboard use Preferred Boarding Pass The passenger is either a Platinum or Elite member of the Princess Captain's Circle or booked in a full suite The booking has been paid in full The required immigration information has been added to the booking A credit card has been registered for onboard use Printing your boarding pass and luggage tags is fast and easy! Beginning 75 days prior to sailing, you can print your boarding pass and luggage tags once the booking is paid in full and we’ve been provided with all your passenger immigration information and credit card registration. Travel Summary Your Travel Summary, an electronic version of the cruise ticket, is available online via the Cruise Personalizer®. The Travel Summary provides the following booking details and options: Cruise Summary Flights  Itinerary  Packages & Transfers (if purchased)  Important Notices  Pre-Reserved Shore Excursions  Lotus Spa Appointments  Special Services (if purchased by the passenger)  Age Requirements/Traveling with Children Passengers under the age of 21 years must travel in a stateroom with a passenger 21 years or older who shall assume responsibility for their care during the cruise. For family groups booking multiple staterooms, the minimum age for each stateroom is 16 years of age, provided they are traveling with a parent or legal guardian. We are unable to accept group reservations for student or youth groups that do not conform to our minimum age requirements. Each passenger agrees and warrants that he/she will supervise any passenger in his/her care at all times to ensure all policies, along with all other rules of the Carrier and ship, are strictly adhered to by all passengers under their supervision. Age requirements for children Children over six (6) months of age at the date of sailing will be accepted on the following itineraries: Alaska, Canada & New England, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico and Panama Canal.Only children over the age of one (1) year at the date of sailing will be accepted for the following itineraries: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Indian subcontinent, South America, South Pacific, Hawaii, Tahiti, Transatlantics and world cruises.The minimum age for Escorted cruisetours is five (5) years old. Car seats US and Canadian regulations require that children up to the age of 8 years old may be required to travel in a car seat, booster seat or other child restraint system. When being transported by car, taxi, limo, van or shuttle, it is your responsibility to know the regulations and provide the applicable child restraint system. Infants/Young Children and Swimming Pools Parents/guardians are reminded to bring their children dressed in appropriate attire with towel and sunscreen. Youth staff will not conduct children's activities in the adult or splash pools. Parents must supervise their children at all times when using the pools. Infants and young children in diapers and/or swim diapers, and children who are not toilet trained are NOT permitted in any of the pools or spas due to public health concerns.Our policy is strictly observed onboard and is intended for the public health safety of all passengers. Documents for passengers under the age of 18 Several countries require special documentation for children traveling with only one parent or with neither parent; these requirements are subject to change without notice. Many foreign countries require any single parent or guardian to bring a permission slip for the minor to travel abroad. It is your responsibility to ensure that you possess the proper documents for all of the countries that you will visit. Please verify requirements with the consulates of the countries visited prior to your cruise.For passengers under 21 years of age or those who are traveling with children, please note:Entry into the disco after 10 p.m. is limited to passengers 18 years and over. Be sure to check with the Youth and Teen Centers for special dance parties designed for kids and teens.Children who are toilet-trained and accompanied by a parent or guardian are permitted in the sauna and hot tub(s) unless otherwise specified.Passengers under the age of 13 are allowed in the evening entertainment show lounges if they are with their parent or guardian.In line with domestic U.S. age limits, as well as our company policy, the casino, cash prize bingo and horse racing are reserved for passengers 21 years and older. Additionally, only those passengers 21 years and older will be allowed to purchase or consume alcohol. Picture identification may be requested.Passengers under the age of 18 are prohibited from purchasing cigarettes or tobacco products while on board. Youth and teen programs Princess offers entertaining options for all ages, with our Pelicans and Shockwaves programs made especially with junior cruisers ages 3-12 in mind. And for cruisers age 13-17, we offer a unique Teen Center. Pelicans and Shockwaves give kids the chance to enjoy everything from arts and crafts, game tables, movies, splash pools (on select ships) and more. For toddlers, there’s even a special play area and outdoor deck.Children are welcome on all Princess ships, but facilities vary. Pacific Princess® and Ocean Princess® do not have dedicated Youth and Teen Centers. However, when 20 or more children ages 3 to 17 are traveling on these ships, they will enjoy a varied schedule of supervised activities organized by a Youth Activities Coordinator. All Youth and Teen Centers are fully supervised by our staff of Youth Activities Coordinators.Don’t miss the orientation and registration meeting on the first night of your cruise. You and your children can meet the Youth and Teen staff and learn more about our exciting shipboard programs. Parents are always welcome to join their children in the Youth and Teen Centers. Additional remdinders Children under 3 are not permitted in the Youth Center unless accompanied by a parent at all times. Youth Center staff cannot administer medication, bottle-feed, change diapers, or provide meal service. Private in-cabin babysitting is not available on any Princess ship. All children participating in the Youth program must be potty-trained. Children who are not potty-trained are not permitted in hot tub or pool facilities. Children with special needs Princess welcomes all children and teens ages 3-17 to participate in our programs. Let our staff know of all medical and/or special needs for your children. We will make every effort to accommodate them. Please be advised that Princess Youth staff do not offer individual one-on-one supervision. Just for teens Remix offers teens a range of activities including teen only dance parties, sports tournaments and talent shows. Or, have fun meeting other teens with the Dating Game. Those seeking a creative retreat will enjoy hip-hop dance classes, T-shirt painting, casino nights, mocktails, pizza parties or special teen-only dinners....

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Cruise package tips

Tags: package, packaging, luggage, baggage, tips

Clothes Most ships have exercise facilities and classes. If you plan on working out, don't forget gym clothes and shoes. Some cruises travel through multiple climates. Make sure to pack accordingly. Life aboard a cruise ship is generally laid-back and casual. Pack for comfort. Footwear should include walking/running shoes and, if you're headed someplace warm, sandals. Even when cruising warm weather destinations, consider packing a sweater/sweatshirt, water repellant jacket and hat. Though most dining areas on larger ships have a dress code, not all do. Options outside of the main dining room, such as a pizzeria or buffet, will generally allow t-shirts, jeans and shorts. When the dress code for a dining area is described as "casual", plan to dress in "golf" attire. T-shirts, jeans and shorts are not allowed. When the dress code for a dining area is described as "informal", plan to dress "business casual". Women generally wear dresses or pantsuits, while men usually wear lightweight jackets. When the dress code for a dining area is described as "formal", women should be prepared to wear cocktail dresses or gowns, while men should consider wearing business suits or tuxedos (though not required). Most ships that have formal events offer tuxedo rental onboard, eliminating the hassle of packing one. Almost every ship has laundry service (including dry cleaning), but the tab can add up. Consider bringing a small amount of detergent for washing clothes in your own cabin. Most ships have powerful air conditioning. A sweater or sweatshirt may come in handy.   Necessities It's easy to forget sunscreen and sunglasses with all the excitement of an upcoming cruise. Be sure to pack them if you're traveling to a sunny destination (including Alaska). Bring a camera. Don't forget extra film, memory cards, batteries, charger, etc. Never pack your passport, visa, license, medications, cruise documents or airline tickets in checked luggage. Keep such items with you. If you take prescription medication, be sure to pack enough for the entire voyage. Ships tend to only stock general medications and ports may what you need. Pack a written list of your medications, including the name of the drug, dosage and times taken, in case they are lost. Items to pack in your carry-on bag include: perishables, liquor, cash, credit/debit cards, jewelry, business documents, travel and health insurance information, laptops, computer disks, cell phones, cameras, binoculars, film, videotapes, CD's and cassette tapes. Bring credit cards and travelers cheques instead of large amounts of cash.   Luggage It's wise to use hard-sided luggage. Garment bags with hanger hooks protruding from the may snag and do damage. Put a card with your name and address inside your luggage as well as on the outside....

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Cruise booking tips

Tags: booking, ordering, tips

Booking Cruises online is growing in popularity thanks to many of the sites being extremely user-friendly, people are becoming more comfortable making online purchases, the convenience, and they are finding the best deals online.  Here are 8 tips to help you avoid some common errors when booking your cruise online without the assistance of a Travel Agent.  If you are ever confused about what you are booking, call the agency’s 800 number and talk to an agent.  Booking a Category 1A cabin on a Carnival Cruise and not realizing that a Category 1A is one twin bed on the floor and a twin bed that comes out of the wall.  Basically, it is bunk beds.  The least expensive inside cabin on a Carnival Cruise is a Category 1A and when you see “rates starting at $199 on a Carnival Ship” it is for 1A. Booking an Obstructed Ocean View Cabin thinking that they were getting a full view The least expensive Ocean View Cabin on most ships with all of the cruise lines are obstructed by life boats.  The cruise industry considers cabins on the outside of the ship to be Ocean View.  First time cruisers get very upset when they book an Ocean View cabin online and then they get to the cruise ship there is a life boat in front of their window.   The best way to prevent this from occurring is to printout a Deck Plan of the ship that you are booking onto and see where your cabin is located.  There is usually a pretty steep jump in price from Obstructed Ocean View to the full Ocean View.  Not understanding Cruise Line Cancellation Penalties If you book a cruise and the full payment is required at the time of booking, then you are already within the timeframe in which cancellations are penalized.  When you book online, you are fully responsible for knowing the cancellation policy of the cruise line and of the agency you are booking through. does not charge any admin fees for cancellations, but we required to follow the cruise lines policies.   Some other agencies charge booking and cancellation fees on top of the cruise lines policies, so you need to be aware of those as well.   Cruise line penalties usually start around 80 days prior to the sail date.  Adding Travel Insurance is the best way to reduce the risk of being penalized for last minute cancellations. Not Understanding what it means to book a Guarantee  When people book a cruise online and do not get a cabin assignment at the time of booking or they book an Inside or Ocean View Guarantee they sometimes do not understand what they are booking.  A Guarantee means that you are Guaranteed at least that category of cabin depending on availability.  So it leaves you opened to getting upgraded, but because you are giving the cruise line the ability to assign your cabin that once it is assigned the cruise line will not move it for you.  This is usually the way to get the best deal, but you give up control of location for the low price and the hopes for a “free” upgrade.  Not giving themselves enough time to get to the pier when they book their flights  Every port and airport is different so you need to find out what are the recommended arrival and departure times for flights for that sailing prior to arranging your flights.  You have to be to the pier 2.5 hours prior to the cruise ship departing.  Bonus Offers A growing online trend is great bonuses like Onboard Credits and Free Gratuities being offered by Online Travel Agencies.  These bonus offers set online agency’s deals apart from the cruise lines offers.  These offers can lower the total price of your cruise when booking online, but these bonus offers can also be confusing.   Many of these bonus offers only apply to certain cabin categories like only applying to balcony and suite.  When booking online, make sure that the cabin you are booking gets the bonus offer.  If it is confusing, call in to speak with an agent.  If you feel the site was misleading, then move on to another online cruise agency. Coupon Books Coupon Books vs. OnBoard Credits -  The Coupon Books are advertised as savings up to $400…  if you are choosing between coupon books and onboard credits which is actually cash to spend on board… then take the deal with On Board Credits.  Early Booking Savers If you are booking Carnival Cruises a few months prior to the cruise, the lowest rate offered is a rate that requires a non-refundable deposit.  The early saver rate is about 20% less than the other rates and gives the consumer the guarantee that if the rate drops.   I think the rate and guarantee is worth the non-refundable deposit.  As with any booking, I recommend buying travel insurance at time of deposit to protect your investment and yourself Before You Book Anyone looking to book a cruise for the first time should consider doing some research on their own. Many couples and families make the mistake of booking a particular cruise based solely on the recommendation of a travel agent and/or friends. While this is a good place to start, one should also read a few reviews from consumers who have recently cruised on the vessel you are considering for your upcoming vacation. Although much of what you read should be taken with a "grain of salt," both positive and negative input allows you to see a side of the cruise you wouldn't otherwise see prior to actually taking the cruise. Also, having an idea of what to expect before you embark is helpful. First off, lets dispel some myths. The idea that a cruise vacation will cost you less than a land based vacation is just not true anymore. I suppose sometimes it can be (and I'll address this issue later), but for the majority, it isn't, when you add up the cost for getting to the port (airfare for most or gas), gratuities, drinks, shore excursions and shopping. It's true, the price of a cruise includes your accommodations, entertainment and food. However, there's more to a vacation than eating, sleeping and nightlife. Many people are surprised to learn how expensive a cruise vacation can turn out to be, when you factor in the cost of airline tickets, pre or post hotel stays, alcoholic beverages, shore tours and souvenirs. When looking at the overall cost (and there are things you can do to save money), it's very comparable to a week at a moderate all inclusive resort, such as the ones you find in the Caribbean or Mexico.  Booking Your Cruise Vacation  There are deals on cruises out there, and you don't need to work all that hard to find them, if you are willing to sail in the Caribbean during hurricane season, or you can take time off for a vacation when schools are in session. I strongly recommend you shop around for a good price, keeping in mind that you will pay more for a cruise on a newer vessel than on an older one. If your goal is to save money, you're better off looking at older ships. However, keep in mind that older ships (which have NOT undergone a recent refurbishment) tend to generate more complaints from its passengers, including those dealing with physical maintenance, lack of ship amenities such as miniscule fitness centers and cramped kid's areas. Most cruise lines offer the same menus on all their ships; you won't notice much difference in shipboard activities or entertainment, but on an older ship, you can expect fewer choices, smaller public areas and decor that tends to be somewhat dated and worn. You may also see a marked difference in the quality of your accommodations, although Carnival does a great job in being consistent throughout the fleet in this area with larger than average low end cabins. Keep in mind a cruise on an older ship can cost you a third less money. However, you get what you pay for. Many people love older ships, saying they are more "intimate" but I can't in good conscience recommend them any longer. Many cruise lines use these older ships, relegated to short three and four night itineraries, as training vessels. Service can be hit or miss. There are some exceptions, such as Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas in Los Angeles which recently underwent a massive refurbishment. However, to get the most out of your cruise vacation, stick to ships that are less than five years old. You can really cut the cost of your cruise if you go in the "off season." I find the best prices, and the best weather January through May in the Caribbean. Christmas, New Years, spring break and summer tend to cost the most. As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving and Presidents week are more affordable as prices and crowds of kids tend to be lower and the weather in Mexico and in the Caribbean are great. I recommend talking to cruise only agencies, and either booking far in advance (up to a year) or within three months of the sail date to get the best price. You should ask your travel agent if he/she will keep track of the prices for you, in the event the price of your cruise drops later on. Even after final payment, some cruise lines will refund you the difference, while others will give shipboard credit or an upgrade. Just because an agency does not have the technology to keep track of the changes that occur with the cruise line's pricing structure (most don't) is no reason to go elsewhere. But you'd be smart to check back periodically with the cruise line to see if the cost of your cruise has gone down. Booking your own airfare will save you a considerable amount of money in most cases and allow you to reserve flights that work best for you. But there are advantages to letting the cruise line manage all of your travel plans. If you live west of the Rockies, the price for airfare will often include transportation to and from the pier, and a hotel nights accommodation the night before embarkation. The myth that if you allow the cruise line to oversee your airline reservations protects you in someway in the event of delays is just not true. It's true the cruise line will make every effort to hold the ship in port a few hours for large numbers of travelers experiencing cross country travel delays they are aware of. But if only a couple of people are delayed, the ship won't necessarily wait for you, regardless of who booked your airline reservations. If you make your own flight arrangements, I recommend booking flights departing the day before embarkation. Even when you factor in the cost of airport transportation and a hotel room, you could come out ahead.   ...

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Cruise shore tips

Tags: shore, excursions, tips

Snorkeling through coral reefs, exploring ancient Roman ruins, hiking on glaciers, shopping at local outdoor markets -- all of these shoreside activities are as much a part of the cruise experience as enjoying the onboard amenities of your ship. Indeed, half the fun of taking a cruise is exploring exciting new places -- tropical islands, bustling metropolises, exotic countries. So to enhance each port visit (as well as to increase their profits), cruise lines offer organized shore excursions on all ships for additional fees. These land-based trips run the gamut from sightseeing city tours to cultural events and active pursuits. You can take a sunset pleasure cruise in St. Lucia, visit penguin colonies in the Falkland Islands, go wine tasting in Provence or rollerblade through Copenhagen. The tours can be booked onboard at your ship's excursions desk or online before you depart on your trip. The benefits of booking ship-sponsored tours are many. You can skip the hassle of arranging your own onshore activities, you'll know the tour provider is licensed and reputable, and the ship won't depart until all of its tour buses have returned -- even the tardy ones. You may also meet other shipmates whose company you'll enjoy back on the ship. But ship tours are not always the way to go. The pleasurability and efficiency of tour operators varies from ship to ship, and some tour offerings are simply duds. All too often, shore excursions translate into time-consuming bus rides with drop-offs at shopping centers proffering souvenirs you can live without. For example, following a long, hot (but worthwhile) tour of the Acropolis outside of Athens, passengers who thought they were being driven back to their ship were squirreled into a tacky little shop, belonging to the tour guide's brother-in-law. Finally, you will often pay more for the privilege of letting the cruise line arrange your day than you would if you booked directly with a provider. To give you the skills to make the best decisions about your days in port, here is our best advice on what to expect from a shore excursion and how to make the most of your time ashore. What to Expect: Shore Excursions Cruise lines offer a mind-boggling array of tours -- everything from basic snorkeling trips to more involved, overnight tours to see the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Here's a primer on what you can expect to see on offer. Active vs. Sightseeing Tours: Shore excursions cover all levels of activity and interest and vary greatly, depending on what's available in each destination. Active tours could be anything from water sports to zip-lining, hiking, biking and dog-sledding. Activity-based trips might feature a day at the spa or beach, a pleasure cruise on a sailboat, wine or food tasting, a cultural performance or a visit to a museum. Sightseeing excursions are typically bus tours that take passengers to the highlights and shopping areas of the port city or nearby destinations. Remember that excursions look different in different parts of the word. In the Caribbean, you'll find options like snorkeling with sting rays or transportation to private beaches; European tours focus more on sightseeing -- for example, full-day tours from the port of Livorno to the museums and cathedrals of Florence or multi-hour lunches, featuring local produce, meats and wine at a farmhouse in Tuscany. Full vs. Half-Day Tours: Shore excursions vary in length. Some take up all your time in port, while others are just a few hours of an all-day visit. Choose a full-day tour to see the most you can in one trip or for journeys to destinations outside the port city. A half-day tour might only focus on one specific itinerary -- a three-hour kayak trip or a highlights tour of a city -- but gives you free time to explore the port on your own before or after. Guided vs. Free Time: Not all shore excursions involve busloads of tourists, dutifully following flag- or umbrella-waving guides. You will find these types of sightseeing tours, as well as athletic endeavors overseen by dive masters or hike leaders. However, some tours simply bring you to a destination where you're free to explore until it's time to meet the bus to go home, while others feature guided components, followed by an hour or two of free time. Highlights vs. In-Depth: Some shore excursions -- such as daylong trips from Tunis to the marketplace, museum and ancient Carthage – pack many activities into one trip. Others focus on one destination or activity, like a trip to the Mayan ruins from Cozumel. It's up to you whether you'd prefer to see many things for short amounts of time or focus on one place, in-depth. Concierge or Boutique: Some of the newest trends in shore excursions include intimate tours that are limited to 25 or so guests. Many lines offer these "boutique" excursions, which could be cooking classes at a renowned French cooking school or a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Many lines also offer car-and-driver packages (so you can customize your own tour) or have concierges to arrange shoreside activities exclusively for your travel party. You can skip the caravan of four large tour buses and trade up for a more exclusive experience. Shore Excursions vs. Independent Exploration One of the biggest questions cruisers have is whether or not to take a ship-sponsored shore excursion. The answer banks on your budget, as well as your inclinations. Port tours vary in price, depending on the cruise line, and can run you anywhere from $40 per person for a simple beach break to hundreds of dollars each for such higher-priced options as helicopter rides, golf and long-day or overnight tours. Taking a tour in every port can quickly inflate your onboard bill. Shore excursions are worth it if you want to venture to attractions that are located far from the pier, learn more about an area through a guide or participate in physical activities where gear is required (biking, diving, golf). However, if all you want to do is walk around town, shop or visit the beach, it could be much cheaper and less time-consuming to get a map and go it on your own. For instance, in St. Thomas, the shops are a stone's throw from the ship, but beaches are a cab ride away. (Although it still might be less expensive to hail a taxi to the beach than to participate in a tour.) And, in tiny Monte Carlo, the castle, cathedral and casino are all within walking distance of your ship. Don't forget about arranging your own transportation, too. In Hawaii, many ports offer on-site car rentals or rental agency pickups. In Barcelona, you can easily use a combination of local buses, the subway and hop-on, hop-off tourist buses to get around. However, in big cities like Athens, Rome and Florence -- which are far from the port -- it may make more sense to spring for a tour. It is also wiser to take a shore excursion in any third world country or in foreign ports, where language and customs might prove to be barriers. For example, in Brunei, you would definitely want to take the guided tour to sites like the biggest mosque in Asia -- Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. You'd probably never find it on your own. And, without guidance, you may not realize the necessity to respect local customs by covering your body from head to toe in long pants, long skirts and long sleeves. (Don't laugh -- this happened on a recent visit. Luckily, the locals are used to this and have a few robes on-hand to loan visitors.) In Tunis, you might not wish to participate in the aggressive haggling, conducted by the taxi drivers at the pier. Opt, instead, for a ship-arranged tour to the souk or ancient Carthage. The third option is the hybrid: Book your own tour in advance through a local provider. You can often save money by eliminating the cruise-line middleman, or customize the trip to your interests. However, remember that, while the cruise ship will wait for any late-returning, ship-sponsored tours, you run the risk of getting stranded in port if your independent tour gets stuck in traffic and is late returning to the pier. Advance Planning & Resources The secret to a wonderful day ashore is to plan ahead. Learn about the attractions in each port, so you can decide whether to book a tour or go it alone. For example, you'll want to know that Livorno is actually the port for Florence and Pisa, but both destinations are quite far from the port. It's also helpful to note that in the Greek Isles, Santorini does not have great beaches, while Mykonos is internationally renowned for its sandy spots. Planning ahead will let you balance relaxing beach days with days spent shopping, sightseeing or in active pursuits. Cruisers have multiple resources for researching in-port activities. Look up your cruise line's list of shore excursions with tour descriptions and prices. Many cruise lines have this information available online -- you will also be sent a booklet of all the tours with your cruise documents. Some lines allow you to reserve tours in advance through their Web sites (see our Online Reservations feature) or through a travel agent. Once you know your itinerary, visit Cruise Critic's Ports of Call area for tips on spending your day ashore. You'll find information on the best excursions, as well as suggestions for restaurants, beaches and must-see attractions. Browse guidebooks on the destinations you're planning to visit. If you find that it's pricey to buy multiple guidebooks for all the regions your ship will visit, consider borrowing them from your local library and photocopying pertinent pages to take on your vacation. Or, buy a guide aimed at cruisers, such as "Frommer's Cruises & Ports of Call" or "Fodor's The Complete Guide to Caribbean (or European) Ports of Call." Contact the tourism bureau for your destination (see links in our Ports section). Tourism Web sites typically offer a wealth of information, and the bureaus will often send you maps or print materials that detail activities, restaurants and tour companies. You may want to find out if there's a tourism office at or near the port, so you can pick up a map and get information. Don't forget to come up with a Plan B, in case your desired tour gets canceled or is sold out. If you've done your research and have decided to book ship tours, think carefully about whether to book in advance or wait until you get onboard. It's best to book in advance for limited-availability excursions (like flightseeing in Alaska or Hawaii) and must-do tours. (For example, if you'd be heart-broken if you didn't go snorkeling in Cozumel or to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, book in advance.) If you're uncertain or are happy with several options, waiting might be a good idea. Some cruise lines charge penalty fees for canceling shore excursions onboard or within 24 to 48 hours of the port call, so you might want to wait to see how the weather is or how you like the line's tours before booking all of your excursions. How to Get the Most from Your Shore Excursion Here are a few final tips to keep in mind in order to get the best experience out of your shore excursion. Read shore excursion descriptions very carefully to understand exactly how your time will be spent on the tour. Add up how much time is spent on the bus, driving between attractions, and compare that to how much time is spent at each destination. If you are unsure, ask the shore excursion manager to describe the tour in detail. You may have to decide between spending short amounts of time in a variety of places and getting an in-depth tour of one area, while missing out on several others. Some tours involve strenuous treks in hot, humid climes or long days with lots of walking. Cruise lines are typically good at pointing out which excursions are strenuous and even which are best for travelers with limited mobility. Be sure to pick tours that you can handle physically. Staff members who work aboard ships are great sources of information on the best local beaches, restaurants and shopping (since they often visit the same ports every week). Ask where they go -- the purser's office is an especially good resource. Your final bill can add up if you buy a shore excursion in every port. However, in some ports -- especially in Alaska, Europe or exotic destinations -- shore excursions are the only way to go. Budget accordingly. If you are a scuba diver, check out local dive clubs in the islands you intend to visit. They are listed in information obtained from tourist offices. Hiring a private taxi is often less expensive than the ship's excursion, depending on the number of people you have in your group. When hiring a taxi, be sure to negotiate a flat rate -- based on your destination and the approximate amount of time you'll need -- before you depart. If you want narration in addition to transportation, choose a driver with a good command of English. When renting a car in port, it's always best to reserve it before departure; rates are lower, and you know the agency won't be sold out. Check with your rental company to find out whether you'll need an International Driving Permit (available through AAA and other automobile associations) or if your driver's license will suffice.  ...

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Cruise on board tips

Tags: on board, tips

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 fee.. 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. Shopping 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. On board tipping Tipping is optional but highly recommended. Most cruise lines allow you to prepay your gratuities or they automatically add them to your cruise charge account on board. Ask your travel agency (hopefully us) about this. This is a real time saver. It eliminates the hassle of coming up with cash at the end of your cruise for 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 will 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 are the department name you are giving a tip to. You can hand these envelopes directly to the person who served you throughout your cruise. FYI - When purchasing beverages on board, 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....

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Leaving the ship tips

Tags: leaving, tips

Getting ready for a cruise vacation is way more fun than what to do when it is over. Before, we plan where to go, what to do and get excited for the experience. After, not so much. Still, preparing for getting off the ship can be just as important. You’ll want to know where to go and what to do and while each cruise line is a bit different, there are some common elements of the experience that we can tell you about right now. Here are some tips to make the pain of leaving your ship behind when the cruise is over just a little bit easier to do. What to expect- The night before you’ll pack up and set your luggage out in the hallway. The ship’s crew will take it away and the next time you’ll see it is after you get off the ship. Be sure you have anything you need out of it before you set it out in the hallway. All you should be left with is your carryon stuff, just like when you came onboard Check your account- After dinner on the last night, check your shipboard account either via your cabin’s television (if available) or by going to the Pursers desk. Be sure there are no mistakes and if there are, get them settled now. Don’t forget the booze- If you purchased liquor ashore or onboard during your journey it will be packaged and brought to your cabin tonight- I suppose you could have one heck of a party if you wanted to. Check your account again- Sometime in the night you’ll get a copy of the accounting of your shipboard account and its settlement- look it over for mistakes and get them settled at the Pursers desk right away. Actually you should have been keeping up on this throughout your voyage by checking your account at least halfway through and again a day before the end of your cruise. The Last Meal- In the morning breakfast will be served in much the same way as usual, perhaps starting earlier than normal. Coming In To Port- You can sleep in or get up early and watch your ship come into port. The docking back into port is just as fascinating as when you left. I suggest getting up a good two hours before your scheduled time to dock. It takes a long time to bring your ship to a standstill and it’s a great time to reflect on your vacation, remembering all the great moments you’ve had at sea. Be Prepared To Wait- After the ship has docked but before any passengers can get off, US Customs and Immigration Agents will take control of the ship. Only after they have been satisfied that all is in order with the ship will they allow you to get off. A common hold-up in this process are passengers with foreign passports who have not reported to Immigration or passengers who have issues to be settled with their shipboard account (like their credit card was declined) Time To Go- When the ship has been cleared they will start letting passengers get off in some pre-determined order that will not make any sense to you. You’d think they’d let people off from the top to the bottom of the ship. This is something that is beyond the comprehension of mere cruise passengers. If you have an early flight you should be in the first group off the ship see “How To Get Off Early” on this page OK, Get Off- When it is time for your group to leave you need to be sure you have both your Customs Declaration Form (one for each family) and your Identification. You will be asked for both. Find Your Luggage- You’ll be led to an area I call the “Sea of Luggage” where you will find yours, sorted by ships deck, color group or some other organization. This is why it’s a good idea to mark your luggage to somehow make it stand out among the crowd. In writing, this is a heavily guarded secret, nobody wants you to copy them for obvious reasons. I suggest something from where you live, something unique. Maybe bumper stickers from a local restaurant, social club or “Gore/Lieberman 2000″ Grab a Porter- This place looks like a madhouse and it pretty much is. There are two things you need to do here. Get your luggage and get a porter. You need the luggage so you won’t be missing stuff when you get home and you need the porter to get out of there in the most efficient manner. Follow The Leader- Believe that porters know the layout of the land and where to lead you to get out with the least amount of hassle. In addition, if you need a cab they can take you right there. In fact, tell them your ground transportation plans and they’ll take you there. You may have been here before but leaving is a whole different ballgame than coming. Tip $2.00 per bag just like at embarkation. Go Through Customs- On your way out you will pass through customs and hand the customs agent your customs card (actually a piece of paper). If you have nothing to declare you’ll no doubt smile at them and they at you and keep walking. This is not a time to be thinking about anything dishonest. They’ll smell it and pull you off to the interrogation room where you may never be seen again. (Not really) ...

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Cruise travel insurance tips

Tags: travel, insurance, tips

Cruise travel insurance checklist: Cancellation It's vital that you're covered in case you have to cancel your holiday. The policy will cover a range of reasons for doing this. These should include the following: • Illness or death in your family or of a business partner • Jury service• Serious fire, flood or storm damage to your home or business premises• A request from the police not to go away following a burglary at your home or office You should be able to reclaim any holiday costs you cannot recover, apart from the cost of insurance. Make sure the policy covers both yourself and your travel companions. Medical Expenses It's vital you are covered for medical expenses, as hospital and doctors' bills can be enormous, especially in North America. Most policies require you to pay a small excess towards the cost of treatment and medicines, but will also pay benefits - up to a set limit - if you have to stay in hospital. If you travel within the EU you should get form EHIC from a Post office. This will entitle you to reciprocal health service care in the countries you visit. However, few EU countries pay for the full cost of treatment, and you're likely to be treated in a private clinic or hospital, so it's important to have your own insurance. Remember to keep all doctors', hospital and chemists' bills to support any claim you make. Your policy should also cover you for any extra accommodation or travel expenses you incur as a result of illness, or if you have to go home early because of the illness or death of a close relative or business partner. Personal Accident Cover Personal accident cover will pay out if you are killed or permanently disabled on holiday - for example, if you lose a limb or your eyesight. A few simple precautions will help to keep you safe - follow them, and you'll reduce your risk considerably.• Keep away from dangerous areas, especially at night • Don't spend too long in the sun - wear a hat and use plenty of sun block• Don't go swimming after a large meal or drinking alcohol• Check the local conditions before swimming in the sea - tides and currents can be extremely deceptive• If you're planning any long distance walking, always inform someone of your plans, and your expected arrival times• If you're driving your own car, always have a servicing before you go Personal Liability Most travel policies will insure you against personal liability. This means that if you injure someone or damage their property, you will be covered if they decide to sue you. Legal Expenses Some policies will pay your legal costs if you decide to sue a third party for damages as a result of personal injury or death. Personal Belongings Your insurance should cover your personal belongings and cash against loss or damage. However, insurance companies expect you to look after your possessions at all times - you may have problems trying to claim for a camera you left on the beach which was stolen when you went for a quick dip. Most policies impose a limit to the cover on any one item. So it might be worth adding 'all risks' cover to your household contents insurance and valuables like jewellery or cameras. Some policies pay a set amount for the loss of a passport. This should cover any extra travel and accommodation expenses you incur to get it replaced. If you lose or have something stolen, report the incident to the local police within 24 hours, and get written confirmation that you have done this.Follow these tips for a thief-free holiday: • Don't leave your belongings unattended • Never leave valuables on show in your car• Always leave valuables in a hotel safe or safe deposit box• Keep money, documents and valuables with you when travelling Delays and Missed Departure Most policies will compensate you if your luggage is delayed for more than twelve hours on your outward journey. This will enable you to buy replacement items, but don't forget to keep the receipts for everything you buy. You may also receive a lump sum if your departure is delayed or if you miss your flight for a valid reason. This should cover any travel expenses you incur in reaching your final destination. Annual Cover If you're lucky enough to take several holidays a year, or if you travel frequently on business, you should consider annual travel insurance. This type of insurance is based on a yearly fee regardless of the number of the number of trips you make, and can be a lot cheaper than taking out separate cover every time you travel. Extended Stays A number of insurance companies offer policies that cater for people who take long-stay winter holidays and round-the-world trips. However, before you go, check your household contents insurance. Some policies stipulate that homes should not be left empty for more than 30 days without informing the insurer. Hazardous Pursuits More and more holidays offer the opportunity to enjoy a range of action pursuits. Bungee jumping, scuba diving, parascending and motorcycling are typical of the sort of activity you might be offered, so talk to your broker, who will be happy to arrange an extension to your cover. Winter Sports You'll need a specialist policy if you're going on a winter sports holiday. This will probably cost twice as much as normal holiday cover, due to the greater risk of claims for medical expenses, personal accident, piste closure and ski equipment. It's vital that you have adequate cover for medical expenses - it can cost hundreds of pounds simply to stretcher an injured skier off the slopes. Personal liability insurance is essential in case you injure someone else. If you plan to go 'off-piste' check that your policy allows you to. You might also need specialist cover if you go ski-jumping or bobsleighing. Pre-Existing medical conditions If you suffer from a permanent or recurring illness, you must tell your insurer. Some companies cater specifically for people in this situation, but they may request a letter from your doctor saying that you are fit to travel. You won't get cover if you have been advised against travelling, are within the last two months of pregnancy, or are travelling to obtain medical treatment abroad. Motoring Abroad If you're planning to take your car abroad, you must have adequate insurance before you leave the country. UK motor insurance provides the minimum cover required by the EU and certain other countries. However, this will not be enough if you have an accident. Nor will it cover you for theft, fire or damage to your vehicle, and it may not cover your legal liabilities to other people.So make sure you have the same level of cover that you have in the UK. Check your policy carefully, as some insurers provide free continental cover for a limited period each year. Green Card Under European law, it is no longer compulsory to have a Green Card, which shows that your policy meets the minimum legal requirements of the countries in the scheme. However, a Green Card can still save time and problems if you need to provide evidence of your insurance. It is also advisable to have a Euro Accident Claim. Accidents Should you be involved in an accident, you must tell your insurer or their representative in the country immediately. Many companies issue a European Accident Statement - this is printed in several languages, and allows drivers to exchange facts without admitting liability. Breakdown Even with an extended policy, you might not be covered if your car breaks down, but you can buy a vehicle breakdown policy either with your travel insurance or separately. This should cover you for the cost of a hire car while yours is being repaired, as well as roadside assistance, the cost of delivering spare parts and of returning your car home. Theft Precautions Don't forget that your car may be targeted by car thieves, so always lock it, don't leave valuables on show, keep your car documents with you and use an anti-theft device. BEWARE THE PITFALLS! Apart from the exclusions mentioned above, there are a number of pitfalls to avoid.• If you injure yourself while under the influence of drink or drugs, your policy is unlikely to pay up.• If you're pregnant, you might not be covered for any complications that arise, and there will be a cut off date.• Medical expenses and personal accidents caused as a result of war are also excluded in many policies.• Any claim you make against your household insurance - for example if you have something stolen while on holiday - will risk losing your no claims bonus.• Many insurers claim part of any payment for possessions lost or damaged abroad from your household insurers, which can lead to the loss of your no claims bonus.Where to go for advice Before choosing your travel insurance, always consult a BIBA insurance broker or intermediary. As an independent expert, they will be able to help you through the maze of covers available, and choose the right insurer for your needs at the most reasonable cost. We recommend CFIS for Cruise Insurance, find out more - click here By law, registered brokers have to put your interests first. You can be sure that they will provide you with impartial advice, and a choice of products. BIBA - the British Insurance Brokers' Association - is the country's leading association for insurance brokers. All its members offer the highest professional standards and financial integrity, and place the interests of their clients above all else. BIBA offers a comprehensive range of policies. Featuring highly competitive premiums and terms. The range includes Single Trip with age limit up to 85, and annual policies. Underwritten by Tokio Marine Europe Insurance Ltd. All are available through CFIS, find out more - click here Your Personal Holiday Checklist To help you organise an enjoyable and trouble-free holiday, follow a number of simple rules: Before you go: • Cancel the milk and papers • Ask the neighbours to keep an eye on your home, and remove any free papers and circulars• Use a time-switch to turn on some lights at night • Lock all your doors and windows • Advise your household insurer if you're planning a long trip abroadRemember to take:• Passports, visas, tickets, money, traveller's cheques • The number of your insurance company's 24 hour helpline• Details of any private medical cover you hold• Details of your vehicle breakdown cover If you are driving abroad: • A spare set of car keys • Your vehicle insurance documents, including a Euro accident form• Driving licence and registration document• GB sticker • Warning triangle • Fire extinguisher • First aid kit • Tool kit and spare light bulbs...

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Cruise Frequent Asked Questions

Tags: frequent, asked, questions, tips

Are cruises safe onboard?In general, cruises are quite safe onboard. Each ship has a staff of security personnel that is always on duty. However, guests should treat a cruise ship like any public place, and be on their guard against theft or personal harm. Leave valuables at home or store them in a stateroom safe or at the purser's office. Passengers should always be aware of their surroundings and in control of their faculties. If you plan on drinking a lot, it's wise to designate one person to remain sober to ensure the safety of inebriated friends. Where should I keep my valuables?You can store your valuables in safes that are often provided in each stateroom. If not, there is a ship's safe located at the purser's desk. In general, it's best to leave most valuables at home. Will I become seasick on my cruise?All modern ships are equipped with stabilizers to minimize side-to-side rolling. In most cases, you will feel no motion at all. However, if you are prone to motion sickness, it is recommended that you bring medication along with you. Otherwise, medication is available through the doctor onboard. What if I get sick or need medical attention?Most cruise ships have a fully equipped medical facility and staff (with doctors and nurses) onboard that can handle almost any emergency. In the event that you may need to seek treatment on land or receive a medical evacuation from the ship, it's always recommended to carry medical insurance as part of your travel insurance policy. Can I get off the ship if I don't like the cruise?If you are unhappy while onboard and want to leave the ship, you can get off at the next port-of-call. Arrangements to get home and refunds vary by cruise line. What about passengers with special needs?Cruise lines welcome passengers with special needs and will work hard to assist them throughout their cruise. Most modern cruise ships have a number of cabins that are specially designed to accommodate passengers in need of wheelchairs or TTY communications. Service animals are permitted onboard if prior arrangements have been made. Professional medical services are also available on all cruise ships. At least one qualified physician and two registered nurses are normally in attendance on every cruise. Although the cruise line will do all it can to accommodate passengers with special needs, there are some limitations. Passengers requiring oxygen must meet certain requirements before boarding the ship. Passengers who are entering their third trimester of pregnancy by the beginning of their cruise will not be accepted. In ports-of-call that require tenders to go ashore, wheelchair access may be limited, or may be unavailable if sea conditions are unfavorable. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that passengers with special needs travel with a companion who can provide required assistance. All passengers must insure that they are medically and physically fit for travel, and that such travel will not endanger themselves or others. It is essential that the cruise line know well in advance if you have any special medical, physical, or other requirements. To receive appropriate assistance, you must inform your travel agent or the cruise line of any special requirements (or other relevant information) in writing at the time of booking. If special needs arise after booking, they must be reported prior to the embarkation date. Are there children's programs? Is babysitting available?Kids adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you will not have to wonder what they are up to every minute. Most mainstream and premium cruise lines offer special children's rooms and programs run by trained youth counselors. Children's programs cater to kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens, and provide plenty of supervised activities. Depending upon the cruise line, babysitting is often available for an additional fee. Are there religious services onboard?The types of services held onboard depend on the clergy the cruise line invites on each cruise. Some ships provide nondenominational religious services on Sundays and religious holidays, and some offer daily Catholic masses and Friday-evening Jewish services. Although some ships have chapels, services can be held in the ship's library, theater, or private lounges. Can I bring my pet?On almost cruise lines, only service animals are allowed onboard by special arrangement. The one exception is the Queen Mary 2's kennel program on transatlantic crossings. The ship has 12 kennels to accommodate traveling dogs and cats. Is smoking allowed?Virtually all ships have smoking and nonsmoking sections in lounges and public areas, but most onboard restaurants are now smoke-free. Guests can generally smoke in outdoor areas and on balconies, but some cruise lines restrict smoking in staterooms. What is the legal drinking age?The legal drinking age onboard is either 18 or 21, depending on the cruise line and the port of embarkation. What  "extras" can I expect to pay for?You can expect to pay for taxes, surcharges, and fees, including airport fees, handling fees, departure taxes, and port charges. You should verify which fees and port taxes are included in your cruise rate. The cost of reaching the ship, airline tickets not booked in your cruise package, shuttle services, or in-port parking fees are not included. You can also expect to pay for the costs—including hotel, transportation, and meal costs—of staying at port before or after the cruise. While onboard, alcoholic beverages, bottled water, and soft drinks are not included, except on a few luxury lines. You are responsible for tips and all onboard extras such as gambling, spa treatments, boutique purchases, photos, Internet access, and ship-to-shore calls. Expenses while in port, including taxis, entertainment, and optional off-ship meals, are not included. You can also expect to pay for most shore excursions and all onshore shopping purchases. Travel insurance is extra as well. How much do I tip?Because tipping is a personal matter, most cruise lines do not include gratuities in the cruise fare, with the exception of a small number of luxury lines. While tipping guidelines may vary slightly between cruise lines, the following is a standard suggestion: Dining room waiter: $3.50 per person per day Cabin steward: $3.50 per person per day Assistant waiter: $2 per person per day You may also wish to reward your head waiter or maitre d' if they have performed some special service for you. For your convenience, a 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all bar bills when you are served. All other gratuities are paid at the end of your cruise, in cash. Some ships will also allow you to charge gratuities to your onboard account. What can I purchase while onboard?Most ships have gift, jewelry, and clothing boutiques onboard. In addition, there is a photography studio where you can purchase photos by the ship's photographers, or have your film developed. What services can I expect onboard?For a fee, you can indulge in the ship's spa services, which provides facials, massages, manicures, hairstyling, and other treatments. Photography and laundry services are also available for a fee. Are there laundry services onboard?Yes, almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities onboard, and a great many provide dry-cleaning services. There is an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services, but most ships also have self-service launderettes. What is the electrical current onboard?Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms, but check with your travel agent or the cruise line. Can others contact me, and can I contact others, while onboard?Every ship has a phone number that can be used to contact you while the ship is at sea. This information will be included in your cruise documents. If you need to call home, ship-to-shore calling is available, but is very expensive as it's charged at satellite rates. Most ships now offer cell phone service, but your provider will charge you international roaming rates. Email is available onboard through the ship's Internet cafe or your own Internet-enabled computer. Not surprisingly, shipboard connectivity prices tend to be high. Are visitors permitted onboard?For security reasons, most cruise lines have a "no visitor" policy. The only exceptions to this policy are wedding guests attending an onboard ceremony that has been arranged well in advance. What will my cabin be like?Cabin size depends on the category you booked. First-time cruisers are often taken aback by the compact design of cabins, which should not be compared to hotel rooms. They are built for efficiency and to encourage you to use the much larger public facilities onboard the ship. If you requested an outside cabin, you will have a porthole or picture window, depending on your ship's design. Some outside cabins will also have a small verandah. Most cabins have twin beds that can be converted into a queen-size bed, and some have pullout couches or bunk beds that pull down from the walls. Your cabin steward is there to make your stay comfortable, whether to change the bed configuration to suit your desires, or to bring you extra towels, pillows, or blankets. Many of the newer ships have safes in the rooms, and TVs that show current movies and provide general cruise information. Is it worth the extra money for an oceanview cabin?This is a matter that depends on your budget and how much time you plan to spend in the cabin. If you can afford the extra money to move up to an oceanview cabin, you will probably feel you got your money's worth. The lowest category of outside cabins are not necessarily bigger than inside cabins, but they do provide natural light, which some cruisers prefer. Can I switch cabins if I don't like the one I get?If you do not like your cabin, notify the purser's desk as soon as possible. If the ship is full, you probably will not be able to move. However, depending upon the circumstances, the purser will work with you on your problem. When can I upgrade my cabin?If you book your cruise and do not get the cabin category you prefer, you can be placed on a waiting list for a different cabin. Once a higher-category cabin opens up, you will be charged the difference. You can also check during the embarkation process to see if a higher-class category is available. If it is, you will pay the difference to upgrade. How much food is there?Cruises are notorious for the variety and large amounts of food. With breakfast, brunch, lunch, mid-afternoon snacks, tea, dinner, midnight buffet, and room service, there are many eating opportunities. What are different meal seatings?Some ships' dining rooms can accommodate all passengers during one seating, but most ships have two seatings that differ only by time slot. To choose a seating, just decide whether you prefer to dine early or late, then have your travel agent or cruise line request your preference when you book your cruise. Certain cruise lines offer open seating (guests can dine anytime during set hours), and Norwegian Cruise Line lets guests eat when they choose at any of a number of smaller restaurants. In addition, some ships offer alternative dining options, such as themed restaurants or particular cuisines such as Italian, Asian, and French. Are special diets available?Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, Kosher, or other diet preferences. However, special diet requests must be made in advance, so be sure to advise your travel agent of your requirements when you book your cruise. Can I order room service?Most cruise lines offer 24-hour room service at no extra charge. What kind of activities can I participate in while onboard?It is amazing how much you can do on a cruise. Cruise ships are like floating resorts with all the amenities they have to offer. You can be by yourself and lie back in a lounge chair, soak up the sun, read a good book, or watch the changing view. You can also join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests, and other organized deck activities. Perhaps you would like to practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or shoot some baskets? Other activities include watching a feature movie, attending a lecture by a renowned expert, and playing backgammon or bridge. You can also go for a swim, stretch out in the sauna, or work out in the gym. Some newer ships have ice skating rinks, rock-climbing walls, onboard surfing, bowling alleys, miniature golf, and outdoor movies. What is there to do at night?Cruise ships can be quite lively at night. There's dancing and live entertainment in the lounges and discos, feature films, and parties. Most ships also have casinos. There are also many special events like the captain's cocktail party, Las Vegas and Broadway-style shows, magic acts, and the late night buffet. 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. How do I find out about shore excursions?Prior to the cruise, most cruise lines will include the available shore excursion information in your cruise documents. Sometimes, information is available on the cruise line's website. No matter what, you will always be able to get information about the tours through the ship's shore excursion desk, which is staffed with personnel who can answer all your questions. Can I celebrate a special occasion onboard?Yes, just inform your travel agent or cruise line prior to sailing, and they can make the necessary arrangements for you....

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