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Answers to frequently asked questions about cruising:

What Documentation is Required?

How can I be reached onboard the ship in an emergency?

Insurance

What Should I Pack?

How About Day Wear?

Is Motion Sickness a Problem?

How Do I Get From The Airport to the Ship?

How Soon Can I Board the Ship Before Sailing?

What Is The Process of Embarkation (Boarding Your Ship)?

What Happens to My Luggage After I Leave It Port-Side?

What Happens When I Get on Board?

What Is A Cabin Steward or Stewardess?

What Kind Of Laundry Facilities Are There?

Are There Medical Facilities On Board?

What About Having My Hair Done?

Where Do I Keep My Valuables?

How About Safety On Board?

What Communication Facilities Are Available?

What Is There To Do On A Cruise?

What Is There To Do At Night?

How Will I Make New Friends?

What If We Just Want To Be Alone?
How Will I Know What’s Going On?
How Do I Know When I’m Dining?
How Long Do I Have To Get To Dinner?
What If I Don’t Like My Table Mates?
Who Buys the Wine At Dinner?
Am I Allowed to Have Seconds?
Do I Always Have to Eat In The Dining Room?
What About Going Ashore?

Are Shore Excursions More Expensive Than Sightseeing On Your Own?

How Do I Go About Organizing My Own Tour?
How Do We Get Off The Ship?
What’s There To Do If I Don’t Want Want                          To Sightsee?
Do I Have To Go Ashore?
What Is Included In The Price?
Do I Need Money?

How Much Should I Tip?

How Do I Present My Tips?

When Do I Tip?

    What Is The Procedure for Debarkation?

What Do I Do With My Luggage?
When Do I See My Luggage Again?
What Else Is Involved?
How Long Does the Debarkation Procedure Take?

 

What Documentation is Required?

            For your cruise and other travel, you will need proof of citizenship, such as a certified copy of your birth certificate or a passport.  You don’t actually need a passport for cruises and travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Alaska, but if you have one, take it, as it is the best identification that you have.  If you take a certified copy of your birth certificate, you will also need a government issue photo I.D., (such as driver license).  Cruises and travel to Costa Rica, some part of South America and other areas of the world, including Trans canal cruises do require a passport and in some cases a visa.  Your Come Cruise With Us & Tours, Inc specialist will advise you as to proper documentation. The U.S. State Department determine documentations requirements. Your Come Cruise With Us & Tours, Inc specialist can only advise you of the State Department requirements.  For questions concerning identification requirement please contact the U.S. State Department (1-202-647-6575 or www.firstgov.com).  If you need a certified copy of your birth certificate visit ( www.vitalcheck.com ). 

Insurance

Insurance is optional, however it is strongly recommended for protection due to losses occurring from, but not limited to, cancellation of trip due to illness or incapacity, interruption of trip due to medical or family emergencies; operator default or insolvency.  For specific coverage details, refer to the insurance carrier. 

HOW CAN I BE REACHED ONBOARD THE SHIP IN AN EMERGENCY?
Call the following number of the cruise line (the one calling will need the  name of your ship and your correct name)

Carnival…877 225 7447 --- Norwegian…888 627 4477

Royal Caribbean...888 724 7447 --- Celebrity...877 266 1020

Disney...888 322 8732 --- Holland American...900 225 5425

PCL...900 225 5744
 

What Should I Pack? 

            The general trend in cruising today is to dress the way you feel the most comfortable.  Some ships are obviously more formal than others, so choose the one that suits your taste and lifestyle.
 
            The first and last nights of a voyage are usually casual.  This means jacket and tie are not required for gentlemen and ladies may wear most anything they fancy.
            On a typical 7-day cruise, you’ll usually encounter two or three informal nights (mid-way between casual and formal).  Informal generally means a coat and tie for gentlemen, with sport coats being acceptable.  Again, ladies may wear most anything-a nice dress, slacks outfit, or something frivolous.
            The Captain’s Welcome Aboard Party and Farewell Dinner are usually formal.  Formal aboard ship means a dark suit, dinner jacket, or tuxedo for the gentlemen.  For the ladies, dressy cocktail gowns either long, short, or some fantastic evening pants outfit.  This is the opportunity to wear some of those formal clothes that you rarely get to wear at home.
            Some ships have theme nights during the week such as: country-western, 50’s-60’s, Caribbean, etc so you might want to take along an outfit for these events.   

How About Day Wear?

             Cruise vacations are casual by day whether you’re aboard ship or on shore.  Slacks, shorts, sport shirts, and comfortable shoes are a sure bet for both men and women.  Bathing suits are not allowed in the dining room or the public rooms of a ship, but are perfectly acceptable on the deck and at deck buffets.  Shorts are not allowed in the dining room in the evening.
            Ladies may want to take a sweater or light wrap as it can be cool on deck in the early morning or the evenings, even in the Caribbean
.  Also, some women find the air conditioning in the public rooms too cool for their comfort.

 

Is Motion Sickness a Problem? 

            It’s very unlikely.  Today’s ships use a combination of sophisticated weather forecasting to plan the course of a voyage and stabilizers to ease the rolling motion of the ship.  Unless you’re prone to motion discomfort at home, you most likely will not experience it aboard ship.  Consult your doctor; he will be able to recommend a good anti-seasickness medication as a back-up measure to insure your peace of mind.  Such remedies include: Dramamine, Bonine, Trans-Scop 5 (the tiny patch you wear behind your ear), and the new SEA BANDS (elastic bracelets that act on an acupressure theory) are all readily available.  It’s best to secure any medication before you leave home.

 PORT OF DEPARTURE 

How Do I Get From The Airport to the Ship?

             If you are using the cruise line’s Air/Sea package you will be met at the airport by a cruise line representative either as you deplane or in the baggage claim area.  This person will direct you to the proper transportation (usually a bus) to the pier.  If your cruise fare does not include transfers taxis are available from the airport to the port. You can also buy transfers to the ship at the air port.

 

How Soon Can I Board the Ship Before Sailing? 

            Approximately three to four hours before sailing, so there may be some waiting time at the pier before you can check in.  You may want to take along a book or some other reading material to help pass the time.

 

What Is The Process of Embarkation (Boarding Your Ship)?

             Embarkation begins three or four hours before sailing.  Services are available at the ports for handling and loading your luggage.  A clerk will take your documentation and cruise tickets check-in procedure is much like that at an airport.  At the ship entrance stewards or other members of the cruise staff will direct you to your cabin.
            If there are passenger registration forms in your document packet please fill these out before you reach the pier.  This will save you time and confusion at the pier. 

What Happens to My Luggage After I Leave It Port-Side? 

            The luggage is loaded onto the ship and delivered to your cabin around sailing time.  All luggage should be properly marked with your name, the name of the ship, and cabin number.  Attach your cruise line’s luggage tags before you leave home so it’s readily identifiable everywhere.

 

What Happens When I Get on Board? 

            If you have arrived early you will have time to explore the ship and get your belongings before the ship sails.  You may want to slip into those comfortable clothes that you brought in your carry-on and take a tour of the ship.  Most ships provide a lunch on the deck or around the pool for you convenience.

  

ON BOARD IN GENERAL 

What Is A Cabin Steward or Stewardess? 

            Your cabin steward or stewardess will greet you shortly after you arrive.  He or she will keep your cabin neat fill your ice bucket and replenish your towels as you use them.  He can answer many of your questions and you will find that he or she generally provide excellent service-much nicer than a hotel.

 

What Kind Of Laundry Facilities Are There?

             Ships on cruises of one week or longer usually offer valet laundry service.  Some ships have laundry rooms with washers and dryers for passenger use.  There also is usually an iron and ironing board available or the room steward may be able to arrange to have your clothes pressed.  If you are going to use the ship’s laundry service do so early in the cruise as nothing is accepted on the last couple of days.

 

Are There Medical Facilities On Board?

             Every cruise ship has a fully equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency.  If you need to see the doctor there is usually a charge of $20-$25, so be prepared to pay.

 

What About Having My Hair Done?

            Almost all ships are equipped with a beauty salon where you may have you hair done, get a manicure, a facial, or a massage.  Make your appointments early in the cruise since certain time periods get booked quickly particularly on formal nights.  There is a charge for these services just as there would be at home.

 

Where Do I Keep My Valuables?

             Some new ships have locked drawers or even small safes available in the cabins.  If yours does not inquire at the purser’s office shortly after boarding about the safe deposit boxes.  Most ships have them available on a limited basis and at a nominal charge.

 

How About Safety On Board?

             All ships sailing from United States ports must comply with International Convention Standards for Safety of Life at Sea and be inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard, regardless of country of registry.  Every ship has enough lifeboats for both passengers and crew.  At the beginning of the voyage the crew has been thoroughly trained in emergency measures will conduct mandatory lifeboat drills.  For your safety and that of your fellow passengers please attend this drill.

 

What Communication Facilities Are Available? 

            Most ships have a daily newsletter with late news headlines selected stock quotations and sport scores.  All ships are equipped with radio and telegraph facilities and depending on the sophistication of the system it is possible to phone anywhere in the world from the Radio Room and on some of the newer ships from you stateroom or a pay phone.  However, calls that are ship to shore are still fairly expensive.
          If someone needs to reach you aboard ship they may reach the High Seas Operator by dialing 1-800-SEA-CALL.

 

What Is There To Do On A Cruise? 

            There are a variety of activities available on most cruise ships.  These include exercise classes, dance classes, sport contests, and other organized deck activities such as shuffleboard, ping pong, skeet shooting, driving golf balls of the fantail and on some ships volleyball and basketball.  Of course, there’s always swimming and sunbathing.  You can take in a feature movie, listen to a lecture, or play backgammon or bridge.

 

What Is There To Do At Night?

             Dancing and live entertainment is usually available in nightclubs, discos, and lounges.  Most ships show first-run movies and almost all ships have casinos for you gambling pleasure.  There are Broadway-type shows and Las Vegas-style shows revues in the main lounge and small clubs have entertainment into the wee hours.  There are also special events such as the Captain’s Welcome Party, Passenger Talent Night, a Masquerade Parade, and Midnight Buffets.

 

How Will I Make New Friends? 

            Aboard ship everyone seems to be in a great mood, so it’s easy to mingle and have fun.  Pick out a few people you would like to know and make it a point to introduce yourself to them.
 If you enjoy meeting people and would like to make friends quickly participate in everything!  Volunteer for games and have fun playing.

 

What If We Just Want To Be Alone? 

            If you would like your cruise to be “just for you” pick out a cozy corner in a quiet lounge or an out-of-the-way spot on the deck and enjoy your own company in peace.  Skip the evening shows, have dinner in your cabin, or stroll on deck in the moonlight.  It’s your vacation so please yourself.

 

How Will I Know What’s Going On?

             Read your Cruise News or Daily Program that your cabin steward will deliver to your cabin each evening.  The Cruise News lists all activities available the next day plus opening times for the shops, beauty salon, etc.

 

FOR YOUR DINING PLEASURE

How Do I Know When I’m Dining?

             A confirmation of the dining room seating that you requested should be in your cabin when you arrive.  If not, the Maitre’d will be available in one of the lounges during embarkation for you to reconfirm your request.  As in any nice restaurant if you desire to change your seating or would like to request a particular table a discreet tip to the Maitre’d will help. Usually $5-$20 is adequate.
            Don’t forget to take the card with your table confirmation with you to dinner on the first evening so that you’ll know where you belong.

 

How Long Do I Have To Get To Dinner?

             When a ship has two seatings for meals it is considered courteous to be on time (or no more than 10 minutes late), so that everyone can enjoy their dining experience and the dining room can function at peak efficiency.

 

What If I Don’t Like My Table Mates?

 It’s fun getting to know your tablemates.  But if you find that you simply don’t hit it off, just ask the Maitre’d to change you after the first or second night.  He’s usually able to accommodate this type of request.

 

Who Buys the Wine At Dinner?

            Many people like to take turns hosting the table to wine, so feel free to make the suggestion.  You tip the wine steward 15% when you sign or pay the bill, just as you would at home.
            If you receive a Bon Voyage gift of wine or champagne in your cabin you may ask the steward to deliver it to your table in the dining room if you wish.  Also, if you receive a bottle of wine in the dining room and it’s not your favorite you may change it for a bottle of comparable price.
            If you have wine left at the end of the meal it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the wine steward to save it for the next night.

 

Am I Allowed to Have Seconds? 

            Have as much or as little as you would like.  Your waiter will be happy to bring you seconds.  Have several appetizers and skip the main course if you wish.  It’s all up to you and you will find your waiter very accommodating.
            Be adventuresome and try some new dishes offered aboard ship that you may not want to pay for at home.  On the ship if you don’t like it just send it back and try something else.

 

Do I Always Have to Eat In The Dining Room?

             No, most all ships offer the choice of having breakfast or lunch on deck or around the pool.  If you’re on early seating for dinner, you may want to have the breakfast buffet on deck, so you can sleep later.  Or on the other hand if you are an early riser, most ships offer coffee on deck as early as 6AM.

 

      GOING ASHORE…..

What About Going Ashore?

             On the day before arrival at each port of call the Cruise Director will give an orientation briefing often enlisting the aid of a local authority.  All inclusive shore excursions as well as navigation on your own are discussed; the history of the port and its points of interest; local best buys; and transportation information to enable you to make the most of your time ashore.

 

Are Shore Excursions More Expensive Than Sightseeing On Your Own?

             Shore excursions can range in price form $25-$150 per person depending on the type and length.  By paying a little more for the shore excursion, you’re elimination the worry and responsibility of planning and operation your own tour.  You can plan your shore excursions before you leave home, just take a look at this web site (shore Excursions).
            If you decide you would like to do your own thing you might ask some friends to share the expenses and organize your own tour. 

 

How Do I Go About Organizing My Own Tour?

             Pick out a reputable-looking taxi driver (there will be lots at the pier) tell him what you want to see and negotiate an agreeable price for the number of hours you wish to tour before you get in his taxi.  Be selective in choosing your driver/guide (be sure you can understand his English) and you’ll have an enjoyable tour.  If your driver does a good job of showing you the sights he will expect a tip at the end of the trip in addition to the agreed price.

 

How Do We Get Off The Ship?

             In many ports ships will dock in the main part of town and you’ll be able to walk right off the ship.  If your ship is using a tender (a smaller boat) you’ll board that from the ship and the tender will take you to the dock. Remember it always takes time for the ship to be cleared and tour buses to be organized in port.  Don’t rush.  Listen for announcements and relax you won’t miss the tour.

 

What’s There To Do In Port If I Don’t Want To Sightsee? 

            In the Caribbean you can spend a relaxing day in the sun.  Just take a taxi to the best hotel in port and enjoy their pool and beach facilities.
            If you are interested in sports get an early start.  Most diving, or snorkeling trips rental of windsurfers, etc is easier to arrange earlier in the morning when there is plenty of equipment available.  If you’re interested in playing golf or tennis in port check with the shore excursion office on board and see if this can be arranged.
            Don’t forget your sunscreen and a long sleeve cover up if you’re the type to burn easily.  The Caribbean sun can be very hot.

 

Do I Have To Go Ashore? 

            Certainly not. Some people prefer the peach and quiet of a day on the ship when everybody else is gone.  If you’re already visited a particular port just enjoy the ship itself.

 

             MONEY MATTERS….

What Is Included In The Price?

             The price of the ticket included all meals, stateroom, daytime activities, nightly entertainment and if you purchased the Air/Sea package, transfers, and roundtrip airfare from you home city.

 

Do I Need Money?

             Most things are included in the cruise price, but you will need some cash of course.  Shore excursions and bar drinks are extra.  Most people prefer to carry travelers’ checks that can be cashed at the purser’s office.  You will need cash at the end of your cruise for gratuities.  Major credit cards are usually accepted at bars and duty free shops and they are also accepted at most large shops ashore. 

 

            Most  cruise lines have now gone to a “Sign and Sail” program whereby you may charge everything aboard ship to your cabin and then settle your account at the end of the cruise either by credit card, travelers check, or cash.  If you are planning on paying cash most ships require a deposit of $50 for the “Sign and Sail” privileges.

  

How Much Should I Tip?

             General tipping guidelines vary from ship to ship.  The cruise director will advise you in his debarkation talk or you will find information in the daily program.  On some cruises you can pre pay your tips.

 Here are some guidelines to help you plan: 

Who To Tip

 How Much Per Person Per Day

Cabin Steward

$2.50-$3.50
Dining Room Waiter $2.50-$3.50
Bus Boy $1.50-$2.00
Bar waiters, deck stewards, Bartenders, wine stewards Approximately 15% of the check just as you would at home at a restaurant or bar

Mairte’d and/or Head waiter

Based on how attentive they are and on whether you require any special services.

Please Note: On most sign and sail programs the 15% gratuity is automatically added to bar checks or wine bills.

 

How Do I Present My Tips?

           On the appropriate night the purser’s office will provide you with envelopes in which you can present you gratuities an d on which you can write various steward’s names. Couples or friends traveling together in one cabin combine their tips in one envelope. It’s a good idea to set aside your cash for gratuities at the beginning of the cruise in small bills, so that at the end you don’t have to worry.

 
When Do I Tip?                       

             On short cruises gratuities are usually given on the last night of the cruise.  You will present these in person to your cabin steward and in the dining room.  On longer cruises 14 days or more, tips are usually given on a weekly basis.  On some cruises you can pre pay your tips.

 

          What Is The Procedure for Debarkation?

 

What Do I Do With My Luggage?

             Usually luggage is left outside your cabin door before you go to bed on the last night of the cruise to expedite quick unloading of the baggage upon arrival at the pier.  Be sure to keep out everything you need for the next morning.  Also, if you’ve purchased packaged liquor on the cruise it is safer to carry that off  with you.

 

 
When Do I See My Luggage Again?

             You will see your luggage on the pier after you leave the ship.  In most cases you will  be given color-coded luggage tags by the cruise line so that you may tag your bags before leaving the ship.  On most piers you will find your bags waiting under the color of your luggage tag, so don’t forget it.

 

What Else Is Involved? 

            If you have visited a foreign port you must go through customs inspection.  Most times this clearance is made aboard ship, but occasionally it is done on the pier.  All articles in your possession that you acquired during your voyage must be declared on the Customs slip given to you the night before you disembark.  You must pay duty on any items over the duty free allowance.  Duty is based on the wholesale price of an item, so it is not usually prohibitive.
            You may make an oral declaration if you are under your allowance, but you may be required to prove it.  Keep all your receipts and pack items that you are declaring together, or in a place that can be inspected easily in order to satisfy Customs.
            Generally on the last day of the cruise The Cruise Director will have a Disembarkation Talk at which he will explain the customs procedure.

 

How Long Does the Debarkation Procedure Take?

            The average seems to be two to three hours.  The ship’s crew must unload all baggage onto the pier and the ship itself must be cleared by U.S. Customs before any passengers are allowed to leave.  Just relax in one of the public areas and you will hear the announcement when the ship is cleared.
It is wise to make your return airline reservation to depart after 1:00 p.m.  This will give you enough time to get off of the, get your luggage and get to the airport 1 - 2  hours  before your flight depart.

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