General Cruising Questions

By Miss Julie | December 22nd, 2006

  • Q: Is cruising affordable and a good vacation value?

  • A: Yes! Cruising is the best vacation value! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget. Your cruise fare includes all meals, your stateroom, on-board activities and entertainment, plus transportation from port to port. You’ll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. (Typically, your only extra expenses will be drinks, optional shore excursions, and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.) You’ll be amazed how the value of a cruise compares to the total cost of other vacations!
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  • Q: How long are cruises?

  • A: As long or short as you want. There are cruise lines that offer itineraries from three days to three months. Whatever your schedule, we will find the cruise that if right for you.
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  • Q: Where can I go?

  • A: You can go wherever you want. Cruises visit over 1,800 ports worldwide and practically every destination accessible by water. The Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Bermuda, Europe, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Tahiti, and the Orient are just a few of the places you can go.
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  • Q: When is it best to take a cruise?

  • A: Anytime is the best time to take a cruise. Certain times of the year are better for certain destinations. The Caribbean is fantastic year round; however, some of the more exotic destinations are seasonal. For example, you can only cruise to Alaska between May and September; to Europe between April and November; to Bermuda, between April and October; the Panama Canal, between September and April. No matter what time of year it is, it’s a perfect time to cruise.
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  • Q: When is the most affordable time to take a cruise?

  • A: If you are looking for the very, least expensive time to take a cruise, then consider sailing between the end of August and the sailing before Christmas, but not over Christmas or Thanksgiving. Most families have children that are back to school, folks begin saving vacation time for holiday travel, and everyone’s saving money for the holiday season. Considering all of these factors, expect cruise prices that are better than 2-for-1 with reduced rates for 3rd and 4th passengers.
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  • Q: When is Hurricane Season?

  • A: The National Hurricane Service states that hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends November 31st. That’s 6 months of the year. Does this mean you shouldn’t cruise during this time? Definitely not. Some of your best rates are during this period and your Captain would never jeopardize your safety. Ships are equipped with state of the art weather equipment that keeps the crew fully aware of a storm’s position and if there is any danger they can simply move to safer waters.
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  • Q: If I have never been on a cruise which one is best for me?

  • A: This is a common question, and the answer is – it depends on your priorities, interests, etc. It is best if you do a little homework before booking your cruise. You will probably enjoy the cruise on any line – they all do a good job. But if you can research which one may be best for you, you may even have a better time. You can go online, go to the library or bookstore or purchase cruise magazines.

    Some of the things you need to consider are:

  • Price
  • Ships (age, size, accommodations)
  • Itineraries
  • Passengers (interests, ages, etc.)

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  • Q: Are all ships fairly similar?

  • A: Far from it. Cruise ships range from under 200 feet to over 1,000 feet long. You can sail with fewer than 100 fellow guests or over 2,600. Enjoy atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, contemporary to classic, old world luxury. You can even choose between traditional propeller-driven vessels or sail-assisted ships. Enjoy the endless activities offered on a contemporary resort-style cruise, or immerse yourself in the culture of a destination via a niche or special interest cruise.
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  • Q: Are there different types of cruises?

  • A: There is an incredible diversity of cruise vacations available — all custom designed to suit different interests and personal preferences.

    The variety of styles ranges from boutique, luxury cruises with globetrotting itineraries to large, contemporary ships with a fantastic array of recreational facilities; from classic vessels evoking the time-honored traditions of cruising to special-interest, niche lines specializing in unique destinations with an accent on cultural enrichment.
    For the explorer, there are cruise lines which feature soft adventure expeditions to such unusual and rustic frontiers as Antarctica, the Amazon rain forest or African Serengeti. Or discover historical legacies closer to home with enlightening itineraries to New England, French Canada and the Colonial America coast.
    For experienced travelers, destination-focused cruises specialize in premium, culturally-rich ports of call with itineraries dedicated to illuminating such historic, world-class treasures as the antiquities of classical Greece, the Polynesian paradise of Hawaii or the fabled splendor of Norwegian fjords.

    For many, the perfect vacation includes the non-stop fun and sun of a tropical resort-style cruise to the Caribbean, where you can sample a variety of island cultures and cuisines while working on a terrific sun tan.

    Plus, many cruise lines feature special-interest themes on-board, with entertainment ranging from jazz festivals and classical music concerts to golf clinics and murder mysteries at sea!
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  • Q: Are there any special educational programs on-board?

  • A: To complement the spirit of discovery that travel evokes, many cruise lines feature an extensive program of on-board enrichment seminars hosted by distinguished guests experts. In addition to lectures highlighting the history and sights of ports you will be visiting, there may also be special in-depth presentations ranging from Renaissance works of art and strategic financial planning to epicurean secrets of classic French cuisine.
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  • Q: What’s an air/sea cruise?

  • A: A fly/cruise or an air/sea cruise vacation package includes either free or specially-reduced airfare along with your cruise ticket. These convenient money-saving options are available from most major North American cities and include ground transfers between the airport and ship as well as baggage handling.
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  • Q: Are there different classes of service?

  • A: Today’s cruise ships are “one-class”. Everyone onboard can use all of the ship’s facilities. The price of a cabin is based primarily on its size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you’ll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else onboard.
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  • Q: Will I get bored? Feel confined?

  • A: Hardly! Being at sea gives you a feeling of total freedom that no land-based resort can offer. There’s plenty of room. And it will probably take you two or three days just to discover everything that’s on board. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring many exciting ports of call.

    Cruise ships are like floating resorts with all the choices fine resorts have to offer. You can lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing seascape.

    If you’re more active, join in exercise or dance classes, and sports contests. Practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or take some fresh air on the jogging deck. Swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym.

    You can also see a feature film, attend an enrichment lecture by renowned experts, play backgammon or bridge. And that’s just when you’re on board!
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  • Q: Do I have to participate in the activities?

  • A: On a cruise, you do what you want, when you want. You can do everything or do absolutely nothing. It’s your vacation!
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  • Q: Do I have to take a tour?

  • A: No, you can do what you want in port. You will either tender (small boat to shore) or dock. It depends on the port and how many ships are there. You can take tours arranged by the ship, take your own tours (rent a car, cab, etc.), just walk into town, or stay on the ship. You can have lunch on the ship – you can always come back, even with tender, they run all the time. If it’s an all-day tour, and they will usually include lunch. The half-day tours are timed to get you back for lunch (or leave after lunch). Ship tours are usually well organized and usually well worth the money. We know sometimes you can do it cheaper on your own, but remember that you are also paying for a guide, admissions, etc. Not to mention peace of mind – the ship won’t leave until all the tours are back. If you go on your own you may have to build in extra time to be sure you won’t miss the ship.
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  • Q: Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?

  • A: More and more cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines provide plenty of supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, they’ll love a family cruise. You’ll find that children adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won’t have to wonder what they’re up to every minute. The youth counsellers will help keep them busy and entertained. Ships even offer youth camps that cater to all ages, from toddlers to teens. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate.
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  • Q: What’s there to do at night?

  • A: At night, life aboard a cruise ship really turns on. There’s dancing, live entertainment, nightclubs and lounges, feature films, and parties with all your new friends. Most ships also have casinos. What’s more, there are many special events like the Captain’s Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, and the Masquerade Parade.
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  • Q: Is there a charge for entertainment?

  • A: Never. On a cruise vacation, the entertainment is on the house. There’s no cover, minimum, or charge for an admission ticket. The shows are live, films first-rate and all included in your cruise fare.
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  • Q: Will there be people like me?

  • A: No matter what you’ve heard to the contrary, there’s no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises now… all ages… from all walks of life… singles, couples and families.
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  • Q: Can singles have fun on a cruise?

  • A: Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone, because it’s so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties just for singles“early on, so you can get to know people right away. Many ships even offer gentlemen hosts who can be dance partners, dinner companions or a fourth at cards.

    Most ships also have single cabins as well as single rates for double staterooms. If you ask them, many cruise lines will even find you a roommate to share a cabin so you can obtain the per person/double occupancy rate, saving you even more on a great vacation.
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  • Q: How old do you have to be to go on a cruise?

  • A: This is really a two part question:

    1. How old do you have to be to cruise without a guardian?
    Most cruise lines have a minimum requirement of 21 years of age for young people traveling without their parents. If any occupant in the cabin is under 21, then a passenger at least 25 years old must be booked in the cabin with them. This rule applies to married couples, as well. The only exception is that children under age 21 may be allowed to have their own cabin as long as the parents are booked in the cabin next door or across the hall. In other cases, the cruise line will require that, for booking purposes, one parent is placed in each cabin and then guests can switch around once on board.

    2. What’s the minimum age to get on a cruise ship?
    Some family-oriented cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney may have Minimum Age Restrictions on their very young guests travelling with their parents. In other words, they require that babies have to be at least 12 – 16 weeks old to travel and maybe older for longer and exotic itineraries. Even if a child meets the age restriction, some lines require that they are at least 2 – 3 years old to join the children’s activity program. Other lines, such as Princess and Disney, capacity-control the number of children of any given age on every sailing, especially over holidays. And some cruise lines, such as Renaissance, do not accept any guest under age 17. As each cruise line is different, it is always best to check with your cruise counselor about the policy of the cruise line you are considering. Facilities for children and families can vary widely. Budget and Contemporary cruise lines usually have the most to offer and may even have a child’s fare based on age. Some cruise lines charge the children’s fare based on the cabin type being purchased, while the luxury and specialty products may not offer third or fourth occupancy in a cabin or even a reduced fare for extra guests.
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  • Q: What is the drinking age on a cruise ship?

  • A: You must be at least 21 years old to legally consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages on a Cruise Ship.
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  • Q: Is motion discomfort a problem?

  • A: Rarely. Popular cruise itineraries boast some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, advanced availability of accurate weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.
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  • Q: It sounds too good to be true! Is it?

  • A: The one major complaint we hear over and over again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it’s hard to find any negatives. All you have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member on board is dedicated to making your cruise the best vacation of your life (until you top it with your next cruise!)
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  • Q: Is cruising right for honeymooners?

  • A: Without a doubt. Cruising offers an atmosphere that’s just right for romance…cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars) and so much more to remember forever. Most lines provide special services from Sunday or Monday departures to welcome champagne and breakfast in bed. (And, speaking of beds, most ships have them in double, queen, or king sizes!) Also, some ships offer special programs for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing your marriage vows in port.
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  • Q: Where can I learn more about cruising?

  • A: A good source might be your library – they may have guidebooks on cruising (Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Berlitz, etc.). There are also magazines available and also websites that can help you.
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