Cruise Frequently Asked Questions

 

Never cruised before? 
You probably have many unanswered questions. 

An experienced cruiser?
You probably have a few unanswered questions too. 

The FAQ is provided to help maximize your cruising experience. Updated December 2006

Seacruise is indebted to Sally Stearns and George Leppla for much of the content on these pages. 

Table of Contents:
  1. How do I choose a Cruise?

  2. How do I choose a Travel Agent? (David Lytle)

  3. How long a cruise should I take?

  4. How much does a cruise cost?

  5. How can I tell whether I'm getting a good deal?

  6. What is a guaranteed rate?

  7. What is price protection?

  8. What about upgrades?

  9. I'm single, do I really have to pay a supplement?

  10. Which cruise line should I book with?

  11. Which is better a new ship or an older one?

  12. Which is better, a large ship or a small one?

  13. Is there any difference between cruise lines?

  14. What is included in the price?

  15. What is an air/sea package?

  16. How do I pick a cabin? (Tom Gauldin)

  17. Is the ship handicap-accessible?

  18. What should I pack?

  19. Can I really eat 12 times a day?

  20. What about special diets?

  21. What about the kids?

  22. Do I really have to dress for dinner? (Don Blakely)

  23. Can I get room service?

  24. Can we celebrate a special occasion?

  25. Where can I smoke on the ship?

  26. Should I opt for early or late seating?

  27. Should I choose a cruise with a single seating?

  28. What can I do if I don't like my tablemates?

  29. Do I have to sit with strangers?

  30. How do I set up a ship-board account?

  31. Are drinks 'free'?

  32. What about the shops?

  33. What about photographs?

  34. Can I have laundry done?

  35. What about phone calls? Can I phone home?

  36. What are port taxes?

  37. Should I purchase the travel insurance?

  38. What isn't included?

  39. Will I get bored, what's there to do?

  40. Can I work out?

  41. What are the evening shows like?

  42. Is there anything else to do at night?

  43. Are cruise lines 'kid friendly'?

  44. Will there be other kids on board?

  45. My kids are age x and y, are they old enough to cruise?

  46. Can I get a baby-sitter?

  47. What type of activities are there for the kids?

  48. What is there to do in port?

  49. How expensive are the tours?

  50. Do I have to take a tour to get off the ship?

  51. Do I need a passport?

  52. Will I get seasick?

  53. What about sea-sickness prevention?

  54. What about medical emergencies?

  55. Can I cruise with a pre-existing medical condition?

  56. What about safety?

  57. Do I have to tip?

  58. Who do I tip, how much, and when?

  59. What type of gambling is offered by the ship?

  60. Is it possible to book passage on a freighter?

  61. Do I qualify for the Carnival Corporation 'Shareholders On-Board Credit'? (Updated Sep 11 2006)

  62. Do I qualify for the RCI 'Shareholders On-Board Credit'? (Updated Sep 11 2006)

1. How do I choose a Cruise?
   
     There are a few factors to be considered before booking a cruise. Determine the length cruise you would like, where you would like to go, and the amount of money you can budget for your trip. Once you have narrowed your field of choice, visit a few local travel agencies that offer cruise vacations. The agents will provide you with brochures, up-to-date pricing information, and advice.
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2. How do I Choose a Travel Agent?
        I am not a travel agent but I am in marketing (computers not cruises). I have been on about 10 cruises. Seems to me that there are some basics that apply to getting good service regardless of the industry. These are my 2 cents worth and you might or might not agree with them--but you asked. Also, since I am not in the cruise industry there may be some cruise-specific information that I just don't know.
        Finding someone you like to do business with is the most important point I can make. People, whether in business or leisure, (usually) would rather do business with a friend--someone they respect who has the expertise they need. Doing business with a friend who doesn't have the proper qualifications is what gets people in trouble.
        You have more leverage if you deal with someone you can visit. In this case, if a travel agent is in your town, and you can sit down in front of them, you have an edge. If something goes wrong, they know you'll be visiting them--tell them so! Also, it is usually easier to build a good relationship if you are in close contact. If something goes terribly wrong, they are local and you can apply pressure to get them to help you.
        It is NOT imperative that you do business with someone you can visit. Expertise, ability to communicate, a sense of urgency, thoroughness, follow-through and follow-up, and friendliness are qualities that don't always grow next door. Typically you want all these qualities in the person that you are asking to focus on the particular situation you have. Don't go to a computer store to inquire about VCRs. Don't go to just any travel agency to inquire about cruises. Some agencies have cruise specialists some don't. There are many independent specialty agents (working from home) that might serve your needs better than a walk-in agency. Ask for references from long-distance (1-800) sources so that you can be comfortable that you’re dealing with someone who will do the job you want done. Call around (especially if they offer a toll free number). Visit WEB sites. Do some homework with resources available to you.
        Certification assures you of a certain level of expertise. With CLIA or NACOA certification, for example, you will at least know that the person you are dealing with is cruise literate. CLIA or NACOA certification should be your first filter for cruises--but not your last. Remember, there are other qualities you want (ability to communicate, a sense of urgency, thoroughness, someone who doesn't have the answer before you ask the question, friendliness, etc.). You can look up these certification agencies on the WEB to see what they are all about.
        You have every right to deal with an experienced person. Ask about their qualifications. How long have they been selling cruises? Do they seem to like selling cruises? Are they enthusiastic about servicing you--or do they put you on hold? What percentage of their business comes from cruisers? How many cruises have they been on? Have they been on the cruise lines and/or cruise ships you've an interest in? Do they have references (if so call them!)? Do they specialize in cruises or not? Can they describe, from personal experience, the ports-of-call, tours, and destinations you like? Do they try to get a sense of who you are, your preferences and likes and dislikes before trying to sell you anything? Do they ask you if there are any special considerations such as disabilities, dietary requirements, seating difficulties, etc. Do they try to get you to buy the weekly special right away? Do they make you feel like you'd want to do business with them over and over again? If you don't like the answers you get to these kinds of questions, try someone different.
        Ask your friends! Your friends are very likely to tell you any bad experiences they've had with travel agents or airlines or cruise lines. They will also usually gush over someone who has been helpful and credible for them in the past.
        Don't forget that sales does not equal satisfaction. An agent that tells you they've booked $10,000,000.00 in cruises also needs to discuss percentage of customer satisfaction. Do they ever survey their customers to see how things went and what they (the agency) can do better in the future? Use the better business bureau to weed out agencies that have chronic complaints against them (and some do). Remember, almost every agency will have some 'Thank You' letters to help them close business. And that is a good thing. Just make sure all of the other things are in place as well.
        Trust your instincts. Most of us are a good judge of character and competency if we are proactive about 'discovering' people and agencies that really can help us. Even just talking with people on the telephone, most of us quickly acquire a feeling of trust or queasiness about the person we're dealing with. Ask the right questions, up front, before talking about your travel needs.
        Travel costs money--your money. A little time and effort on your part discovering an agent and/or agency who wants your return business is well worth while. Be good to yourself and work with someone who makes you feel comfortable and in command of the situation.
         This may not be what you wanted to hear. Maybe you wanted something a lot more specific and I've just been running off at the keyboard. If what you really wanted was just the name of a good, friendly, competent agent--email me back, I'll give you one. But, you should still do your homework, have your questions ready, know what qualities you are searching for, and be ready to say 'Thanks, but no thanks' if you are not completely comfortable with the person you are dealing with. Best of luck in your search.
Dave Lytle
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3. How long a cruise should I take?
         Cruises range in length from 2 days to many months. Your available time, budget and to some extent the destination will determine how long a cruise you will select. Many first time cruisers opt for a 3-4 day cruise to test their 'sea legs'. Several lines offer 3-4 day cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico.
         The average length cruise ranges from 7 to 14 days. Within this time frame you can cruise to the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, and many other exciting destinations.
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4. How much does a cruise cost?
        Cruise costs vary by cruise line, length of cruise, destination, time of year, and consumer demand. Don't forget to add the costs for getting to your port of embarkation, and for returning from your port of debarkation.
        Typical 'actual' pricing from mass-market cruise lines is approximately $100 (US) per person per day for an inside cabin, $150 (US) per person per day for an outside cabin, and $200 (US) per person per day for a balcony cabin. Suites can cost as much as $1,000 (US) per person per day. These prices assume double occupancy.
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5. How can I tell whether I'm getting a good deal?
        The 'rule of thumb' is 'never pay brochure price'. Ask travel agents what 'specials' they're offering. For example, cruise lines often find it difficult to fill ships cruising the Caribbean in the fall (hurricane season). Cruise lines will sometimes offer 2 for 1 pricing or similar discounts to increase occupancy levels. Similar deals can sometimes be found in early May and late September on Alaska cruises. Most cruise lines have alumni programs which provide special discounts to repeat customers. Travel Agencies which specialize in cruises can often provide 'group rates', and some will sacrifice a portion of their commission to attract your business. There is no substitute for 'shopping around' and 'doing your homework'.
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6. What is a guaranteed rate?
         When you book a cruise you can often select a cabin category (but not a specific cabin). You are then guaranteed to be assigned a cabin at or above the category you selected. The trick here is to pay for the least expensive category you will be comfortable in. By doing this, your cruise will not be ruined if you do not receive a category upgrade.
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7. What is price protection?
         Price Protection locks in the price of your cruise once you have placed a deposit. Most cruise lines also guarantee that should the price of your cabin category drop before the sailing date, you will be refunded the difference. Cruise lines do not assume responsibility for notifying you in the case of a price drop, and will not provide refunds unless requested to do so. After you've booked, check with your travel agent and/or visit the cruise line's web site occasionally.
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8. What about upgrades?
         Cruise lines want to fill their ships. Sales of certain cabin categories sometimes exceed the number of cabins in that category. When this occurs, cruise lines will often upgrade passengers with the longest bookings (in that particular category) to a more expensive category of cabin. Cruise lines entice customers to make early bookings by offering free upgrades, and repeat customers are often guaranteed an upgrade in reward for their loyalty.
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9. I'm single, do I really have to pay a supplement?
         Unfortunately the cruise industry does penalize the single traveler. The 'single supplement' is usually either 150% or 200% of the double-occupancy price. Newer cruise ships are configured without any single-occupancy cabins. Many cruise lines will offer you 'guarantee share'. Under a 'guarantee share', the cruise line will attempt to match you with a cabin mate of the same sex. You are charged the double-occupancy rate. If you are fortunate, you could either share a cabin with a wonderful new friend, or (if the cruise line was unable to find a compatible 'roomie') you could enjoy the luxury of single-occupancy at the double-occupancy rate. On the other hand, you could spend your vacation sharing a cabin with a person you'd rather not.
        A few older cruise ships offer a small number of single occupancy cabins. These are sold without a supplement.
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10. Which cruise line should I book with?
         Cruising is very subjective. The cruise experience varies between cruise lines, between ships belonging to the same cruise line but sailing different itineraries, and by the length of the cruise. Once you've got a handful of cruises under your belt, you'll know what suits you best. Inexperienced cruisers should consult one or more cruise specialists. These professionals are trained to match customers with cruise lines and sailings.
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11. Which is better, a new ship or an older one?
        Newer ships tend to offer all the latest conveniences and amenities (i.e. plumbing, air conditioning, and electrical gadgetry). They are modern and spacious. The cabin layouts and public rooms are normally large and well designed. Newer ships tend to be larger and carry more passengers. Health spas and sports activity areas are generally better equipped on newer vessels. Newer vessels also generally have a shallower draft, which allows them to dock (rather than tender) at ports of call. This can become a factor when you have only a short time in port because tendering can be quite time-coming.
         Older ships have the charm and grace of the era in which they were built. When well maintained their facilities are comparable to the newer mega-liners. Often these ships are smaller and more intimate, but others (Explorer of the Seas) can be very large. Older ships were designed to accommodate a 'class based' population. Cabins will vary greatly both in size and amenities. Be sure to select your cabin carefully on older vessels.
         Many of the smaller cruise lines include refurbished older vessels in their fleets.
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12. Which is better, a large ship or a small one?
         This is a matter of personal taste. Even the terms 'large' and 'small' can be quite subjective. Large ships generally offer more shops, bigger public rooms and many activities. They also carry more passengers. Intimacy is often sacrificed on the larger vessels.
         Your destination may also be a factor in selecting ship size. Some of the newer vessels can't fit through the Panama Canal and destinations that are less popular to the masses are often served by smaller ships.
         Smaller ships offer a more intimate cruise. Most of the modern 'luxury' vessels in the small ship category offer single seating dining, and all-suite cabins. Pools, public areas and facilities are scaled for the ship's size and capacity. Sometimes, when an older small ship is refurbished, additional passenger cabins are installed to increase profitability. These improvements don't usually include expansion of public areas to accommodate the increased passenger load. This can put a strain on the ship's facilities.
        Whether you're considering a large ship or a small ship, ask to see the 'passenger/space' ratio (PSR). A PSR of 40 will usually provide adequate 'personal space'.
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13. Is there any difference between cruise lines?
         Fielding's, Fodor's and Berlitz provide rating systems for cruise lines. CruiseTravel.com assigns each cruise line into one of the following categories: Contemporary, Premium, or Luxury. 
        In addition to these vertical classifications, Cruise line offerings also differ considerably within each classification.  Some lines specialize in party atmospheres, others cater to an older clientele, or families with small children. Even within the same cruise line, Itineraries often determine the 'ambience' aboard the ship. Contemporary and Premium cruise lines often dedicate particular sailings to a 'Theme'. Theme cruises are geared to accommodate a particular slice of the population, and are usually based on hobbies, pastimes, or professions.
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14. What is included in the price?
         The price of the cruise typically includes accommodation, all ship board meals and all ship board entertainment. In some cases, the price will also include airfare, port charges, and transfers to and from the ship.
         In most cases, cruise prices do not include drinks from the bars, specialty coffees, and soda. Prices also exclude the costs associated with gambling, beauty salons, spas, shopping, laundry service, photographs, shore excursions, medical visits, and tips.
         There are exceptions to these rules. Each cruise brochure will clearly state what is included in the price. If you have questions regarding what is/is not included in the price, ask your travel agent.
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15. What is an air/sea package?
         Air/sea packages include the price of the cruise,  round trip air transportation from a number of gateway cities, transfers to and from the ship, and luggage handling.
         Air/sea packages also will include hotel accommodation for passengers traveling long distances to and from the port of embarkation.
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16. How do I pick a cabin?
         This question brings to mind the old real estate slogan , location, location , location. Cabin layout varies from ship to ship. Newer ships have a more block layout with each cabin deck having two main passageways with cabins on either side. The majority of cabins are identical in amenities regardless of their location on the ship.
         One comment you will often here is 'Don't worry about the cabin, because you won't spend much time in it.' This may vary with the cruise and individual preference. In very warm climates the cabin air conditioning may offer some respite from the heat. If you like to get away for an afternoon of quiet reading or want to lounge in your p.j.s till noon you may want to book a larger cabin. If you want to party till you drop and just need a bed a small cabin may be your preference.
         Outside cabins are higher in price than inside. A general rule is the higher up in deck the higher price the cabin. Each ship offers a variety of levels of cabins, more expensive cabins may have more square footage, a balcony, mini fridge and bathtubs. When deciding on a cabin determine how much time you will spend there and if the additional cost features like a balcony are important to you. Is this a super special occasion? Do you want to pull out all the stops? Are you on a very limited budget? Once you have an idea which features you would like and your budget you can narrow your selection.
         The main choice is inside cabin vs. outside. Outside cabins offer a window and the benefit of knowing when its daylight. Inside cabins are usually identical to the outside cabin with a mirror or curtains where the window would be. Inside cabins are less expensive and offer the same facilities and cabin service as outside cabins but make some folks claustrophobic. On newer ships (as an estimate, built after 1980), inside and outside cabins tend to be similarly sized. However, on converted ocean liners the outside cabins are almost always larger.
         Cabins at the bow or aft ship are sometimes also less expensive due to space limitations imposed by the ships structure. On the other hand you may be lucky and benefit from the curve of the ship and get a little larger, sort of pie shaped cabin in this area. Check the deck plan in the brochure it will give you a limited idea of how the ship builders handled this. Another disadvantage to bow and aft cabins can be noise, either from the ships anchors (bow) or engines (aft).
         If you fear sea sickness book a cabin that is nearest amidships, the center of the ship has less pitch, (its a matter of physics). The ships medical center is almost always located where the ship is most stable.
         Check the location of the jogging deck, dining room disco and the ships public rooms. Today's ships are pretty well sound proofed but if you are a light sleeper you may want to avoid cabins directly below or above public areas and below the promenade. Stairs are another consideration, ships are equipped with elevators, but they are small and not always convenient. If you have trouble negotiating steps you may want to book a cabin nearer the public rooms. Cabins with bathtubs may pose problems for people who find getting in and out of them difficult.
         In addition check the bed arrangements of the cabin you are considering. The majority of cabins have twin beds, although the newer ships now allow these to be pushed together to form a 'queen'. If a double bed is important make sure you request a cabin with one.

Cabin Selection on a Cruise Ship:

        Cruising has become a wonderful adventure for many folks, including my family. We've now taken several cruises in the Caribbean, South America and Alaska, and I would like to share my thoughts about cabin selection. These are based on my own experience and the experiences of the more seasoned cruisers would certainly have more merit. However, I have not read any reports or recommendations along these lines, so I hope the more seasoned cruisers will forgive and correct me if I err.
         On virtually all of the cruise lines I've read about, the passengers have equal access to all ships services and facilities- with the exception of the Cunard Lines. There, passengers have different dining areas that are a function of the class of service booked. To the more frugal passenger, this means that the least expensive cabin on most ships sailing out of US ports, share the same meals and service with the most expensive.
         My wife and I have now tried everything from an 'inside standard' cabin on one ship to a huge outside cabin on others. We have decided that since we merely use our cabin to meet up with each other and for sleeping, that the least expensive cabin fills our needs just fine. The outside cabins on many ships DO have a porthole or window, but it is usually so small and encrusted with salt or paint that it is merely a source of light in the cabin. The porthole's height prevents using it while seated, and there is usually a bed or nightstand under it, preventing comfortable viewing anyway. We prefer now to select an inside cabin to save the difference in price.
         Lacking visual cues for daylight/night, we have an illuminated travel alarm clock which helps to remind us of the time. Some folks bring a plug-in nightlight as well. However, Vicki and I have found that leaving the bathroom light on with the door closed still permits a little light to peek through the cracks and give a sense of direction when getting up.
         We have also seen enough ship floor plans and have been in enough cabins to feel that there is little justification for upgrading from the most basic cabin. This might be invalidated for folks taking cruises longer than our typical 7-10 day ventures, or for cruisers who prefer LOTS of clothing. We typically travel with two garment bags containing dress clothing and two soft suitcases with personal items and folded clothing. These store very nicely under the beds and we've seen other passengers with luggage 'overflow,' store the overflow in the steward's locker.
         My good wife has MS and needs an electric scooter for long distances. On Almost every cruise ship we've been on, the scooters are kept in the hallway OUTSIDE the cabin, so upgrading to a larger cabin for the scooter or wheelchair is not necessary.

When selecting the LOCATION of the cabin, there are several things to consider:

        Comfort - ships at sea experience four motions: Roll, Pitch, Yaw and Acceleration. The location of a cabin aboard the ship can influence your cruising comfort- particularly at night. Imagine yourself on a grade school teeter totter. The persons at the ends of the teeter totter move vertically, while a child sitting at the fulcrum (balancing point) sways from side to side. Roll, Pitch and Yaw aboard a ship are very similar and the HEIGHT/draft of the cabin and its FORE-AFT location warrant discussion.
         Yaw - this is the turning motion of a ship as it executes a change in direction. For the purposes of a cruise liner, this might not appear to be much of a factor in cabin selection, since course changes are usually minor and infrequent. However, a cruise line really doesn't go in a straight line! As the bow crests waves, the bow tends to slide 'downhill' a bit, with the ship then correcting to maintain its course. The effect is a side-to-side swaying motion that is more apparent in the bow and stern sections than amidships.
         Roll - a ship at sea will roll from side to side with wave action. Modern cruise ships are 'stabilized' by wings that project into the water from the sides of the ship and attempt to counteract the tendency of the ship to roll somewhat. However, there is still a motion around an imaginary 'fulcrum' in the ship. By taking on seawater as ballast, the skipper can lower this point somewhat. Cabins located in the lower parts of the ship experience more of the actual rolling motion, while cabins on the uppermost decks experience more of a side-to-side motion, as in the teeter totter example. Ships with the deeper draft are usually more stable in roll than those with a shallower draft.
         Pitch - this is the ascent and descent of the ship's bow and stern as it passes over waves in the direction of travel. As in Roll, the ship revolves about a central point toward the middle of the ship. Passengers toward the front or rear of the ship experience Pitch as an up and down motion, while passengers toward the center of the ship experience it as a fore-aft rolling motion. Since Pitch isn't cancelled by stabilizers, but merely controlled by the ships direction and speed, pitch can be more annoying than Roll to the more squeamish passenger, or passenger with a mobility problem, since the affected areas are like riding in an elevator that continually starts and stops. Longer ships tend to pitch less than shorter ones.
         Acceleration/Deceleration (A/D) aren't first and foremost on most ship passenger minds, since ships are huge and don't exactly speed up and stop like a Porsche. However, wave action DOES cause changes in speed as the bow enters a wave or the ship accelerates down the side of a wave. Within reason, A/D effects all cabins equally. Likewise, folks in the bow or stern sections perceive pitching as vertical acceleration (as in an elevator).
         The combined effects of roll and pitch contribute to both seasickness and the ability to get a good nights sleep aboard a ship. Unfortunately, they are generally exclusive of each other. A cabin located low (Roll) and in the center (Pitch) of the ship experiences the ships roll and pitch as a twisting motion from side-to-side and fore-aft, where a cabin located high and either to the front of back of the boat as a side-to-side (Roll) motion and a lifting/falling motion (Pitch). In a rough sea, the addition of acceleration-deceleration's fore-aft motion can make even a large ship mimic a circus ride.
         Neither my wife nor I have experienced motion sickness, so we usually opt for an inside cabin near the center of the ship to reduce the more uncomfortable disturbances to sleep caused by the wave forces acting on the ship. The rolling seems to be more easily handled by my wife with her mobility problem as well.
         Those passengers we've met with seasickness almost universally 'recover' in time for the first or second dinner aboard. The cabin stewards and front desk personnel pass out patches or pills that work wonders for almost everyone. 'Take two pills with water and sleep until the afternoon,' is universal advice from all ships personnel to a seasick traveler. For most people, seasickness isn't more than a minor annoyance that passes quickly.
         One other consideration in selecting a cabin for older cruisers or those with mobility problems, is where the attractions might be. The decks of some ships are 700 feet or longer. This means that a walk from a cabin in the front of a ship to a dining room toward the rear could be almost a QUARTER OF A MILE round trip. Since exercise is frequently welcomed by healthy people while cruising, the distances could be considered as an advantage to many folks, but a hurdle to the handicapped or incapacitated.
         Inspecting the floor plan of a ship and locating the main dining room, buffet area and show area can guide a handicapped traveler to a cabin that is VERTICALLY separated from the action, but accessible by elevator. If a floor plan is not available, a central location should be considered as a choice by default. On one cruise, our cabin was on the deck just below the floorshow. We had the first sitting for dinner and by the time we retired to the cabin following the floorshow and a drink or two in the lounge, the second sitting floorshow was underway. The rhythmic tapping of the dancers (the show was over long before we slept) was actually pleasant as we attempted to correlate the muted sounds to the show we'd just enjoyed!
         The beauty parlor aboard the ship is usually not a pleasant neighbor, either. The beauty parlor is a terrible generator of bad odors, due to permanents and the artificial fingernails and nail polish. Many are well ventilated to the outside, but some can generate some pretty foul odors.
         Noise can be a factor in selection as well. Generally, noise travels vertically more in a ship than horizontally. Because of this you should be cautious of what might be above or below you, should you desire to sleep late or to go to bed early.
         In summary, the selection of WHERE the cabin is located seems more important to us than its size or whether its an inside or outside cabin. There is no need to try remembering the forces acting on a ship at sea when selecting a cabin as long as you remember that the closer the cabin is to the low center of the ship, the more gentle the ride and accessible the dining/show areas. Just remember that if you're prone to seasickness, a high and fore or aft cabin might be better.
Tom Gauldin
Nevada
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17. Is the ship handicapped-accessible?
         Most modern ships are fully accessible to people with physical handicaps. A number of cabins are designed specifically for wheel chairs. This is not always the case on older ships. Ask your travel agent to confirm accessibility before you book. Wheel chair accessible cabins are often highlighted in brochures.
         Holland America Line will allow service animals aboard their ships if the cruise line is notified at the time you book your cruise.
         Shore excursions and tendering may not be suitable for guests with physical infirmities. It is recommended that you reconfirm any special arrangements (made at the time of booking) a few weeks in advance of sailing.
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18. What should I pack?
         The 'tongue in cheek' rule of thumb is a) estimate your wardrobe requirements b) estimate your spending c) halve the amount of clothing d) double the amount of money.
         What you pack will depend on the cruise line, the destination, and the time of year. During the day, cruisers tend to wear casual clothing. If your cruise is to a warm weather destination include swim wear and beach cover-ups. Evening wear varies from casual to formal. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes for shore excursions. A light sweater or jacket may be useful for cool evenings. Warm coats, rainwear, and gloves may be needed on cooler, wetter itineraries. In port, some churches and cathedrals often enforce a dress code.
         Pack valuables, prescription medication, breakable items, and personal documents in your carry-on luggage. Your cruise brochure will provide tips on what type of clothing you'll need. 
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19. Can I really eat 12 times a day?
         Yes you can! Cruise ships are (deservedly) famous for their food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the formal dining room. Breakfast and lunch buffets by the pool. Tea in the afternoon, midnight buffets and room service. Food available 24 hours a day on most ships. Food catered via room service is included in the fare, but it is customary to tip the delivery person. Room service menus are usually limited in selection.
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20. What about special diets?
         Inform your travel agent when you book. Most cruise lines accommodate special diets. In addition, standard menus generally include vegetarian and 'healthy heart' choices. To best ensure that any special dietary requirements will be met is to these requirements known at the time of booking, and to reconfirm the requirements when you receive your cruise documents (approximately 2-4 weeks prior to sailing).
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21. What about the kids?
         Most cruise lines cater to families with small children. Some cruise lines specialize in this passenger mix. Kid's menus and portions will be available in the dining room. Cruise lines also offer special kids entertainment programs (like day camp). Pizza, pasta, burgers, hot dogs, and fries are usually available throughout the ship.
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22. Do I really have to dress for dinner?
         Of all the things about cruising, the 'suggested' dress code has got to be one of the most controversial. The dress code on a ship varies from line to line as well. Some lines are more formal than others.
         The cruise brochure should list the dress code for the ship. Generally during the day shorts and casual resort wear are typical. It is considered polite for women to wear a cover up over their swim suits and men to wear a shirt when inside. Shoes and shirts are required in the dining room for breakfast and lunch.
         The evening dress code varies each night. On a 7 night cruise there are normally 3 casual, 2 informal and 2 formal nights. Just what this means depends on the formality of the cruise line. In general, casual means slacks and no tie for the men and slacks or skirts for women. Informal nights are sport coats for men , skirts or slacks for the women. Formal nights can be very dressy, dark suits or tuxes for men, cocktail or evening wear for women. Some folks go all out, other people wear normal business attire on the formal nights.
         A new attraction on many cruise lines is 'optional dining'. On Princess the lido is open 24 hours and you can eat 'bistro style' from 4:30PM to 4:30AM, casual dress. On Carnival, a casual diner is served between the hours of 6PM to 9:30PM on the Lido, and there is a 24 hour pizzeria. These options give the passengers more flexibility in the times they eat and in the 'dress code'.
        From time to time the question arises about formal dining on cruise ships. In the discussion there is always a fundamental point, that in my experience, has been overlooked. It may come as a surprise to many, but dining (as opposed to eating) like sex, is a very sensual experience! And like sex it should be approached slowly, and with grace and style. Every step and every course being tasted, savored and enjoyed; rolled 'round the palate as it were. And as with sex, it should be done elegantly and with panache. During sexual activity on the one hand, undressing is fundamental to the overall true and deep enjoyment of the experience. In the case of dining (as opposed to eating) on the other hand, dressing is fundamental to the overall true and deep enjoyment of that experience. One should not, for example, wear a hat when dining (I have seen those who do, obviously they haven't figured it out yet!) any more than one would wear a hat when enjoying sex. (Unless grabbing just a quick snack!) Nor should one wear a t-shirt and shorts when embarking upon that most sensual sexual experience. Likewise one doesn't wear shorts and a t-shirt when enjoying that other most sensual dining (as opposed to eating) experience. In short, it is simply a case of being appropriately dressed (or undressed) to enjoy , enrich and enhance the sensual experience which one is embarking upon. It is as simple as that, one might almost say, like the natural order of things. It has nothing whatsoever to do for example with the myth, as some would have it, that it is somehow related to whose vacation it is or who is paying the freight! Something you'll see here often, don't believe it, it is deeper than that, approaching the spiritual. No mystery here.
         I trust this will clear up this, what appears to be, vexing question for those who ponder about this from time to time.
         I offer this bit of revelation and enlightenment for possible inclusion in the FAQ for the Newsgroup so that other questioning souls may know.
Donald Blakely

Further it is now possible to pre rent formal wear on most cruise lines. Check your cruise line website or brochure for more information and cost.
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23. Can I get room service?
        Yes. Most (if not all) cruise lines provide room service at no additional charge (excluding tips). Selection is often very limited on room service menus.
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24. Can we celebrate a special occasion?
         If possible, inform your travel agent of any special arrangements you'd like to organize at the time of your booking. Otherwise, contact the maitre' d onboard the ship. He/she will do their best to accommodate you. Whilst certain specialties are free (e.g. birthday cakes), others will incur additional charges .
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25. Where can I smoke on the ship?
         More and more cruise ships are instituting no-smoking policies in public areas. Dining rooms and show lounges are now mostly smoke free.  Most bars and decks have segregated smoking /non-smoking areas. People are asked to refrain from smoking in corridors, stair cases, and in elevators. Cigar and pipe smoking is more restricted than cigarette smoking. With the exception of cigar lounges, where cigar and pipe aficionados can congregate after dinner, most cruise ships require these smokers to participate on open decks. Most cruise lines have no smoking restrictions in cabins.
        Oceania cruise line is very limited in allowing smoking. 
        The exceptions to all is smoking is not allowed in the dining room. Some ships have separate smoking lounges for cigar and pipe smokers. Make inquiries before you commit to a cruise line or a particular ship.
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26. Should I opt for early or late seating?
         Unless you are on a ship with single or open seating dining, you'll have to opt for eating at the early or late seating. Late seating is best suited for people who prefer late nights and late breakfasts. Early seating is more accommodating for children. The same menus apply to both seatings.
         Some cruise lines discourage families with small children from attending late seating. Disadvantages to early seating include dressing for dinner at the time the ship is leaving port, and rushing to actually get to the dining room when returning from a late tour. Alternately, the late seating (8:30 usually) dinner is often too late for many people. Late seating guests often don't start their 'evening' activities until 10:00. 
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27. Should I choose a cruise with single seating?
         'Luxury' class ships, and more and more ships in the Contemporary and Premium classes are offering single seating as a perquisite. With single seating, you are still assigned a table, but have a multi-hour period in which to eat. Single seating is particularly attractive if you're on a cruise with many ports of call (such as Europe) or where shore excursions return late -- you won't miss a meal or have to make special arrangements. The single seating does have the disadvantage that your tablemates may arrive at odd times during your meal, disrupting the flow of service and conversation at your table. Depending on the line, a single seating dining room may be more crowded and hectic.
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28. What can I do if I don't like my tablemates?
         If you are truly unhappy with your dining companions speak to the maitre' d. Explain that you are incompatible with your table mates and would like a change. He will be happy to discretely accommodate a change in table for you if at all possible. If the ship is at capacity this might mean being flexible enough to change dinner seating or table size. The cruise line wants you to be happy. Don't hesitate to ask if something is bothering you.
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29. Do I have to sit with strangers?
        One of the nicest things about cruising can be your fellow cruisers. We're a great bunch ! Some people keep in touch years after they meet on a cruise. You may find your dinner companions to be one of the highlights of your trip. Most ships offer a variety of table sizes, usually between 2 to 10. When you fill out your dining request form, you request a table size as well. Due to space and personnel limitations in the dining room not everyone can have a table for two, but the cruise line tries to accommodate each request.
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30. How do I set up a ship-board account?
         Cruise lines use a 'cashless' system aboard the ships. No cash is exchanged anywhere on the ship with the exception of the casinos and tips. The charge cards used for all purchases are secured by either a valid credit card or by a cash deposit made at the purser's desk. Once your account is established you simply sign for all your on board purchases. This is very convenient, but don't forget, those are real dollars you're spending. Keep your receipts too. This will enable you to validate the charge card statement at the end of your cruise.
         On the last evening of your cruise a statement (detailing all purchases) will be left in your cabin . Most lines have express check-out. If you leave a credit card imprint, and there are no discrepancies on your statement, you simply walk off the ship. The cruise charges will be applied to the credit card. If you prefer to settle in cash, or you dispute any charges, you will need to visit the pursers office before debarkation.
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31. Are drinks 'free'?
         Although Silver Seas cruise line (and other luxury cruise lines perhaps) includes all drinks in the cruise price, most cruise lines do not. Free drinks are usually served only at the Captain's Cocktail Party and on special occasions (i.e. Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, Repeaters parties).
         Some cruise lines provide free soda in the dining room if it is served by your waiter. Ask before ordering. Tea, coffee, milk, fruit juice, lemonade, and ice tea are usually free at every meal, and are also available via room service.
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32. What about the shops?
         Items like film, suntan lotion, aspirin etc. are available at the ships sundry shop. Most of the large ships also have a number of duty free shops with items ranging from jewelry to souvenirs. Shop purchases must be applied to your shipboard charge card.
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33. What about photographs?
         At times, ship photographers appear to be more abundant than bar staff. Throughout your cruise, you can expect to be asked to pose for a ship's photographer on many occasions. You can also have official portraits taken. Formal Nights provide an opportunity to have the Captain pose with you. The ship's photographer will be capturing your image during all the 'big' events. Although expensive to buy (typically between $5 and $15 each), a sampling of these photos can make great mementos of your cruise. especially because one member of your party doesn't have to be behind the camera. You are under no obligation to buy any of the photos taken by ship's personnel. The ship processes it's own photographs, and prints are usually on display within 24 hours.
        One can now have their digital photo's copied to a disc on board for a small charge. You are also able to get your digital photos made into prints through a self service kiosk that is charged to your shipboard account.
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34. Can I have laundry done?
         Cruise ships do offer laundry service to passengers. This service is similar to those provided by mainland hotels. Laundry collected on the morning of day 2 will be cleaned, pressed, and returned the following day. Express service is often available for an additional surcharge. Not all ships provide a dry cleaning service. The brochure will inform you. Your cabin steward will provide with laundry bags and a price list. Laundry charges are added to your shipboard account.
         Holland America and Princess are among a number of cruise lines that provide self service laundry facilities on board their ships. There is usually a small charge for the machines and detergent. Costs vary between different cruise lines.
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35. What about phone calls? Can I phone home?
         Each cabin is equipped with a telephone. Within the confines of the ship, the phones work like those in land-based hotels. Room service and housekeeping are a push button away. You can direct-dial other cabins and arrange an 'alarm' call. Calls dialed to the mainland are can be expensive. Don't be surprised to see costs of $10-15 per minute quoted for this service. Phone calls to the mainland are connected via satellite.  Another option is to take your cellular/digital phone. However, you can expect to pay considerable roaming charges. Most cruise lines are now installing towers on their ships so people can use their cell/mobile phones at sea. Remember the cruise line will take it's cut thus charges will be more expensive than land based roaming. 
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36. What are port taxes?
         Supposedly, port taxes (or fees) are charged to cover the outlay incurred by the cruise line at each of the ports of call. Several law suits determined that cruise lines also use port taxes to increase profit margin. At the time of writing (March 2001), the issue of port taxes remains clouded.
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37. Should I purchase the travel insurance?
        Not surprisingly, most people never develop a serious medical condition between booking a cruise and returning home following their vacation. That said, a cruise does represent a considerable outlay, and many people enjoy knowing that they have full medical coverage. Travel insurance generally covers you against cancellation due to a medical condition, or costs associated with a medical condition that originates during the vacation.
        Exclusion clauses for pre-existing conditions must be scrutinized. Ceiling limits might also apply to the insurance cover. Read the fine print carefully. This is one area where doing your homework is essential. Ask your state Insurance Commissioner's office to review the policy. Insurance companies must be licensed in every state in which they do business. If you purchase a cruise from an out-of-state travel agent, the insurance company they recommend may not be licensed to do business in your state. For more information, call the National Association of Insurance Commissioners at (816) 842-3600.
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38. What isn't included?
         In most cases, cruise prices do not include drinks from the bars, specialty coffees, and soda. Prices also exclude the costs associated with gambling, beauty salons, spas, shopping, laundry service, photographs, shore excursions, medical visits, and tips.
         There are exceptions to these rules. Each cruise brochure will clearly state what is included in the price. If you have questions regarding what is/is not included in the price, ask your travel agent.
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39. Will I get bored, what's there to do?
         There are always many activities on board a cruise ship. It is hard to imagine anyone being bored. Activities are optional, so you can choose to do as little or as much as you want. Each evening your cabin steward will deliver a newsletter to your cabin. The newsletter details the next days activities, their starting time, duration, and location. The newsletter will inform you of the recommended dress code for the following evening, and often provide information pertaining to the next port of call.
         Activities vary from ship to ship but usually include aerobic classes, shuffleboard, table tennis, bingo, fitness centers, spas, art auctions, and activities organized by the cruise director and staff. Organized activities may include such things as napkin folding, trivia contests, and wine tasting. Most ships have small libraries and a games room. Games include board and card games. Many ships have movie theaters too. Of course, many people who cruise, spend their time onboard ship specializing in the art of doing nothing!
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40. Can I work out?
         The answer is most definitely 'Yes'. From jogging the deck, to aerobics classes, to fully equipped gymnasiums, today's ships are following the fitness craze. Many cruise line offer programs for taking part in fitness activities that reward participants with souvenirs. Health spas offer beauty treatments, massages, saunas, and whirl-pools.
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41. What are the evening shows like?
         The standard of evening entertainment varies between cruise lines, and might be a factor you consider when booking your trip. Most lines provide Las Vegas or Broadway style entertainment with singing and dancing. Ventriloquists, comedians and magicians are common entertainers on ships. Theme cruises will probably be more specialized regarding evening entertainment. At one point during the trip the cruise director and staff will probably put on a show of their own, and you might catch a rendition of the famous (or infamous) 'If I were not upon the sea' skit.
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42. Is there anything else to do at night?
         Dancing is always popular. Ships offer a variety of music throughout different lounges and bars. There is normally a disco. The casino is always a crowd-puller. Karaoke, passenger talent contests, piano bars, and movies also join the mix. Quiet strolls under the stars are nice too.
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43. Are cruise lines 'kid friendly'?
         Almost all mass-market cruise lines offer children's programs, children's play centers, and children's menus . Some cruise lines (e.g. Disney) specialize in families cruising with small children. Your travel agent will be a good source of advice in this area.
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44. Will there be other kids on board?
         The number of children on board any given ship will depend on the time of year, the length of cruise, and the itinerary. Shorter cruises (7 days or less), on warm sunny itineraries, during scheduled school vacations, will provide the highest population of kids. 
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45. My kids are age x and y, are they old enough to cruise?
         Children of all ages cruise, but some Luxury cruise lines will not accept children under the age of two. The minimum age that a child can participate in children's activities varies by cruise line. 
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46. Can I get a baby-sitter?
         The ship will provide a sitter. The cost varies by cruise line. Inquire at the purser's desk. The number of available sitters is limited, so try to make arrangements as far in advance as you can.
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47. What type of activities are there for the kids?
         Children's activities are normally split by age group. Younger children (ages 4 thru 9), pre-teens (ages 10 thru 12) and teens (ages 13 thru 17). Each group normally has its own counselor's and for the most part they enjoy separate activities. The older kids usually have there own lounges with video games, dance floor and music. The little ones are kept busy with scavenger hunts, talent shows, painting, bingo, story telling, and movies. Boredom is rarely a problem. Chances are, once they've met their new friends, you won't see the kids between meals!
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48. What is there to do in port?
         Most cruise lines offer an assortment of tours in every port. These tours range from the sedate (a coach tour) to the adventurous (helicopter flights, canoeing, hiking).
         If you don't want a formalized tour you can hire a taxi or rent a car and strike out on your own. Golf, tennis, wind surfing, SCUBA, snorkeling and all sorts of recreational activities are available in many ports of call. Shopping is always popular. 
         If you intend to tour independently, do some research before leaving home. The cruise staff information is generally limited to the tours provided by the cruise line. Allow plenty of time to return to the ship. The ship will not delay its departure for passengers 'doing their own thing'.
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49. How expensive are the tours?
         Tour prices vary from inexpensive (approx. $20 US/person) to exorbitant (greater than $400 US/person). Savings can often be achieved by arranging tours privately, but you must decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks. The primary risk involves missing the ship's scheduled departure time. The captain will delay the ship's departure to accommodate people on one of the cruise line's tours. This is not the case when passengers are late 'doing their own thing'.
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50. Do I have to take a tour to get off the ship?
         With the exception of some portions of the former Soviet Union, you are free to explore ports on your own. Taxis and rental cars are generally available at each port. Remember that the ship will sail regardless of whether you're on board. Allow plenty of time for unexpected delays if you decide to explore on your own.
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51. Do I need a passport?
         As of January 8th 2007 one will need a passport to travel to/from the USA.  A passport  provides you both with identification and proof of citizenship. U.S. Passports are easily obtainable and are valid for 10 years. It takes approximately 8 weeks to obtain a US passport.
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52. Will I get seasick?
         If you don't suffer from motion sickness on land, the chances are you won't be seasick. Today's ships are equipped with stabilizers that take much of the motion out of sea travel. Large ships are less susceptible to wave motion. If you are concerned about seasickness, book a cabin amidships on a large vessel. This location will provide the least movement. The itinerary might also play a part in the amount of motion you'll encounter. Unless you're crossing the North Atlantic in mid-winter, the seas will probably be relatively calm.
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53. What about sea-sickness prevention?
         Seasickness is generally attributed to miscommunication between your eyes, your inner ear, and your brain. Your inner ear tells your brain that your body is swaying. Your eyes tell your brain that your body is perfectly still. Your brain becomes very confused. 
         The most likely places to develop seasickness are windowless areas in the ship's interior. Examples are inside cabins, the casino, the movie theater, and the show lounge. If you do feel seasick, try the simplest cure first. Go out on deck and get some fresh air. Eat a few crackers (something in your stomach will help).  Focus your eyes on distant objects (or the horizon). This exercise will help to coordinate the messages from both ears and eyes. 
         If you've tried the above and you still don't feel well, try one of the following:
a.    'Over the counter' remedies for motion sickness include Bonnie and Dramamine. Both are available without prescription. Its a good idea to pack one of these medications in your luggage, but the purser's office will have a supply available to passengers. Avoid alcohol when taking these medications.
b.    Acupressure wrist bands. These bands are available at pharmacies and ships. They are not very expensive. Some people are skeptical of their effectiveness, others swear by them.
c.    Ginger is often used to remedy seasickness, and it seems to have a soothing effect on the stomach.          If all the above has failed to ease the discomfort, and you are totally miserable, go to see the ship's doctor. He will probably give you Promethezine. Although Promethezine is very effective, it does have a tendency to cause severe drowsiness. On the other hand, if you're feeling terrible, sleep is usually the preferred state. The charge to see the ship's doctor will be added to your shipboard account.
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54. What about medical emergencies?
         All ships carrying more than 12 persons are required to have a Doctor on board. The ship will have a small infirmary for non-serious ailments. In the case of emergency dial the emergency number listed on the cabin telephone. Air lift service to the nearest medical facility will be arranged if necessary. Check with your medical insurance for coverage limits outside your country of origin.
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55. Can I cruise with a pre-existing medical condition?
         Check with the cruise line and your travel agent when you book. Arrangements for oxygen use and dialysis can often be made. With advance notice and a doctor's release you may travel with many conditions. Remember to bring adequate quantities of any prescription medication you need, and always pack your medication in your carry on luggage. Most lines will require you to have a travel companion. Make sure you check with the line again a few weeks prior to your cruise date to ensure proper arrangements have been made.
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56. What about safety?
         Safety is similar to any large hotel or resort. The ship has a security staff. Report any incidents to the purser's office. Most new ships have small safes in the cabins, and  safe-deposit boxes are usually available at the purser's office. It's a good idea to keep spare cash, jewelry, and your documents in the safe. Make photocopies of passports and credit cards (and keep them separate from the originals) in case of theft.
         On shore, take the same precautions you would in any large city. Keep jewelry to a minimum and only carry the amount of cash needed for the day. Make sure to carry your boarding pass, a credit card and some form of identification when in port. In the event that you miss the ship you wouldn't want to be stranded in a foreign port. Its a good idea to take a couple of different credit cards when traveling, storing one in the safety deposit box. If one of your cards is lost or stolen you'll have a back up.
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57. Do I have to tip?
         This question ranks right up there with good deals, dress codes and does the ship get a piece of the shore excursion money. Everyone has an opinion on tipping and most of them are pretty passionate about it! 
         First the exceptions, Silver Seas sails under a no tipping allowed policy. Any staff member found taking a tip is putting their job in jeopardy.
         The vast majority of cruise lines do allow tipping and it is expected by the staff. You should allow for tipping when budgeting money for your cruise vacation. Waiters, stewards, bar staff, and dining room staff count on tips as part of their pay. Reports are that the hotel and dining room staff on the ships are paid very low wages, especially in light of the long hours they work.
         Tipping is very subjective. It should be dependent of the level of service you have received. If you don't think the service you received from an individual warrants a tip, then don't tip!
        If service is not meeting your expectations, confront the individual (or his immediate superior)  immediately. If the matter isn't resolved to your satisfaction, escalate the problem up the chain of command. If you reach the captain and you still aren't happy, you are either extremely hard to please or this ship shouldn't be sailing! The cruise line wants your repeat business. They want you to be happy.
         Service is generally so wonderful that you will want to extend a gratuity to the people who have made your cruise so special. Many lines now add a 15% surcharge to all bar service bills. Unless the bar staff has treated you extremely well there is no need to add an additional gratuity.
         Most cruise lines now add a automatic amount to your ship board account. You can adjust this amount if needed up or down by visiting the Front Office.
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58. Who do I tip, how much, and when?
         Most cruise lines provide 'guidelines' regarding tipping. Your waiter, assistant waiter,  head waiter, cabin steward, and head cabin steward typically receive tips. The 'recommended' amounts for your waiter and cabin steward are $3.50 per person per day. The 'recommended amount for your assistant waiter is $2.00 per person per day. The 'recommended' amount for head waiters and head cabin stewards is a flat rate of $5.00 per person per week. remember, these are guidelines for 'acceptable' service. If you feel the service from an individual exceeded expectation, you might want to tip above the guideline. Similarly, if you felt that an individual failed to provide acceptable service, lower the tip (or don't tip) accordingly. 
        Some cruise lines have a policy of only half the amount for kids in the cabin. Please check with the cruise line.
        Tips are normally extended on the last evening of 7-14 day cruises. On longer cruises gratuities are given throughout the cruise (every 10-12 days). Tips for beauty treatments and services are extended at the time of service. Tip the croupier when leaving the casino table.

Here is breakdown of the major cruise lines as of Sept 2006:

- Carnival Cruises 
   -adds $10.00 per day per guest to your shipboard account
   -Guests under 2 do not have to pay tips.
- Celebrity Cruises
  
Adults
  -Waiter: $3.50 p/day
   -Assistant Waiter: $2.00 p/day
   -Butler (suites only): $3.50 p/day
   -Assistant Maitre'd: $0.75 p/day
   -Stateroom Service: $3.50 p/day
   -Stateroom Service (Concierge Class): $4.00
   -Assistant Chief Housekeeper: .75 p/day
  Children
   -Waiter: $1.75 p/day
   -Assistant Waiter: 1.00 p/day
   -Butler (suites only): $1.75 p/day
   -Assistant Maitre'd: $0.38 p/day
   -Stateroom Service: $1.75 p/day
   -Stateroom Service (Concierge Class): $2.00
   -Assistant Chief Housekeeper: .38 p/day
- Holland America 
  - adds $10.00 per day per guest to your shipboard account
- NCL
   - A fixed service charge of $10 per person, per day will be added to your onboard account. 
   - For children ages 3-12, a $5 per person per day charge will be added to your onboard account. 
- Princess Cruises
  - adds $10.00 per day per guest to your shipboard account including children
  - there is no charge for children under the age of three.
- Royal Caribbean
   -Suite attendant  - $5.75 a day per guest
   -Stateroom attendant - $3.50 a day per guest
   -Dining Room Waiter - $3.50 a day per guest
   -Assistant Waiter - $2.00 a day per guest
   -Headwaiter - $.75 a day per guest
   -Note: These gratuities apply to guests of all ages
   -Either paid in cash at the end of the cruise or via your shipboard account.

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59. What type of gambling is offered by the ship?
        Many cruise ships have casinos on board. Games vary with the line and the size of the vessel. Most offer slots and Blackjack. Other table games may include Caribbean Stud Poker, Roulette and Craps. Table minimums are established by the cruise line. Casinos are closed while the ship is in port. Other types of gambling include snowball Bingo, 'horse' racing, and mileage pools. Cash is used for gambling and any cash advances will be charged either to your shipboard account or to a credit card.

The following synopsis of shipboard gambling was provided by Teri Tracey:
        The casinos are open most evenings and afternoons. Gambling is legal once you're in international waters (as little as three miles offshore). most casinos are smallish and can get VERY crowded.
        Typically you will find: 25 cent and dollar slots, blackjack, poker, Caribbean stud poker, roulette, and quarter-eaters (mechanical game where levers push piles of quarters towards a drop-off; it appears that if you are able to land a quarter at the right spot, dozens of quarters should be pushed over the side, which in actuality never happens).
        Table limits tend to be high, although roulette can be cheap. The Caribbean stud poker table I played was $5 minimum (and with the 2x needed to back up your hand, it's $15 a hand).
        Slots in Vegas are often advertised as '98% payback.' There is no such advertising on cruise slot machines. I have had very little luck on the slots, and I usually can make money on Vegas slots. Definitely do not expect them to pay out like they do in Vegas.
        This is one of the few places on board ship that deals in cash. RCI casinos let you charge cash to your onboard credit card -very convenient.

Some basic rules of gambling:
(1) No one gets rich gambling, NO ONE. Don't fool yourself. Always assume you will eventually lose what you wager.
(2) Decide how much you are willing to lose and STICK TO IT.
(3) Some advocate taking your jackpots/winnings and putting them in your pocket and not re-gambling them, so that at least you are left with something after you work your way through your bankroll.
(4) Enjoy! learn a new game. The dealers will be much nicer to you than they will be in Vegas. There is much less pressure at the tables.
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60. Is it possible to book passage on a freighter?
        Although the number of freighters carrying passengers has been greatly reduced since the advent of 'container' ships, there are still a few in operation. The following references may be helpful in trying to book passage on a freighter.
        
Ford's Freighter Travel Guide
published twice a year, includes ships and their routes, trip preparation and travel agents who specialize in freighter passenger business.
19448 Londelius St.,
Northridge, CA. 91324 (818) 701-7414

Freighter World Cruises Inc.
Send $29 (US funds) for the first year's subscription for delivery to the U.S., Canada or Mexico, and $40 (US funds) for delivery via international air mail. As a special bonus offer, when you book your next freighter cruise directly with Freighter World Cruises, you will receive a $50 credit toward the cruise fare.

Freighter World Cruises
180 South Lake Avenue, #340
Pasadena, CA 91101-2655
1-800-531-777

Maris Freighter Cruise Lines
Published monthly, Maris Freighter Cruises' 16-page magazine (5.75" x 8.50") also features news, schedules and firsthand stories with details on specific voyages. $36.00 yearly
Maris USA
1320 Route 9
Champlain, NY 12919, USA

(For USA mail)

Maris Int'l
2700 Rufus Rockhead 313
Montreal, QC H3J 2Z7, Canada
(For Canadian & Int'l mail)

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61. Do I qualify for the Carnival Corporation 'Shareholders On-Board Credit'?

This is valid till July 31 2009 and all bookings must be made prior to February 28 200
9

Carnival is extending a special on board credit to Carnival Corporation Shareholders who received the package for the Annual Shareholders Meeting. The details are as follows:                                                       
$50 on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 6 days or less        
$100 on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 7 - 13 days           
$250 on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 14 days or longer 

On United Kingdom Brands as follows:
£25   on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 6 days or less        
£50   on-board credit per cabin on any cruise of 7 - 13 days           
£125 on-board credit per cabin on any cruise of 14 days or longer 

On Continental European Brands In Euro's
€50    on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 6 days or less        
€100  on-board credit per cabin on any cruise of 7 - 13 days           
€250  on-board credit per cabin on any cruise of 14 days or longer 

On Australian Brands - AUD
$50 on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 6 days or less        
$100 on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 7 - 13 days           
$250 on-board credit per cabin  on any cruise of 14 days or longer 

The following restrictions and limitations apply:

a.    Credit can not be used for the casino or gratuities.         
b.    Only one credit will be applied per shareholder occupied stateroom
c.    The benefit is available to shareholders holding a minimum of 100 shares
d.    The credit is non-transferable and is not valid for employees
e.    Credit will not be issued to any shareholder traveling at a discounted or complimentary rate  
                                                                         
After a reservation has been made, the shareholder must complete and forward the voucher to Carnival Corporation at the address provided. The shareholder also must include evidence of current ownership of Carnival stock such as:              
                                                                             
a.    Photocopy of proxy voting card                                             
b.    Voting instruction card                                                    
c.    Current brokerage statement                                                
                                                                             
The voucher and evidence of current ownership of Carnival stock must be mailed to:                                                                    
Visit the Carnival Annual report

The credit is also for the following Brands:

Princess Cruises
Holland America Line
The Yachts of Seabourn
Cunard Line

United Kingdom Brands

P&O Cruises
Ocean Village
Cunard Line

Continental European Brands

Costa Cruises
Aida Cruises
Ibero cruises




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62. Do I qualify for the RCI Corporation 'Shareholders On-Board Credit'?


- Who is eligible for this offer? 
 
Any shareholder holding a minimum of 100 RCL shares. 

- What is the offer? 
$250 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 14 or more nights. 
$200 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 9 to 13 nights. 
$100 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 6 to 8 nights. 
$50 Onboard Credit per Stateroom on Sailings of 5 nights or less. 
Applicable on any Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruise sailings (Excludes Celebrity Xpeditions) booked by May 1,2007. Via Mail: P.O Box. Box 025511, Miami FL 33102-5511. Via Fax: 1-305-539-4645 Via Email: shareholderbenefit@rccl.com
 

- How do I redeem this offer? 
Provide your name, address, confirmation number, ship and sailing date along with a copy of your shareholder proxy card or a current brokerage statement showing proof of share ownership in Royal Caribbean Cruises, Lt. 

- I am sailing with my family and some friends. Can they redeem the offer too? 
The offer is only available for the stateroom in which the shareholder (with a minimum of 100 RCL Shares) is sailing. Only one credit per shareholder on any one sailing. 

- Can I use the offer each time I sail? 
Yes, you may request this offer multiple times- as often as you sail on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises (Excludes Celebrity Xpeditions).

- Can this offer be combined with other offers, onboard credits and coupons? 
Yes, this offer is combinable with other offers, onboard credits, and coupons. The offer is NOT available to company employees, travel agents, tour conductors and/or others utilizing complimentary or reduced-rate cruise fares. 

- Is offer transferable? 
No. Offer is non-transferable. Only the stateroom that the shareholder is traveling in will be eligible for the onboard credit. 

- Are there any restrictions?
Valid only for cruise vacations on Royal Caribbean International or Celebrity Cruises. Not applicable to Celebrity Xpeditions. Offer is non-transferable and not available to company employees, travel agents, inter-line rates, tour conductors, and/or others utilizing complimentary or reduced rate cruise fares. Onboard credit is calculated in US dollars, but is not redeemable for cash. Certificate value credited to onboard account at time of sail. Credit is applied on a per stateroom basis; double occupancy. Single guests paying 200% of applicable fare shall receive full value of certificate. Only one credit per shareholder on any one sailing.
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