FIRST TIME CRUISERS

Most “first-timers” have a lot of questions – so here’s a list of questions most commonly asked to help you get ready and ensure “smooth sailing” both before and during your cruise.  If your question isn’t here, please do not hesitate to call us.

BOARDING CHECKLIST:

  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Passport, if applicable
  • eDocs (one copy per stateroom)
  • Luggage labels with bag tags
  • Credit card for onboard expenses
  • Small bag with essentials
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO TAKE?
For the most current government requirements, please go to:  http://travel.state.gov/

HOW DO I PAY FOR ITEMS ONBOARD AND IN PORT?
The Cruise Lines will open an onboard account for bar purchases, soft drinks, souvenirs, to pay for shore excursions, etc, which you can settle by credit card, travelers checks or cash at the end of the cruise. The purser’s office will also cash travelers checks for you. In addition, most of the duty-free shops onboard and most shops in port will also cash travelers checks. Most shops in port will accept major credit cards as well as American dollars or travelers checks. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CASH PERSONAL CHECKS ONBOARD THE SHIP.  

WHAT ABOUT TIPPING ONBOARD SHIP?
Tipping with most cruise lines is now included on your onboard account. While this makes tipping the proper people more convenient, you may alter these amounts according to your cruise experience in these areas. Your tips will affect these services on your cruise ship: Your Cabin Steward, Waiter and Assistant Waiter. These amount will range from $11.00 to $12.00 per person per day on most cruise lines (subject to change). On luxury cruise lines these amount may be higher. If you wish to change the amounts either by reducing or adding to your account, you should visit the purser onboard your cruise ship. Note: most cruise lines add gratuities to bar tabs. Always check your bills.

DO I NEED TO PACK A TUXEDO OR FORMAL DRESS?
Cruising has become much more of a casual vacation, even on more formal lines. Plus with airlines charging to check bags, it’s best to pack light if possible. Cruise lines assign daily dress codes from resort casual to formal nights that take place in public rooms. Daytime is always casual. For formal nights, ladies will need a cocktail dress, gown or dressy pantsuit and suit or dinner jacket with slacks for men. Interested in stepping it up with a tuxedo? Many cruise lines allow you to rent a tuxedo onboard. This will reduce additional packing and you will have a pressed tuxedo on each formal night of your cruise. Prices will vary by cruise line, port and length of voyage. Most sailings require orders to be placed one week prior to departure. However, it is always best to order as soon as possible due to availability, itineraries and holidays.

For example: you can spend anywhere from approximately $85 USD for “Classic Black Tuxedo Package” which includes:

  • Black jacket and matching pants
  • White formal shirt
  • Black cummerbund & bow tie set
  • Cufflinks & studs

Or up to $160 USD for a “Deluxe Black & White Tuxedo Package” which includes:

  • Classic black jacket with matching trousers and an additional white dinner jacket
  • Soft microfiber lay down collar shirt
  • Exclusive Calvin Klein full-back vest with matching long tie and hanky in your choice of color (see list of Calvin Klein vest selection below)
  • Upgrade set of elegant cufflinks (choice of silver or gold)

Note: Shoes and Socks are additional.

WHAT ABOUT MOTION SICKNESS?
Ships today are so well stabilized that most of the time you won’t notice you are even moving! It’s a good idea though to take along some Motion Sickness precaution as well as aspirin and sunscreen. If you do have a problem onboard, all ships have a doctor and a nurse aboard. And be sure not to forget any prescription drugs you are taking. These should be put in your carry-on-luggage. Consult your physician before taking any medication.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY LUGGAGE AFTER I LEAVE
IT AT THE AIRPORT (OR PORT, IF YOU ARE DRIVING)?
If you are using the cruise line’s airfare program, you will affix the luggage tags sent with your cruise documents and check your luggage at the airport. The next time you see it will be in your stateroom! There are a few ports where you will need to claim your luggage at the airport–this will be indicated in your cruise documents and, again, call me if you have any questions. If you are flying but NOT using the cruise line’s airfare program you still need to affix your cruise line tag but you will need to claim your own luggage at the airport baggage area when you arrive in your port city and take it with you to the port. If you are driving to the port, you will check your luggage when you arrive at the port, and they will take your bags to your stateroom.

Start your first day on board stress-free. Pack a carry-on that includes items so that you can make the most of your first day–even before your luggage arrives in your stateroom. Bring along what you need to lounge by the pool such as change of clothes, sunscreen, swim wear, sunglasses, comfortable shoes, camera, medication, etc.

On the last night of your cruise you will be asked to put your luggage (except your carry-on bags) outside your stateroom so that it can be taken to the holding area, and off loaded early the next morning. You will claim your bags in the customs area, don’t worry all this will be explained on the ship. It would be a good idea to pack an overnight bag on your cruise.

HOW CAN I BE REACHED ONBOARD THE SHIP IN AN EMERGENCY?
RCI…888 724 7447
CEL…877 266 1020
PCL…900 225 5744
NCL…888 627 4477
CCL…877 225 7447
HAL…800 426 0327
DIS…888 322 8732

HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON ONBOARD
THE SHIP, OR FIND OUT ABOUT SHORE EXCURSIONS?
There will be all kinds of “goodies” about this in your cabin when you arrive and prior to sailing is a good time to explore and get your bearings as to where the dining room, gym, lounges ect. are located. There will be a daily program of activities put in your cabin each night for the next day. For first timers, it’s best to work with your Cruise Planners Travel Advisor to seek the best possible options. Through their knowledge and contacts, your Advisor will recommend an excursion perfect for you and your budget. It is recommended that shore excursions be prebooked so once you board the ship, your days are already planned and all you will need to do is relax.

IS IT BETTER TO TAKE A SHORE EXCURSION
OR EXPLORE PORTS OF CALL ON MY OWN?
A lot of that is really up to you! Most ships include a program of their shore excursions with your cruise documents but if not, you will have one in your cabin when you board the ship. We recommend that you plan and schedule your excursions before you board so that your vacation is truly a vacation. We have access to some of the best shore excursions in various ports and can help you choose one that is right for you and your budget. We recommend considering at least one shore excursion in order to really experience your port of call.

Some of the islands/ports that are easy to explore on your own (by cab, or even on foot in some places) are: St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Key West, Freeport, Cozumel, San Juan, Bermuda, Canadian ports especially Quebec City, Grenada and St. Bart’s.

Many cruise lines now offer e-docs and you can check-in at any time using the cruise line’s website. If you are expecting cruise documents through the mail and they have not arrived 2 weeks before your departure, contact your Cruise Planners Travel Advisor. Always check your documents to ensure they show your correct name, ship, sailing date and cabin number (if you have been assigned a cabin at booking). Also be sure your airline tickets if applicable, are accurate and reflect the correct name transport to the correct port. If you are using the cruise line air program you should also have vouchers for transportation from the airport to the port and back. All document packages should contain luggage tags and many will also include form to fill out for boarding passes, on board credit programs. All of these should be filled out before you leave. If you think you are missing anything or would like us to go over them with you, just let us know.

BON VOYAGE!!

If you are using the cruise line’s transfer program, be sure to check your cruise documents for voucher for transportation from the airport to the pier. When you disembark the plane, look for the Cruise Line Representative in the baggage claim area. They will direct you to the bus or van.

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