Top 15 Questions of those who are New to Cruising:
- Where do cruises go? How much does a cruise cost?
- What’s the one thing I need to get on a ship?
- What IS included in the cost of a cruise?
- What’s NOT included in the cost of a cruise.
- What’s the food like on a cruise ship?
- Which cruise lines are good for kids, singles, couples or seniors?
- Can all 5 of us fit in one cabin?
- When do we have to pay for the cruise?
- What is onboard credit good for?
- Can I cancel the cruise and get my money back?
- How much are drink packages?
- What is there to do in each port? How do I book shore excursions?
- How do I book spa treatments or specialty dining?
- Where is the cruise terminal located? How much is parking?
- What should I pack? Is there a dress code?
What’s the ONE THING YOU MUST HAVE in order to get on a cruise ship?
Your dentures? Your tickets? Your winning personality?
Actually, you can leave all of those behind and still get on board as long as you have PROPER ID.
US and International customs requires that you have either a passport or birth certificate.
A drivers license or military ID is not enough! If your cruise does NOT start AND end in the same US port, you MUST have a passport and it must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER your cruise ends.
*NEW* – One thing that you CANNOT bring on a cruise ship is a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Cruise lines, like airlines, are banning the phone.
What Is included in the cost of a cruise?
- Your room
- All meals in either a large buffet that is open most of the day and evening and/or a formal dining room where a multi-course dinner is served by white-gloved waiters (it’s very fancy). You can eat at both places if you rush through the formal dinner.
- Coffee, tea, juice, ice tea and lemonade
- Kids clubs (On almost every cruise line there are kids clubs for ages 3 to 17, with separate facilities, staffs and activities for each age group!)
- Nightly entertainment – big Broadway-type shows, comedy club
- Activities on the ship – use of the pools, hot tubs, water slides, games, athletic facilities
What’s NOT included in the cost of a cruise?
What’s the food like on a cruise ship?
- There are a ton of it, available almost 24 hours a day, and it’s all FREE! (Except the few specialty restaurants which charge a small surcharge, if you choose to dine there.)
- There’s always a huge buffet of amazing-looking desserts – so plan on gaining weight.
- There are fancy dining rooms where you can sit down, order off a menu, and have your lunch or dinner served by white-gloved waiters.
- Or, you can peruse the endless options at a huge buffet that’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and just eat as much as you want there, whenever you want.
- Even at the buffet, there’s always a half dozen protein options, including meat carved off the bone to order. It’s quite nice. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.
- There are always beautiful vegetable and salad bars available, so you can keep it clean and healthy if you want to.
Which cruise lines are good for kids, singles, couples or seniors?
Virtually all cruise lines (except the high-end luxury lines like Viking, Regent, Silver Sea, Seabourn and Crystal) have great kids programs with lots to do for kids.
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, MSC and Costa all have large kids programs with separate facilities and activities for 3 or 4 different age groups.
Parents – you can leave your kids in these kids clubs all day, knowing your kids will be having very supervised and safe fun. You can even go on one of the cruise line’s excursions, and still leave your kids in the kids club for free!
But there are singles, couples, and seniors on every single cruise too. There is almost no cruise that has just ONE of those groups.
Cruises that take place during the summer, spring break weeks or holidays are going to have more kids on them.
I have three, four, five or more kids. Can all five (six, seven, or more of us) fit into one cabin?
Each cruise line is different. The short answer to that question is:
Royal Caribbean and Disney have a few cabins that will hold five – but very few.
Princess, Celebrity, Holland – no.
Carnival has many ships with cabins that hold five!
When do we have to pay for the cruise?
The cruise lines require a deposit to hold your cabin until 75 days before sailing, at which time final payment is due.
Most cruise lines require a deposit of $250 to $400 per person to hold a cabin until final payment.
MSC is different in that they only charge $200 per cabin!
To see what the deposit is for your cruise line click here.
To make a payment for a cruise booked with us you, can go to our encrypted form at payformycruise.com
What is onboard credit good for?
If the cruise you book has an onboard credit offer, that credit can be used for any purchases made WHILE YOU ARE ON THE SHIP only. You cannot apply it to the price of the cruise or to anything you add before the cruise.
You can apply it to any onboard purchase such as drinks, drink packages purchased ONBOARD, spa and salon treatments, excursions, gift shop items, photos, etc.
Can I cancel the cruise and get my money back?
If it were up to us – that would be fine. But the cruise lines have very specific rules about that. They are:
Your deposit is fully refundable, up until the time of final payment (usually 75 days before sailing). Unless you used a non-refundable fare code, then you MAY get a future cruise credit but more likely, you will lose the deposit. Some river cruise and luxury lines have $50 or $100 pp admin fees to cancel at any time like Azamara for example.
To see the cancellation schedule for your cruise line click here.
On some cruise lines, once you’re within 75 days before sailing, you can’t cancel your cruise without incurring penalties, somewhere between the deposit amount all the way up to 100% of the cost of your cruise, depending on how close it is to sailing. Some cruise line penalties begin as early as 120 days before sailing.
The only way to get your money back is if you purchased TRAVEL INSURANCE and you are cancelling FOR A COVERED REASON.
The most common covered reasons are illness, death or injury in the family, redeployment, and revocation of leave. Ask us for the complete list.
How much are drink packages?
Be aware that with most cruise lines, Royal Caribbean being the notable exception, if one person in a cabin purchases a beverage package, ALL persons in the cabin must purchase a package.
For each cruise line’s beverage package prices, individual drink prices, and article on whether drink packages are “worth it,” go to our Beverage Package Page
What is there to do in each port (each place the cruise stops)? How do I book shore excursions?
You can do a sunset cruise on a catamaran in many ports!
There will almost always be many shops and activities located very near the cruise terminal. So you can just walk (or tender) right off the ship and be surrounded by many options.
Or you can choose to take a shore excursion that is offered by the cruise line or a company we can recommend to you.
The cruise lines offer many shore excursions in each port that range from $35 to $350 per person.
Once you have made your final payment on your cruise, you will register on the cruise line’s website, do your online check-in, and then have an opportunity to see all the shore excursions that are available and reserve your space for the ones you choose.
After you book your cruise with us, we’ll send you a link to a company called SHORETRIPS, which is an alternative to booking your excursions with the cruise line. Prices on Shoretrips are usually less, and the group size is smaller.
How do you book spa treatments or specialty dining?
You can book these once you are aboard the cruise ship. Simply press the ‘concierge or spa’ button on your room phone. Some cruise lines, Princess, for example, will allow you to make reservations online in your trip planner before your cruise.
Spa treatments are usually very expensive aboard a cruise ship. Like, $120 per one-hour massage, plus you’ll need to tip on top of that.
There are usually several small restaurants onboard your cruise ship that you can dine at for an extra fee, usually about $20 to $30 per person. You’ll have to book these in advance, by calling the concierge when you first get on the ship.
The food at these specialty restaurants is usually 4-star, so if you’re a big foodie it’s definitely worth it.
Where is the cruise terminal located? How much is parking?
For U.S. cruise terminals Click Here
For European cruise terminals Click Here.
What should I pack? Is there a dress code?
Usually, there are a couple formal nights, where everyone dresses up very nicely and photographers are everywhere taking pictures.
So you will want a couple of fancy outfits for those nights.
Also, there is a dress code for the formal dining room: no shorts, tank tops, flip flops allowed – that sort of thing.
So do bring some nice dress pants, shirts for men – not just shorts and tee shirts!
Anything is fine for kids.
You will want comfortable shoes to walk around the ship and around the ports of call.
And of course, if your cruise is to a colder/cooler climate, you will want a rain jacket and layers.
WHERE DO CRUISES GO?
Most cruises in the U.S. go to islands in the Caribbean Sea, or other islands like the Bahamas which are technically in the Atlantic.
Cruises to the Caribbean usually go to either the Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, or Southern Caribbean.
To see map of where cruises depart from in the U.S., and go to in the Caribbean, click here!
There are also cruises departing from California which go to Mexican ports like Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan.
Cruises from Seattle and Vancouver go to Alaska.
There are a few 15-day cruises which go from the West Coast of the U.S. to Hawaii, but most Hawaiian cruises begin and end in Hawaii.
There are many cruises departing from Southern Europe which cruise to other ports in the Mediterranean Sea, usually either on the Western side of Italy toward Spain, or on the Eastern side toward the Greek Isles.
Cruises depart from Northern Europe cruise the North Sea to the Norwegian Fjords and cities in the Baltics and Russia.
Cruises go everywhere in the world, including all over Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
There are also TransAtlantic and Repositioning cruises which cross the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.
Want to cruise through the Panama Canal? You can do that!
HOW MUCH DO THEY COST?
The price of a cruise could be anywhere between $200 and $20,000 per person!
Plus, the cruise lines change the price almost daily!
So there is no ONE price that we can tell you.
To determine the price we need to identify one specific ship and departure date. But then, we need to know what type of cabin you prefer (least expensive, ocean view, balcony, etc), the number of people in the cabin, and your state of residence, military status, senior and past guest status.
Whew – you see how getting a price on a cruise can be kind of complicated! But don’t worry, we’re experts and we can help.
There are over 300 cruise ships in the world cruising to hundreds of destinations.
Use the cruise search tool to select when you want to go, where to and where from.
It will reveal a list of all cruises which fit your criteria and give you live pricing and cabin availability.
We can tell you generally that holiday weeks and summer months are the most expensive time to cruise.
And some cruise lines are definitely more affordable than others.
But, you can use our search tool to list all cruises in order of least expensive to most, so you can easily see what your best deals are.
Or contact us and we’ll create a customized list of your best options for you.
We’re open 7 days a week and we’d love to help.
Want to hear what experienced cruisers have to say? Read these articles!
Why should you book your next cruise while onboard? BOOKING BONUSES!
Read all about them …
Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Disney, Holland, MSC, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean
For past cruisers, you’ve likely waltzed by the onboard sales office on your way to all the fun.
Being too busy enjoying your current vacation, you really don’t want to spend your time meeting with a Future Cruise Counselor discussing your next cruise when you only have about a week onboard to spend sunbathing at the pool, exploring your ports of call, or trying to hit big in the casino.
But, the thing is, if you’re going to go on another cruise (let’s face it — we all know you are!) then, you’ll really want to check out the onboard sales office to see what all they’re offering.
The cruise line is likely to be offering reduced deposits, onboard spending credit, and other freebies if you reserve onboard. Sometimes, there is even onboard spending credit applied to the cruise you are already on AND your future cruise!
Most cruise lines offer this convenience. You can check your cruise’s daily newsletter for desk location and hours.
The best news of all is that you can snag one of these future cruise “credits” and have it transferred to our agency for an ADDITIONAL DISCOUNT!
Unfortunately, the Imagination, Inspiration, Sensation, Spirit, Valor, and Legend do not have Future Cruise Counselors onboard the ship but the remaining, unmentioned vessels do.
Cruisers may select ships and sail dates and also receive an onboard credit of up to $200 per stateroom.
The reservation can be combined with other promotions, except interline discounts, and you get two vouchers for the same onboard credit that you can give to friends or family who will be joining the sailing.
There is no deposit discount.
We strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions because you can cancel for no charge up to 90 days before the scheduled sailing.
Celebrity’s Future Cruise Vacations program offers discounted deposits of $100 per guest.
Additionally, you can book up to three future cruises at one time and the offer is combinable with Celebrity’s promotions such as their “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best!” sale.
You can choose either the “Cruise Now” or “Cruise Later” option when making your reservation.
The “Cruise Now” plan offers up to $500 onboard spending credit which is based on the sailing you choose.
You can cancel your booking up until 90 days before the cruise departs without penalty.
You also can change your cruise date or ship, and, if the price drops for your cruise, you can get the better deal.
The Cruise Later option is best if you know that you want to cruise but haven’t yet picked a ship or date.
There is no expiration date on your reservation and you’re eligible for up to $200 in onboard credit.
We strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with Celebrity’s no charge cancellation policy of up to 90 days before sailing without penalty, allowances of re-faring if the price drops, and Cruise Later program. The Cruise Later program, in particular, allows you to take advantage of the bonuses without the bind of being locked into a specific cruise.
If you reserve a cruise with Costa while on board, you get a 5 percent discount that becomes guaranteed once you finalize the booking through your travel agent.
The cruise line also runs promotions on top of the 5 percent discount, such as a 100 euro voucher to use toward that future cruise.
This amount may vary based on ship and sail date.
Vouchers can be given to a family member or friend.
The discount may vary depending on the ship and sail date you are interested in.
The deposit cannot be redeemed for cash.
We cautiously recommend this program. Rules and restrictions are provided on board and may be more binding than onboard booking programs.
One important thing to note for Disney’s Future Cruise Credit program is that there are blackout dates (typically Christmas sailings). If there is a specific sailing you are interested in, be sure to ask the counselor onboard the ship if you can use it for that cruise prior to purchasing.
Deposits are reduced to 10% for 7 night or longer sailings, your future cruise is discounted by 10%, and onboard spending credit is included up to $200 (amount depends on the ship and sail date).
Blackout dates receive the onboard credit as well as the reduced deposit if it is a 7+ night sailing, but will not get the 10% discount off of prevailing rates.
You can select a specific cruise at the time of purchase or you can save your bonuses and have them applied at a later date.
Guests must sail within 18 months of the date they book on board.
Ths program is also limited to two staterooms on one future cruise per household, any additional staterooms may be booked at normal rates
This offer is valid for Categories 4-11 only and is not valid for concierge level categories, 1 or 2 night sailings or IGT, OGT, and VG Restricted Categories.
Name changes to the reservation may be made as long as one adult on the original booking remains on the reservation.
Certificates are non-refundable for cash.
We cautiously recommend this program. Because of the blackout dates, you may not be able to apply the bonuses to a sail date that works for you. There are also restrictive name change rules and only an 18-month time frame to use the future cruise credit.
The Future Cruise Consultant desk on Holland offers up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit (based on length of sailing and stateroom category) with a deposit of $100 per person for a 3 to 10-day cruise.
An itinerary can be chosen while you sail or cruisers can make a future cruise deposit and take up to four years to pick a cruise before the deposit expires.
Reservations can be canceled or changed up to 90 days before the departure without penalty.
Here are the typical onboard credit amounts:
$25 for Inside/Oceanview
$50 Balcony and Suites
$50 for Inside/Oceanview
$75 Balcony and $100 Suite
$100 for Inside/Oceanview
$150 Balcony and Suites
$150 for Inside/Oceanview
$200 Balcony and Suites
Holland’s Future Cruise Deposits are not valid on Grand World Voyages, Grand Voyages, or segments of Grand Voyages.
Certificates are non-refundable for cash.
We strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with Holland’s no charge cancellation policy for changes or cancellations up to 90 days before sailing. What’s more, you can take your time choosing a cruise with their 4 year booking window to apply the future cruise credit.
MSC’s Future Cruise Credit program is only offered on the MSC Divina in the Caribbean.
This program allows passengers who book onboard to receive up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit, based on ship, sail date and cabin category.
Deposits are $100 per person.
Cruisers can book specific cruises while onboard or decide up to four years later before the deposit expires.
You can combine the reservation with certain other promotions including the military discount.
Certificates are non-refundable for cash.
We strongly recommend this program. You are afforded a lot of freedom and few restrictions with MSC’s relaxed time-frame of 4 years to apply your credit to a cruise.
With NCL, guests may purchase a $250 Freestyle Cruise Rewards deposit to reserve a sailing of 6 days or longer.
Additionally, guests get an instant $100 onboard spending credit for the sailing that they are currently on.
Guests have the option to apply the $250 deposit to a sailing they have already picked out or they can simply save it until they choose one.
The Freestyle Cruise Reward is valid for four years from the purchase date.
Guests may charge the $250 Freestyle Cruise Reward to their onboard account and it is refundable within 30 days of purchase (less the $100 instant onboard credit if refunded).
We cautiously recommend this program. Anyone wishing to cancel must do so within 30 days, which is a very short time frame. Also, guests who cancel would then be charged for the instant onboard credit portion of the purchase.
Nonetheless, this is a great option if you are certain you are going to cruise again and will not cancel your cruise or return your future cruise credit.
Princess has future cruise sales consultants on each of its ships.
It costs $100 per person to reserve a future sailing and including onboard credit of up to $150 per passenger (based on cruise length and cabin class).
Reservations made under this program can be for a specific cruise or an open reservation to sail which must be used within four years.
Deposits are refundable within the four year period as long as they have not been applied towards a future sailing.
We strongly recommend this program because the benefits are great and deposits are automatically refundable if not applied to a specific sailing.
Royal Caribbean’s NextCruise program allows guests to get up to $200 per cabin in onboard credit (based on length of sailing) and pay a reduced deposit of $100 per person for their reservation.
Cruisers don’t have to pick their sailing at the time of the reservation as there is no expiration date.
Guests get two NextCruise certificates for themselves or their friends and family who can sail with them and also receive onboard credit.
These are valid for 5 years and are non-refundable after purchase.
Royal Caribbean’s standard cancellation policies apply to onboard bookings.
Certificates are non-refundable for cash.
Shareholder onboard credits and other onboard credit or dollars-off promotions are not combinable with the onboard credit from the NextCruise program.
We strongly recommend this program because there is a lot of freedom and few restrictions thanks to Royal Caribbean’s relaxed 5-year time-frame to choose a sailing.
******* Please note that this information is subject to change at any moment and may vary based on the current promotions. This information is displayed with the intention of informing our clients of the potential benefits of booking onboard. ********