FAQs - Ship Details
Are there different class services, like on flights?
All ships have just one class of service; however, passengers staying in suites will sometimes receive extra services and amenities. Several ships do offer separate restaurants and lounges for people staying in suites.
Do I need a doctor's note to bring medication onboard?
As long as your medication is still in its original bottle, you are not required to bring a doctor's note. However, you do need a doctor's note if you will be carrying syringes. Also, please let the cruise line know ahead of time if you have special medical needs.
If you need to take your medication regularly, we suggest that you carry it with you rather than leave it in your checked luggage, just in case there is a delay in delivering your luggage to your cabin. In addition, though commonly used medications (like aspirin) may be purchased from the ship's doctor, you may not be able to get additional supplies of prescription drugs. Therefore, be sure to bring an adequate supply with you.
I've heard various ship terms, like starboard and aft. What do they mean?
You may come across certain cruise ship terms that you're not familiar with. Here are a few common terms and their definitions:
- Port: When facing forward, the left side of the ship
- Starboard: When facing forward, the right side of the ship
- Fore: The front of the ship
- Aft: The back of the ship
- Embarkation: Initial boarding of the ship, on the first day of the cruise
- Disembarkation: Final departure from the ship, on the last day of the cruise
- Bridge: The area from which the captain and his crew navigate the ship
- Muster drill: Mandatory lifeboat/safety drill; takes place the first day of the cruise, just before the ship sets sail
- Tender: Small boats that transport passengers from the ship to shore and back; generally used in small ports of call
- Sister ships: Ships from the same cruise line that have similar body designs
Is it possible that my cabin will be located below water?
No, all passenger's cabins are located above sea level.
Is smoking allowed?
Smoking is allowed in designated areas of all ships. Generally, however, smoking is not allowed in most of the cabins, in the main dining rooms, and in certain public areas.
What should I expect during embarkation and disembarkation?
On embarkation days, you'll generally be allowed to board the ship four to five hours before departure. You'll start by "checking in" at the pier, where your proof of citizenship (passport, or government-issued photo ID and birth certificate with raised seal) will be checked. At this time, you'll also set up your onboard account. Upon boarding, you'll be able to have a snack, explore the ship, or simply spend time in your cabin.
On the final night of the cruise, you'll have the option of placing your luggage outside of your cabin door. If you don't set your luggage out, you'll be required to take it off the ship yourself. If you do leave your luggage out, be sure to keep any necessities in a carry-on bag, as your luggage will not be accessible until after you depart the ship. If you want breakfast, you'll generally need to get up extra early, so keep this in mind. Passengers depart in groups, and your group information, along with any necessary customs forms, will be left in your cabin the night before you disembark. You'll be required to pass through customs as you depart the ship.
What voltage are the electrical outlets?
Most cabins are equipped with U.S. standard 110-volt outlets. Some cabins are also equipped with European standard 220-volt outlets.
When will I receive my cabin assignment?
You will receive your cabin assignment with your travel documents, which should arrive within two weeks of your sailing date. If for some reason your cabin is still not assigned, you will receive a cabin assignment when you check in at the pier.
Where does the crew sleep?
The crew generally sleeps in cabins located below the lowest passenger deck.
Will the ship have quiet areas for reading and relaxing?
Most ships have libraries, Internet cafés, and card rooms which can be used as quiet areas. In addition, most ships also have lounges and top deck space with quiet pockets.
What's in my cabin? Will there be a TV?
The majority of staterooms include standard 110-volt AC electrical outlets and hair dryers (some also have Europe's 220 volt plugs). In all grade cabins, most cruise lines include a mini-safe. As for televisions, while almost all cruise staterooms have them, the channel selection will vary and most, save for top suites, do not include a DVD player or VCR. Lastly, a good travel alarm is handy to pack as many cabins are not outfitted with alarm clocks (you can arrange wake-up calls, however).
Can I do laundry on the ship?
Most cruise lines offer laundry and dry cleaning services available via laundry bags in your stateroom. Some even offer self-service laundry rooms as well with coin-operated washers and dryers (and vending machines that dispense small boxes of detergent). For safety reasons, many ships ask that passengers not iron in their staterooms, and provide irons and ironing boards in a self-service area.
Is it easy to keep up with the news while onboard?
Most ships have TVs in all cabins and in some public areas, and daily newspapers can generally be found around the ship as well. Most ships also have Internet cafés, where passengers can go online for around 50¢ to $1 per minute.
Can I check my e-mail from the ship?
Most ships have Internet cafés, and some even provide Internet access from cabins.
Do I need money onboard?
We suggest that you bring some cash. Some cruise lines require that you use cash for tipping and casino gambling. It's also handy to have in port. Most cruise ships do have ATMs onboard; however, ATM service fees may be high.
Can I exchange money onboard?
Many cruise lines will cash traveler's checks at their purser's desks. Note that U.S. dollars are accepted throughout much of the Caribbean and in some other regions. In Europe and Asia the ship's front office may provide currency exchange services or bring the service onboard once the ship is in port. Or, check the port facility at ports of call; some have ATM machines that will work with foreign debit cards (if they don't, a nearby town or village surely will). It is best to carry a small amount of local currency when in foreign ports for taxis and for purchases at small shops and street vendors. However, keep in mind that major credit cards are accepted in numerous places worldwide.
Do cabins have personal safes?
Most cabins have personal safes. If your cabin doesn't have its own safe, you have the option of storing valuables in the ship's vault.
Do I have to purchase the pictures taken by the ship's photographers?
No, the ship's photographers capture memories of your cruise, but purchasing them are optional. In addition, if you'd rather not have your photo taken, politely decline and move on. If you would like to purchase a keepsake photo, they're generally displayed in the ship's photo gallery. Check the ship's deck plan to see where the gallery is located.
Do ships have exercise equipment?
Most ships have full-service gyms onboard, as well as outdoor fitness equipment, ranging from simple running tracks and volleyball courts to rock-climbing walls and tennis courts.
Do ships have elevators?
Yes, most ships do have a large number of elevators.
How do I pay for onboard purchases?
Ships typically work on a "cashless" system. Prior to boarding, passengers will set up charge accounts with their credit cards. All onboard purchases you make, from cocktails to gift shop items, will be charged to this account. Passengers who don't hold credit cards can also deposit cash into their accounts to cover onboard expenses.
Can I use a debit card for my onboard charge accounts?
You may use a debit card; however, the ship may apply a daily spending limit.
I'm sharing a cabin with a friend. Can we each have our own onboard charge account?
Yes, each passenger can set up his or her own charge account, regardless of whether he or she is sharing a cabin.
How do I purchase shore excursions?
You can book them from the ship's shore excursion desk. You can often also reserve shore excursions in advance on the cruise line web site. Many vendors also gather near the ports you'll be visiting. Cruise Holidays - Be Our Guest can also recommend a third party provider of shore excursions that operates in many ports.
Is there shopping onboard?
Duty-free shops are located on all ships. On port days, shops generally open 30 minutes to an hour after the ship leaves port, and stay open until a set time. On sea days, shops are generally open all day.
Are there casinos onboard?
Most ships do have onboard casinos which are open while the ship is sailing in international waters (generally 30 minutes to an hour after leaving a port of call).
Are alcoholic beverages included in the price?
On most ships you will be charged extra for alcoholic beverages. However, many ships now have drink cards, where you can purchase a set number of drinks ahead of time, generally resulting in significant cost savings. Several luxury lines include some drinks.
Are ships wheelchair accessible?
Cruise ships in all the major cruise lines are wheelchair accessible.
Do ships offer babysitting services?
Most ships do offer babysitting services, either in a group setting, or with a sitter coming directly to your cabin.
Can I purchase toiletries onboard?
Yes, all ships have sundries shops where you can purchase toiletries.
Are meals included in the price?
Basic meals are included in the price of your cruise. These include all meals in the main dining room (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Many ships also have a "lido" restaurant serving buffet meals, a grill serving lunchtime grilled fare, and all-day room service; these meals are also included in your cruise price. The only meals that may not be included in your cruise price are at "specialty restaurants," which usually charge a small fee for dining (generally $10-30).
Are there multiple entrée choices at dinner each night?
Yes. Generally, you'll be able to choose among three or four entrée choices, with at least one vegetarian selection.
Do I have to eat dinner at the same time, and with the same passengers, every night?
This really depends on your ship. Most ships offer two dinner seatings for the main dining room, and your dining time and table size will be confirmed upon embarkation. However, some cruise lines now offer "relaxed" dining, where passengers can dine when, and with whom, they choose. Even if your ship has pre-assigned dining times, you can generally choose to eat at a casual buffet-style restaurant at no additional charge. If you are sailing on a ship with assigned seating times, you'll receive confirmation of your assignment as early as before you sail to as late as when you arrive at the pier. If there are any problems, see the maitre d' after boarding to request a change.
Do I have to eat in the main dining room?
Even if you have assigned seating, you don't have to eat in the dining room every night. There are usually several other places to dine from pizza parlors to the ship's buffet and specialty restaurants. And, of course, there's always room service.
Can I change my dining time or tablemates?
If you are sailing on a ship with pre-assigned dining times and tablemates and would like to change either, talk to the restaurant's maître d', who will do everything in his or her power to ensure that you have a pleasant dining experience each night.
If I have late dinner seating, will I miss the evening entertainment?
Shows are generally performed twice nightly, so no matter what time you eat dinner, you'll still be able to catch all of the evening's entertainment.
I have special dietary restrictions. Can the ship accommodate my needs?
Low-sodium meals, kosher meals, and other specialty meal plans are offered by ships; however, you should arrange for special meals in advance. Tell your Cruise Expert if you have special dietary needs.
Is food available 24 hours a day?
On most ships, food is available 24 hours a day, either in an all-night diner, or via free room service. Those ships that don't offer 24-hour dining generally serve food until the wee hours, and start serving again early in the morning (generally as early as 5 AM). In addition, many cabins now have mini refrigerators where you can keep snacks.
Is room service available?
Yes, room service is available on most ships, and is often served 24 hours a day.
What are formal nights, and do all cruises have them?
Formal nights are evenings which the ships suggest you dress up for dinner, with men wearing dark suits or tuxedos and women wearing cocktail dresses or evening gowns. Special meals are generally served on formal nights. Many ships do have formal nights, but generally only one or two for a seven-night cruise. If you don't want to dress up on formal nights, you can generally dine at a buffet restaurant at no extra charge.