Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Cruising for Beginners

A little change of pace here. This is just a briefing document I made up for some friends who are new to cruising and I thought I would share it.

What’s Included

  • All Meals in main dining room, buffet and quick service stands
  • Snacks
  • Room Service (customary to tip a few $$) Note: some cruise lines have implemented an after hours service charge.
  • Coffee, tea, iced tea, (juice in the morning) (Some lines also include soda)
  • Entertainment
  • Use of exercise facilities, pools, hot tubs

What’s Extra
  • Alcohol (gratuity automatically added to bill) (optional)(Some lines have all you can drink packages -- see entry on beverage packages)
  • Gratuities for stewards and wait staff ($X /person/night) varies by Cruiseline. Usually added to your account or prepaid. We are usually moved to tip extra, the service is good.
  • Some specialty restaurants (optional)
  • Port of call excursions (optional)
  • Beverage packages of varying types (optional)
  • Mini-bar items (overpriced)(optional) depending upon line
  • Spa services (optional)
  • Tips for porters (yeah, they’re unionized, and you’re not supposed to tip them, but I like my bags on the ship and not in the water) (“optional”)

What You Need
  • Passport
  • Credit Card (on board, cash is only used for tips: your room key card, which is linked to your credit card, is used to charge for everything)
  • Singles (to tip room service and salt the bartenders)
  • SunBlock (for warm weather cruises)
  • Bathing suits (for warm weather cruises)
  • Non-shorts to wear in dining room
  • Formal dress if your line does formal nights
  • “Half the clothes, and twice the cash”

What to Expect
  • A room (maybe with a window or balcony depending upon what you select, a queen bed and other possible bunks/fold out sofas depending upon how many are travelling in your room), a bathroom and a closet
  • Assigned seating at dinner, possibly with strangers - if your cruise line offers traditional dining, and you choose it. Restaurant-style dining is becoming more common on cruise ships.
  • Attentive wait staff who will try to get you to eat more
  • A steward who makes up the room twice a day -- includes turn down service
  • Beach towels (not to keep, but to use on the cruise)
  • As much or as little as you want to do

  • Finalize date
  • Book cruise (deposit due)
  • Make final payment
  • Do online check-in
  • Select excursions
  • Book flights  -- I recommend flying in the day before so there is no chance of missing the ship due to flight delays.
  • Book hotel (1 night)
  • Fly to Port 
  • Spend the night
  • Go to the port ($$)
  • Give porters the bags ($$)
  • Go through security
  • Go through port check-in process
  • Lunch buffet *Check your ship, there might be better options
  • Relax, explore the ship, swim.
  • Muster drill (mandatory)
  • Dinner, etc.
  • Enjoy cruise
  • Disembark - perhaps with excursion
  • Go to airport ($$)
  • Fly home