Inclusions – Whats included in my one low cruise fare?
Accommodation – What cabin should I choose?
Accommodation – How many people can fit into a cabin?
Accommodation – How do I calculate my cruise fare?
Accommodation – What is in my cabin?
Meals – Are they really that good?
Entertainment – What can I do onboard?
Kids Club – Does it cost any extra? Is there enough for them to do?
Seasickness – What if I get seasick?
Dress at Sea – Do I have to wear a tuxedo?
Cruise Tickets – When will I receive my cruise documentation?
Shore Tours – What are they?
Shore Tours – Do I need to book one to go ashore?
Shore Tours – How much do they cost?
Ships – What ship should I choose?
Luggage – How much can I take?
On board currency – Are there cruise dollars?
On board purchases – How do I make them?
Tipping – Do I need to tip?
Smoking – Can you smoke on a cruise?
Alcohol – Can I bring my own?
Bookings - When should I book my cruise?
There are always a wide variety of cabins available on any cruise ship. Typically it is where your cabin is located on board the ship that will influence the price you pay, along with the type of cabin. For example, an inside cabin on a lower deck is cheaper than an inside cabin on a higher deck.
Generally there are 4 different types of cabins available to you on a cruise ship. No matter what type of cabin you choose, the standard of service, cleanliness and facilities are consistent throughout the ship.
- Inside cabin - a cabin/stateroom that doesn't have a window. Typically the cheapest option available. These are usually located on an interior hallway. Providing the same space and amenities as standard outside cabins, these are a frequent choice of cruisers on a limited budget.
- Outside cabin - a cabin/stateroom that has a window and allows natural light into your cabin. Typically the same floor size as an inside cabin.
- Balcony cabin - a cabin/stateroom with a private balcony. Typically the same floor size as an inside cabin (excluding the balcony).
- Suites - a cabin/stateroom with a private balcony, with many added features and increased cabin and balcony size. Suites are the most expensive accommodations. They’re also the first to sell out, so it’s important to reserve well in advance.
Obviously a suite is the best cabin available, but this is not suitable for everyone’s budget so the best option is to choose a cabin type that fits your budget. Then choose a cabin category that is located in a position on the ship that is suitable for you.
The base price for a cabin on a cruise is based on two people sharing a cabin regardless of their age. That means the twin price is a per person price, payable by two people. If you add a 3rd and/or 4th passenger to that cabin (quad cabin), their cost is much cheaper than the twin price. Add these charges together and divide by the number of people in the cabin to get a per person price.
For example four adults want to go on a cruise in a quad cabin and the twin price is $1,000 and the 3rd and 4th adult price is $500. Their cruise would be $1000 x 2 + $500 x 2 = $3,000.
Divide $3,000 by 4 people and the cruise will cost $750 per person (this is the quad price).
Cabins all have their own private en suite facilities which include shower and/or bathtub, toilet, basin, mirror, hairdryer, towels, face-cloths, soap, shampoo & conditioner and plenty of storage space.
In your cabin you will also find a TV (with movie channels, information & shore excursion channel), satellite telephone, plenty of drawers & hanging space in the wardrobe, an in-cabin safe, small sitting area, and a cruise compendium.
One of the biggest highlights of your cruise will be your cabin attendant. Your cabin attendant is on hand throughout the day, every day, to service your cabin with fresh clean sheets, towels & amenities. To minimise any disruption, your cabin will be cleaned while you are out enjoying yourself. Your attendant will even turn down your bed and prepare your cabin while you are at dinner or at a show, ready for your return. Ask them for anything you may require, they will be more than happy to assist you and make your holiday a relaxing one.
The entertainment on board comes in many different styles and formats but is always included in the cruise fare. In the evening there are shows in the main show lounge. Typically there are two sessions a night so, depending on your dinner time, you can always catch the show. The style of these shows changes daily. Some nights it will include all of the ship’s entertainment crew with a Las Vegas style production. Other nights there may be a guest entertainer or comedian. There is something for everyone.
The entertainment doesn't stop with the nightly performances. Each night the ship provides a newsletter detailing all the activities that will take place the following day. This may include dance classes, arts and crafts, table tennis, live music, tournaments, trivia quizzes, recent release movies, and other deck games and deck parties. The great thing about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you like. If your idea of a holiday is sitting back with a good book, you can do that. If you like to be entertained there is no shortage of entertainment.
One of the main reasons for a cruise making such a great family holiday is the “kids club” facilities offered on board, and they are all included in your cruise fare. Typically the kids clubs are broken into 3 different age groups - 3 to 6 years, 7 to 12 years, and 13 – 17 years. In these dedicated children’s facilities they are looked after by trained staff and the facilities are open from 9am – 10pm. Parents can check their children into the “kids club” whenever it suits them. Children love these facilities as it is “their space” aboard the ship.
NB Each cruise line has limited space on board the ship for children as the kids club facilities can cater for a limited number of children, and any child booked onto a cruise has access to the kids club. If you are planning on taking a cruise during the school holidays then you need to book early as the children's space will sell out. Also, while most cruise lines have kids club facilities there are some exceptions (not common) so you should check this at time of booking.
The chances are you will not get seasick. On a cruise most people do not suffer from motion sickness. However, if you are going to get seasick then it is likely to happen in the first 24 hours. If you limit the amount of alcohol you consume and activities you do in the first 24 hours you can reduce the chance of this happening. Another thing you can do is select a midship cabin on a lower deck. A cabin in the middle of the ship (midship) will experience the least amount of movement.
There are a number of other precautions/medications you can take, and these can be purchased before you travel at a pharmacy or health shop. Otherwise you can buy them on board.
The best thing you can do if you feel seasick is visit the ship’s doctor. They can give you an injection that will give you relief from your seasickness within 30 minutes. You have planned and saved for your holiday, don't ruin it by feeling sick. Visit the doctor for the injection and get it treated straight away. If you have travel insurance then you can claim this back.
IMPORTANT: A visit to the doctor on board will cost you money so we strongly recommend you get travel insurance before you depart on your holiday.
Travel Insurance – Do I really need it?
Hopefully you never need to make a claim on your travel insurance. However, we strongly recommend you take out travel insurance before you depart on your holiday because even the best laid plans can be spoilt by unforeseen circumstances.
Do not let the idea of formalities put you off going on a cruise. Unless you are travelling on a 5 star + cruise ship, formal does not mean a tuxedo.
On a standard 7-12 night cruise you may find there are two formal nights, one being the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party and the other being the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party.
But even then, formal is only the “suggested dress”. Please don’t feel you have to get dressed in a tuxedo or evening dress. For men – a jacket & tie (tie is optional) will suffice, for the ladies a cocktail dress. Should you not wish to attend either of the planned formal evenings you can opt to dine in an alternative restaurant or even order room service from your cabin.
On non-formal nights, men usually wear a shirt & trousers and women a tidy dress, skirt or dressy trousers & blouse. Many ships today operate a more casual dress code to limit the amount of dressing up – after all you are on holiday.
During the day, dress for the weather outside, however you will be required to wear shoes into the restaurant.
Shore excursions are pre-organised tours & sightseeing options that you purchase on board for when your ship is in a port of call. Every ship has a “Shore Ex” desk with qualified staff who can advise you of different excursions available, what’s best to do and generally help you with information on the particular region your ship is visiting.
Shore excursions can be booked on board your ship however some cruise lines allow you to pre-book and pay for excursions online. If there is a tour you really want to do then we recommend you pre-book it as popular tours do sell out.
Shore excursions are not compulsory, you are free to go ashore and return to the ship as many times as you like.
When you go ashore it is important to note:
You must take your cruise I.D. card (ticket) as proof for re-embarking.
The city or town you are visiting may not be close to the port where the ship is docked, cruise lines normally organise shuttle buses (at a minimal charge) throughout the day to and from the city centre.
You must return to the ship at the stipulated time as the ship WILL NOT wait for late passengers.
Tour costs vary depending on the activity, itinerary and inclusions. There is always a wide variety on offer all for age groups and abilities that can start from as little as $25.
Sometimes you can book your tour, when you arrive at your port, direct from the operator at a much cheaper price. However this comes with a buyer beware warning. The operators used by the cruise line are trusted professionals so you will not be ripped off. Also, if something goes wrong on your tour, the cruise line knows where you are and will take the necessary steps to pick you up if your vehicle has broken down. In extreme cases they will even hold the ship's departure for you if you are late returning from a tour booked through the ship. They will not wait if you go direct through the operator, as they will not know where you are.
Choosing the right ship will really influence the holiday experience you have. For example if you are looking for a relaxed, informal holiday then a cruise line like Cunard would not be an appropriate choice.
Since cruise ships are really floating resorts, think of them as such. This will give you a better expectation level before you depart. They come in all different shapes and sizes so if you are unsure of which ship is right for you please speak with one of our travel professionals.
Unlike airlines, there are no luggage restrictions on a cruise. However you need to consider that you need to store it in your cabin for your holiday. There is plenty of storage space in your cabin but if you are travelling in a quad cabin you may want to impose your own restrictions.
NB It is important to remember that airlines have different luggage restrictions, so if you are flying either pre or post cruise then you may want to keep within their allowances.
Cruising is a cashless society which means when you purchase anything on board you do not pay for it in cash. When you board the ship it is like checking into a hotel, you can either give a credit card imprint or the cruise line will take a cash deposit of approximately $300. You are then given a “cruise card”. Your cruise card is your door key (on most ships), has your dinner table number on it (for traditional dining), and it is used for making any on board purchases.
When you make a purchase with your cruise card, it is swiped and a receipt is printed that you will need to sign. The cost of the purchase is then added to your on board account which you settle at the end of your cruise.
Tipping/gratuities are a big issue for a lot of Australasian cruise passengers as it is not our custom to reward good service in this way. What cruise passengers need to consider is that outside of Australasia, the remuneration for personnel in the service industry is quite low. Hence, to keep up a high standard, employees have the incentive of earning additional income via the tips they receive. At the end of the day, how much you tip is up to you.
The most common way cruise lines suggest tipping, is that they add a suggested amount to your daily on board account. You can decide to keep that on your account or you can ask the purser to take it off your account. This suggested amount is divided out amongst your cabin steward, your dinner waiter, your assistant waiter, your wine steward, and maitre d’.
Some cruise lines ask passengers to wait until the end of the cruise and they discreetly leave an envelope in your cabin in which to place the appropriate amount. Some cruise lines state that the fare you have paid includes gratuities. Some cruise lines ask that you pre-pay the gratuities with your cruise fare prior to your holiday departure.
Again, the amount you tip is up to you (unless it is prepaid) and it isn't intended to have a negative impact on your holiday. Do what feels most comfortable to you.
The rules surrounding where you can smoke on board a cruise ship vary from cruise line to cruise line. However, none have taken steps to ban smoking completely. Most only allow smoking in designated areas on the open decks. Many have banned smoking on cabin balconies as this poses a fire risk.
Many cruise lines have rules restricting you from taking your own alcohol on board your cruise ship. If you have pre purchased duty free alcohol the ship will take it off you when board and store it away for you. This alcohol will be delivered to your cabin the night before you disembark. The same applies if you purchase it when you are in port. Any purchases made on board will also be delivered the night before you disembark.
However, some cruise lines (not P&O) will allow you to bring a few bottles of wine aboard which you can drink at dinner or in your cabin.
These restrictions were put in place to create a safer environment on board your cruise ship, where people drink within a controlled drinking environment.
As soon as you have decided you want to take a cruise, start making plans. The best staterooms always sell out fast, and the most expensive and least expensive staterooms are the first to sell out. So if you're travelling on a budget and looking for the least expensive inside, or you want all the amenities and luxuries of a suite, you need to book early! For these staterooms, a year out is not too early to be planning your cruise.
Also, ships have limited space on board for children as the kids club facilities can cater for a limited number of children, and any child booked onto a cruise has access to the kids club. If you are planning on taking a cruise during the school holidays then you need to book early as the children's space will sell out.
If you are prepared to risk waiting for a “last minute cruise deal” you may be rewarded with a good deal. However it might not be in your ideal cabin.