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Cruise Brothers
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Ask a Cruise Brother About Cruising

BEFORE YOU BOARD

Click on any question to view the answer.

Dear Steve,
When will I get my cruise documents (tickets)? Is there anything else I have to do before boarding?
--Wondering

You should receive your travel documents no later than 7 days prior to your departure; in some cases, you will receive them sooner. If you book your cruise within 2 weeks of sailing, it may be necessary to pick up your travel documents the day of departure, at the pier. For reservations that include airfare, you can make arrangements to set up an overnight delivery. Your reservation may be e-ticketed; in this instance, an email confirmation with your itinerary will be sent to you.

Be sure to see our Welcome Aboard Guide for additional important information on preparing for your cruise.

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Dear Cruise Brothers,
When will I get my air itinerary? Should I book cruise line air, or directly with you?
--Organized

Cruise lines assign flights approximately 21 days prior to departure. Only then will you know your airline and flight schedule. You may request to customize your flights for an additional fee, plus any additional airfare costs. Without doing so, cruise agents are unable to guarantee seat assignments, non-stop flights, specific flight times, or a specific airline. In addition, they are unable to guarantee the same flight schedule if more than one cabin is booked and the cruisers are traveling together. If these factors are important to you, we recommend customizing your flights. In some cases, custom flight itineraries may not be an option.

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Dear Steve and Russ,
Should I reconfirm my airline reservations?
--Cautious

Yes, it is recommended that you call your airline(s) 24 hours before your initial flight departure to verify all the flight numbers, departure and arrival times shown on your ticket.

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Dear Steve,
Do I really need travel insurance?
--Unconvinced

The purchase of travel insurance is highly recommended as a protection of your vacation investment. Travel protection will cover you if you have to cancel due to injury, sickness, or death to you, a traveling companion, or family member. It will cover you should a medical emergency occur on your trip. If you cancel your vacation for a covered reason, or incur medical expenses while on your trip, you would need to pay these fees in advance and then file a claim for reimbursement. Just recently on a Caribbean cruise, a passenger tripped and fell just walking back from a shore excursion. Her knee was badly scraped, and her bruised elbow x-rayed. She was treated at the ship's infirmary, filed her claim upon return, and received her reimbursement as promised. Some companies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions at all, while others require that the insurance be purchased within seven to 14 days of making the initial cruise deposit in order to provide this coverage. My mother always said, "better to be safe than sorry." For peace of mind, purchase cruise insurance.

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Dear Cruise Brothers,
I'm the proverbial clotheshorse who likes to travel with about 5 suitcases. What should I pack?
-- Heavy Packer

You might need 5 suitcases if you have an entourage or you're going around the world, but otherwise you can travel much lighter. The key is really to be sure to dress for comfort and temperature. Aboard ship and in ports of call, dress is casual. For Alaska cruises, we suggest casual clothes that can be layered easily. On some days you may need a raincoat and waterproof hat or umbrella. Gloves are a good idea as well. Footwear should include comfortable walking shoes for visits ashore and sandals or rubber-soled shoes for strolling on deck.

In the evening, ships vary as to dress. There are three types of "evenings" on board - casual, smart casual (or informal) and formal. On casual nights, sport shirts and slacks are suggested for men; sundresses or pants for women. On smart casual nights, dresses and pantsuits for women; jackets and ties for men. For formal nights, women should wear cocktail dresses; men should wear suits and ties or tuxedos (optional). Seven-night cruises usually include two formal nights. In addition, most cruise lines offer alternative casual dining for anyone who may prefer not to dine in the main restaurant.

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Dear Russ,
How do transfers work?
--Don't want to miss the boat

Most cruise lines include transfers between the airport and the pier on embarkation/disembarkation day if you have purchased an air/sea package directly with them. Passengers providing their own air must get their own transportation to/from the pier. Prepaid transfers can be purchased separately from most cruise lines. Flight information must be provided to the cruise line with final payment if separate transfers have been purchased.

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Dear Steve,
What are the boarding procedures?
--Anxious

Usually, you will be allowed to board two or three hours before the ship sails. At check-in, inside the terminal, you will clear security and present your cruise documentation and proof of citizenship. Then you'll receive a guest identification card which will serve as your identification for security procedures when embarking and disembarking the ship and when making purchases on board. Often, it is also the key to your cabin. Once you board the ship, your luggage will be delivered to your cabin shortly after it arrives at the ship. You won't have anything with you except your carry-on luggage. Upon boarding, you are free to explore the ship; most people go immediately to the buffet lunch.

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Dear Steve,
Is it true you can watch the Big Screen under the stars while cruising? My wife and I love movies and think this would be very romantic.
--Star Struck

It's true, you romantic devil. You're going to give husbands a "good" name! A giant Times Square-style LED screen will show a variety of entertainment throughout the day, including feature length films offering family cinema, first run hits, and late night movies. Complimentary chaise lounge reservations, special movie theme cocktails and casual dining will be offered to round out the ultimate poolside experience. Even free popcorn is offered. Most romantics think cruising is the ultimate experience no matter how often they go to sea together.

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Dear Steve & Russ,
How about golf at sea?
--Avid Golfer

If you can't imagine a vacation without golf, cruises will fulfill your needs. Exciting shore excursions to some of the most beautiful courses in the world provide the challenge of playing multiple courses on one trip. In addition to golf excursions on shore, you may rent clubs and equipment on board and get personalized lessons from professional instructors. Many ships even have mini-golf courses right onboard for hours of family fun!

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Dear Steve,
How about the private islands I have heard about? Are they as beautiful as the ads?
--Day dreaming

The islands are absolutely beautiful, and unlike "Gilligan's Island," they have everything you need for a fabulous day. Most major lines have purchased or leased private islands. They are primarily in the Bahamas and are a great way to guarantee a day at the beach that's less crowded and with all the amenities you're looking for. Since the only people on the island are from your ship, the ship's crew runs everything. Even the dining room staff comes ashore with provisions from the ship and cooks up a tropical BBQ lunch. Private island visits have become one of the major highlights of a Caribbean cruise. Be sure to ask about them when booking your cruise.

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