Ask a Cruise Brother About Cruising
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Dear Cruise Brothers,
Will I get seasick on a cruise?
Even if you or your child suffer from motion sickness during car rides and
airplane rides, it is still unlikely for you to become seasick. Due to the size
of the ship, as well as the stabilizers that all ships are equipped with, it
is unlikely you will notice any motion at all. Of course, some parts of the
ocean offer smoother waters than others, but should the seas get rough, there
are medications available on board. The interior of the ship resembles a luxurious
hotel, and chances are that you'll almost forget you're cruising when you're
Dear Steve and Russ,
What is the lifeboat drill, and do I have to go?
Everyone on board the ship is required to be in attendance for a compulsory
safety drill before departure to comply with Coast Guard and international safety
regulations. It's actually kind of fun seeing all your friends in big orange
life jackets. Be sure and get a photo for laughs later.
Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms and most even feature hair dryers
in your cabin.
Can we stay in touch with the outside world?
Quite easily. Most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected
stock quotes and sports scores; and most cabins have televisions and telephones
you can also call someone on shore through the ship's radio operator while at
sea. In addition, you can make phone calls from most ports. However, your cell
phone will not work out at sea and will only work in ports if you have international
service. Also, many ships have fax capabilities and internet access. Many of
the newer ships offer business centers and computers with access to the Internet.
Computer use can be rented at a fairly reasonable rate, but direct dial to your
Internet provider via your laptop could cost as much as $10 or more per minute.
Be sure to check the availability of these services specifically with each ship
before booking your cruise.
What are my dining options?
Cruises are noted for the quality and variety of dining experiences. Most
cruise lines offer two seatings for the main dining room: Main Seating and Late
Seating. Dining preferences may be requested at the time of the booking, but
no requests are guaranteed. Your seating and table assignment will be confirmed
at embarkation. Either seating will allow you to see all the shows and experience
everything your cruise has to offer. For your convenience, in addition to breakfast,
lunch, dinner, and midnight buffets, many ships also offer complimentary room
service. Low-fat and vegetarian entrees are often offered at lunch and dinner.
In addition to the traditional seatings, some cruise lines now offer "freestyle"
dining. This provides guests with the flexibility to dine when they wish. You
may also choose your dinner companions and request specific table sites rather
than being assigned to a particular time and table for the duration of the cruise.
In addition, many of the ships now offer specialty restaurants for a nominal
Dear Steve and Russ,
Is tipping necessary? How much?
--Expecting Good Service
Tips stand for "To Insure Prompt Service," and it is always up to you.
Your wait staff, steward and ship's staff know this as well. Although a few
cruise lines have a no tipping policy, a general rule of thumb is to plan for
about $2.50 to $3.00 per person per day each for your room steward and dining
room waiter, and about half that amount for your busboy. Anyone else who makes
your cruise special or memorable should be tipped at your discretion. Gratuities
are customarily given on the last evening of your cruise. On many cruise lines
it is now possible to prepay the above gratuities. On most cruise lines a 15%
gratuity is automatically added to your on board account for beverage purchases
which you may adjust according to services rendered.
Are there laundry services aboard?
Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and a great many provide dry-cleaning
services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and
dry-cleaning services. Most ships also have self-service launderettes.
Dear Cruise Brothers,
Are there medical services
Virtually every cruise ship has a fully-equipped medical facility and staff
to handle almost any emergency. Your prescription medication should be kept
close at hand in your purse or carry-on bag rather than in your checked luggage.
Be sure to bring a sufficient supply of medication and transport it in the original
container. It is also a good idea to carry a written list of your medications
in case they are lost. The list should include the name of the drug, dosage,
and times taken.
Dear Russ and Steve,
How do I pay for things onboard?
You can leave that fat wallet in your cabin safe. Most cruise lines have
set up a "cashless" system designed to make your life on board as simple
as possible. You simply sign a receipt for each of your on-board purchases
and then settle your shipboard account at the end of the cruise. Cash,
VISA, American Express, MasterCard, Discover, and personal or traveler's
checks are accepted as payment on most cruise lines. If you do not have
a credit card, you may use a cash deposit to prepay for purchases.
How will I know what activities are happening aboard the ship?
--Anxious for activity
You can keep busy all day and just about all night on a cruise. Your stateroom
steward will leave a news update in your stateroom each night, which will provide
a schedule of events for the following day. This update will tell you where
and when everything is happening. You can always get additional copies at the
Is participation in ship activities mandatory or can I just relax
and do what I want?
Activities may be scheduled or impromptu all day long on a cruise. You can
choose the ones you want or none at all - you are on vacation, so you can do
what you want! Each ship has at least one pool where guests may relax, as well
as several libraries and lounges where you can find a nice quiet space for you,
your family and friends
What about the evening activities?
The evenings are just as exciting as the days. From the casinos, to the nightclub,
to the entertainment, to passenger talent shows, there is always something going
on. If you are a real night owl, you may even have a chance to see a sunrise
Dear Cruise Brothers,
Are the casinos and shops open all day?
--Big Spender in Boulder
Shops and the casino are open while you are at sea; however, they will be
closed while the ship is in port. You'll have a great time shopping on board,
especially when sale events are held at various shops.
Will my child get bored? Do cruise lines have activities
for kids? How about babysitting?
All major cruise lines offer programs for children, and kids usually have
a blast. In fact, most ships offer age specific activities such as camps, daycare
or babysitting services. Babysitting services are offered during certain evening
hours when the children's program is not in operation, but generally not on
the first or the last night of the cruise. Babysitting during daytime hours
is usually offered only while at sea, but a few may have more flexible hours.
You should check with your cruise travel agent about specific programs.
Do I have to get off of the ship at each port of call?
Absolutely not! You can relax at the pool or participate in one of the cruise
line's organized activities. You can do anything you wish... it's YOUR vacation!
What can I do in port?
If it's beaches you want, you'll have access to some of the best beaches in
the world. For others, each port of call offers a unique experience. Typically,
ships arrive in a port early in the morning, giving you time to go ashore to
shop, discover historical sites and explore the land or beach. You may also
pay extra to go on planned excursions, which are arranged by the ship's crew
or local sightseeing companies. There is truly something for everyone.
Dear Russ and Steve,
How do I pay for purchases in port?
Most shops accept major credit cards and traveler's checks. Some ships and
ports of call have ATMs; however, they may not always be in service and fees
are involved. Most Caribbean islands accept American money. You should attend
the port talk's onboard ship for the best shopping tips and bargains.