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Ask a Cruise Brother About Cruising

WHILE ONBOARD

Click on any question to view the answer.

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Dear Cruise Brothers,
Will I get seasick on a cruise?
--Queasy

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 not outdoors.

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Dear Steve and Russ,
What is the lifeboat drill, and do I have to go?
--Curious

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.

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Dear Steve,
Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
--Coiffed

Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms and most even feature hair dryers in your cabin.

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Dear Russ,
Can we stay in touch with the outside world?
--News Junkie

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.

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Dear Russ,
What are my dining options?
--Hungry

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 fee.

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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.

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Dear Steve,
Are there laundry services aboard?
--Neatly Pressed

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.

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Dear Cruise Brothers,
Are there medical services onboard?
--Sniffles

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.

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Dear Russ and Steve,
How do I pay for things onboard?
--Fat wallet

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.

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Dear Steve,
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 Purser's Desk.

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Dear Steve,
Is participation in ship activities mandatory or can I just relax and do what I want?
--Lounger

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

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Dear Steve,
What about the evening activities?
--Night Owl

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 at sea.

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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.

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Dear Steve,
Will my child get bored? Do cruise lines have activities for kids? How about babysitting?
--Cruise Mom

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.

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Dear Russ,
Do I have to get off of the ship at each port of call?
--Independent

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!

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Dear Steve,
What can I do in port?
--Beach Bum

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.

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Dear Russ and Steve,
How do I pay for purchases in port?
--Souvenir Hunter

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.

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