Read on for answers to some commonly asked questions:

Cruising With Children  Prices & Balance Payment  Cabin & Facilities  Dining & Drinking 

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General Information

Can I take a mobility scooter/wheelchair on board?

If you are planning to use a scooter on board you will need to book an adapted cabin and be aware that cruise lines will restrict the amount of scooters/wheelchairs on board for health and safety reasons. Please ask your cruise specialist for details

Days at Sea

These days are perfect for finding relaxing moments and making the most of your time on-board. As you’re sailing, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on a port or excursion onshore, so you can sunbathe, work out or snooze in your cabin guilt-free.

Find a spot beside the pool and enjoy some rays or bag a space in the hot tub for ultra-relaxation with sea views. If you’re travelling with young family, many cruise lines have fun splash parks and water slides for them to enjoy while you sip a cocktail on a sun lounger. Utter bliss.

You can even take that bliss one step further and enjoy time in the spa, enjoying a massage or treatment which can work wonders on your skin, circulation and well-being to refresh you while on-board.

Why not challenge yourself and take a class where you can learn to cook, develop your photography skills or learn the salsa? Days at sea are ideal to indulge in a workshop or make a new hobby for yourself.

Days in Port

Reaching each destination doesn’t mean you have to go ashore, you can choose to spend this time enjoying a bit of extra space on-board as many people disappear for tours and day trips.

You will receive an announcement for arriving in the port and you can make your way ashore. Larger ships may allocate you a designated area to go ashore to avoid crowding so make sure you know where to exit the ship.

When leaving the ship, make sure you take your cruise card with you as you will need it to return on-board, and pack a few items for the day such as bottled water, camera, sunglasses and a towel if you’re heading to the beach.

You don’t need to book your excursions with the ship, you are free to find your own tours or roam the port yourself, just make sure you leave plenty of time to return and get back on-board.

Tips for your days ashore:

  • Book your shore excursions as soon as you can if going with the cruise line
  • Make sure you make a note of your cruise ship number and port agent so you can find the ship easily later
  • Take note of your ship’s boarding time for passengers to get back on the ship – vital if you’re running late!

Do cruises cater for people with mobility difficulties?

Guests with mobility difficulties are more than welcome on board cruise ships, usually providing that you are travelling with an able-bodied companion. There are adapted cabins available across the majority of cruise ships, but these do sell out fairly quickly so book early.

Documentation in order to get on a cruise ship?

Actually, you can leave all of those behind and still get on board as long as you have PROPER ID.

US and International customs requires that you have either a passport or birth certificate.

A drivers license or military ID is not enough! If your cruise does NOT start AND end in the same US port, you MUST have a passport and it must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER your cruise ends.

Does the cruise line offer airfare?

Yes, the cruise lines do offer airfare from most major air cities within the U.S. and Canada for most cruises. When purchasing airfare as a package from the cruise line, you are confirming your transportation from your air city to the ship and return after the cruise. The cruise lines do not issue flight schedules until 60 days prior to your cruise. Air schedules are at the sole discretion of the cruise line (if you need an exact airline schedule, you must request an air deviation with your cruise specialist, additional fees between $50 to $75 will apply for air deviations, plus additional air cost, if any). The cruise lines do reserve the right to substitute charter air/common carrier service without prior notice.

Pre-cruise preparation

Once you’re cruise is booked, it can be easy to just kick-back and relax as your embarkation date draws nearer. Packing is a love or hate task, with this made even trickier due to the multiple destinations you will likely be visiting.

Make sure you pack suitable clothing in case there is heavy rain or windy ports, an umbrella or rain mac don’t take up much space in your luggage but are lifesavers if the weather takes a sudden turn.

Documents such as your passport, booking details and identification should also be valid and ready to hand over before stepping on-board. It’s best to keep these in your hand luggage for boarding, so you can get to them easily.

If you’re simply cruising luggage restrictions are a little lax than when fly-cruising, with cruise lines generally allowing you to take more on-board. However, there are still limitations so it’s best to check with your Cruise Concierge to ensure you pack accordingly.

Tips for preparing to cruise:

  • Make sure you pack travelsick tables, especially if it’s your first cruise
  • European travel adaptors are a must if sailing from the UK, make sure you pack a few so you can charge multiple devices and do your hair at the same time!
  • The wind and sun can wreak havoc on your skin, keep burns at bay with plenty sun cream and moisturizer

Should I have travel protection?

We highly recommend the purchase of travel protection for every cruise we offer. Coverage can include, but not limited to: trip cancellation due to medical emergency, illness or death. Coverage is for your immediate family or traveling companions; trip interruption; trip delay; baggage protection; medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation.

Special Celebrations?

To help you celebrate your special occasion, you may purchase wine, fruit baskets, champagne, birthday cakes, canapés, flowers or other gifts for your cabin. Most cruise lines offer a gift catalog online at their website.

What about special needs?

Wherever possible, the cruise lines try to accommodate passengers with special medical, physical conditions or special requirements. Most ships have staterooms designed for people with special needs or requirements. Any medical or physical condition that may require special attention must be reported in writing at the time of cruise reservation to BUYCRUISES.COM. Cruise lines may require special needs passenger to submit additional related information prior to cruise departure. Passengers traveling with wheelchairs, please be advised that cabin doors are normally 22" wide, bathroom doors are 20" wide, and there is a 3" lip to the shower. Elevator service may not be available to all decks of the ship.

What are custom allowances?

U.S. Citizens are allowed $400 worth of merchandise when returning to the United States from abroad. Passengers over the age of 21 may also bring 1 quart of liquor or wine and 200 cigarettes. Non U.S. citizens should check with their local authorities for custom allowance information.

What is onboard credit good for?

If the cruise you book has an onboard credit offer, that credit can be used for any purchases made WHILE YOU ARE ON THE SHIP only. You cannot apply it to the price of the cruise or to anything you add before the cruise.

You can apply it to any onboard purchase such as drinks, drink packages purchased ONBOARD, spa and salon treatments, excursions, gift shop items, photos, etc.

What is required to purchase a cruise?

You must be 21 years of age or older to travel. Under the age of 21
may sail when accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse who is
over the age of 25. There are several exceptions to this rule, contact a BUYCRUISES cruise specialist is you are under age 21.

A reservation deposit is required to confirm your cruise vacation with final payment

What is there to do in each port (each place the cruise stops)? How do I book shore excursions?

You can do a sunset cruise on a catamaran in many ports!

There will almost always be many shops and activities located very near the cruise terminal. So you can just walk (or tender) right off the ship and be surrounded by many options.

Or you can choose to take a shore excursion that is offered by the cruise line or a company we can recommend to you.

The cruise lines offer many shore excursions in each port that range from $35 to $350 per person.

Once you have made your final payment on your cruise, you will register on the cruise line’s website, do your online check-in, and then have an opportunity to see all the shore excursions that are available and reserve your space for the ones you choose.

After you book your cruise with us, we’ll send you a link to a company called SHORETRIPS, which is an alternative to booking your excursions with the cruise line. Prices on Shoretrips are usually less, and the group size is smaller.

What should I pack? Is there a dress code?

Usually, there are a couple formal nights, where everyone dresses up very nicely and photographers are everywhere taking pictures.

So you will want a couple of fancy outfits for those nights.

Also, there is a dress code for the formal dining room: no shorts, tank tops, flip flops allowed – that sort of thing.

So do bring some nice dress pants, shirts for men – not just shorts and tee shirts!

Anything is fine for kids.

You will want comfortable shoes to walk around the ship and around the ports of call.

And of course, if your cruise is to a colder/cooler climate, you will want a rain jacket and layers.

Where do cruises go?

Most cruises in the U.S. go to islands in the Caribbean Sea, or other islands like the Bahamas which are technically in the Atlantic.

Cruises to the Caribbean usually go to either the Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, or Southern Caribbean.

To see map of where cruises depart from in the U.S., and go to in the Caribbean, click here!

There are also cruises departing from California which go to Mexican ports like Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan.

Cruises from Seattle and Vancouver go to Alaska.

There are a few 15-day cruises which go from the West Coast of the U.S. to Hawaii, but most Hawaiian cruises begin and end in Hawaii.

There are many cruises departing from Southern Europe which cruise to other ports in the Mediterranean Sea, usually either on the Western side of Italy toward Spain, or on the Eastern side toward the Greek Isles.

Cruises depart from Northern Europe cruise the North Sea to the Norwegian Fjords and cities in the Baltics and Russia.

Cruises go everywhere in the world, including all over Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

There are also TransAtlantic and Repositioning cruises which cross the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.

Want to cruise through the Panama Canal? You can do that!

Your last night on-board and debarkation

Your last night, though still part of your holiday, is when any outstanding balances are due on your account and when you need to pack ready to make your journey home. You can pay off your bill at Guest Services, with any additional purchases made after this time charged separately to your card.

You are required to pack the night before and leave your luggage outside your cabin for easier disembarking. On your last night, luggage tags will be left in your room for you to attach to your suitcase and leave outside your cabin to be collected by the crew.

Make sure you pack essentials in your hand luggage as you will not retrieve this luggage until the following day, this includes documents, your clothes for the next day and any medication you may need.

You do have the option for self-assist disembarkation, however this means you are responsible for taking all of your luggage to the terminal yourself.

If you have a scheduled flight to catch, advise Guest Services who will allocate you a luggage tag for travellers wishing to leave earlier. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the time you are required to leave your room is different to the time you must leave the ship, meaning you may have to wait in the main rooms until called.

Top tips for disembarkation days:

  • Get up early and leave your room to enjoy one last cruise breakfast and coffee
  • Don’t stand around in the atrium or linger in your room as the crew are on a tight schedule to get the next group of holidaymakers on-board later that day
  • Have your documents to hand for swift and easy checking on your way out

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 Dining & Drinking

Can I bring food and drink on board the ship?

Unfortunately not all cruise lines will allow food and drink to be brought on board the ship. 
Some, but not all, cruise lines will allow you to carry a reasonable amount of alcohol on board to consume within your stateroom. Many will charge a corkage fee if you would like to take this into a restaurant or lounge/bar area.

Can I bring my own alcohol on the ship?

Some, but not all, cruise lines will allow you to carry a reasonable amount of alcohol onboard to consume within your stateroom. Many will charge a corkage fee if you would like to take this into a restaurant or lounge area. If you would like to carry alcohol onboard at a port-of-call it is usually at the port authorities’ discretion.

How much are drink packages?

Be aware that with most cruise lines, if one person in a cabin purchases a beverage package, ALL persons in the cabin must purchase a package.

For each cruise line’s beverage package prices, individual drink prices, and article on whether drink packages are “worth it.”

Many cruise lines now offer a choice of drinks packages which you can pre-book or purchase once on board. Below is a list of which cruise lines offer a drinks package.

Please note that terms and conditions apply to all drinks packages purchased – ask one of our cruise specialists for further details and prices.

Carnival Cruise Line offer a ‘Bottomless Bubbles’ package which entitles guests to unlimited soft drinks and also a ‘Cheers’ drinks package which offers guests unlimited spirits, cocktails, beer, wine and soft drinks.

Celebrity Cruises offer various drinks packages from a basic soda package to a premium drinks package, with many options in between, all of which vary in price.

Costa Cruises offer an ‘All Inclusive Premium Kids’ drinks package which offers unlimited soft drinks throughout the cruise and an ‘All Inclusive Premium Adults’ drinks package which offers unlimited alcoholic and soft drinks, including wine, beer, spirits and cocktails.

Cunard offer a Soft Drinks Package, a Coffee Card and a Wine Package.

Fred Olsen offer an All Inclusive drinks package for unlimited soft drinks, beer, wine and spirits.

MSC Cruises offer an ‘Allegrissimo Classic’ drinks package for unlimited soft drinks, wine, beer and selection of cocktails and also an ‘Allegrissimo Premium’ which has few limits.

Norwegian Cruise Line offer a soda package, beer and wine package or an ‘Ultimate Beverage Package’ which entitles guests to unlimited soda, wine, beer, spirits and a selection of cocktails.

P&O Cruises do not offer an unlimited drinks package, they do however have a Soft Drinks Package, a Costa Coffee Card and Wine Packages available.

Royal Caribbean offer a Soda Package, a Select Drinks Package (beer, wine and soda included), a Premium Drinks Package (beer, wine, house spirits, cocktails and soda) and an Unlimited Drinks Package (with very few limits).

Is room service free of charge on the ship?

Prices of room service will vary depending on the cruise line – many items may be free of charge, whilst others will carry a surcharge. You will find a room service menu along with prices within your stateroom.

What is "anytime" or "freedom" dining?

Many cruise ships now offer a choice between traditional dining and anytime/freedom dining. As opposed to traditional dining whereby you are given a time to dine at, when you choose ‘anytime or freedom dining’ you are given the flexibility to dine with whom you choose and at a time that suits you (given you arrive within the restaurants opening times). The tables are provided on a first come, first serve basis. Very often, if a table is not available, you will be given a pager that will notify you when your table is ready.

What is the age requirement to buy alcohol on board?

The age requirement to buy alcohol on board varies depending on the cruise line. Most American cruise lines will not allow guests under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, British cruise lines commonly allow guests over the age of 18 to buy and consume alcohol, while some cruise lines are slightly more relaxed and allow guests aged 16 or over to consume alcohol with their meal in the main restaurant (when accompanied by an adult). Please check with one of our cruise specialists regarding specific cruise lines and the legal age requirement.

What’s the food like on a cruise ship?

  • There are a ton of it, available almost 24 hours a day, and it’s all FREE! (Except the few specialty restaurants which charge a small surcharge, if you choose to dine there.)
  • There’s always a huge buffet of amazing-looking desserts – so plan on gaining weight.
  • There are fancy dining rooms where you can sit down, order off a menu, and have your lunch or dinner served by white-gloved waiters.
  • Or, you can peruse the endless options at a huge buffet that’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and just eat as much as you want there, whenever you want.
  • Even at the buffet, there’s always a half dozen protein options, including meat carved off the bone to order. It’s quite nice. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.
  • There are always beautiful vegetable and salad bars available, so you can keep it clean and healthy if you want to.

When and where can I eat on board?

All ships have at least one main dining room which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – most will provide waiter service, however this can vary depending on the cruise line. A lot of cruise ships offer a selection of dining areas, from a self-service/buffet style venue to A la Carte restaurants (please note there may be an extra cost to eat in alternative dining venues).
You are usually given a choice of dining times for the main restaurant, traditionally guests can choose from 1st seating or 2nd seating but more cruise lines are now also offering a flexible dining choice, whereby you can eat at a time that suits yourself (given you arrive within the restaurants opening times). Most cruise ships also offer room service throughout the day (depending on the cruise line, room service may incur an extra charge).

Will the ship cater to dietary requirements?

Yes, cruise lines will cater to dietary requirements. You must inform your cruise specialist of any dietary requirements at the time of booking.

 

2

Cabin & Facilities

Are there facilities to do my own laundry?

Some cruise lines offer self-service launderettes on several decks – these are often free of charge but some are coin operated. To use the self-service launderettes you will need to provide your own detergent and fabric softener.
On those ships which do not offer self-service launderettes there will be a full dry cleaning and laundry service – you will find a list of services and prices in your stateroom. If not just ask your cabin steward.Prices of room service will vary depending on the cruise line – many items may be free of charge, whilst others will carry a surcharge. You will find a room service menu along with prices within your stateroom.

Can I pay for a laundry service?

Yes, most cruise lines offer a full dry cleaning and laundry service – Prices will vary depending on the cruise line but you will find a list of services and prices in your stateroom.

How do you book spa treatments or specialty dining?

You can book these once you are aboard the cruise ship. Simply press the ‘concierge or spa’ button on your room phone. Some cruise lines, Princess, for example, will allow you to make reservations online in your trip planner before your cruise.

Spa treatments are usually very expensive aboard a cruise ship. Like, $120 per one-hour massage, plus you’ll need to tip on top of that.

There are usually several small restaurants onboard your cruise ship that you can dine at for an extra fee, usually about $20 to $30 per person. You’ll have to book these in advance, by calling the concierge when you first get on the ship.

The food at these specialty restaurants is usually 4-star, so if you’re a big foodie it’s definitely worth it.

Is room service available on the ship?

Room service is available on most cruise ships. You will find a room service menu within your stateroom. Room service is often available 24 hours a day but some cruise ships will have time restrictions. Prices will vary depending on the cruise line – many items may be free of charge, whilst others will carry a surcharge.

Is tea and coffee provided in the cabin/stateroom?

The facilities provided vary depending on the cruise line and ship.
Various cruise lines will provide tea and coffee making facilities on board those ships departing from the UK – however this is not guaranteed. On most cruise ships you are able to help yourself to complimentary tea and coffee in the buffet restaurant throughout the day.

P&O Cruises provide tea and coffee making facilities in the staterooms on board all of their ships. Provided in their staterooms is a kettle, cups, teaspoons, tea bags, coffee sachets, sugar and milk.

Fred Olsen provide tea and coffee making facilities in all of their staterooms on board all of their ships.

Is there a safe in the stateroom?

Most cruise lines provide a private safe in each stateroom including, Cunard, P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Costa Cruises, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises. Fred Olsen provide a private safe on board some of their ships, but not all!
Our cruise specialists will be more than happy to answer any questions relating to specific cabin facilities.

Is there be an iron in my stateroom?

No, you will not have access to an iron in your stateroom. There will however be laundry services on board - ask your cabin steward.

Prices of room service will vary depending on the cruise line – many items may be free of charge, whilst others will carry a surcharge. You will find a room service menu along with prices within your stateroom.

Is there Wi-Fi on board? Can I connect to the internet?

Internet access will depend on the ship you are travelling on board, however most cruise lines do operate a successful internet service for passengers to access. Some cruise ships will have an internet café and most now have WiFi. Passengers are usually required to purchase internet usage – there will most likely be a choice of packages, depending on how many ‘internet minutes’ you require.

What facilities are provided in the cabin?

The facilities provided vary depending on the cruise line and ship.
Most staterooms are equipped with a television, telephone, private safe and hair-dryer.
Our cruise specialists will be more than happy to answer any questions relating to specific cabin facilities.

What is a sheltered balcony?

A sheltered balcony, most commonly found on a Cunard ship, will usually have an opaque front, rather than a glass front, and, as the name suggests, will be very sheltered. A sheltered balcony is much more enclosed than a regular open air balcony.

What is an obstructed view?

As the name suggests, a stateroom with an obstructed view will have something blocking the view out of the window or from the balcony. Some cabins are listed as fully obstructed and some as partially obstructed – the object blocking your view could be anything from a lifeboat to part of the ships structure.

What is the difference between cabin grades?

Cabin grades are there to differentiate cabin types from each other.
The grade of cabin signifies whether it is an inside, outside, balcony or suite; and also determines the location of the cabin on the ship. Cabins can be mid-ship or situated towards the aft (back of the ship) or forward (front of the ship). The grade also determines which deck your cabin will be situated on.

 

3

Price and Balance

Can I cancel the cruise and get my money back?

If it were up to us – that would be fine. But the cruise lines have very specific rules about that. They are:

Your deposit is fully refundable, up until the time of final payment (usually 75 days before sailing). Unless you used a non-refundable fare code, then you MAY get a future cruise credit but more likely, you will lose the deposit. Some river cruise and luxury lines have $50 or $100 pp admin fees to cancel at any time like Azamara for example.

On some cruise lines, once you’re within 75 days before sailing, you can’t cancel your cruise without incurring penalties, somewhere between the deposit amount all the way up to 100% of the cost of your cruise, depending on how close it is to sailing. Some cruise line penalties begin as early as 120 days before sailing.

The only way to get your money back is if you purchased TRAVEL INSURANCE and you are cancelling FOR A COVERED REASON.

The most common covered reasons are illness, death or injury in the family, redeployment, and revocation of leave. Ask us for the complete list.

How do I pay for things on the ship? / How do I settle my on board account?

Cruise ships operate a cashless system and each passenger has an on board account. Every purchase made on board (i.e. at the bar, in the spa and in the shops) will be added to your on board account which is settled by the credit/debit card you registered at check-in, or you may pay off your account in cash at reception on board.

How much does a cruise cost?

The price of a cruise could be anywhere between $200 and $20,000 per person!

Plus, the cruise lines change the price almost daily!

So there is no ONE price that we can tell you.

To determine the price we need to identify one specific ship and departure date. But then, we need to know what type of cabin you prefer (least expensive, ocean view, balcony, etc), the number of people in the cabin, and your state of residence, military status, senior and past guest status.

Whew – you see how getting a price on a cruise can be kind of complicated! But don’t worry, we’re experts and we can help.

There are over 300 cruise ships in the world cruising to hundreds of destinations.

Use the cruise search tool to select when you want to go, where to and where from.

It will reveal a list of all cruises which fit your criteria and give you live pricing and cabin availability.

We can tell you generally that holiday weeks and summer months are the most expensive time to cruise.

And some cruise lines are definitely more affordable than others.

But, you can use our search tool to list all cruises in order of least expensive to most, so you can easily see what your best deals are.

What is included in the cost of a cruise?

  • Accmmodations
    • Staterooms vary by ship, with sizes and configurations to meet different budgets and needs.
  • Onboard Activities and Entertainment
    • Onboard activities may include a fitness center, shopping, a full-service spa, a casino, swimming pools, recreational attractions, enrichment programs, guest lecturers, a supervised youth program and more.
    • Nightly entertainment – big Broadway-type shows, comedy club
  • Most Meals and Snacks
    • Cruise lines differ in their dining options, but generally offer a range of choices including fixed-time dining, flexible-time buffet dining, and room service.
    • All meals in either a large buffet that is open most of the day and evening and/or a formal dining room where a multi-course dinner is served by white-gloved waiters (it’s very fancy). You can eat at both places if you rush through the formal dinner.
    • Coffee, tea, juice, ice tea and lemonade
  • Ports of Call
    • Itineraries are designed to include some of the most celebrated, scenic and culturally enriching places in the world.
  • Kids Clubs 
    • On almost every cruise line there are kids clubs for ages 3 to 17, with separate facilities, staffs and activities for each age group.
    • For those adults who like to stay out late, the kids club offer addition after hours baby sitting for an hourly fee.

What is the procedure for tipping? / How much are gratuities? / Do I have to tip/pay gratuities?

The amount you pay for gratuities varies per cruise line, and in some cases by the type of cabin. The most up to date details we have (as of 30th July 2015) are:
Azamara Club Cruises – Gratuities are already included in the fare of the cruise and so you needn't worry about paying gratuities.

Carnival Cruise Line – “For your convenience, we automatically charge the gratuities for dining and stateroom staff to your on board Sail & Sign account (for ‘Cruises-To-Nowhere, gratuities must be prepaid). The total amount is $12.00 per guest, per day. Once gratuities have been posted, you may adjust them at your discretion at any time while on board. Gratuities will be deemed undisputed unless a request to modify is received prior to disembarking the ship.”

Celebrity Cruises – “For your convenience, we automatically add gratuities for your restaurant and stateroom services to your onboard SeaPass account on a daily basis in the following amounts, which may be adjusted at your discretion.”
• $12.95 per person, per day in standard staterooms
• $13.45 per person, per day in Concierge Class and AquaClass® staterooms
• $16.45 per person, per day in Suite Class

Costa Cruises – “As a convenience, Costa will add a modest service charge per person, per day to the onboard account as a gratuity for cabin and dining services.” The cost of gratuities varies depending on the itinerary, it may be anything from 8 Euros per guest per day, up to 12 Euros per guest per day. Please ask one of our cruise experts for the exact amount for specific cruises.

Cunard – “For your convenience, a Hotel and Dining charge will be automatically added to your shipboard account on a daily basis. This will be shared amongst those staff that helped provide and support your cruise experience, including the restaurant staff, stateroom stewards and accommodation staff, buffet stewards and others. Casino personnel do not share in the Hotel and Dining charge as not all passengers utilise this service. This charge is automatically charged to your on board account (including children of all ages). If you wish to amend the charge in any way you can do so by contacting the Purser's Desk once on board.” Amounts vary by stateroom category as follows:
Queens and Princess Grill Suites $13.50 per person per day
Britannia Staterooms $11.50 per person per day

Disney Cruise Line – “You can choose to pre-pay gratuities for your party up to three days before your vacation begins by contacting Disney Cruise Line; or, for the convenience of our Guests who have not pre-paid, the suggested gratuity amounts will be added to your onboard account, based on the length of your voyage as shown in the table above. If you wish to modify or make changes to the gratuity amounts or would like to pay in cash, please stop by our Guest Services desk.” Cost of gratuities will vary depending on the length of your cruise. Please ask one of our cruise experts for the exact amount you will be charged for gratuities.

Fred Olsen – “Gratuities are not included in the cost of your cruise holiday. However, Fred Olsen pride themselves on the service offered to their guests, and are confident that you’ll wish to reward staff on board for this service, although tipping is entirely at your discretion. As a general rule £2.00 per adult guest per day, for your cabin stewardess and the same amount for your restaurant waiter is always very much appreciated. For our guests convenience this is automatically added to your cruise end account.”

Holland America Line – “To ensure that the efforts of all of our crew members are recognized and rewarded, a daily Hotel Service Charge is automatically added to each guest’s shipboard account.
The daily Hotel Service Charge for suites is US$12.00 per guest per day, and US$11.50 per guest per day for other staterooms. If our service exceeds or fails to meet your expectations, you are free to adjust this amount at the end of each segment and/or voyage.”

MSC – “For your convenience MSC Cruises will automatically add a daily Hotel Service Charge to your shipboard account, based on your chosen itinerary and the number of days for which the services are actually provided. The Hotel Service charge serves to ensure we maintain the highest quality standards of service to our guests. The daily amounts vary depending on the itinerary and length of the cruise – please ask your Cruise Village Cruise Specialist for the cost of gratuities. Should you wish to remove any of the daily Hotel Service Charge in the unlikely event that you do not receive satisfactory service, you may do so by contacting the Guest Relations Manager on board.”

Norwegian Cruise Line – “A service charge (currently US $ 12,95 p.p./day in the following categories: Studio, Inside, Oceanview, Balcony & Mini Suite; US $ 14,95 p.p./day in Suites & The Haven Suites) will be payable, at your discretion (for guests 3 years and older). The service charge will be added to your holiday price and shown separately on your confirmation invoice. If you do not want to pay this up front with the balance of your holiday cost, but would rather decide whether or not to pay the charge on board, please ensure you tell us at the time of and we will arrange for the charge to be added to your stateroom account.”

Oceania Cruises – How much you choose to tip is a personal matter and completely at your discretion. For your convenience the following gratuities are automatically added to your shipboard account.
FOR SAILINGS PRIOR TO THE 2015-16 WINTER SEASON:
• For guests occupying staterooms, gratuities of $15.00 per guest, per day will be added.
• For guests occupying Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner's Suites where Butler Service is provided, gratuities of $22.00 per guest, per day will be added.
FOR SAILINGS BEGINNING WITH THE 2015-16 WINTER SEASON:
• For guests occupying staterooms, gratuities of $16.00 per guest, per day will be added.
• For guests occupying Penthouse, Oceania, Vista or Owner's Suites where Butler Service is provided, gratuities of $23.00 per guest, per day will be added.

P&O Cruises – “P&O Cruises do add a discretionary service charge which is currently £5.00 (aged 12 years and over) per passenger per day to your shipboard account. This charge is discretionary and P&O Cruises believe it represents a fair amount, remaining one of the lowest within the hospitality industry. P&O Cruises strongly believe this should remain voluntary and therefore this charge can be varied at the Reception desk at any time.”

Princess Cruises – “To simplify the tipping process for guests, a discretionary gratuity of $12 per person for mini-suites and suites, and $11.50 per guest in all other staterooms per day (including children) will be automatically added to your shipboard account on a daily basis. This gratuity will be shared amongst those staff who help provide and support your cruise experience, including all waitstaff, stateroom stewards, buffet stewards, and housekeeping staff across the fleet. For your convenience, this gratuity can be pre-paid online via Cruise Personalizer.”

Regent Seven Seas – Gratuities are already included in the fare of the cruise and so you needn’t worry about paying gratuities.

Royal Caribbean – “To simplify the service recognition process, Royal Caribbean automatically adds a USD 12.00 gratuity (USD 14.25 for Suite Guests) to each guest’s SeaPass® account on a daily basis, unless you have otherwise pre-paid the gratuities. This gratuity is shared by Dining Services Staff, Stateroom Attendants other Housekeeping Services Personnel that work to enhance your cruise. The daily automatic gratuity amounts are recommended and are based on customary industry standards. In the unlikely event that a guest onboard being charged the daily automatic gratuity does not receive satisfactory service, the guest may request to modify the daily amount at their discretion by visiting Guest Services during their cruise.”

Seabourn – “Tipping is neither required nor expected on a Seabourn cruise.”

Silversea – “Gratuities are always already included in the fare of your Silversea cruise.”

 

5

Cruising With Children

Are children's fare free?

No, normally children will travel at a reduced third or fourth passenger fare.

The one cruise line that does consistently have kids free* is MSC cruises! A few holiday sailings don’t apply.

MSC cruises has kids 11 and under free as the 3rd and 4th passenger on all European sailings (and many Caribbean ones!)

Norwegian, Costa, and Royal Caribbean will have occasional promotions where the 3rd and 4th passenger is free, but this will only be offered on offseason sail dates when kids are in school….sorry!!

Kids are NEVER free on Disney Cruise lines.

*Note “free” passengers still have to pay the government taxes.

REASON: U.S. Coast Guard regulations dictate the maximum number of passengers allowed on each ship. Children are passengers too. When a child travels, it may mean that another passenger will not be allowed to travel, as these ships normally reach passenger capacity before the ships cabins are sold out.

Can I leave my kids in the kids club while we’re on an excursion?

Yes, some cruise lines will let you leave your kids in the kids club while you are on an excursion booked through the cruise line. Do be aware that the hours of operation may be different on port days than on non-port days.
The cruise lines that will allow this for free are Carnival, Costa (space is limited), Disney , Holland, MSC, Princess and Royal Caribbean.
Norwegian and Celebrity charge a small fee for kids to stay behind port days, and space is limited. Cunard does not allow kids to stay in the kids club while parents are on excursions.

I have three, four, five or more kids. Can all five (six, seven, or more of us) fit into one cabin?

Each cruise line is different. The short answer to that question is:

Royal Caribbean and Disney have a few cabins that will hold five – but very few.

Princess, Celebrity, Holland – no.

Carnival has many ships with cabins that hold five!

Is there babysitting?

Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean, MSC and the Norwegian Escape have group babysitting for babies (at least one year old on Royal Caribbean) that costs money and is based on availability.
MSC is the ONLY cruise line with babycare Service which does provide FREE babysitting for children between 1 and 3 years old during select hours.
On Royal Caribbean and Celebrity you can also pay for stateroom babysitting for kids ages one or older, along with Holland and Princess for kids ages three or older.
There is a nursery available on Norwegian, MSC, Carnival, Cunard and Celebrity with toys and games. Parents are required to be present in this nursery and to change their babies while they are playing in these nurseries.
Costa has group babysitting for kids 3 and up only.

What age does an infant have to be before they can cruise?

Carnival – 6 months

Royal Caribbean – 6 months. If cruise has more than 3 consecutive days at sea, they will have to be 12 months.

Disney – 6 months. One year for Transatlantic and Panama Canal sailings.

Norwegian – 6 months at time of sailing. If cruise has more than 3 consecutive days at sea, they will have to be 12 months.

MSC – infants of ANY AGE can cruise!

Costa – 6 months (won’t book infants up to 18 months in inside cabins)

Holland – 6 months or 12 months. Depends on the cruise. Most European cruises are going to be 12 months.

Princess – 6 months or 12 months. Depends on the cruise. Most European cruises are going to be 12 months.

What are the ages for the kids clubs?

Most cruise lines have children's programs available on board ship. These programs vary by cruise line, and are normally available to children ages 3 - 17. Programs include co-ordinate and supervised parties, dances, games and activities through out the cruise, most cruise lines will offer activities or babysitting for the evenings. Carnival allows potty trained kids as young as 2!

Kids will be grouped with other kids in their same age group.
These groups vary by cruise line, but generally there will be:
Teen group ages 13-17,
Older elementary ages 8-12,
And younger elementary ages 3-7

What if we are expecting?

All cruise lines will restrict pregnant woman from traveling normally after 24th weeks. If you are under 24 weeks at the time of sailing, the cruise line will require a medical certificate establishing your due date and fitness to travel, the cruise lines will make every effort to accommodate you. Please inform your cruise specialist of your condition so that they may make you aware of any other conditions or restrictions that may apply by each individual cruise line.

Where can children dine on board?

Children are welcome in every dining venue on board most cruise ships, including speciality restaurants. In the main dining room there is usually a child’s menu available, however this is rare in speciality restaurants. Some cruise lines offer an organised ‘children’s tea’ which takes place in a designated area and at a given time.

Which cruise is a family cruise?

All cruises are family cruises! I highlight many reasons why I feel this on the Kids page. However, in this article I wanted to highlight one particular aspect of family cruising: character meet and greets.
Many of the major cruise lines have incorporated character meet and greets into their family program with many familiar characters.
Royal Caribbean has partnered with Dreamworks pictures which is why they can bring you Shrek and the characters from Madagascar.

Which cruise lines are good for kids, singles, couples or seniors?

Virtually all cruise lines (except the high-end luxury lines like Viking, Regent, Silver Sea, Seabourn and Crystal) have great kids programs with lots to do for kids.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, MSC and Costa all have large kids programs with separate facilities and activities for 3 or 4 different age groups.

Parents – you can leave your kids in these kids clubs all day, knowing your kids will be having very supervised and safe fun. You can even go on one of the cruise line’s excursions, and still leave your kids in the kids club for free!

But there are singles, couples, and seniors on every single cruise too. There is almost no cruise that has just ONE of those groups.

Cruises that take place during the summer, spring break weeks or holidays are going to have more kids on them.

Which cruise lines are kid-friendly and what is there to do for kids?

All of the main cruise lines are kid friendly! There are activities for your kids on ALL of the lines.

They all have kids clubs for different age-groups, with separate areas, staff, and age-appropriate activities like:

  • Cooking classes,
  • Sports courts with tournaments,
  • Dance classes, trivia, game tables,
  • Arcade games, movies at the pool, water slides, shows and much more.

Many cruise ships have big, exciting things like:

  • Ropes courses,
  • A circus school,
  • Giant water slides,
  • Ice skating rinks,
  • Rock-climbing walls, bumper cars, a surf simulator, and an F1 racer!

And much more! For example:

  • Celebrity has all of the technological gadgets, with an Xbox and Xbox kinect area, to the “i-take” scavenger hunt for teens using Go-Pro cameras!
  • MSC has a play area sponsored by Lego, and a nursery sponsored by Chico’s toys.
  • On Royal Caribbean your kids can meet Shrek and the penguins from Madagascar.
  • On Carnival they’ll meet the Cat in the Hat from the Dr. Seuss books.
  • On Costa they can hug Peppa Pig, and there’s the DoReMi family on MSC.
  • Norwegian has their kids clubs partnered with none other than Nickelodeon!
  • And on Disney they’ll meet the infamous Mickey Mouse and all his friends – of course!

Will a crib and high chair be provided?

Each cruise line is different. Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Disney, Holland, MSC, NCL, Princess, and RCL, Carnival all have high chairs available.
Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland, Princess, Disney and Cunard have cribs or pack-n-plays available that we can reserve ahead of time.
Pack and plays can be requested from Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean, and MSC but they have a limited number. We recommend that you bring your own just in case since they allow this on MSC.

 

6

 

NEED HELP PLANNING?
CONTACT A CRUISE SPECIALIST

(800)510-1786

  

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