Whatever Floats Your Boat by Mark and Janet Novotny Why A Cruise? Best value for your vacation dollar, ninety eight percent satisfaction rating, and JUST PLAIN FUN! Now this sounds like a commercial but, after seventeen cruises we still look forward to the next.Let’s Talk Basics… Determine what you like to do on your vacations and pick the cruise for you. If it’s golfing...all cruise lines have golfavailable at most ports of call. There is a company that has a golf professional working on the cruise ships for lessons and making sure your island golfexperience is excellent. If it ’s seeing new places, your moving luxury resort takes you there without repacking your luggage. If you like lying aroundthe pool, grab a deck chair next to the calypso band and have the waiter bring you another cold drink. We have found that anything we would want isavailable in one form or another.Cruises are about 85% inclusive, meaning most of your expense is known before you leave home. Alcoholic drinks, optional shore excursions, servicetips, and travel to and from the origination port remains. The rest is charged to your room account by using your Sail and Sign Card, which is securedby a credit card or cash deposit before you get on the ship. You will need cash/travelers checks or credit cards for shopping and services when youleave the ship at your ports of call.The only time you need cash after getting on the ship is for some bingo games, and shipboard entertainers that may have available CD’s, tip yourservice sta ff at the end of the cruise. Most cruise lines offer to include or pre-pay your tips when you purchase your cabin. You may now include theprepay tips on your sign & sail card! Even with pre pay tips-- when we get exceptional service…we kick in a little extra. The Cabin Steward, Waiter,Assistant Waiter are the main three for tipping, the Head Waiter and MaitreD, and others are left to your discretion depending on the services theyprovide. Budget about $10.00 per person per day.To Give You An Idea What Is Included With Your Fare... An international service staff servicing your stateroom 2-3 times a day A fullservice restaurant staff assigned to your table consisting of a head waiter, waiter, assistant waiter, wine steward, and bar service. Food…24 hours aday. Various options: room service, casual buffet/pizza bar, sandwich deli, or restaurant (casual to formal dress) for a four course evening meal. Fullservice breakfast and lunch are also served in the restaurants. Captains cocktail party on formal night. Childrens programs and activities frominfant to age 15. (Without children, we did not realize how impressive the programs are until we read the information package.) Having childrenshould not stop you from a cruise...the kids have a blast!Use of All Ships Faculties… The pools, deck chairs and towels, work out room, jogging track, library with board games, lounges with nightlyentertainment from piano bar, disco, ballroom style dancing. All of the shows are free and change nightly. Normally t hey have a couple of Las Vegasstyle productions or comedians. All something you would see in an entertainment resort and pay $25-$100 per person. Newer ships have a pool-sidejumbo-tron movie screen serving popcorn and hotdogs. They show scenic photographs throughout the day and movies, music videos, or sportingevents after dark.If that doesnt keep you busy, here are a few activities from our last adventure. Arts and crafts, ice carving demonstration, morning trivia, dance class,bridge players meet, golf putting contest, table tennis tournament, keep fit class, pool games and pool sliding board, port of call shopping talks artauctions, and bingo.Oh, by the way...you havent left the ship yet! Every port of call will have multiple excursions from which to choose. Snorkel, scuba, sight seeing,booze cruises, shopping extravaganza, nature tours, walking or bicycle tours are charged to your Sail and Sign Card. Prices range from $23 to $450 perperson. Most are in the $35-$200 range and last from 1 to 7 h ours. Round-trip transportation is provided from and to the ship.Other services that you will charge to your account are spa activities. Basically, overall pampering such as facials, messages, and hairstyling. Drinks…everything from beer to champagne and all of the exotics in between. Prices are typical upscale bar/restaurant prices. Bud Light $4.95 to Fosters OilCan $6.95. All drink service is charged to your account with a 15% tip charge included. Exotic drink of the day in a souvenir glass for $7.50. Coffeeand tea are free.The Down Side To Cruising… Going back to work. Waiting in line… This is a moving, self-contained hotel; there can be as many as 4,000passengers and crew on the mega liners. Waiting in line is a way of life on a ship. If you lik e to spend time in a town and explore every nook andcranny to partake of the local cuisine you will not have enough time to do this in port. If the weather turns bad the itinerary will change or excursionswill be canceled. Cruises can become expensive if you go crazy for the entire week. One couple we know ran up a $1000 bar tab on a 7 -day.The Up Side To Cruising… Service to rival five star resorts at a fraction of the cost. Gourmet meals every evening if you choose. The briefstop at each port gives us a quick overview to determine if we would like to plan a longer vacation to this area. A chance to do your own thing andnot worry about the family, they are in safe surroundings doing their own thing. If you want something, JUST ASK.Safety on board the ship…with recent news coverage of people going missing off of cruise ships it is worth mentioning, the deck rails are about 42”off the deck (Between waist and chest high.) I would find it impossible (for myself) to accidentally fall off a ship! I guess if I were drunk and tried tosit on the railing (I would have to stand on something) I may fall off, but common sense and a good partner would eliminate that from happening.The ship security will close all outside common areas if the wind or the high seas would create a safety issue. Your stateroom will have an electricsafe for you to store your valuables while on board. Leave your cash, passport, jewelry, and other valuables in the safe unless you are actively usingthem. (Once again, good safety practices while traveling.)
Page 2Booking the Right CruiseYou’ve decided to try a cruise. Now what? Check your vacation availability and your bank account. These will be your limiting factors. Cruisesrange from three days to around the world 107-day marathons. "Junkets" are shorter in length but usually sail to a Bahamas casino and bring you back.These are good for quick getaways but we do not consider them a vacation cruise.It is interesting to note that cruises are referred to by the number of days when in fact it is the number of nights on the ship. If you are reallyapprehensive, a three or four day is our recommendation. Dont commit to more than 7 days if you think you will hate it. A three-day will leave Fridayand return Monday; these tend to be less expensive since they are shorter. These will use only 2 vacation days if travel plans fall into place. It is normalto have them stop in one or two ports for excursions and shopping.Four-night cruises leave on Monday and return on Friday, also excellent as a starter cruise. It will use 5 vacation days and will give you the weekendbefore to pack and the weekend after to unpack. These will have a couple of stops, a fun day at sea, or a stop at a private island. Four-day cruisesleaving on Monday give you an o pportunity to extend your trip and stay in the port city the weekend before or after.Now, with that said, forget about the day of the week. You will be able to find a cruise leaving on any day of the week. The trick is finding a cruisewith the itinerary that you want and the price you can afford. Your first cruise tends to be more expensive because of overloading on souvenirs, gifts,and excursions.Where to Start… Go to your travel agent and pick up brochures. We start with brochures then, we go “on line”. There will be several cruise lineswith various destinations. If you can already answer length of trip, price, and dates, the agent will eliminate the cruises that wont work for you.Extremely flexible travel dates can add options but also add confusion when making the final decision.Destinations…Decide exactly where you would like to go on your SECOND cruise. Your first trip is filled with so much excitement and amazementit really wont matter where you go.Picking the Ship… For your first cruise, let the agent do the work. Ships are rated in displacement tonnage. From 36,000 tons, guest capacity1,022 to 225,282 gross tons and maximum guest capacity of 6,296. Smaller sailing schooners are available but the ship is lower on our travel priorities.Some of the newer ships are too large to ‘port’ at the pier. They anchor off shore and “tender (shuttle)” you to shore by smaller people mover boatsor the lifeboats. The first time we used the lifeboats I was surprised! Until I thought about it…It is the perfect opportunity to do the weekly testing ofthe lifeboats, it is a perfect training opportunity for crew promotions to “Lifeboat Captain”. And, in the event of a real emergency, the passengerswould be more comfortable since they have been in the lifeboats before!. Great idea!Pricing… Cruise Tip... A travel agent that books cruises only will often have the best deals because the cruise lines offer special incentives based on salesvolume.Look at the prices on any ship. Now, pick your chin up off the floor and realize that these prices are set more than year in advance and they are NOTwhat you will pay! The prices are like airline tickets and will change based on demand. Make sure to look for port charges and taxes. Airfare andtransfers are optional so check airfare rates before booking.Two Thoughts On Booking:Book Late… “The ship will sail if you are on it or not and they will almost give the room away to get you on board.” They sometimes do thisbecause they will make money from the casino, drinking, and shopping on board. The personnel are already there and they will maximize efficiency.The problem is if it is a good selling cruise the prices will not come down or may be sold out. If you have a particular ship, itinerary, or cabin preferencethey may not be available. Also, if you are not within driving distance to the port city, airfare may wipe out any cruise savings. And full payment isdue at the time of booking.Book Early... You pick your ship, itinerary, and cabin. The price is locked in when you make your deposit. Final payment is due 45-90 days beforedeparture. Good agents check prices regularly, if your price comes down, it will be deducted before final payment. If you book an open category (nospecific room) the cruise line may resell your room, you get an upgrade to a more expensive room FREE. The more you cruise the more often thishappens as a thank you for being a repeat customer. We have received one, two, and three category upgrades at check-in. Groups should book early to“lock –in” the cabins you want.Insurance... Book early...get the insurance. You can get a full refund if an emergency arises, less the insurance cost. If you book airfare separatelyfrom the cruise line book insurance with and independent travel insurance broker so your airfare will be included. Insurance through the cruise linewill only cover what is booked through the cruise line.Late booking...no insurance. You risk losing everything but we consider late booking 21 days or less before departure, at that point your plans shouldbe fixed. Our preference has been book early, get insurance, select the perfect room, or take the free upgrades.Deposits… The lines will need a deposit of usually $250.00 to $500.00 per person to hold the room depending on th e length of the cruise. If youchoose insurance with the cruise line, it will be due at booking. Insurance cost will vary depending on the company. It is based on amount of coverageand age of the traveler, usually from $35-$100 per person will do. If you are booking with a group the agent will give you the dates for deposits andfinal payment.Deadlines… If you find out about your friends group trip after the deadline dont panic. This does not mean you will not be able togo on the cruise with your friends! It just means that the guaranteed rate for that group may no longer be valid and the block of rooms have beenreleased for public sale. Just call the travel agent booking the group and book the trip at the current rate. By using the same booking number of thegroup your agent can match the incidentals as close as possible.
Page 3Picking Your Stateroom… all stateroom prices are based on double occupancy. If you travel alone you will pay 150%-200% of the rate quote. Ifyou have a family and would "bunk-it" the third and fourth guests really get inexpensive. I have heard as low as $99.00 per person on a 7 night.The price of the stateroom is based on LOCATION! The higher in the ship the higher the rate. Outside cabins with verandas or suites are also moreexpensive. Our recommendation is: short cruises or many ports of call...get an inside cabin and spend the savings on excursions. Longer cruises withmultiple days at sea get an outside cabin so you can gaze at the ocean while your roommates are dressing for dinner. Many ships have balconystaterooms, we have fallen in love with the aft stateroom with a balcony. You are over the wake of the ship with a more open feel on the balcony. Apast cruise our group booked the five aft balcony cabins mid ship over the wake! CRUISE WARNING once you have sailed on a balcony cabin youmay never return to an interior or outside cabin again! The newest ships actually have interior balconies overlooking the atrium or an interior‘Central Park’. Balcony Update: Some newer liners have uncovered balconies and bump-outs. If privacy is a major concern do your researchbefore pocking the balcony. It may be difficult because travel agents may not know about the actual ship configuration for each room unlessyou specifically ask/Noise and Motion… There is low-level noise from the engines, other passengers, and fun activity around the ship. If you check the deck plans andstay away from the common corridors, elevators, lounges, nightclubs, and casino, your nightly disturbances will be minimized. If you are having funusing the lounges, nightclubs, and casino it wont matter where you book your room. The aft balcony stateroom has slightly more noise because ofthe prop -wash.All ships have stabilizers (Big retractable fins below the waterline.) to reduce side-to-side rocking. Even with that...YOU ARE ON A TRAVELINGHOTEL; there can be considerable vibration from the engines (A riding lawnmower vibrates more!) and feel swaying. If you are oversensitive tomotion book something close to the center of the ship and as low as possible. The farther away from the center the more amplified the movement feels.If you believe you will have a problem, contact your doctor before leaving. Some passengers get prescribed medication; use the medicated patch, orpressure point wristbands. As I get older I am becoming more sensitive to motion but have not experienced any sickness on any of my fifteen cruises.(Except for that booze cruise, 7 Margaritas and a shot of Tequila before lunch.)Full Service Din ner…Early or late seating? Attire: casual, cruise casual, or formal. It is listed daily in the ships newspaper. THIS IS DINING.Turn time is about 11/2 -2 hours.Early starts at about 6:15 the tables are then cleaned and reset for late dinner at about 8:15 where it starts all overagain with another group. Dress shorts are permitted in this restaurant. That is, you get the wine list if desired, a menu, choose an appetizer, a salad,an entree, another menu...choose dessert, coffee. You can also have bar service offered to you for an after dinner brandy or cognac. If you get freakedout about dining with strangers...request a small table. We request a large table; the ‘strangers’ become friends after we meet. If you get paired withsomeone you don’t click wit h at a small table you have something to laugh about for the rest of your life. Cruise tip… If you try something you do notlike JUST ASK for something else and they will bring it to you. If you cannot decide between two items, pick both, they will bring you one, whenyou are finished, they bring you another one. Like Dessert? Pick two, pick three. JUST ASK for what you want. Table record 22 desserts plustwo cakes for an 8-top!Over the last couple of years there has been a noticeable decline in dining decorum and attire in the dining room. It seems sad that guys must wearjeans and baseball caps to upscale dining. If you just can’t leave the jeans and baseball caps for a few hours per night just move to the casual buffet.Newer or refurbished ships are offering a supper club dining experience. For a $30.00 per person up-charge plus tip on your sail & sign card you canexperience fine dining of a 5-course gourmet meal in elegantly casual attire. The fare is gourmet, seafood and aged steaks with service to rival the toprestaurants in the world. Schedule dinner taking 2 to 2-1/2 hours and reservations will be required. For those of you who are very VERY particularabout the way your steak is cooked, go to the supper club to dine. Full service dinner can have meals prepared for 800 guests at one time and yoursteak may not be exactly the way you love it. The servers will try to get it as close as possible but, the very rare steak request may become rare tomedium rare by the time the server walks the 150 feet from the galley back to your table. Don’t scar the rest of us for life and complain about aperfectly good steak.Norwegian Cruise Line is promoting “Freestyle Cruising”. This means you have several restaurants on the ship and will pick the restaurant and thetime you want to dine. We have not experienced this type of cruising yet. Other cruise lines are offering ‘Dine Anytime’. A section of the mainrestaurant or the second level is serving the same menu as traditional dining only you make a reservation for a particular time from 6:15 -9:30. Youwill not have there same table each night or the same waiters but it may fit into your schedule better. If you are traveling with children...ourrecommendation is early seating around 6:15pm or dine anytime.Other considerations before you choose. Your life on the ship …if you like to burn the midnight oil and sleep late. Eat early...see the nightly show,drink at the bar, walk the deck in the moonlight, eat at the midnight buffet, dance at the disco, hit the casino... and retire in the wee hours of themorning.If you want the "Early Risers" coffee and Danish starting at 6:30am on deck after your morning run, pick what works best for you. There arecommonly one or two shows nightly. The same show is often performed for both dinner times. One thought to consider...early dinner means gettingready about 5:00pm. This may work into your schedule if you are not concerned with watching the sunset or the ship leave the pier.Buffet dining… We use the buffet as quick meals to get back to the fun! (Some cruise lines offer 24-hour pizzeria and soft serve ice cream.)Breakfast, lunch, and snacks, to minimize any transmitted illnesses you may be asked to use the provided hand sanitizer before proceeding to the foodstations. The battery operated motion activated dispenser is really cool.If you need an out of control afternoon snack most ships have a gourmet shop that sells gourmet coffees, espresso, pastries, and milk shakes at areasonable price, milkshakes or 8 -layer carrot cake for $2.50. Early appetizer before dinner…some ships offer sushi. This is free of charge and notthe over the top expensive at a specialty restaurant. But, it is worth trying if you have never tried sushi before. Remember sushi is about preparationand presentation of bite size items, it does not necessarily have raw fish. Try it, it is part of the experience of cruising.
Page 4What Happens Next?Well, if you booked late...list what you need to take, blow the dust off your luggage and start to pack.If you booked early… investigate, plan, and dream. You have the luxury of time to investigate what you want to do on your cruise. Remember…WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT!Cruise tip... you will need 2 forms of ID. Driver’s license and either a raised seal copy of your birth certificate, or passport. Starting in 2007 ALL travelincluding car & bus will have to have a passport to get back in the U.S. Passports will run $145.00 and will take 4-6 weeks to receive by mail. Check withthe U.S. StateDepartment for the most updated regulations.Booking Excursions… Space is limited on excursions and filled first come, first serve. Most cruise lines offer excursion booking “online” afteryou have made your final payment. Print off a copy of the excursio ns offered for your cruise itinerary then peruse it at your leisure then book“online”. About 35% of the passengers have their excursions booked before getting on the ship.Investigate the web site from the cruise line. Look for the ship, itinerary, sailing date, and the destination port(s) of call for excursions. Most of thetime they are listed by location with several day trips to choose. Read the description and sometimes the appropriate fee. If you cannot find it on thewebsite contact your travel agent to get a copy of the excursions they will be offering. They should also come with your cruise documents if available.If you have booked your trip early and cannot print your excursions for your cruise, try this--find your itinerary on the same ship if possible. Find theclosest sailing date and try to print that listing. For the most part the excursions do not change for your destinations-- that will give you a head startlooking at excursions. As a last resort email the cruise line, they will get back to you with the information you request.Cruise tip... When traveling as a group, have an “excursions” party. It is a great chance to get together and get excited about your cruise. Themost difficult decisions to make are what excursions to go on. Remember, this is your vacation , if you are not completely excited about anexcursion…break up the group. You can talk about your adventures at dinner and compare notes. Remember…(The same rule applies to cruisingas it does for amusement parks) it is very difficult to keep more than Six people together at one time and keep everyone happy.Now Plan Ahead… If you want to scuba dive, see what is offered at each stop. If every stop has scuba, pick the best one or take them all. You havetime to learn how to scuba and become certified before you go. Some excursions will teach scuba, but personally we feel more comfortable learning in aswimming pool locally to become certified. Remember excursions will provide all of your basic equipment and transportation, and remember to takeyour certification card with you. Most scuba excursions will require it.If you want to snorkel...pick a trip. Booze Cruise Tip… Snorkel first; Booze second . If you have never snorkeled, you will receive instructions (itis very easy). We have snorkeled several times, many without guides and several times with a guide. The down side to a guide...If you areuncomfortable in the water or out of shape, a guide can be a challenge. A guide snorkels every day so you quickly feel someone slipped in anOlympic Gold Medal Winner. Guided snorkel swims resemble the beginning of the Ironman Triathlon with a group chasing Michael Phelps. Theupside... is the guide knows what to look for, where to find it, and will dive down to chase it into the open for you to see it. (No sea monsters ofcourse.) The guide took the best underwater pictures with our camera. Underwater camera tip… Buy them at home! They cost less than half of whatyou will pay at the resort or on the ship. (See also carry-on luggage.) Underwater camera update…we have gone digital! We purchased a moderatelypriced digital camera and the matching underwater housing. One camera for both land and sea, without the film (X-Ray) worries. Newer digitalcameras are now waterproof to 30 feet! No need for that bulky underwater housing.We have only mentioned cruise line supported excursions to this point. We prefer these because the cruise lines research the trips before adding themto their list. They also send staff to get comments back from participants and will drop a bad excursion. A previous cruise dropped a port of call becauseof unfavorable comments from passengers that did not feel safe. The ship will not sail without you if you are on a cruise line supported excursion. Fourpeople we met while on the ship were exploring ‘on their own’ and had to have a police escort back to the ship to catch it before it sailed. That doesn’talways happen!If you cannot decide… wait for the excursion talk on ship, they discuss excursion basics show photographs and you can ask questions at the end.Cruise tip... If you have done your homework and know what excursion you want; fill in the request “in line” or as soon as possible after you boardthe ship! The Excursions Desk is where you submit your excursion requests and have your questions answered. Your excursion tickets aredelivered to your stateroom before you reach port. The meeting time and location will be printed on the tickets or in the ships paper of daily activities.Have you noticed you will be wearing a bathing suit? If you do not feel comfortable being seen in a swimsuit you have time to make a decision. Dietif you want (Most people dont try to gain weight before a cruise, they do that on the cruise.) or realize that you are perfect the way you are and going tohave a great time on vacation. On a cruise, your looks do not matter and everyone is going to have a good time. Trivia... Most swimming pools areseawater and drained nightly.Realistically, it takes about three days on a ship for everyone to feel comfortable. It takes longer than that to remember you need to go up or down forthe dining room. During the entire trip you will turn the wrong way fore and aft (nautical terms for front and back of the ship). (Funny Story… 13 thcruise; day 4 of 5, we got lost going to our assigned table for dinner. Dont worry...it happens to everyone.) If someone tells you they have neverturned the wrong way on a ship they are lying to you.Ship Board Information…It sounds funny, but most of the printed information and tickets will be slid under your door on older ships. (If you let yourroommate go into the room first you can laugh at them when they step on the "mail".) Newer ships have mailboxes at your door. The ships newspaperwill be delivered, or can be picked up at the Pursers desk and at most of the bars. (We keep a copy with us at all times since it tells us what ishappening on the ship every minute.) Shipboard information is sometimes available on your room TV depending on the age of your ship.
Page 5Getting Off the Ship… Check the ships paper to see if you need more than one form of I.D. when going ashore. We use the S & S CardMandatory and our Driver’s License. Remember cash and/or credit card for those on shore bargains. If you have t raveled extensively and have asense of adventure you may strike out on your own to explore by taxi or local sightseeing vendors. Remember, if you have a problem, miss the ship, orhave a bad experience, the cruise line has no ability to help you. Safety tip… Keep a copy of the ship’s newspaper with you when you go on shore. Ithas emergency contact information in if you miss the ship. Newer feature…hand sanitizer is provided for your use when returning on someships, and when in the eating areas.The Pu rsers Desk is the actual organizational hub of the ship. If you need information, start there. Also cashing checks, billing, payments,comments, complaints, lost luggage, lost items, anything happening on the ship (other than navigation) will at some point go through the Pursers Desk.Upgraded ships will have the ability to check your bill in your cabin on TV using the remote.What and When to Buy… We want to talk about clothing. Six months ahead is too early to pack, but is time to plan. Since most of us cruise inthe winter you might need to get new summer attire. Sundresses, swim wear, summer suits and jackets, surf mocs, deck shoes, or even tuxedos.Looking for these items in December is ridiculous. If you can find it “out of season” it will be expensive. So, start looking in the summer when theyhave specials or end of season close outs. Tuxedos will be sold from rental shops and sometimes on sale only once a year. If you are in the market for atux call around and keep your eyes open for the sales. You can rent tuxedos on shore and take them with you or rent one on the ship.Fun in the Sun… On a cruise you are most likely to be in the sun. The closer you go to the equator the greater the burn potential. Nothing could beworse than getting bad sunburn the first day of a seven-day cruise. We pack SPF 4, 8, &15 water proof and sweat proof. Higher SPFs for moresensitive areas. Pack what works best for you and purchase it late in the summer to take advantage of sales. Cruise tip...Tan thru swimsuits becom esee through when wet. Some cruise ships have tops-optional sunbathing decks. They are usually at the front of the ship and wind protected. (The areasare children and camera prohibited.)Tan lines… Ladies, plan ahead and pick your formal wear early and find a swimsuit with straps that will match your gown. We overhear morecomplaints from female passengers about tan lines in their formal photos. If you keep your summer tan going into the winter the problem will bereduced.If you plan on sunbathing for an extended period of time, an option that we tried was a tanning package at a tanning salon. We tanned for sixweeks at the recommended exposure and are able to eliminate painful sunburn on the trip. There are precautions with bed tanning so check with yourdoctor. If you are over 6 feet tall a bed can be difficult, you might try a standup booth where available. The first time is unique so dont just buy a bigpackage, buy a single trial session. “I always thought a fat guy shouldnt jump into a glass coffin but I was wrong. It is warm, cozy, and relaxing.Janet was right."Weight Management… If completing an extensive weight management program a cruise can be difficult. There are food enticements 24 hours aday. The cruise lines understand this and always have low fat, low calorie items available. The items will be on the menu marked separately and thengrouped together if you want to eat low-cal. We prefer to diet early and almost throw caution to the wind on our vacation.To combat this overindulgence, we walk everywhere we can and do not take the elevators. On days at sea we exercise either in the workout room orwalk the track and deck. In any case you can expect to gain some weight around a pound a day seems to be the average. Cruise Tip… Plan ahead andwear those tight clothes beginning of the cruise and hold the baggies for the end.Formal Nights…There is at least one formal night on each cruise. It usually starts with the Captain’s reception where there is $1.00 off drinkpricing and the Captain introduces the exec. Past cruisers reception is where you can meet and greet the Captain and the Exec Staff, have cocktailsand Hors doeuvres to the sound of the ship’s show band. Multiple pictures are taken, a Formal Dinner, and ending with the Gala Midnight Buffet. Aphoto opportunity is provided about a half an hour to an hour before the buffet. Cruise tip... See the Gala buffet, it’s impressive. Update! The Galabuffet is being phased out on some cruise lines. It takes hundreds of hours to prepare for just an hour of buffet. If your ship still offers a GalaBuffet make sure you see it while it still exists.Attire on formal nights for males will be suits, dinner jackets, and tuxedos. Females will wear evening gowns, cocktail dresses, party dresses, or lavishpantsuits. (Weve even seen reincarnated bridesmaids dresses) There are formal portraits taken (Free of Charge) at multiple locations on the ship thisevening. One honeymooning couple came to formal night dinner in a Wedding Gown and Full Marine Parade Dress (This tends to wake up a fulldining room.)Photographs… Cruise Tip...Every time a ships photographer wants to take your picture...HAVE IT TAKEN. Take advantage of low costprofessional photography. It doesnt cost you anything until you purchase it. Prices range from $8.00 to $20.00 depending on size. Photo albums arealso available. If you buy the 8x10, reprints or wallet size can be ordered. We pick the best pictures to buy and turn in the rest to feed the shredder. Thephotographers are salaried and do not get a commission on sales. It is not high pressure to buy. If you want a special picture taken...tell them.The ships video crew tapes the ships activities and some excursions. They have ‘dailys’, which can be purchased unedited (these are the ones that willbe seen on the TV in your room.) and an edited version of the entire cruise. The price will vary so stop by the video desk for details.Casino/game room… While at sea the casino will be open. Slot machines open at 8:00am, the rest at noo n...until early morning. The game room isopen 24 hours. We spent more money in the game room than the casino. Typically, there is an ATM machine near the casino. The casino may close inport due to local regulations. If you do not know how to play...just ask during a slow period of the day or take the free gaming lessons offered at thebeginning of the cruise. They are always happy to teach someone how to spend money. You can use cash or your Sail and Sign Card.Bingo… Offered several times per cruise and you may or may not need cash to buy the cards. (It depends on the ship.) For scratch off lottery ticketsyou will need cash.Art Auctions…Also offered several times per cruise. Read the fine print when you get your number. Some prints do not come with shipping or thebeautiful frame. If you are a collector you can get some great deals. Remember it is an auction and some items are available on shore for less.Buying Booze…Depending on port of call and location you can buy duty free/tax free. This is also available on the ship. The amount of duty freeliquor per person varies depending on the cruise. Usually 1 to 2 liters per person duty free, equals 2-4 liters per couple. If you want to stock your bar,buy booze on vacation. If you go over your limit… list it for customs and pay the percent duty tax. It is still less expensive than in the U.S. Remember you
Page 6may not be able to use it as a carry-on in the airplane. (151 Rum is now considered explosive and cannot be taken on a plane.) Cruise lines will hold it for you onboard the ship and deliver it to your room the last day of the cruise. Some cruise lines will now let you purchase a bottle of your favorite potent potable andcharge a ‘corking fee’. This can be $7.00 or more but it will still be less expensive than purchasing it at home and risk breaking it smuggling it on the ship.Final Prep Checklist and TipsTSA 3-1-1… 3- ounce or smaller containers, 1-Clear quart size zip top bag, 1-bag per person. TSA WILL hand search your checked luggage... TSA no wprefers clothes to be folded instead of rolled to speed the luggage searching process New Security update: Film for cameras and disposable underwatercameras must be carried on and you must request it to be hand searched! Updated x-ray equipment used for checked luggage can render your film unusable.It is time for your final checklist. The most important items on your list are your cruise documents (Fill out your information on line before you leave.)which you will receive a few weeks before sailing and two forms of identification (Passport mentioned earlier), a credit card, or enough cash for acash account on the ship. Now dont forget your traveling companion especially if it is your spouse (Or you will never hear the end if it!). General Travel Tip...Carry small bills. This makes Taxicabs, Tips, and miscellaneous purchases easier (approximately $100.OO cash and the rest is in travelers checks.) Check yourtransfer vouchers to see if they include a prepaid gratuity for the driver. And watch for the signs around the pier, every porter is asking for a tip but the signs mayread “ the porters are salaried and tipping is not necessary”. In any case, keep the small bills handy for exceptional service or if you are trying to keep the luggageof a large group together.Carry Ons… You will need to have what you think you will wear in the afternoon and for dinner the first night packed in your carry on. Your luggage will betagged and delivered to your stateroom sometime in the late afternoon or early evening. Sometimes it will not reach you until after your dinner (especially if you getan upgrade at check-in, and early dining) so, plan ahead with your carry on. Remember your personal items and sunscreen Sweat proof and Waterproof. Packingtip...List everything before packing, organize by complete outfits. It is difficult to find the unpacked half-slip in the middle of a cruise. After years of travel wenow have a standard travel list we have created on the computer, we modify it for each trip.Clothing… Casual shorts or swim suits during the day and casual (Golf Attire) at night. In the event they slide in an elegantly casual night have a tie or sportsjacket on hand. Cruise tip...If you are traveling directly from a national conference (like we do), most of your dinner attire will already be packed. Formal attirefor formal nights that would be a suit or tuxedo for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses, party dresses, or lavish pant suits for women. Have a lightweightjacket and sweatshirt with you as well. When you are on deck late in the evening the wind can be quite chilly even though the temperature is above 70°.At the cruise terminal… Have all of your luggage tagged as required after the airport and before you get to the pier. Have all cruise documents filled out andready to sign them at the check-in desk. Pay attention; be ready to move when the cruise staff tells you they are ready. Get there as early as possible if you aredriving to the pier. The lines are short, causing less confusion. Cruise Tip... Getting on the ship early will let you explore the ship and get a feel for everythinghours ahead of everyone else. You may not be able to get to your cabin until a specified time.Getting on the ship… Remember you will be traveling with several thousand people. Follow the instructions of the cruise staff helping you get on the ship.Miami Carnival Upgrade: If you have completed your boarding information “on line” they have added kiosks to make things move along faster. You canscan your passports as well as your credit card. You will get a printout to pick up your room keys and finish security to get on the ship. Make sure you keepyour ID’s ready to be checked several times. They will follow almost the same procedures as getting on a plane. Be ready for shoes and belts off for metaldetector screenings.Waiting Line Management… The lines can become very aggravating if you let them. DON T LET THEM!!! Breakfast buffet or made-to-order lines…(Omelets, Pasta, Etc.). These lines can be long and a 10-minute wait is not uncommon. Divide and conquer… Send your roommate to get the drinks andother breakfast stuff while you place two orders (yours and theirs), this way the entire meal will be hot at the same time!Room Service… There will be a menu in the room with other important ship information. Also continental breakfast cards to be filled out and left outside thedoor for the next morning. Pick a time window and it will be delivered to your room. We chose 7:30am to 8:30am...it arrived at 7:29am. You will need cash totip the room service steward.Getting Around The Ship… Your room will have a pocket size layout of the ship. Keep it with you the first couple of days. At each elevator andstairway there is a deck layout. Remember your room number...Even numbered rooms will be on one side of the ship and odds on the other. You will turn thewrong way, so look for even or odd when you get to the floor. Cruise Tip... “TIME SAVER “… if you are physically able, use the stairs. Depending on the shiplayout, elevators can kill a day. It once took over 35 minutes to get from deck 11 to deck 1 (a 5 minute walk). Previously, we set limits, three decks up andunlimited down. Now we use the stairs as exercise.Make your life easier… The TV on a ship is getting much better. The channels fade in and out until they are lost (cable is not possible). The channels maybe from another part of the country than where you are traveling (Most are from Denver). (Recent run movies are played in several languages throughoutthe day.) Besides, before you leave home set your VCR, and get out on deck. Take a portable disk player or MP3 with assorted favorites. Take one of thosenifty carry bags per person the ones vendors give you at trade shows, they are great for beach excursions, sunning on deck and shopping in port. Also, take alarge insulated cup for tea or water (beer, wine, shots…whatever) on deck. They are double in size and will keep your drinks cold much longer.On The Ship… Days at sea…Deck chairs are everywhere so you can pretty much count on getting one somewhere. Don’t save a chair for a long period oftime that is against cruise etiquette. If you need to leave it for a short time and want to return...The working rule of thumb is leave the deck towel on the chairand fold the back down, tell the people sitting next to you that you will be back, or leave a book. If you just leave the towel, the deck steward will take the towelto be laundered and you will lose your chair. If you are done with the chair PLACE THE TOWEL IN THE CART TO BE LAUNDERED! This releaseschairs and towels for other passengers. ( Most recent developments…the deck and excursion towels are the same and delivered to your stateroom at thebeginning of the cruise. These are yours to use for the entire cruise. If you need another one while on deck you will be asked for you sail & sign card to“deposit on your account for the towel”. When you return the towel it will be taken off your account. If your towel is wet from an excursion, just ask thecabin attendant to replace it with a clean one. LEAVE THEM IN YOUR ROOM WHEN YOU LEAVE! If not, you will be charged full price for asouvenir towel that is old and used! If you love the towels your cabin steward will deliver a new one for you to take home!!!
Page 7Bar service is everywhere! Tips are automatically included at a 15% rate, if you want out of control bar service just tell the server to check with you on theirrounds and hand them $2.00. This is the tip equivalent of 4 drinks… Trust me the server will find you wherever you are.$$$ Bar Service Money Savers $$$… Wine drinkers...If you enjoy wine with dinner buy the entire bottle and your wine steward will save the rest ofthe bottle for the next evening (lines are offering a wine package for the trip)! If you are a Wine Snob… remember the ship rocks and vibrates…the killer ofquality expensive wine. Buy and drink the GOOD STUFF on shore or at home! Beer guzzlers… buy beer by the bucket (4 cans) in ice and it will save you somemoney! Foof Drinkers (Exotics)… Daily drink specials… keep the glass. Some are plastic and some are glass… (We have multiple sets of both!) If you do notwant the glass it is about half price and half the size. You might be better off getting a double size drink and keep the glass! If you are fussy about styles andcolors check with the bartender and they can tell you which bar has a particular style of glass. Rule of thumb… Outside bar service will be plastic… inside willbe glass, look for schooner and hurricane styles. Soft Drink Cards… Some lines offer unlimited soft drink cards… see your cruise ship bartender for moredetails.$$$$$$ ADDITIONAL Bar Service Money Savers $$$$$$… Check with your cruise agent and send yourself a bon voyage gift. We try to sendourselves our favorite soda (most ships are Coke Ships), beer, wine, champagne, Crown Royal, Rum, etc…(next cruise we will check into the corkingfee and try that route.) Most cruse lines will let you carry on one bottle of wine per person per cruise.Luggage… The last full day, your luggage must be packed and placed in the hallway for pick-up. Make sure you have something to wear the next day in yourcarry-on. Do not pack the airline tickets or other transportation vouchers. DO NOT leave your booze in the hall with your luggage or you will have paid for a bighall party.The Final Bill… The final bill will be slid under your door the final evening. If you have a problem (we never have) go to the Pursers Desk. Cruise tip…Sometime the day before, we cash in multip le travelers checks. The cash is used for the tip envelopes for exceptional service and the rest we put on our roomaccount.Debarkation: go to the talk and watch the replay on TV. It will give you valuable information about customs, how to leave the ship, and where to get yourluggage. They call by the color of your luggage tag so keep it on until you leave the ship. Don’t try to smuggle, it will spoil your vacation!Cruise tip... Plan ahead...Talk about the cruise and what you like and dislike. It is often we plan our next cruise on or right after a cruise. Hope To See You On Deck!