Cruise Vacation Tips
If you decided to go on a Cruise Vacation, I prepared some tips for you. Feel free to post your comments…
What do you recommend to bring together?
Clothes – During the day, you can wear shorts, sports clothes, swimwear or anything that makes you feel most comfortable. We recommend you bringing a light sweater, jacket or cardigan, as temperatures can vary quite a bit between the conditioned and the open spaces of the ship. Please remember that in the main restaurants you are not allowed to wear shorts and a swimsuit. In any case, for hygiene and safety reasons we recommend you to wear footwear. Passengers do not have to worry about strict dress codes for the night, but every cruise includes at least one or two formal dinners or events – a chance to put on your latest suit. The daily schedule is distributed every day to your cabin so that you will know if a formal dress code is required
Excursions on land – “comfortable” and “sportive” are the words that you should remember in this case, both for clothes and for your shoes, especially if you like to walk for long distances. In warm climates, the sun cream is vital, along with sunglasses and a hat. If the tour includes religious sites, remember to dress modestly.
The Gym – If you are an athletic type and you intend to use the gym of a cruise ship, make sure that you have the appropriate gym clothes and sneakers. The passengers who are not properly dressed will not be allowed to enter for the reasons of hygiene and safety.
The beach – Sun cream, sunglasses, and swimsuits are the necessary things if you want to lie down in the sand, but you don’t need to put in your luggage bath towel, which will be provided when you come to the beach or on excursions. There are also a lot of bath towels on the open decks, in the swimming pools, in the shower of the gym and in the cabin.
Safety in the ship – it Is appropriate to wear non-slip shoes when walking on decks. When the decks are wet it is very important to be careful to avoid an accident.
Luggage label (tag) – The colored label of the cruise which was provided with your travel documents shall be filled with your name and cabin number. It is advised you to attach the tag to the handle of your baggage before you arrive at the port of embarkation. You will leave your luggage in the luggage room once you arrive at the port and they will be delivered directly to your cabin.
Hand baggage – Medicines and glasses MUST be transported in carry-on baggage. We also recommend you to carry any valuable items, cameras, fragile items in your handbag. The size of hand baggage must not exceed the allowable size of the airline so that they can pass from the control of metal detectors.
Aviation – Please note the applicable regulations concerning your luggage and their weight. If you exceed limits you will need to pay extra at the airport. For the contents of hand baggage, you need to take seriously the regulations in force in the countries of arrival and departure. The airline and the passengers have the responsibility for all the luggage. The travel agency and the cruise line will not be held responsible for any damage or loss. In any case, don’t accept to carry luggage or parcels of third parties.
Luggage security – If you want your luggage to be secured in accordance with the value of content, we strongly advise you to insure by paying an extra fee to travel insurance. In the event of delay, loss or damage you will need to submit a compensation claim to your insurance company. The liability of the carrier for luggage (airline, cruise ship) is limited by International conventions. Please see the terms of participation.
Passports and visa
It is particularly important and necessary to check carefully the validity of your passport or your id card and make everything needed for the cruise ready. If a passenger does not have the necessary documents, he will not be able to board the flight/cruise and will not be entitled to any refund. Please be informed whether you need an entry visa or not for the countries you will visit. Special attention needed for the holders of foreign passports.
Note –You may need to leave your passports and id cards to the staff of the cruise travel company during boarding and may remain in the possession of the staff until the end of the cruise in order to be declared to the authorities in each port.
No special vaccination is required for passengers. Antimalarial medication is recommended for the ports of Kenya and Madagascar. It is important to be informed about the latest health issues of the countries you are visiting.
Transportation to the ports of embarkation – All cruise companies provide staff to facilitate boarding at the port. You must be present at the port two hours before the scheduled time of departure of the ship. To certain destinations, transport between the airport and port can be provided at special prices. You can ask your cruise company for details.
Car parking at the port – If you drive in Europe, most of the ports of embarkation, provide special services for car parking. For more information on locations, prices and how to book, you can check your travel documents or ask your travel agency.
Delivery of luggage – Once you reach the port, you will have to leave the main luggage (excluding hand luggage) to the staff of the cruise company in the luggage compartment. We remind you that you need to attach the colored labels supplied with your travel documents to all of your luggage. Your luggage will be transferred directly to your cabin at no cost.
Checks documents off the boarding pass – The boarding starts at the time indicated in your itinerary. You will be asked to show your travel documents and your passport to security before boarding. The hand luggage will be examined with infrared rays, upon entering the ship. All passengers must have boarded the ship an hour before departure.
For the safety of all passengers, the ship’s security staff will check all passengers and their luggage during embarkation and disembarkation in all ports of call. The inspections are carried out with X-rays machines and metal detectors. Please cooperate with the staff to make the process smooth and efficient. Luggage delivered to the cabin have been checked during boarding. The list of prohibited objects on board can be found in the chapter “baggage” of your travel documents. Therefore, avoid buying items such as old guns, knives, swords etc. in the land-based excursions. If any of these items found in your possession, the safety of the ship will ask you to leave them on the shore. We would like to inform you that the policy on health and safety has been adopted for the benefit of passengers by the cruise company. It is forbidden to bring any kind of food or drink on board in hand luggage or luggage. The only exceptions are items of personal hygiene (ex. shampoo, shower gel, creams, etc.), liquid medicines, products or foods especially for babies and food for special diets once they have been approved. The restriction includes any food or drinks purchased during excursions on land. Any product that has been purchased during the local tour, and considered forbidden according to the health and safety policy of the company’s cruise company will be held in a special place on the board and will be returned at the end of the cruise.
Valuable items – We recommend that you do not place money or valuables in your luggage or leave them exposed in your cabin since the cruise company cannot be held responsible in case of loss of money or items of value (cameras, camcorders etc.). The passenger is solely responsible throughout the cruise. Generally, there are safes in the cabin or at the management office for storage of valuables
Information about the program of disembarkation will be given to you by the cruise staff at a designated meeting. You can also get this information from “the program of the day” which will be delivered to you daily to your cabin. The scheduled disembarkation referred to in the travel documents may vary due to exceptional reasons such as weather and other conditions which are not due to the cruise company.
Luggage – You are required to replace the tag of your luggage to the colored labels of disembarkation, leave them outside the door of your cabin on the last night of the cruise vacation. The staff will pick them up and you can pick them up from the baggage claim area at the port after disembarking. We recommend you to carry-on the necessary documents, medications, etc.
Cruise Questionnaire – On the last day of the cruise a questionnaire will be given to you. You will be asked for the quality of service of the ship, and whether you enjoyed the cruise or not. Your opinion and suggestions are valuable as they help cruise companies to improve their services.
Cabins and suites
Single occupancy cabins – Generally, availability of single occupancy cabins are limited and should be checked with the booking.
Services and features of cabins – All cabins have their own bathroom with shower and toilet, air conditioning, satellite TV, telephone, mini-bar, safe, hairdryer, and radio. Bed linen and bath towels provided along with soap and shower gel and changed regularly. For anything you need on the cabin, you will be in charge of the cabin boy of which his/her name will be listed on a card in your cabin, so you know who to call.
Benefits & Privileges of Suites – Most cruise companies offer advantages to the guest’s guests staying in suites, which are:
- Priority boarding
- Special room service
- Fresh fruit service every day
- Lunch and dinner in their suite (upon request)
- Option to select pillow types
- A bathrobe and slippers
- Priority of selection of table and position in the restaurants (subjected to availability)
- Possibility to book excursions through the cabin service.
Cabin temperature – The temperature in each cabin and suite can be controlled individually with a thermostat on the wall of the cabin. If you need help on how to set the desired temperature, the cabin boy will be more than happy to help you.
Services in the Cabin
Breakfast in the cabin – passengers who wish a continental breakfast in their cabin can fill the order form and hang it on the handle of the door before sleep. It is provided at the time indicated on the order form.
Special breakfast (on selected ships) – a number of cruise ships are offering an optional breakfast in the cabin, on a special occasion, you can have a romantic breakfast with the addition of a few red roses, or VIP version with caviar, smoked salmon and champagne!
Room service – It is available 24 hours. Light meals can be ordered at a nominal price. Drinks from the bar are also available in the assigned value with an additional 15% service charge. You can find the room service menu in your cabin. The only thing you need to do is to call the number you find next to the phone and your order will be delivered within half an hour.
Interactive TV / Video games – Most of the modern cruise ships equipped with interactive TV with the ability to book the services of the ship in many languages. It is also possible to rent a PlayStation Console with a wide variety of games.
Daily schedule – The full schedule of all the events of the next day will be delivered to your cabin every night. Make sure that you always keep it with you even if you left the ship for a land tour, since it has information about the ship’s departure, and the port you are in.
Fun and Entertainment
Show – During the day, the entertainment team of the ship organizes various activities, that anyone can participate on decks or in the lounges. In the evenings there is music and show in the lounges and in the theater which is organized by professional artists. A comprehensive list of activities and events will always be in the daily program. The leisure activities organized by the multilingual staff.
Fun for kids and teenagers – From early morning until the evening, if your kids are independent and self-sufficient you can leave them with entertainment staff, who are responsible for children amusement giving you more time to enjoy your cruise even on land-based excursions.
Art on Board– The most modern cruise ships, lounges, cabins, and suites have paintings, sculptures, antiques and other classic compositions of famous artists. Some ships have art exhibition and auctions as well.
Library – There is a library on board with a selection of books in many languages. You can either read in the library or borrow. The hours of operation are listed in the daily program.
Casino – There is a casino in all of the cruise ships with slot machines, roulette, and other gambling games. In accordance with the international laws, the casino operates only when the ship is at international sea and the entrance is restricted to adults.
Grand Prix Simulator – Many modern cruise ships offer you the opportunity to experience driving a Formula One car. You can select from different tracks with different difficulties and even record your performance for future reference.
Movie Theater – The most of the modern cruise ships, you can enjoy movies and shows with amazing special effects that have been predicted to excite all your senses. Some cruise ships have the possibility of 3D & 4D projection as well.
Golf simulator – Designed for golfers of all levels, the Golf simulator is available in many modern cruise ships.
Dance floor on roller skates – Most of the cruise ships have a skating rink on an external deck, allowing you to discover the thrill of skating with a background of the sea and the sky.
Travel documents– you will receive the following travel documents from your travel agent that you booked with:
- Cruise tickets
- Form boarding
- Luggage tags
- Air tickets (depending on the case)
- List of purchased services
In these travel documents, you will also find personalized information about your cruise, information on documents and visas, embarkation and disembarkation, phone numbers for urgent cases. If you have confirmed your booking and have paid for the cruise, you can pick up your travel documents weeks before departure, depending on the cruise line. For more information about the way and the time you will be sent your travel documents, please contact the Travel Agent. In addition, by entering on the website of the cruise line that you are traveling, your name, your last name, and your booking number, you can visit a special section of the site where you will find:
- Reservation note that contains all the purchased services
- Conditions for participation
- Holiday insurance (as long as it is offered and is purchased)
- Online reserved services
- Order form for excursions (which must be completed only if you have not booked trips on-line)
- The form that allows the cruise line to charge your credit card for the expenses you make on the ship.
- Other useful information
Shops and Services
Shops on board – remember to visit the shops on the ship which offer a variety of exceptional goods including perfumes, clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, watches, souvenirs, etc. Also, a wide range of products, books, and memorabilia of the cruise are available on board. The purchases are made duty free prices in almost all of the cruises and the shops are open when the ship is at sea.
Photos– The photographers of the ship is present in the most important moments and activities of the cruise and sometimes during the land tour. You will be photographed often, but remember that you have no obligation to buy. Some cruises also film the life on the ship so that you can buy a small film of your holiday experience.
Internet services (Internet Access Points) – You won’t need to stop your communication on the cruise ship since each ship has access to the Internet with a satellite connection, which gives you the ability to surf the Internet, view your emails, send greeting cards even when the ship is at sea.
Information / Customer Service Desk – The customer service office is located in the reception of ships and operates 24 hours a day and can facilitate you in anything you need and also works as an exchange office.
Laundry, ironing and dry cleaning – All cruise ships offer you laundry, ironing and dry cleaning service with a nominal charge during the night services. Bags and laundry price list can be found in your cabin. For safety reasons, ironing in the cabin is strictly prohibited.
Sunbeds – They are located on outside decks. We suggest you not to leave any personal items. Towels are available at the pool free of charge and you should throw them in designated bins after use.
The organization of the ground tours is scheduled to match the hours when the ship is on the port. It is optional and can be purchased from the ship or can be booked before the start of your cruise vacation. Availability is limited on some tours (especially in Northern Europe) and we recommend that you register quite some time before your trip. In the case of cancellation from your side, please be advised that we refund may not be available. The price includes transport, a tour guide in available languages, entrances to museums and monuments. Food and drink included on trips only if it is stated. The program of the excursion may be changed without notice by the organizer at any time before departure. The excursions are carried out only if the required number of people reached. If there is very little participation, the trip can be canceled and the money refunded without any claim for compensation. Some tours are not suitable for passengers with mobility problems.
Discounts for children and teenagers – Most cruise lines offer special rates, discounts to families with children within a certain age group.
Shopping at the ports – You can always go around and shop during your land trip. Please keep in mind that purchased items can be subject to customs charge at the port of disembarkation. Please note that cruise companies cannot collect the customs fees on behalf of passengers, and cannot be held responsible if any custom charges calculated by customs. You are not allowed to bring food and drinks in your hand luggage or keep it in your cabin. More information can be found in the section of safety checks.
Health and Beauty
Gyms & exercise rooms – You can use the sports facilities of the ship for physical exercise, free of charge: gym, treadmill, multi-purpose space for sports, sauna, jacuzzi and swimming pools (the facilities vary from ship to ship). Each ship has an instructor of physical exercise and offers a range of activities free of charge including gymnastics, walking, aerobics, stretching and relaxation exercises, water aerobics etc.
Spa and wellness centers – All modern cruise ships have spa and beauty center where you can relax with a facial or body massage, or have your hair cut for an extra charge.
The cruise ships have their own small modern hospitals, which offer first aid and medical care provided by the doctors of the ship for a fee. Emergency medication is also available at reasonable prices, including pills for nausea or seasickness. The hours of operation of the heath center are listed in the daily program. Passengers who have some special medical needs are requested to notify during the reservation. More specifically, we advise those who make long-term therapies and treatments to have all necessary medications with them. Passengers, with medical conditions that require therapeutic Medicines using a needle, are requested to communicate with the steward of the cabin to allocate a special container for placing the sharp medical tools correctly.
Food and Restaurants in Cruise Ships
Restaurants – The buffets include specialties from all of the places that cruise visits and every day, the menu of the restaurant includes appetizers, main dishes with meat or fish, salads, cheeses, desserts and ice cream. There are also vegetarian menus and menus for special dietary needs available. The buffet includes international cuisine of the destinations we visit.
Breakfast – Enjoy breakfast in your cabin, at the restaurant. For those who wake up early are served coffee and croissants in the bar.
Lunch – Take your lunch at Buffet Restaurant.
Dinner – For dinner, you will enjoy the service at the main restaurant. Please keep in mind that smoking is prohibited in the main restaurant.
Special dietary requirements – Please let the cruise company know about your dietary needs when you make the booking and company will check if these can be met.
The formal dinners and other gastronomic events – Formal dinners are occasions with a special menu, stylish and festive atmosphere, and the presence of the Captain and the Officers. Many special gastronomic events are held on each cruise. The impressive and rich “Buffet Midnights” with dishes from cuisines around the world are organized on most of the cruise vacations. Special menus are also served at Christmas, New Year and Noel.
Club Restaurants – The gourmets will love the themed restaurants of the cruise ship where one can book a table and choose from a menu designed by the master chef. In these restaurants, there is a small fee as well as 15% services charge.
Wine, drinks & refreshments
Wine list – On each ship, there exist a cellar containing dozens of different labels vines which are selected by qualified sommeliers to accompany our menu.
Bars and Cafés – You will find a great collection of high-quality international wines, spirits and soft drinks in the numerous bars and cafes of ships. There are also many themed bars available. In the wine bars, you will find a collection of fine wines, champagnes, and sparkling wines, while the cognac & cigar bars offer an excellent selection of cognac and cigars. All of the consumptions in bars, cafes, buffets and restaurants will be charged to your account on the ship and must be paid at the end of the cruise.
Drinks – In some cases, it is worth to take advantage of the special packages on drinks to save money. Wine, mineral water, and choices of beverages can be ordered before departure or while boarding. Any purchases of duty – free drinks and beverages and wine made on land excursions, shall be held in the warehouse part and will be returned at the end of the cruise.
How to pay on board
Payments on the ship – In your cabin, you will find your personal card that confirms your identity throughout the cruise. For your convenience, all ships have a system of payment without cash in the ship. Using your card, you can charge everything to your account on the ship, including the purchases from stores, restaurants, bars, spa services, salons, dry cleaning and laundry, telephone calls, tours etc. At the end of your cruise, you will receive a copy of your statement which will report all your debts, including cabin services and drinks. You can pay your bill with traveler’s checks or a credit card. Passengers who do not give the print of their credit card will be required a deposit to cover the costs 24-48 hours after boarding. The minimum warranty of about 150€ or $ 150 a person depending on the duration of the cruise and depending on the currency used on the ship. If the consumption of your ship beyond the warranty you will be prompted for that amount. The total of your expenses will be calculated at the end of the cruise and any passengers of the guarantee are greater than the consumption, will be refunded the difference.
Credit cards – In some cruise ships to avoid the hassle of waiting there is credit card service, in which you can sign up at the beginning of the cruise, which charges bills automatically to your credit card. With this service, you will receive the bill in your cabin and, if you don’t have any objection, your credit card will be automatically charged. The following credit cards are accepted on the ship: American Express, VISA, and MasterCard. We recommend you to inform the supplier of your credit card before your departure that it’s a vacation. Please note – Debit cards such as Maestro and Switch, and electronic cards such as Visa Delta, and Visa Electron are not accepted on board.
Currency & foreign exchange– The official currency of the cruise ships is either Euro or US Dollar depending on the company that you are traveling and the destinations that you have selected. We inform you that cruise ships don’t give cash against a credit card. Due to this policy, we recommend you bringing enough cash or traveler’s checks
Service charge on cruise ships & tips – In certain cruise lines, there is a service charge for a cruise ship that is added every day to the account of the passenger. Payment is made only at the end of the cruise and depends on the duration of the cruise. For children, there are special charges. The whole of the service charge is set aside by the cruise company for staff who perform hotel duties on board as an incentive for the continuous improvement of the quality of services provided on cruises. In some companies, the service charge is an integral part of the total price of the cruise and therefore no amount will be charged for services, while in other companies you can change the amount according to the degree of pleasure. Please kindly check the policy of cruise company to learn about the service charge and tips.
Passengers with special needs – The cruise lines wish to serve the needs of all those who want to enjoy the experience of a cruise but have special needs, mobility problems, vision problems or other difficulties. The international regulations oblige the companies to know every need for personal assistance in case of emergency (wheelchair, etc) of the passengers, in order to take the necessary actions. The information should be disclosed by the travel agent to the company that you are traveling for services on board and during boarding. Passengers who need a wheelchair should have their own standard size collapsible wheelchair (dimensions should be given to the Travel agent). All cruise ships have cabins that are specific to passengers with mobility problems.
Pregnancy – Women with a pregnancy up to the 24th week, can travel only with a doctor’s certificate that allows it. You are not allowed to travel after the 25th week of pregnancy. Please note that the medical capabilities of the ship are limited for the care of pregnant women and newborns.
Pets – It is forbidden to bring or keep pets of any kind and size to the cruise ships
Smoking – It is strictly prohibited in the theaters, in the restaurants, in the buffet-style indoor restaurants, corridors, halls, elevators and stairs. There are special areas for smokers in the lounges. Pipes and cigars can only be smoked in certain places. For fire and safety reasons please remember to put out your cigarettes in the ashtrays provided and never throw cigarettes out of the ship.
Daily news – As long as there is satellite reception for the internet, a newspaper printed and circulated in the ship with all the important news from all over the world.
Age limit children and infants – We would like to remind you that children under the age of 18 cannot travel unaccompanied on a cruise ship. You are not allowed to travel with children who are younger than 6 months of age on the first day of the cruise. For cruises with a duration greater than 15 days, and transatlantic cruises, the minimum age is 12 months.
Mobile Phones – Please note that mobile phones cost more when they are out of terrestrial network since they are using the satellite of the ship.
Electric current – The voltage on most cruise ships is 110/220V.
Anniversaries – Please contact or consult your agent, who must inform the customer service department of the company that you are traveling at least 2 weeks before the departure of your cruise.
Languages – On the most cruise ships, the official language on board is English. Also, the daily schedule and printed information materials are available in English, French, Spanish, German & Italian.
All the above text is for your general information. The information provided may differ from company to company.