Frequently Asked Questions
How are cruises priced? Cruise holidays are priced on a per person (pp) basis, and are calculated on the assumption that two passengers will be sharing one cabin. As such, solo travellers may incur a supplement, or additional passengers or children sharing a cabin may do so at a reduced rate. Cruise holiday pricing may include a number of elements including the cruise fare, flight and transfer costs, local port and government taxes and fuel supplements. For a full breakdown of your cruise fare, contact your cruise advisor.
What's included within the price? What's included in the price will vary by cruise line, but in general the price of a cruise will cover your accommodation (cabin) plus meals, entertainment and a range of daytime activities onboard including the use of the ship's leisure facilities, fitness centre, swimming pools and much more.
What's not included within the price? You should budget for personal purchases onboard such as soft drinks and alcoholic drinks, spa and beauty treatments, dining in optional speciality restaurants where a cover charge applies and shore excursions. Again, what's not included may vary by cruise line, so ask our cruise advisors if you are unsure.
Is tipping included? Many cruises now include the gratuities within the cruise fare, which covers tips for your room steward and waiters/head waiter in the main restaurant, and gratuities for bar staff are usually included when making a purchase. Where not automatically included, tipping may be charged to your onboard account at a rate of around £5 per passenger per day, however make sure you check with your cruise advisor at the time of booking.
What are the benefits of booking early? Most cruises will be on sale for over 12 months prior to their departure, and passengers often prefer to book early to make sure they obtain their preferred cabin grade or location, to confirm early or late dining in the main restaurant or to secure accommodation which may quickly sell out such as suites or family cabins. In addition, there are often many incentives for booking in advance such as early booking savings, transport options to and from the departure port or onboard spending money.
What are the benefits of booking late? If you are flexible on the accommodation you are looking for or the destination you wish to travel to, It is often possible to find great late deals on cruises, as prices may be significantly reduced towards the date of travel if there are cabins still available or if there are late cancellations. If you have specific accommodation or dining requirements or are travelling as a family or part of a group however, it may not always be possible to find a last-minute offer.
What type of accommodation is available? The type of accommodation available will vary by cruise ship and cruise line, and range from a standard inside cabin or stateroom up to ultra-luxury penthouse suite accommodation. Inside (or interior) cabins do not have exterior windows or balconies, outside (or ocean view) cabins will have a porthole or picture window, balcony (or verandah) staterooms will have an accessible private balcony. All accommodation on modern cruise ships will include the choice of twin single beds or double bed plus
- en-suite bathroom facilities with bath or shower
- vanity table with mirror and hair dryer
- multi-channel TV with news, films and cruise information
- personal safe
- refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities
- plenty of wardrobe space!
Electrical outlets for personal appliances in your cabin will usually be 110 and/or 220 volts (this may vary according to the registry of the cruise line).
What accommodation is available for families? Family accommodation is widely available on cruise ships, and includes multiple bed cabins capable of accommodating two adults and additional infants or children – when sharing a cabin in this manner, there is usually a reduced rate for additional passengers. Alternatively, cabins with interconnecting doors are also widely available, allowing the adults to stay in on stateroom with their children next door. Many cruise lines also offer specialist accommodation for families such as family staterooms or suites. The number of children a cruise ship can accommodate is capacity controlled however, and can sell out quickly during school holidays and other peak times, so to avoid disappointment it is often best to book in advance.
What accommodation is available for single passengers? Some cruise lines offer a limited number of single-bed accommodation specifically for solo travellers. In addition, many cruise lines may also offer the full range of staterooms available on a cruise to single passengers at a supplemental rate – this may vary by cruise line, voyage or departure date.
What is an obstructed view cabin? An obstructed view cabin is a room with a window or balcony which offers a source of natural light but has it's view either fully or partially impeded by the ships lifeboats, safety equipment or other extension from the ship's hull. As a result, obstructed view cabins will generally be cheaper than cabins with a clear ocean view.
What is a guarantee cabin? On certain cruises, cabins may be offered for sale on a “guarantee basis”. This means that you would be guaranteed a cabin of the grade you select or higher, however the actual cabin number itself would be allocated by the cruise line prior to departure. Cabins may be offered on a guarantee basis due to a special promotional fare, for capacity control reasons.
What is an automatic upgrade? When booking a cruise, many cruise lines will ask if you would like to receive an automatic cabin upgrade if it becomes available. This is due to capacity control – if a specific cabin grade sells out, or if the cruise line is trying to sell the last few remaining cabins before departure, they may upgrade existing customers into a higher cabin grade to allow them to offer the lower priced cabin grades to new customers. If you accept the offer of an automatic upgrade at time of booking, you may find yourself upgraded and receive a higher grade of cabin than you paid for, however the location of the upgraded cabin will be determined by the cruise line themselves.
What dining options are available onboard? Dining options will vary by cruise line and by cruise ship. In general, every cruise ship will feature a main dining room available for breakfast, lunchtime and evening meals, alongside informal dining options such as poolside grills and buffet restaurants, pizzerias or cafés. Many cruise ships also offer speciality, gourmet or fine dining options including steakhouses, Italian, French or Asian restaurants and more – these restaurants will usually be available by reservation at a small cover charge. Room service and in-cabin dining is also widely available.
What is first and second dining? Evening meals onboard a cruise ship are traditionally available at two times – the first (or early) seating is usually offered from 6pm, while the second (or late) seating is offered from 8pm. You will be assigned a table at the start of your cruise and have the same waiters and dinner companions for your voyage each evening. Both dinings are capacity controlled, so depending on when you book your holiday only one option may be available, or you may need to go on a waiting list for your preferred choice. Evening entertainment will be co-ordinated around the two dining options and shows will be repeated so all passengers have a chance to attend.
What is open/flexible dining? In addition to the traditional first and second seating, many cruise lines are now offering open or flexible dining, allowing you to turn up and be seated in the main restaurant at a time that suits you. If you choose this option, then the Maitre'd will find you a table on your arrival at the restaurant, or you can make a reservation for a particular time.
What if I have a special diet/allergies? Don't worry – the catering staff are happy to cater for individual needs and requirements, and will be happy to cater for vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten free, low sodium or low calorie diets and the like. If you have any special dietary requirements or allergies that you would like the cruise line to be aware of, simply let your cruise advisor know at time of booking.
What is the dress code onboard? Don't be put off by the image of a traditional, formal cruise holiday – while dressing for dinner is part of the glamour and appeal of a cruise, life onboard is very relaxed and informal during the day. For most cruise ships “resort casual” is the norm - you can dress as you would for any holiday or city break – shorts, t-shirts, sportswear and jeans are all perfectly acceptable throughout the day.
In the evening, the dress code will vary by cruise line but will usually take on one of three forms: Smart casual is exactly that – dress as you would for an evening meal at a restaurant with friends at home – open-collared shirts or polo shirts and trousers or smart denim for men is fine, or casual separates and dresses for ladies. Semi-formal nights would be shirt trousers and casual blazer or suit and tie for men, and stylish dress or equivalent for ladies. Formal nights are the time to really get into the cruising spirit with dinner jackets and tuxedos for men and cocktail dresses for ladies.
While dress codes vary by cruise line, in general around half your evenings on board will be smart casual, and the rest split evenly between formal and semi-formal. But the number one rule to remember is not to worry, it's your holiday – if you don't feel like dressing up for dinner then there are many informal dining options and cruise lines available.
What onboard facilities will my cruise ship have? The range in facilities onboard modern cruise ships can vary as much as the cruise ships themselves, and will be appropriate to the vessel and the style of cruising it offers. With modern cruise ships ranging from sleek 20,000 ton vessels to 150,000+ ton floating resorts, it's almost impossible to list all the choices and options available. Generally, most cruise ships will offer swimming pools, gymnasiums, health and beauty spas, casinos, theatres or show lounges, bars, libraries, computer rooms, gift shops, photo gallery and dedicated children's play areas – but that's just the start. Many modern cruise liners include much more including amazing innovations such as ice skating rinks, rock-climbing walls, ten-pin bowling alleys, formula one simulators, water parks, surfing simulators and much more – for full details of what you can expect from your cruise, contact one of our cruise advisors.
What kind of entertainment is provided onboard? Just like onboard facilities, the entertainment provided on a cruise can vary greatly depending on the cruise line and the style of cruising it provides. Most cruise lines will offer a wide variety of entertainment to keep you occupied, with examples including but not limited to live music, comedy acts, screenings of the latest Hollywood films, Broadway style shows and productions, casino games, dance lessons, educational courses and seminars, cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts, card games, health and fitness classes and sports. Your cruise line will provide a daily program outlining what's on, where and when, leaving you free to do as little or as much as you please.
How do I pay for goods or services onboard? All cruise lines operate a cash-free payment system onboard – you will register a credit card or debit card with the cruise line when checking in for your cruise which will set up an account for your cabin. Your cabin's key card will double as a charge card, and whenever you make a purchase, whether buying drinks at the bar, booking a shore excursion or spa treatment or personal purchases at the gift shop, a charge will be made to your cabin's account. You can check the balance of your account at any time with either guest services or in your stateroom, and at the end of the cruise you will receive a final balance statement. If you are happy with the final balance, it will automatically be settled with the credit or debit card you registered at embarkation. Alternatively, you can make arrangements with Guest Services to settle your account personally prior to disembarkation.
What is “onboard credit”? Many cruise lines offer onboard credit (also known as onboard spending money or onboard spends) as an incentive when booking a cruise – it may be available as part of an early booking promotion or other special offer. Onboard credit will be applied to your cabin account prior to departure, allowing you to use it to buy drinks, book shore excursions or make personal purchases.
What is the alcohol policy onboard? A wide choice of beers, wines, spirits, mixed drinks and cocktails are available onboard. Alcoholic drinks are available for purchase and consumption by passengers over the legal age required by the ship's country of registry (for example 18+ for UK, 21+ for the United States of America). Duty free alcohol may be purchased in the ship's gift shop or in ports of call but may be retained by the cruise line until the end of your holiday.
What is the smoking policy? Smoking policies vary depending on the country of the ship's registry. In all cases, smoking is prohibited in restaurants and other food service areas and show lounges. There may be designated smoking areas onboard – fire is the biggest hazard at sea, so please refer to your cruise lines guidelines for information on where you can smoke and how to dispose of your cigarette.
Will I get seasick? Seasickness is rarely a concern onboard. Modern cruise ships are designed to minimise the sensation of movement onboard, and in addition, the availability of accurate weather forecasting and the development of effective preventative medications have gone a long way to eliminate motion sickness. Health and safety onboard is taken very seriously, and to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal illness all passengers are required to sanitise their hands before entering or leaving food preparation and service areas.
What about medical treatment onboard? All cruise ships provide a medical centre onboard staffed by trained and experienced health care professionals to handle first aid, general medical queries, and emergencies. Please be aware that any visit to the ships Doctor for medical advice will incur a consultation fee along with the cost of any prescribed medicines. If you have a medical condition that might put you at risk, inform the cruise line at the time of booking. Also ensure that you have adequate travel insurance as medical costs can soon escalate if you are unexpectedly hospitalized whilst abroad.
If you would like to learn more about the world of cruising or have a question not covered here, contact our cruise advisors today on 0800 093 0622 for expert knowledge and friendly, impartial advice.