Are all cruise lines and ships pretty similar?
In a word, no. Cruise lines, and even the ships in their fleets, can vary drastically which is why it is important to us as agents to help you find your perfect fit for cruising...particularly if you are a newbie to this sort of vacation. Sadly, we have heard many potential cruisers say "never again" as a direct result of selecting a ship or itinerary that wasn't their best match, From 100-passenger river cruise ships to the mega-ships of the Caribbean that accommodate thousands, there is an experience for everyone. Casual or upscale? Relaxed or active? Budget or luxury? An adult demographic or family-friendly? These are some of the criteria we consider when assisting clients.
Is a cruise vacation expensive?
Yes and no, and that entirely depends on the line, ship, itinerary, stateroom category, departure port, and duration of cruise you select. Generally, cruising is the best value in the travel industry - when you figure out your daily cost and what all is included in that, it is pretty remarkable. It is not uncommon to see daily expenses break down to about $100 per day, and this includes your lodging, meals, non-alcoholic beverages excluding soda, entertainment, and activities.
Is a cruise vacation all-inclusive?
While many things are included in your cruise vacation, it is not an all-inclusive package. Rates generally include taxes, fees, port charges, gratuity, meals, snacks, non-alcoholic drinks besides soda, room service, daily activities, nightly entertainment, and use of the ship's facilities. Additional charges can include port excursions, alcohol/specialty coffee/ soda, spa services, and some fitness classes.
Is cruising similar to an all-inclusive resort vacation?
Many travelers enjoy both types of vacations depending on the sort of experience they wish to have, but in the office we do tend to have loyal resort fans and loyal cruise fans. Fans of cruising enjoy the many activities on the ships along with seeing various destinations in one trip. Fans of resorts enjoy the slower pace and relaxation aspect. While resorts offer entertainment, their itineraries cannot compare to the offerings on a ship.
Do I need a passport?
For some itineraries, passports are not required by the cruise line; however, we always recommend traveling with a passport.
Is seasickness common?
Because many of today's cruise ships are so large and feel more like floating cities, very little to no movement is felt on board. Destinations like Alaska and the Caribbean feature calmer waters that might be more enjoyable to those prone to motion sickness. Many passengers find relief from simple over-the-counter remedies.
Are cruise ships safe?
Millions of passengers are sailing the waterways of the world on a daily basis, and very few issues are reported even with these high numbers of ships and people on the seas.
Isn't cruising for the "newly wed and nearly dead"?
Unfortunately, this stereotype has stuck around in some minds of potential cruisers, but now cruising is really for anyone. It is still extremely popular with newlyweds and retirees, but it is also a common vacation for generational travel, families with children of any age, bachelorette and bachelor parties, groups of friends, business incentive groups, interest groups, and more.
How is the food on cruise ships?
Yum! Cruise ships once known for mediocre food offerings and over-the-top midnight buffets on deck are now known for more specialized or themed buffet offerings, delicious options in the main dining room, and fantastic specialty dining. Smaller venues are becoming more common throughout the ship (still included in cruise cost) and food is plentiful throughout the day and evening.
Will I be bored? What sorts of activities are there on the ship?
It is very difficult to feel bored on a cruise ship - activities can include cultural and historical lectures, instructional classes, wine and beer tastings, ship tours, fitness classes, game shows, live music, movies, ice skating, rock climbing, zip-lining, water slides, casinos, pool games, trivia, and more. Each cruise line has a different flair in terms of offered entertainment.
Will I get fat?
While it is true that travelers tend to gain weight while cruising, it is very easy to avoid this dilemma by making good food choices, staying active, and watching alcohol consumption. Cruise ships are becoming havens for the fit by offering healthy food options (including vegetarian and vegan-friendly meals), luxurious fitness centers, fun exercise classes, and active excursions in port. It's whatever you want to make of it!
Do ships feel crowded and claustrophobic?
Nope! Ships today feel more like carefully designed floating cities, that feature gardens at sea, quiet areas for lounging, thoughtfully structured decks, a variety of stateroom accommodations to suit any traveler, and many dining venues to choose from. Even the largest ships sailing with the largest number of passengers don't feel busy!
What questions do you have about cruising that are not addressed here? Post below, and we will gladly provide you with information!
Packing for vacation can be stressful, time-consuming, and particularly challenging if you're planning to visit a new-to-you destination; however, regardless of where you're heading on your next adventure, there are some items than can stay behind.
Here's our list:
As the resident bookworm in our household, selecting books to take with me on vacation was always a challenge. Being a particularly quick reader also means that, depending on the vacation style, I can breeze through 3-5 books so a heavy carry-on was part of my travel experience...but not anymore! With my Nook, I can load up many, many reading selections and even enjoy the flexibility of truly reading of what I am in the mood for during the trip. I still will occasionally pack one paperback for the pool or beach. but I am becoming less and less interested in doing so. Leave those print books behind and use that valuable space and weight for other necessary items.
The busy fall and winter travel season is quickly approaching, and we will once again be open on Saturdays. Beginning October 1, you may make an appointment with Stephanie or walk-ins are always welcome.
Be sure to follow our Facebook page for the holiday schedule in November and December.
We look forward to seeing you!
Use the in-room or in-stateroom safe at your hotel or on your cruise ship to keep money and belongings in a protected area accessible only to you. If you have concerns about the safe, speak with someone at your hotel about the possibility of using a safe-deposit box behind the front desk. Don't forget to empty the safe before heading home - if you need to, write yourself a reminder note to check the safe and place it on your luggage so you see it as you prepare for departure.
When you are out and about, it is a great idea to keep money divided between members of your traveling party and then in various locations such as a bag, wallet, and on your person. This way, someone in your group always has money in the event of a problem.
Learn a little bit about the money culture of the country/countries you are visiting. Many areas in Europe and Asia are credit card standard and this can reduce the need to carry larger amounts of cash and coin on you. Be sure to check with your credit card company prior to travel about the fees associated with ATM and card use abroad.
While on-body storage is the most ideal form of money protection, it is not ideal for making small purchases throughout your day. No one wants to disrobe in a market to pay after selecting a snack. Look for clothing options that allow for on-body storage, but keep smaller amounts of money more accessible for these little purchases. Wearable money protection is also a good idea if you're somewhere that requires extra safety measures while sleeping.
Pick-pocket proof shirt and business pants from Clothing Arts
If you're still in shopping mode after selecting your new travel wallet, you might also want to look into anti-theft bags. A variety of options are available from reputable luggage companies. (photos, links)
If you're venturing into a pick-pocketing hot spot, consider carrying a dummy wallet on you. Purchase an inexpensive wallet, stuff some fake bills inside to give it some heft, and lose this to a pickpocket instead of your actual possessions. In the event of a mugging, throw this to buy you some time to get away and get help. Cities notorious for pickpocketing include: Barcelona, Prague, Rome, Madrid, Paris, Buenos Aires, Florence, Amsterdam, Hanoi, and Athens.
Please note that we have not tested the products featured in this post - we are simply offering suggestions for types of products that may be helpful to you while traveling.
Always do your research and select items that are the best fit for your needs.
Packing for vacation is no small feat, and after years of travel, we have become better and better at planning for our time away. A carefully packed carry-on bag is essential to starting your trip off right...here are a few of our must-haves when jet setting:
Linda: Nook or a print book, bottle of water (purchase after clearing security), scarf or a light sweater for inconsistent cabin temperatures
Shelly: bottle of water, tasty snacks (especially good for longer flights!), and a sweater
Ruth Ann: toothbrush/toothpaste, deck of cards, and swimsuit - she always wants to be ready to go upon arriving at her destination, and is usually swimming pool-bound!
Stephanie: scarf for warmth on the plane, puzzle books with a pencil, and a makeup pouch re-purposed to carry cables and chargers
What three items do you always make sure to take along with you in your carry-on?
We are so excited to share our new and improved website with you soon - thank you for your patience as we continue construction and release new pages upon their completion.
With improved flexibility and opportunity for creativity, we look forward to the possibilities our new site will provide our clients. Our plans for this expansion include: ongoing blog posts, trip reviews, e-catalogs, documents and important files, search features, promotions, videos, photo albums of our travels, and more. We will eventually be offering a monthly newsletter that will be both informative and fun, covering topics that interest our clients.
Have an idea for us? Hope to see something offered on our new website? Please let us know! Use the contact form to share your thoughts with us!
~ Linda, Shelly, Ruth Ann, and Stephanie