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FAQs: Experts answer 12 important cruise questions

Ready to take the plunge and book a cruise but unsure of where to start? Get tips from seasoned pros on everything you need to know when it comes to prepping for your voyage, understanding cruise lingo, and making the most of your time onboard!

First-time and seasoned cruisers alike often have burning questions when it comes to preparing for and getting the most out of their trip. 

This is why experts and specialists in ultra-luxury cruises, are providing insight by addressing must-ask questions before boarding a ship. 

Experts answer 12 need-to-know cruise questions
Experts answer 12 need-to-know cruising questions

Once on board, cruisers are encouraged to simply unpack, sit back and enjoy the experience. This is made much easier for cruisers who are prepared for the experience and are best placed to get the most out of their trip. 

The expert’s answers provide advice for the best time to book, how to pay for amenities once onboard, need-to-know cruise lingo and what happens if someone is delayed back to the ship after an onshore excursion. 

James Cole, founder and managing director at Panache Cruises, whose team has prepared these helpful tips said: “Planning a cruise trip can be daunting for novice and beginner cruisers alike, as knowing the best way to get deals on bookings, when to book and the best type of cruise for you can all be tricky. 

Here are insights on need-to-know cruise queries: 

450px Bahamas Cruise ship exterior June 2018 3303 FAQs: Experts answer 12 important cruise questions
  1. When should I book my cruise? 

The best time to book a holiday is generally as far in advance as possible. The booking sweet spot, also known as the ‘wave season’, is from January to March. This is the period when a lot of popular cruises first go on sale and travellers can get the best deals, as fares often rise as the ship fills up. Cruise lines often announce itineraries 18 months or more in advance, so the best cruising deals can be found by planning a trip well ahead.

Planning your holiday early is especially important if you have specialist needs in terms of the type of cabin or stateroom. There are usually only a very small number of family cabins or interconnecting cabins on board even the most modern of cruise ships, so it pays to book early to secure the accommodation you need. The same is true for disabled or solo traveller cabins. 

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A cruising holiday
  1. How do I pay for things onboard?

Every liner handles onboard payments slightly differently. As a general rule purchases are made using a card, a multipurpose credit card-sized ‘card’ which also acts as your ID and room key. Some lines will give you a bracelet that allows you to pay as well. Increasingly, mobile phone apps are allowing people to book chargeable aspects of their cruise too from restaurant reservations to excursions. Mobile phone apps can also be used to operate cabin-based technology such as curtain blinds and televisions. 

  1. Is there a dress code onboard?

These days, most liners operate a casual dress code. Cruisers in warmer climates tend to opt for beach wear or shorts and t-shirts during the day and smart-casual wear in the evening. A few ships will include a gala dinner as part of the onboard itinerary, where guests are invited to wear their finest clothes or dress to a specific theme.

  1. What is a muster drill? 

The muster drill is a mandatory safety exercise that all passengers will have to take part in after boarding their ship. Under Maritime Law, each liner is required to hold a safety briefing before departing, the drill familiarises all passengers and crew with the muster station. This means everyone on board knows what to do in case of an emergency. 

  1. How can I book shore excursions?

For the best selection and guaranteed availability, cruisers should book via their agent before they travel or book onboard. Excursions are usually included free of charge on luxury and ultra-luxury cruises, which is one of the main benefits. Always compare the total cost of the trip and not the initial fare or ticket price. 

  1. What happens if I am late back to the ship after an excursion? 

If you book your ship-line organised excursion, the ship will wait for you. Otherwise, it is your responsibility to get back to the ship before it departs. Always make a note of the ship’s contact details plus departure time and make sure when booking any non-ship organised excursions to give yourself plenty of time to get back on the ship so you aren’t rushing. Don’t risk the chance of being left behind. 

  1. What is the best type of cruise for me? 

With so many options available, choosing the right liner for you can make all the difference. Consider who you are travelling with, your budget, what you want to experience and your dream destinations. Whereas expedition cruises can take you to some of the most remote parts of the world, luxury river cruises are perfect for travelling through land-locked countries and for visiting famous cities. 

  1. When it comes to entertainment, what do I have to pay for? 

Typically with luxury and ultra-luxury cruises, all entertainment will be included within the package with the exception perhaps of the casino (if available).  Although popular on US liners, many smaller European ships will not feature a casino at all.  

  1. Do I need a passport to cruise? 

Yes – all cruisers will need a passport in order to travel. Even British people touring the British Isles must hold a valid passport that conforms to the entry requirements of each destination visited. 

  1. What is the check-in process like? 

Many liners allow you to check in online and upload all of your security details electronically. This is also where you can provide any vaccine proof if required for the countries you will be visiting. Many ships have their own mobile phone ‘apps’ to allow passengers to easily update this information. 

  1. What happens if I start to feel seasick? What health and safety is there onboard?

For any sea-sick or unwell passengers onboard, most ships will have a doctor or extensive medical facilities. Any urgent cases of injury or sickness will be airlifted off the ship if at sea. All passengers are encouraged to take sea sickness medication or wear travel wristbands just in case the weather turns bad. 

  1. Can I do laundry onboard?

Packing enough clothes for a long excursion is a difficult task for many. Luckily, cruisers are able to make use of onboard laundry services to get longevity from their luggage. Many ships offer laundry services for passengers meaning they can re-wear their clothes and don’t have to worry about packing weeks’ worth of clothes. Such services are included free of charge on luxury liners but are usually chargeable on lower-tiered lines. 

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