CRUISE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: 800-955-9942
Guests ask, "What do I pack for a perfect cruise?"
With 22 years experience in cruising, Coordinator
Cynthia Neu McCluskey recommends bringing one suitcase, one carry-on,
your valid passport, a valid credit card, a hat, sunglasses, sun screen and your smile. "Traveling
means you go quickly through security. And when
you smile you're invited to all the parties. Follow these tips," she says, "and you will have a fun and an easy time at
sea." Cynthia's cruise information and tips are updated regularly, but can change at any time too. Always feel free to call with your last minute questions.
|"Thank you for this thorough and logical information. I've read every attachment and will continue to do so as my cruise approaches. I've traveled the world. This is probably the most extensive and logical information I've ever received in preparing to go. Thank you very, very much." Barbara Kelley, Houston, TX.
1.) Are all meals included? Each cruise includes all your meals and snacks on board ship. Whether you want to
taste everything, or follow a special diet, you
are welcome to it all when cruising. You can also order 24 hour Room Service with a 'convenience fee'of $5 to $8 per delivery to your stateroom. As long as everyone in the room orders at the same time the late night delivery fee is $5 for Royal Caribbean and $8 on Celebrity ships. There is no charge for the food. Only for its delivery. Continental Breakfast for your stateroom has no delivery charge if you order it between 6 and 11 AM. Ask your cabin steward for a Breakfast Menu. A Continental Breakfast consists primarily of fruit, pastries, toast, coffee, tea and juice. If you are a vegetarian, or want a gluten free diet, or if you are diabetic, indicate this when you book so your reservation can be marked accordingly. Almond milk is also available for free. Be sure to write down on a post card for your head waiter your personal menu requests. Give it to your waiter on the first night at dinner. The kitchen staff can then plan a special diet for you. Every ship also has a selection of specialty restaurants which charge a nominal fee to dine there. All meals in the formal dining hall are included in your cruise fare. It is a highlight of cruising. Because our travel club follows a fitness theme we book everyone at the early dinner seating hour which will be no later than 6:00 PM daily.
2.) What about alcohol and other beverages on board ship? First let us clarify that no one may board ship with distilled water bottles, liquor bottles or beer cans packed in their suitcases or carry-on. Such liquids are confiscated when passing through pier security because the cruise lines can not be sure such liquids are actually water, liquor or beer. They could be dangerous fluids. However, every passenger may board Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ships with a single bottle of unopened wine packed in his/her carry-on not to exceed 75 ml. Guests may not bring onto the ship multiple bottles of wine. Only one bottle of wine is permitted per person per carry on. That single bottle of wine may be enjoyed in your stateroom. If you bring it into the formal dining room to be served you must pay a $15 corkage fee on Royal Caribbean and a $25 corkage fee on Celebrity. When buying any type of liquor on shore (including wine) you must check (leave) the bottles with the ship's crew upon returning to the ship. Your liquor purchases will be returned to you at the end of the cruise. Remember that you may not take any liquid weighing more than 3 oz's onto an airplane in your carry-on when flying home. Do not let
U.S. Customs take your recently purchased foreign bottles of liquor away from you at the airport. Pack your newly purchased unopened bottles of liquor in your checked luggage when you are flying home. Do not open up soda cans, water bottles,
or anything else found in your cruise stateroom or mini bar, unless you agree to pay for it. One bottle of water could cost $4. You can pre-purchase a drink/alcoholic package for your cruise. However, such packages are often automatically incuded in your cruise fare price. Call at 800-955-9942 for details. We highly recommend making all purchases for your cruise (including shore excursions) only on board ship. By doing so you have financial recourse if you change your mind or are dissatisfied with any service or product. The Internet does not give you any refund, nor does it allow changes, but on board the ship at the Guest Relations Desk they can do both as long as you initially made your purchase of said product on the ship. Specialty coffee
bars on any ship also sell at an extra cost. Be careful when ordering any specialty drinks. Plus pay close attention to each tab you sign. Every drink served to you already has an 18% gratuity added to it. When you are asked to sign that drink tab you will see a blank line that asks TIP? But notice just above that line it shows an 18% percent gratuity has already been added. If you add another tip it will be double tipping.
How do I pay gratuities? May I use my debit card on the ship? To board ship you must give Royal Caribbean and Celebrity (your) credit card to use for ship charges. You are then issued a cruise key card which also looks like a credit card. Every day you are automatically
charged for all your tips to pay the attendants and waiters who serve you. The charge is
$14.50 (fourteen dollars and 50 cents) per day per guest, regardless of your age and regardless of how many of you are in the same stateroom or whether you're in an Inside, an Ocean View or a Balcony Stateroom. Passengers in Junior Suites or higher pay more in tips per day per guest. It is better to travel with a credit card and not a debit card because as Bank of America explains, "If fraud is committed on a credit card the bank will protect its card. But if fraud happens to your personal debit card the bank will not protect your personal account. Simply put, the bank protects its credit card, but not your personal debit card." It is best to travel with a valid credit card or with cash. There is a safe in every stateroom to hold your cash, passport and other valuables. You are welcome to pay extra cash tips to your attendants at the end of the cruise. Sometimes cruise attendants lay out envelopes on your bed the last night at sea in case you want to leave them more tips. You can write on the envelopes that you've already pre-paid the tips. Or, you could put in extra cash. Many guests leave behind the foreign currency they've picked up on the cruise since they cannot use the foreign money when they return home. It
is also customary to give a $1 cash tip to an attendant or waiter who delivers any item to your cabin during the cruise such as laundry. Attendents who deliver food to your room charge their tips to your cabin before delivering the food.
do I pay my own expenses on the ship? Before
boarding ship you will be asked for a credit
card or to deposit a minimum $500 cash. You are then issued a cruise
key card. It looks like a credit card. All
your purchases on the ship are charged to that key card either charging your credit card or drawing down on your $500
cash deposit. Guest
Relations notifies you during the cruise when your cash deposit is running low and/or
when your credit card has reached its limit. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity will announce your name over a loud speaker throughout the ship asking you to come to Guest Relations if your account is overdrawn. Be prepared with a back-up plan to
replenish your money sources, if needed. You can not obtain cash
in the ship's casino. In fact, there are no cash advances permitted on board any Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ships in casinos or at Guest Relations using either credit or debit cards. The only way to obtain cash on board ship is to use an ATM machine, which are all usually out of
money because other guests deplete them quickly. Ditto for banks on shore. They often are depleted of U.S. dollars too because passengers from earlier cruise ships tap them out. Crew members do not service ATM machines. In fact, no one on board ship can
assist you when an ATM is down. They are serviced only by contractors on land when a ship is docked. Plus, if any cash can be drawn out of an ATM machine on a ship it will have at least a 6% service fee. Do not count on ATM machines on any ship or on shore to provide you with cash. They are not reliable. If you are a lucky enough to find an ATM machine on shore that does give you cash the currency will not be U.S. Dollars; it will be in the currency of that country. The best way to travel is to bring at least fifty (50) $1 U.S. bills to make exact change. Do not to use a debit card when you travel. Bank of America officials say banks protect their credit cards from fraud because the banks actually own your credit card. However, a bank does not protect your personal debit card from fraud because only you have control over your cash in your bank. Be sure. Be safe. Be smart. Do not expose your personal debit card to criminal abuse. Travel with a credit card in your name. Gift credit cards are not accepted on any ship. Cash them out or use them before you arrive to the ship! On the last morning of your cruise an itemized statement
for all your cruise charges will appear under the door in your cabin.
Any questionable charges must be settled
at the Guest Relations Desk before you leave
the ship. No charges can be contested after
you disembark the ship. From time to time while on the cruise go to Guest Relations and ask for a print out of your cruise account. Be sure each charge is correct. If you find a mistake obtain a
receipt from Guest
Relations for any refund or credit you are due. Always get a receipt for EVERY transaction
you make on your ship. You will need your receipts for documentation if you find incorrect charges on your credit card. You can not get back any monies after you exit the ship. The best you can hope for is to convince your credit card company to stop payment. But even then you must provide receipt(s) to back up your claim. Do not leave Guest Relations without written proof on letterhead that you have credit forthcoming, if you do. Without such written proof of credit it is very doubtful you will ever see it.
Formal Night is a cruise highlight. Hosts (LtoR) Caryn Martin, Jeannie Johnson, Sam Fadullon and Melissa Huffman, all of the D.C. metro area, enjoy hosting hometown guests on fitness cruises with formality.
do I wear? Club members
dress fashionably when they take a cruise. Favorite seasonal outfits are fine. On any ship there are
no changing rooms near swimming
pools. Guests wear shorts or robes over swim suits when walking to and from the pools. Guests dress nicely for dinner each
evening. There are Formal nights on Royal Caribbean and Evening Chic nights on Celebrity. They are usually the Captain’s
Welcome Dinner the second night at sea
and the Captain’s
Farewell Dinner the next to last night
at sea. Longer cruises have 3 Formal or Evening Chic nights. Minimum formal attire for a lady is
a cocktail outfit. Gentlemen are encouraged
to wear a dark dressy suit with a tie. Men may not have open collars, or pull over shirts, or short pants ever in the formal dining room. Men who wear tuxes are a big hit on formal nights. To rent a
tux on Royal Caribbean call 800-590-6193. Call at least 30 days before departure to assure tux availability. Cost is reasonable. Celebrity does not offer tux rentals. There are no public
laundries on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ships. But room service does offer dry cleaning and ironing for a small fee. The list below can help you plan your cruise wardrobe.
No guest may ever dine in the formal dining room in jeans.
Shirts in the formal dining room must have stitched sleeves and collars,
regardless of whether the meal is breakfast, lunch
or dinner. Polo shirts are not proper attire in the formal dining room. Why must guests dress up? Guests
who dress well behave well. This is important
when thousands of people are traveling in a confined
space and drinking alcohol out in the middle of an ocean. Officers
and crew will be the best dressed and most courteous. members agree to follow all dress codes of both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Shorter cruises to the Caribbean do not require elegant formal evening wear because the islands are very warm. On these occasions minimum attire is Country Club cocktail dresses for ladies and a dressy sports coat and tie for gentlemen. We request all guests to dress nicely for every cruise event as a courtesy to each other and the cruise lines. Persons who do not want to dress formally may dine in other eateries throughout the ship on any Formal or Evening Chic night. Casual attire in these other eateries is fine. But again, when dining in the formal dining hall be sure to dress elegantly. A notice in your stateroom each morning will advise you of what is the dress code for that evening in the formal dining hall.
Daily dress code:
Royal Caribbean 5-night cruise:
One formal, one smart casual, all others casual.
Celebrity 5-night cruise: One Evening Chic, one smart, all others casual.
Royal Caribbean 6, 7, 8 and
9 night cruise:
Two formal, two smart casual,
all other casual.
Celebrity 6,7,8 and 9 night cruise: Two Evening Chic, two smart casual, all other casual.
Royal Caribbean 10, 11 and
Three formal, two smart casual, all other casual.
Celebrity 10, 11 and 12 night cruise: Three Evening Chic, two smart casual, all other casual.
Royal Caribbean 13,14,15, 16, 17-night cruise:
Three formal, four smart casual,
all other casual. Celebrity 13,14, 15, 16, 17-night cruise: Three Evening Chic, four smart casual, all other casual.
Dress code styles for
men; then women ~~
Casual: Sports shirts, slacks; sun dresses, pants.
Smart Casual: Jackets, ties; dresses or pantsuits.
Formal: Suits, ties, tuxes; cocktail dresses.
Evning Chic: Long sleeve shirts, ties, sports coats; cocktail dress, designer slacks, jeweled tops.
jeans or T-shirts on men or women, or bare arms on men, are ever allowed in the formal hall. Formal dining is a highlight of cruising. It is this club's policy to follow the dress codes of both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines.)
DINING IN A FORMAL SETTING: Throughout
each cruise courteous wait staff attends to your
every request. They are trained to set and serve
formal tables: The bread plate is to your
far left with its own butter knife. Your salad
fork is first on your left (outside),
followed by an appetizer fork (middle). The
meal fork lays beside the dinner plate. At right
is a knife (outside) for simple salads,
a spoon (middle) is for soup
and a sharper knife beside the dinner plate for
is for select cuts of meat. Wine and water glasses
are placed slightly to the upper right for easy
reach and return. A spoon to stir an after dinner
coffee is placed above the dessert spoon and fork
sitting atop the dinner plate. Desserts may be
pudding, ice cream or a choice of gourmet pastries.
There is a utensil for each possible dessert. Formal
dining during a cruise is an elegant event. Upon returning home you can still enjoy elegant dining.
Simply remember: A fork (with 4 letters) is
at your left (also with 4 letters).
A spoon and knife (each with
5 letters) is placed to your right (also
with 5 letters). The order of the utensils is determined by the order you would use them taking first from the outside, then moving inward toward the plate. Each cruise offers
'culture seminars' to teach guests how to prepare
exquisite meals, how to serve the finest wines
and how to set elegant tables. They
are always very well attended.
there medical medical facilities and staff on the ship? Why do you require insurance? Yes. Excellent clinics, doctors and nurses are on every ship, but most are not licensed American medical staff. They
are accredited from their own countries and not usually the USA. Guests who have pre-existing conditions requiring specialized treatment will want to review very carefully what medical care is and is not available on each ship. For instance, pregnant women are not allowed to cruise at all. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid payments are not accepted for payment on any ship. Also
American based health insurance companies
rarely provide medical coverage on cruise ships. It is required for all guests who cruise with the to purchase the AON travel insurance policy offered by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Whenever medical care on a ship is administered to you the charge goes immediately to your ship's cruise account, which is your credit card. A travel insurance policy sold by reimburses
you for most medical care costs up to $10,000 (ten thousand dollars), but only after you return home and file a claim. This policy also protects guests from a price increase if at the last minute a roommate cancels out for a qualifying reason. To read Royal Caribbean's newest insurance
policy, click here.
For a link to Celebrity's
newest insurance policy, click here. Note: There
is no charge for Dramamine. Nor usually is there
a charge for speaking to a nurse to ask general questions. There is a
charge for speaking to a doctor. Before any discussions begin, or any health care is administered on a ship, be sure you understand exactly what the applicable costs will be. If you're
diabetic, have MS, sleep apnea, or carry oxygen when
traveling, make it known when you book your cruise. You must have prior clearance to board ship with oxygen or any needles. Guests who use a CPAP machine must notify our agency to order the distilled water and extension cord for your stateroom. You are not allowed to bring distilled water or any extension cord onto the ship for security reasons. What if your water is tainted? What if you extension cord is frayed? Do not bring them onto the ship. Distilled water and an extension cord will be provided for you. If
you require a refrigerator in your cabin to keep
medications cold be sure to book the category
of cabin that has this accessory, which is a Balcony category or higher. Call 800-955-9942 at
least 30 days before departure
to report what special medical equipment or medications you want to carry onto the ship. Guests may not board ship until such
items are cleared. Persons who are diabetic,
have MS, or require daily shots must carry a
doctor's note in their travel kit verifying their need to use any needles. Travel insurance offered by Royal
Caribbean and Celebrity does not cover pre-existing
medical conditions. Nor does it provide coverage
when recovering from elective surgery prior to a cruise departure.
It is required for each guest who books
a handicap cabin to fill out medical forms verifying
the need for such a cabin, along with presenting
a letter from his/her doctor requesting the special
needs cabin. Paperwork to book a handicap
cabin is sent to each guest when s/he initially
books. Always keep your hands washed, especially
after using stair railings, pushing elevator
buttons or opening cabin doors. Washed, clean hands contribute
most to a healthy cruise. Be safe. Always wash your
hands before eating. The diagram
below shows the best way to wash your hands. It does not matter whether you use cold or hot water when you wash, but it is imperative to use soap to destroy bacteria. If you have any questions about liability or how much insurance protection there is regarding our club's insurance coverage call for clarification before you book. Insurance claims pay out less every year. For instance, any air fares or pre-cruise hotel rooms you book on your own are no longer insurable or refundable. We also want to mention the U.S. Customs and Border Protection today enforces strict regulations on travelers who try to bring back medicines into the USA from other countries. Before purchasing any medications abroad be sure they will pass inspection to enter the United States. Failure to declare such medications when re-entering the USA can result in penalties, confiscation, monetary fines and even arrest and prosecution. Be aware that some pharmacies outside the United States selling pain killers to vacationing Americans might tip off U.S. government officials that you are returning home with a supply of drugs known to be illegal in the USA. The foreign pharmacies do this because they are paid more to turn you in than what you paid them to buy the drugs. Be careful. Finally, don't forget to bring dental supplies in your medical traveling kit. Pack gauze, cotton balls, cloves or oil of cloves, or any kind of mouth gel to relieve tooth pain in case a filling falls out or you break a tooth. And never forget your Dental Floss!
about passports? guests must have a valid passport to travel with the club. This
policy applies even when cruising only to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico or Canada.
Whenever a ship is 12 miles off shore from the continental United States it is in international
waters. Therefore, a valid passport is required by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
for anyone to re-enter the United States. The easiest way to obtain a valid American
passport for travel, or to have it renewed, is to visit
your local Post Office for assistance. Whenever an American passport is renewed it is assigned a new number. Expired passports are useless. Anyone
who travels with an INS Green
Card must produce it too before boarding ship
and again upon returning stateside. Along with that INS Green
Card the passenger must be traveling with his or her country's current passport. Anyone requiring a visa, or any other travel document, for international or domestic travel, has sole responsibility to obtain that visa or travel document for him/herself every time. is not responsible for either advising or obtaining visas for any club member. No one may
board ship without being cleared by U.S.
Homeland Security. Our
club submits all required passport information to Homeland Security at least three months prior to departure. If you want to check whether you need a visa for your cruise click here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html However, it is our travel club's policy not to cruise or travel anywhere where visas are needed or where one is required to have medical shots. We do not book such trips. Also, INS does not allow an American to cruise if s/he is facing a criminally charged court date, owes back child support, or has a tax lien. Ask
your local post office how to obtain a new, or renewed,
U.S. passport, if you need it. Passports must be approved by INS before cruise documents can be released by the cruise lines and/or are delivered to any club guests.
Always travel with a valid Passport. The National
Passport Center's toll-free number is 1-877-487-2778.
Service is open M-F 8 to 8 EST. A preparation fee is charged per passport. When returning
to the United States at any harbor port or airport it is common for INS to scrutinize
any American passport having less than six months validation. Why? Because such passports are often stolen abroad.
A U.S. passport number is good only for 10 years. When a U.S. passport expires so does
its number. Every new passport issued has a new
number. Aliens can easily enter the United States illegally
with a tampered American passport that's about to expire because once a Passport number expires INS no longer looks for it. Be sure to travel on a passport having more than 6
months validation. This precaution reduces the chance your
passport will be stolen abroad. No one is exempt from being
questioned by INS. The most
innocent looking grandmothers are often questioned to
prove the U.S. government is not profiling travelers.
And when re-entering the USA always keep on you
all receipts for any expensive jewelry you bought abroad. Customs
is known to ask for receipts when Americans are
reentering the country. Foreign jewelry stores
often notify U.S. Customs which Americans are returning
home with expensive jewelry. Store owners in the Caribbean and Europe, along with U.S. Customs and cruise industry security officials work together to prevent travelers from filing false insurance claims after they return home declaring their jewelry was stolen on a cruise ship. Be safe. Be sure. Keep all receipts you have on you when buying expensive gifts abroad so you can easily produce them if asked to do so. Ideally you will also have your expensive items on you too when you re-enter the USA. It often happens that foreighn shop keepers selling medicines and drugs to cruisers will notify U.S. Customs and the INS when certain passengers are returning with excessive amounts of medications. The U.S. government pays informants in the Caribbean and in Europe more money for information about Americans who are there buying drugs than Americans pay the stores to buy the drugs, legal or illegal. Don't be stupid. Don't buy any drugs aboard that are not welcome in America. It's not worth the crisis you face if you get caught.
Avoid Passport Cards. Do not be tempted by your local post office to purchase a Passport Card instead of obtaining your real American Passport. Yes, you may board ship with a Passport Card and you may drive in a car across the U.S. Border into Mexico, or Canada or take a cruise to the Caribbean. But you can not you fly anywhere internationally using a Passport Card. If a real emergency happened at home while you were out of the country, if a family member was in a car accident, or your house burned down, and for any other reason you needed to return home immediately, you would not be allowed to fly home from any foreign port of call using a Passport Card. You must have your valid American Passport (blue booklet) to fly on any airplane internationally. The law is applicable world wide. The Passport card costs about $100 while a real Passport (blue booklet) costs about $130. The card is good for 5 years. Your real Passport is good 10 years. Take the time, spend the money, be safe, be sure. Carry your valid American Passport. If there were to be another international crises in the United States like 9/11 and you needed to return home immediately only your American Passport would be accepted by any airline to fly you home to the United States. Forget the Passport Card. Its number starts with the letter 'C,' which travel agents call the 'Chump Card.' It is a glorified ID card. It is NOT accepted for International travel.
How do we sign up for shore excursions? You
can book shore excursions on the Internet in advance
of your cruise utilizing the cruise lines' web
site and by using your personal booking ID number
to gain access. Call 1-800-955-9942 for
your booking ID. Have a credit card ready to pay
when you book on line. It is wise to preview shore excursions before arriving to the ship. Many shore excursions now have age and weight limits. We recommend booking shore excursions
only on the ship. More experienced
cruisers often wait until the ship
docks at a pier to take tours
with local vendors. All prices are about the same. Guests should
book exotic tours, like helicopter rides or
fishing expeditions, on line early because spaces for such tours are limited. Visit
either ROYALCARIBBEAN.COM or CELEBRITYCRUISES.COM to
book. However, it is better to book general shore excursions on the ship because if you
change your mind, if the weather becomes foul, if you become sick, or if the excursion is canceled by the ship, you will be refunded all monies immediately that you'd paid for the tour. This is not
true when booking on the Internet. It is
impossible to get a refund for an excursion you booked on the Internet.
The best you can hope for is that the money you paid for the canceled excursion is given back to you as on board credit (OBC). Once the Internet has your money it will not give you back any cash refund. You must have canceled a shore excursion at least five days before your cruise departs to qualify for any on-line refund. And who knows 5 days ahead of time that they'll have to miss an excursion? Shore excursions offered on board ship are managed
by that ship. Excursions sold on the Internet
are sold by independent vendors. The two entities compete for your business. They cannot access each other's records. Crew members on a ship
cannot always help you with Internet bookings. They cannot easily change the times or dates for your excursions. They have limited access to Internet bookings. Also, do not charge your friends' excursions
on your credit card on the Internet for them to pay you back later because if your friends do not go on
that excursion it is futile to try to get any
money refunded to your credit card. It is best to purchase all shore excursions on the ship, even though it takes longer. Your selection will be better too. Another easy way
to enjoy shore excursions is for a group of at
least 4 or 5 guests to rent a van and driver for
the day on your own at the pier. Ask for an English speaking
driver. There will be English speaking drivers
wherever you dock. Your small group can tour faster and see more this way. But remember,
if you take excursions on your own the trip insurance
you bought with the cruise lines does not cover
you if something goes wrong. To be safe travel
in groups of at least four whenever you're off the ship. Stay together. Never go off alone. An excellent rule of safety is this: "Always stay on paved roads. Never go on a dirt road when walking or driving. "
you are computer savvy and prefer to book shore trips
on the Internet go to ROYALCARIBBEAN.COM or CELEBRITYCRUISES.COM. Look for the section called BEFORE
YOU BOARD. Then scroll down to SHORE & LAND
EXCURSIONS. Keep moving through the process
until it asks for your Booking ID number, ship and
sailing date. Call 800-955-9942 for
your booking ID. Shore trips are laid out by CALENDAR,
PORT or EXCURSION. Not Royal
Caribbean, not Celebrity,
allowed to book shore excursions for you. RCCL and Celebrity's shore
side staff can explain over the phone how to book shore
trips on the Internet. Staff members who can help you book over the phone at Celebrity 1-800-722-5941 and at Royal Caribbean 1-800-398-9819.
should I pack to wear? What about my pills? Stateroom closets are very small. Store your luggage pieces inside each other in your stateroom. They should fit under your bed. Do not bring anything you personally cannot lift and carry yourself. In fact, most cruise ships now encourage guests to carry their own luggage off the ship, especially if they must disembark quickly. This is not true when embarking (boarding). Luggage is taken from you at the pier when you arrive and delivered to your cabin. Always put
your cruise luggage tags on before leaving
home. Hotel and airport personnel know
what they are. Luggage tags will arrive with your
boarding documents. Luggage on rollers is best.
Bell caps are expensive. Take your carry-on
with a pool outfit, sweater, make-up, medications, sun glasses, sun screen, walking shoes, camera, jewelry, your valid passport and boarding ticket in it.
And don't forget your hat! Wear your jacket
in route to the ship to reduce weight in your suitcase. Pack two swim suits
and two pairs of of your most comfortable shoes. Keep
your camera in your carry-on.
Do not pack batteries inside checked luggage. And never bring an iron. Regardless of its size the cruise lines will seize any iron as soon as you arrive to the pier. Irons are a fire hazard.
(Room service can iron what you need for a small fee.) When flying domestically your checked bag cannot weigh over
50 lbs. Your carry-on limit is 40 lbs.
When flying over seas you may usually check
two bags at 50 lbs each. A carry-on when flying
over seas is still limited to 40 lbs. A woman
may fly with a purse in addition to her carry-on.
Any fluid container in her purse or carry-on
is limited to 3 ounces. Men may bring satchels in addition to their briefcases
on airplanes. But they too are limited to
3 ounce liquid containers. If you are bringing a large supply of pills or medicines you must have with you a doctor's prescription sheet or a pharmacy's order form verifying why you have all your medications. It is important for two reasons: 1) To be prepared to answer any U.S. Customs official or ship security inspector who asks, "Why all the pills?," or 2) If you became critically ill during the trip and a treating physian on site asks, "What medications are you taking?" No medical treatment can be administered until that question for is answered correctly. You and your traveling companion must be prepared to answer that question for each other.
there long-term car parking at all piers? What about luggage? What time may we board? Yes.
There is secured, long term parking at each pier. The parking fee is usually about $18 per day. You pay the fee when arriving to any pier by cash or credit card. Shuttle
buses usually drive through the lots taking guests
and their luggage to the ship. If someone is dropping you off at the pier you may begin boarding only at 11:30 AM and when you return from the cruise they should pick you up about 9 AM. People who live within a few miles of the pier disembark last because passengers who must catch flights home are taken off first to go to the airport. When you arrive to the pier you're not
allowed to carry your luggage onto the ship. Crew
members will take it and deliver it to your cabin after both you and your luggage separately clear security. Keep your carry-on bag with you because
your luggage may not appear at your cabin
until after dinner. Keep your medicines and passport with you at all times when arriving to or leaving the ship. Never risk not having your medicines or passport with you. The first night’s
dinner on any cruise ship is casual. What you have
on when you board ship is fine for dinner,
except that shorts, jeans and T-shirts are never allowed
in the formal dining room. Be prepared to dress
for both cool and warm weather on any cruise
day. Layers are best. Be prepared for rain too. Keep your hat handy. On the last night of
your cruise you should leave your packed luggage
outside your cabin door ready for the ship's
crew to take it off ship in early morning. Colored tags
will be given to you to tag your luggage. Colored tags allow
you to easily identify your luggage out on the
pier in the morning after you dock. Or, if you must disembark the ship very, very early when it first docks then keep your luggage with you in your stateroom overnight to take with you off the ship yourself the next morning. To do this pre-arrange your early disembarkation at the Guest Relations Desk sometime during the cruise. You cannot simply decide to keep your luggage with you at the last minute to disembark. It must be pre-arranged to avoid intense morning confusion and/or security investigations.
11.) What about flying? When
booking flights: You
may begin boarding ship at 10:30 AM on the morning your cruise departs. You cannot board earlier because the ship must first be cleaned up from the last cruise. Pick up your luggage at your airlines' carousel. Look for a cruise lines’ rep near
the baggage claims area. S/he will direct you to a bus going to your ship. Show your pre-purchased bus transfer ticket. You can order it at 800-955-9942. Be sure
all luggage tags show clearly
to ensure delivery to your stateroom. If you and
your cabin mate arrive to the pier simultaneously check-in together with the same crew person at the same counter to save you both valuable time. Otherwise, you may board separately. When your cruise ends the ship may not be able to dock early because of fog.
Or maybe U.S. Customs is delayed. It usually takes two hours to disembark a cruise ship and two more hours to arrive to your airport and clear security there. For these reasons never book a flight home before 12 Noon. The rule is: Board ship starting only at 10:30 AM and fly home only after 12 Noon. This travel schedule is best.
Keep a cell phone or iPhone photo
of all your suitcases and carry-on. If lost,
you can show the airport agent exactly what
they look like. Carry all your jewelry on your person. Do not ever pack jewelry in checked luggage. Put cruise luggage tags on your suitcases
BEFORE leaving home. This provides the best
chance for your luggage to have quick, safe delivery to your ship. Airlines
and hotels know what to do when they see them.
General Luggage Polices:
FLIGHTS: Phone your carrier before departure
to learn its latest luggage policy. Usually
a purse or briefcase may be taken onto a plane
free, in addition to one carry-on. Persons
flying First Class should be able to check
two bags without having to pay any extra charge.
Checked bags usually cannot exceed 50 lbs.
each. There is no charge for a carry-on, which
must fit under your airplane seat or overhead
bin. Checked bags must meet certain linear
dimensions requirements. *(see
FLIGHTS: It is best to phone your carrier
to learn its latest luggage restrictions. Usually a carry-on and your purse or briefcase
may be brought onto the plane at no extra charge.
A checked bag usually can not exceed 50 lbs.
A carry-on flying international must fit under
the airplane seat in front of you or in the
overhead bin. All luggage must meet linear
Bag going anywhere cannot exceed 62" linear
Bag going anywhere cannot exceed 51" linear
+ Length + Depth = Linear dimensions)
in checked bags should be double wrapped in
plastic and sealed. Any liquid in a carry-on
container cannot exceed a 3 oz. and must be
wrapped with all other such containers in a
clear, sealed bag. (See
I take my good jewelry? Do NOT ever pack jewelry in any checked
bags you give to the airlines, hotel bell caps, or cruise lines' crew. Always
keep your jewelry on your person, in your carry-on, or in your purse when you travel anywhere any time.
If you'd be destroyed because you lost a piece of
jewelry, do not bring it. When on the ship passengers wear lots of gold and nice jewelry, especially
on formal nights. All cabins
have a safe to store jewelry, money, passports, etc. You can take
your favorite fine pieces to wear on the ship,
but do not wear them in port. Don’t be
afraid to over-dress during the cruise. Colorful
costume jewelry is always fashionable. When
you purchase expensive jewelry on a cruise ship or at a shop on shore keep
it and its receipts on your person to declare when
returning home the United States. U.S. Customs will often
ask to see both the jewelry and your receipts proving you paid for it and have it. They do this because
foreign jewelry stores work with the cruise lines and U.S. Customs to ensure tourists who bought expensive jewelry during their cruise do not return home to file false insurance claims declaring their expensive jewelry was stolen on the ship or in the foreign country. Be prepared to show them what they want to see, or U.S. Customs will make you unpack all your luggage right out on the pier.
13.) Is there gambling on the ship? Yes!
Vera Pohedra of Annandale, VA won $4,000 on each
of her two past cruises playing the slots. She
says,"It pays to cruise!" And a recent
Yale study found that casinos were healthy
places because they require players to perform cognitive acts if they are to win, thereby delaying dementia. is
pleased to sail on cruise ships with slot machines
and gaming tables that include Roulette, Poker,
Black Jack, Texas Hold’em and Craps. All
are available every night when a ship sails to
its next port of call. Guests
may charge up to $2,000 per day for gaming chips.
Casinos no longer allow guests to draw out cash on their Sea Passes, credit cards or debit cards. They must use on board ATM machines that charge a minimum 5% service fee if one pulls out cash. Guests may also cash one personal check for no more than $200 at Guest Relations one time only during the cruise, if they need cash to go on shore.
Will there be other things to do on the ship besides
Fun & Fitness events?
15.) Why book a cruise so far in
a low cost cruise is like booking low
cost air. When an airline first announces
its new flights it has low fares to promote sales.
There are not many low air fares available
for new flights, so it's important to book any low cost air early.
It's the same when booking a cruise. The best staterooms/prices sell out first. While airlines announce new flights every
3 or 4 months the cruise lines open up new itineraries a year ahead of departure.
Just as you want to reserve the best price/seat on an airplane, so too you will want to reserve the best price/stateroom on a cruise ship.
Experienced cruisers with mid-ship staterooms
near elevators book a year
ahead of departure knowing if they cancel
anytime up to 100 days before the cruise departs they will get a full refund. Airlines do not give refunds. does! When booking a cruise
you can reserve the best cabin location at its lowest price. If you do
not initially have a roommate still make a full deposit and add your roommate's name
closer to departure. Because you booked early any roommate you invite will have your same low price. You can also change
the name of your roommate within a
week of departure without penalty, as long as you book early!
16.)Why can't I book on the Internet? Ask the
invisible Internet the following questions:
"Are port expenses included? Are international, federal, local and state taxes
included? Is my stateroom mid-ship?
Is it non-smoking? If a cabin category is not available when I initially book will you call later when one opens up? Does this price include travel
insurance? Is travel insurance offered?
Will you help me if I must file an insurance claim when I return? Is my deposit 100% refundable if I cancel? Will I receive a written confirmation within 48 hours verifying my stateroom number, deck location and sailing date? Can you help me with passport issues? Will a Travel
Host be with me to assure my cruise expectations are fulfilled? Does this cruise have
private exercise classes for me and my friends taught by
certified fitness experts who I know
and trust? Will someone
provide me with packing tips, explain the ship's dress code and advise me of what customs I should observe in each country we visit? Will I have
dinner each evening with my personal friends at
our own private dining table? Do I have early
security clearance? Early boarding? Early
disembarkation? Do you offer fully escorted
pre-and post cruise tours? Do you make hotel arrangements if I want to fly in a day or two early to our port of departure? What if I need flight arrangements? Can you help me with currency exchange questions and to obtain foreign currency? Will you book transfers for me to the pier and back to the airport? If I have a problem
preparing for my cruise may I call you with my questions? Where exactly is your Internet office? What is your Internet phone number? Who is my Internet contact person? If I become
sick on the ship will you be sure I get home safely? Will you obtain clearances for me to bring my CPAP machine on board ship and provide whatever medical assistance I may need for it to work? What if I need a handicap room, connecting staterooms or to change my cabin's location? If someone in my family needs me for an emergency at home will you notify me on board ship? Is your office
located in the United States paying local
taxes and employing American citizens?
What if, at the last minute, my roommate
can not go? Will you allow me to change
names without a penalty? What if the cruise lines drops its prices? Will you voluntarily pass them through? answers "Yes," to all these questions. The Internet has no phone number for you to call. Our number is 800-955-9942. To participate in all programs and to receive all amenities, guests must book their cruises through . Click on the white box at right to read what the Wall Street Journal reported about Internet cruise "deals." There are no surprises
when booking a cruise. Royal
Caribbean Cruise Lines has again this year named its Number
#1 Business Partner in the Mid-Atlantic
states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.
members follow the more formal dress code of each ship when cruising. Better dressed guests behave better. That is why Royal Caribbean follows higher dress code standards. Male members of our travel club often dress in the formal attire suggested by the Wall Street Journal. A well made black suit with a silk black bow tie is fine for formal attire. A black bow tie dresses up any suit, writes Ray Smith in his WSJ report. It is perfectly acceptable to do this in lieu of wearing a tux, he reports.
19.) How do I purchase a wine/beverage package before boarding? Click on this link. Review what you want to select. Then call Travel Coordinator Cynthia Neu at 800-955-9942 to place your order. Have your credit card ready to pay in full. It is a pre-paid order only. It is better, however, to order your drink/wine/beverage package after you board ship because on the ship you can change your order if there is a drink selection you like better. Whatever you order on-line prior to boarding the ship is pre-set and cannot be changed on the ship. It is two different vendors selling you pre-cruise drink packages and on board drink packages. The telephone number to call if you have questions about any drink package is 800-398-9819. There is no discount for booking drink packages before boarding ship. It's yet another reason to book everything on the ship.
Save Space in Cabin by sharing what you bring:
dryers in cabins are often attached to bathroom walls.
Good to bring a spare hair dryer.
irons are not permitted on the ship because they are a fire hazard. Room service can iron for you for a fee.
Bring your own covered coffee mug, pen spot remover, bottle opener, sinus pills, aspirin, just in case you need it.
usually offer a Wake-Up Call Service, but bring
your own travel clock to be absolutely sure.
clothes pins are best to hang swim suits in
shower. Plastic ones can not hold up wet suits.
has a clothes line, but not always a
shower cap. Bring a shower cap to be sure you have one..
Do not bring extra hangers. Ship has plenty. Just ask for more. But do bring closet / hanger extensions.
Cruise ship provides all towels for your bath,
pool and beach visits. Do not bring towels.
Cameras? Pack them in your carry-on only.
Do not pack them in checked luggage. They'll be x-rayed!
Photo shop on
ship sells selection of flash cards, batteries, camera and tech supplies.
stores on ship have sun tan lotions,
toothpaste,brushes and most all known toiletries.
- Take 50 U.S. $1 bills for tips when traveling. Otherwise you return with foreign currency.
- It is customary to give the attendant delivering room service a $1 tip. It is the only cash tip you're permitted to give out on a ship during the cruise. It is very much appreciated when given.
- A safe is in your cabin. Steward can show you how to use it. Leave your passport in it.
- A computer filled, Internet access, room is open 24/7 on each ship. Use it. iPads can disappear.
- Bring more than one swim suit. Suits rarely dry out overnight in your cabin when at sea.
- Cabins have TV sets with constant weather reports showing conditions outside.
- There's one USA standard electric plug per cabin on dresser. Bring a small strip for more outlets.
- When traveling plan ahead for electric appliances. Bring both a converter and an adaptor.
- Cruise showers have shampoo/conditioner combo and no shower caps. Best to bring your own.
- Bring sticky notes to leave requests for steward since you rarely will be in cabin when s/he is.
- Bring your own hand mirror or table top mirror to apply makeup and see hair in back to style.
- There is wi-fi available at a cost of 65 cents per minute. It costs less when you buy a package.
- Check with your carrier to learn what cell phone service is available where you're going. Cell phones cannot work at sea because they are no towers to carry signals. "Roam" usually works when docked at any port.
Magazine Travel Tips
Don't Get Burned!
a wide-brimmed hat that covers
your face, neck and ears. Use
a broad-spectrum sunscreen with
an SPF of 15 or higher on all
exposed body parts, and reapply
after swimming. Limit
sun exposure between 10 AM
and 4 PM when rays are most hazardous.
If you forget a toothbrush,
or another personal item, don't worry. Such items are available
in any ship's general store. And stewards do
their best to help you find whatever you need. But
remember your cabin steward may not always be available.
Be sure. Bring whatever you think you may need at any time.
There is no limit to how much luggage you can bring
onto a ship. The trick is to get it all past the air lines. And you must store all suitcases in your own Stateroom, which has limited space. Other than that, bring whatever you like. But remember you must be able to carry yourself whatever you bring because bell hops and agents to assist you are not always available.
21.) Do cell phones work? Check with your phone service before cruising, but usually cell phones work when you're docked in port. Roaming rates apply. And cell phones usually work in the public areas of a cruise ship too, when you are cruising. Cost to your cell phone will be at least $3 per minute. If you purchase an Internet package on board ship your cell phone likely will work in your stateroom too or in other enclosed areas when you're out to sea. The least expensive Wi-Fi package you can buy on any ship costs $40 for 24 hour access. Many guests report the most economical way to communicate with home when cruising is by texting. If your family has an emergency when you are cruising they can call our office at 800-955-9942 and we will notify the ship to have you call home. However, the ship will not accept any such call unless it is a true life or property threatening emergency which must be specified before we can make the call. Be sure your family knows your destination, ship and cabin number. If you have specific questions about your cell phone usage please call Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner at 800-398-9819.
22.) Is Internet service available? Yes,
ships do have Wi-Fi Internet packages you can buy costing from $40 to $200 per package depending upon how much time you want to purchase. However, do not rely upon the Internet on the ship
for business purposes because weather
conditions can impact satellite access. Sometimes a signal is not available because of poor satellite visibility. And it can break up constantly because the ship is always moving. As your Travel Coordinator, I recommend you think twice before bringing a lap top or iPad on your cruise vacation. There are too many ways it can be lost or stolen or forgotten. Do not bring any electronic item that would leave you devastated if you lost it. Too much is going on during your cruise to keep track of everything. There is Internet access at public computer stations located on nearly every deck. You can stay in touch with your home by using the ship's public computers while paying by the minute. This is better than bringing your own electronic gadgets to lose. Take it from someone who's heard many sad stories about lost lap tops. You will enjoy the cruise much more knowing yours is home safe. Once again, guests have told us the most economical way they found to stay in touch with their homes and offices was via texting. If you have specific questions about your iPhone, tablet, or iPad usage please call Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner at 800-398-9819. Another helpful device is called 'goTenna.' It's a candy-bar size gadget that connects to your blue-tooth capable cell phone and lets you communicate wit`h your traveling companion as if you were on walkie talkies. It works where there's little or no reception. Cruisers can use them to communicate while wandering apart on a ship, or even on shore, when visiting ports of call. It helps guests stay in contact with each other by either text or voice. Check with your favorite camping company, like REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), for more information and to purchase it. You can also Google goTenna to find your nearest hometown distributor who sells this useful gadget.
23.) Who do I call if I forget something on the ship or have a credit card problem? The Lost and Found Department for both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity is open 8 AM to 6 PM every M-F and 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturday. Know your stateroom number, sail date and ship when you call 800-256-6649. Credit card issues can be discussed at this same number. If you want to participate in a post cruise survey click here to take the survey. For travel club members we welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you return home to find an unexplained 'pending' charges on your personal credit card call this same number. Most 'pending' credit card charges drop off 72 afters after you return home from the cruise.
24.) Is smoking allowed on the ship? As of Jan. 1, 2014, cruise guests may no longer smoke in any stateroom on any Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ship. It is a fire hazard to smoke in any Stateroom, including sitting out on a Balcony. The only places where smoking is permitted? Top deck, near the Casino Bar, on the starboard side of the ship away from the outdoor pool, or in any Cigar Club when it is open.
25.) What safety precautions should I take when cruising? Practice the same safety precautions you do at home whenever you cruise. Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable at anytime move away from it quickly. Stay in areas on the ship and on shore that are well lighted. When on shore shop only in the downtown or open pubic markets. When you're on the ship shop only with crew in uniform. Follow directions. Read signs. Obey instructions from crew members. Avoid taking unmarked short cuts, narrow alleys or dark passages either on land or on the ship. Do not get into any unmarked taxi and do not drive on unpaved roads. Do not wander around the ship alone. Travel with a buddy on and off the ship. Be careful how much alcohol you drink. Have your cell phone fully charged and always with you. Do not open your stateroom door without knowing for sure who it is. Lock valuables in your stateroom safe, including your passport, jewelry and any cash. Take out only as needed. Do not take your valuables on shore. Your cruise ship Sea Pass card and your local driver's license will suffice as legal identification when you're on shore. Do not take your passport on shore! Cameras and purses should be carried out of sight and secured on your person with a strap whenever you go into port. Do not carry a purse just in your hands. Leave all electronic gadgets on the ship, preferably in your cabin's safe locked up. If you'd be devastated losing anything, do not bring it on the cruise.
Most important of all.... Do not
forget to smile and bring your valid passport. More than
anything else, these two items will help assure you
have a wonderful and safe cruise vacation. We thank you sincerely for taking your vacation with us. Your cruising pleasure will be ours.
26.) What are good questions to ask a potential cruise roommate? Guests sometimes do not have a cruise partner. No problem. Here's a list of questions to ask each other, if you're seeking a cruise roommate. In fact, these questions are good to ask even the travel partner you do know. Click here to view the roommate matching page.
27.) What is the Crown and Anchor Society at Royal Caribbean? How do I join it? The Crown and Anchor Society is a Loyalty Program with more cruise benefits given to you the more you cruise. It is managed similarly to points given to you each time you use your credit card. The more points you accumulate the more discounts you receive. You qualify for a C & A number starting with your first cruise. After you board ship you can pick one up at the Guest Relations Desk. An immediate benefit to having a C & A number is that is gives you a direct line of communication to the executives at Royal Caribbean. If there is something you particularly liked or disliked about your cruise experience, or any other RCCL services, you can reach them directly at casexecutivecomments.com Likewise your comments, suggestions or requests for the Fun & Fitness Travel Club are always appreciated at our e-mail address email@example.com
28.) The ship is handicap accessible, but what about shore excursions? No Exotic CruiseTours are wheelchair accessible. Neither is Canada or Europe. Unfortunately, not we or Royal Caribbean is able to accommodate guests who are full-time wheelchair users in their travels. If guests who utilize a wheelchair full time can climb several steps to get into a motor coach by themselves, or one can move about in a regular hotel room (as opposed to wheelchair accessible rooms), we may be able to accommodate you. But we must be truthful and let you know that shore excursions routinely require extended periods of time to walk, usually over unknown surfaces and/or across uneven terrains. And there is extended times of standing with usually steep steps to climb. There are easy shore excursions, such as "local city tours," one can take without exiting the tour bus sponsored by Royal Caribbean, but first one must be able walk up into the bus. It is important to know other count ires of the world do not provide access for disabled citizens as does the United States. Please contact the Access Department of Royal Caribbean is you have more specific questions. That phone number is (866) 592-7225 or (954) 628-9708 any Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time.
29.) When we dock do we follow ship time or local time? They are the same. Just as you follow local times when you fly in and out of cities so do you follow local time when your ship is docked at different ports of call. Whenever you enter a new time zone it is announced throughout the ship and the local time is applied to all clocks on the ship. But be sure to ask about the ship what is the local time every morning because you may have unknowingly crossed into a new zone over night. Do not let the watch you are wearing have the wrong time! When taking shore excursions booked through Royal Caribbean or Celebrity you have no time worries. Your guides will manage all schedules. But if you go out on your own be careful to set your watches to the ship's time so there is no problem later when your day ends. Be back to the ship at least one hour before it is to depart. Often there's a line to embark. Don't be late! The ship will depart at its scheduled time with or without you on board. Atop the main Guest Relations Desk on each ship is a huge clock showing the ship's correct time. Be sure your personal watch always matches that clock and you will have no time problems when cruising.
Cynthia Neu McCluskey
Club Co-Founder and Cruise Coordinator
FUN & FITNESS Travel Club®