CRUISE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: 800-955-9942
Guests ask, "What do I pack for a perfect cruise?"
With 23 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. Feel free to call with 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 help yourself when cruising. You can also order 24 hour Room Service for 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 or $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're a vegetarian taking a cruise, 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 head waiter on the first night at dinner in the formal dining room. 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. Evening meals together with your hometown friends is a cruise highlight. Because our travel club follows a fitness theme we reserve the early dinner seating hour for everyone. It is either at 5:30 or 6:00 PM daily depending upon your specific cruise.
2.) What about alcohol and other beverages on board ship? Let us emphasize that no one may board ship with distilled water bottles, liquor bottles or beer cans packed in either their suitcases or a 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 or a box 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're charged a $15 corkage fee on Royal Caribbean and a $25 corkage fee on Celebrity. When buying any liquor on shore (including wine) you must check (turn over) the bottles to the ship's crew when re-boarding the ship. All your liquor purchases are returned to you at the end of the cruise when you disembark. A simple policy to remember is to take one wine bottle in your carry on when boarding ship and then pack as much liquor as you want in your suitcases when you are going home. Do not let
U.S. Customs take your new bottles of liquor away from you at the airport. Pack all your newly purchased, unopened bottles of liquor in your checked luggage when flying. You personally cannot carry more than 3 oz. of anything onto the plane. While on the ship do not open soda cans, water bottles,
or anything else found in your stateroom or its 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 usually included in your cruise fare. Call at 800-955-9942 for details. We highly recommend making all purchases for your cruise (including shore excursions) only on the ship. Do this 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 ship at the Guest Relations Desk the cruise staff can issue refunds or make account changes as long as you did initially make your purchase of said items on the ship. When you are booking anything on the Internet it is with a third party. Any specialty coffee
bars on a ship, like Starbucks, cost extra. Be careful when ordering specialty drinks. And pay close attention to any receipt you sign. When you're asked to sign any drink tab you will see a blank line that asks TIP? But just above that same line appears an 18% percent gratuity that's already been added. If you add another tip you will be double tipping.
How do I pay gratuities? May I use my debit card on the ship? It has become customary for cruise ships to include pre-paid tips in any initial cruise price offer. Most guests no longer worry about paying tips at the end of their cruise. Most tips today are pre-paid. However, to board ship you still must give Royal Caribbean and Celebrity your credit card to use for ship charges. You personally will be required to go on line and submit your legal name, passport and credit card number before boarding documents can be released. You will be required to open a personal cruise account using a password known only to you. will provide you detailed instructions on how to complete this task a few weeks before your cruise departs. Upon boarding ship you are issued a cruise key card which looks like a credit card. Every day your tips for attendants who serve you are deducted from your pre-paid cash or credit card. The tip is
usually $14.50 (fourteen dollars and 50 cents) per day per guest, regardless of your age and regardless if you are in an Inside, Ocean View or Balcony Stateroom. Passengers in Junior Suites or higher pay more in tips per day per guest. Be sure 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 the credit card it issues you, but does not protect your personal bank account. It is best to travel with a credit card or cash or both. 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 extra 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 shore since they cannot use the foreign money when they return home. It
is also customary to give a $1 cash tip to an attendant who delivers any item to your cabin during the cruise such as laundry or flowers. Attendants who deliver food to your room will automatically charge a "convenience fee" 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 stateroom
key card. It looks like a credit card. All
your purchases on the ship are charged to your key card debiting 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 or to cash one personal check per guest per cruise at Guest Relations for a $200 maximum drawn on an American bank. You should know that ATMs are usually out of
money because other guests deplete them quickly. And ditto for ATMs on shore. They often are depleted too because passengers from earlier cruise ships tapped them out as well. 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 charges 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 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 50 $1 U.S. bills to make exact change. If it's a two week cruise bring 100 $1 bills. Do not use your debit card when you travel. Bank of America says banks protect credit cards they issue from fraud, but banks do not protect personal debit cards. Be sure. Be safe. Be smart. Do not expose your personal debit card to any potential criminal activity. Travel with a credit card in your name. Gift credit cards are not accepted on any ship. Use them before you arrive to the ship. The cruise lines no longer gives you an itemized invoice under your stateroom door the morning your cruise ends. Instead the cruise lines will e-mail your final cruise statement to you after you return home. This is not convenient because then it is practically impossible to question any expense. Be alert during the cruise!
Question any unknown charges
at Guest Relations before you leave
the ship. From time to time during the cruise go to Guest Relations and ask for a print out of your cruise account, or you can review your account on the TV set in your room. 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 the ship. You will need receipts for documentation if you find incorrect charges on your credit card. You can not get back 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 the ship's letterhead stationery that you have credit forthcoming, if you do. Without written proof it's doubtful you'll 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're usually the Captain’s
Welcome Dinner the second night at sea
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
cocktail attire. 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. Because they are a fire hazard irons may not be brought onto any ship. 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 hall 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 night. Casual attire in these other eateries is fine. But again, when dining in the formal dining hall be sure to dress elegantly. A printed notice is delivered to your stateroom daily advising what is the ship's dress code for the next 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.
Evening 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? Excellent clinics, doctors and nurses are on every ship, but most are not licensed American medical staff. They
are accredited in their own countries, but 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 because ships are not equipped in any way for fetus or pediatric emergencies. And U.S. Medicare and Medicaid payments are not accepted for payment on any ship.
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 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 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 initially 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 distilled water and an 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 your extension cord is frayed? Do not bring them onto the ship. Distilled water and an extension cord will be provided for you. However, you are required to carry onto the ship your own CPAP machine. Do not turn it over to a bell cap or anyone else to take to your stateroom. Keep it on your person. This prevents it from being lost or stolen. If
you require a refrigerator in your stateroom to keep
medications cold be sure to book the category
of cabin with this accessory. It would be a Balcony category or higher. Call 800-955-9942 at
least 30 days before departure
to report what special medical equipment or medications you will need to carry onto the ship. Guests may not board ship until such
items are cleared. Persons who require daily shots must carry a
doctor's note in their travel kit verifying their need to use needles. Travel insurance offered by Royal Caribbean and Celebrity does not cover pre-existing
medical conditions. Nor does it provide coverage
when recovering from surgery conducted just prior to your cruise departure. The requirement for each guest who books
a handicap cabin is 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 travel club's insurance coverage call for clarification before you book. We also want to mention the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency 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 often tip off U.S. government officials that you are returning home with a supply of drugs known to be illegal in the USA. Foreign pharmacies do this because they are paid more to turn you in than what you paid 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! There is also the opportunity to rent an electric wheelchair if you need one on a cruise. It can be taken off shore too when the country you are visiting accommodates wheelchairs in public. An electric wheelchair can be waiting for you at the pier to assist in boarding. The phone number to call for this service can be given to you upon request.
about passports? Visas? Who cannot cruise with the ? 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 is to visit
your local Post Office for assistance. You can also renew your expired passport via the Post Office. 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 own current passport. Anyone requiring a visa, or any other travel document, for international or domestic travel, has the sole responsibility to obtain that visa or travel document for him/herself. is not responsible for advising or obtaining visas for any traveler. No one may
board ship without being cleared by U.S.
Homeland Security. Do you need a visa? Click here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html As Americans it is our travel club's policy to not cruise or travel anywhere where visas are needed or where we are required to have medical shots. Also, INS does not allow any American citizen to cruise if s/he is facing a criminally charged court date, owes back child support, or has a tax lien. Passports must be current before any cruise documents can be released to club guests. This applies to the passports of any foreign guests we have traveling with us too. The minimum age to cruise with the is age 30. And no one is permitted to bring a pet on any club cruise or land trip because too many other guests traveling with the group will be allergic to pets.
Always travel with a valid Passport. The National
Passport Center's toll-free number is 1-877-487-2778.
Service is open M-F from 8 to 8 EST. A preparation fee is charged per passport. When returning
to the United States at any sea port or airport the INS will scrutinize
each American passport having less than six months validation. Why? Because such passports are often stolen abroad.
A U.S. passport number is good 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 since once a U.S Passport number expires the 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 your person receipts for any expensive jewelry you bought abroad. U.S. Customs
is known to ask for receipts when Americans are
re-entering 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 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 items abroad so you can easily show them if asked to do so. Ideally you would wear home your expensive jewelry when re-entering the USA. And it also happens that foreign pharmacies who sell large amounts of medicines and drugs to cruisers will notify U.S. Customs and the INS too when certain passengers are returning home with excessive amounts of medications. The U.S. government pays such informants in the Caribbean and in Europe more money for this information than Americans pay the pharmacies to buy the drugs, legal or illegal. Don't be stupid. Don't buy 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 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 location using a Passport Card. You must have your valid American Passport (blue booklet) to fly on any airplane internationally. This 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 American Passport is good 10 years. Take the time, spend the money, be safe, be sure. Carry your valid American Passport. If there actually was 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 by utilizing the cruise lines' web
site with your personal booking ID number. Call 1-800-955-9942 to obtain
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. But who knows 5 days ahead of time 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 third party 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. Nor can they 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. " That's because paved roads are usually monitored by police while private dirt roads are not protected by police.
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. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity's shore
side staff can book your excursions over the phone by calling Celebrity at 1-800-722-5941 or Royal Caribbean at 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 or 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 then delivered to your cabin. Always put
your cruise luggage tags on before leaving
home. Hotel and airport personnel know
what they are. Luggage tags can be down linked and printed 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 her 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 so much medication. 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?," and 2) If you became seriously ill during a trip you must be prepared to answer your attending when asked, "What medications are you taking?" No medical treatment can be administered to you until that question is answered and verified. You and your traveling companion must be ready to answer that question for each other. Having a list of medications you take on your person is ideal.
there long-term car parking at all piers? What about luggage? What time may we board? 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 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. The ship is like a hotel. It must have time to clean up from the previous cruise before a new cruise can begin boarding. When you return from the cruise, assuming there are no hold ups, you will be off the ship before 9 AM. People who live within a few miles of the pier disembark last because passengers who must catch flights home disembark 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. 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 whether arriving to or leaving the ship. Never risk not having your medicines or passport with you. And if you use a CPAP machine keep it with you when you are boarding and when you are disembarking. This prevents it from being lost or stolen. It is safe in your stateroom. The first night’s
dinner on any cruise is casual. What you are wearing when boarding 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. And 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 more easily identify your luggage lined up out on the
dock in the morning when you return home. Or, if you must disembark the ship first when your cruise ends keep your luggage with you in your stateroom overnight. Take it with you off the ship yourself that morning. To do this you must pre-arrange early disembarkation at the Guest Relations Desk on the ship sometime during the cruise. You cannot simply decide to keep your luggage with you at the last minute to disembark early. It must be pre-arranged to avoid intense confusion and/or security investigations.
11.) What about flying? When
booking flights: You
may begin boarding ship at 11:30 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 can 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 your luggage tags show clearly. 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. When your cruise ends the ship may not be able to dock early because of fog or other weather issues.
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. Remember it this way: "Board by Noon, fly home only after 12 Noon."
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 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. Fashionable ladies on cruises wear lots of costume jewelry, gold and silver jewelry too, especially
on formal nights. All cabins
have a safe to store your 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. 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 a foreign country. Be prepared to show port officials what they want to see because they can and have asked passengers to unpack all their luggage on the pier to prove they have their jewelry.
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 casinos were healthy
places because they require players to perform cognitive acts if they are to win, thereby delaying the onset of dementia. is
pleased to sail on cruise ships with slot machines
and gaming tables that include, but are not limited to, 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 $5000 (five thousand U.S. dollars) per day for gaming chips on their cruise accounts backed up by their own credit cards.
However, casinos no longer allow guests to draw out cash using their Sea Passes and/or credit cards. If you have questions specific for casinos call toll free Royal Caribbean at 888.561.2234 or Celebrity at 866.461.7170.
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 cheap air. When an airline first announces new flight schedules it offers very low fares to promote quick sales.
There are not many low air fares available
for new flights, so it's important to book them very early.
Likewise when booking a cruise. The best staterooms and prices sell out first. While airlines announce new flights every
3 or 4 months the cruise industry announces new itineraries a year ahead of departure.
Just as you want to reserve the best price and seat on an airplane, so too you will want to reserve the best price and stateroom on a cruise ship.
Experienced cruisers who have mid-ship staterooms
near elevators book a year
ahead of departure knowing if they cancel
anytime up to 100 days before departure and still will receive a full refund. Airlines do not give refunds, but does! When booking a cruise
you can reserve the best stateroom location at its lowest price, even if you do
not yet have a roommate. Just make the full deposit and add your roommate's name
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 or tell me how 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 and its sister cruise lines Celebrity again this year named its Number
#1 Business Partner in the Mid-Atlantic
states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.
cruise guests like to follow the formal dress code on each ship when cruising. This is because the better dressed guests behave better too. It is why Royal Caribbean and Celebrity follow higher dress code standards. Male members of our travel club often dress in 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? These days it is common for a drink package to be included in the price of your cruise when you initially book, especially if you book a year in advance. However, you can still book drink packages on your own. Click this link. Have your credit card ready to pay in full. It is a pre-paid order only. It is better, though, to order your drink/wine/beverage package after you board ship because on the ship you can change your mind. Whatever you order on-line prior to boarding is pre-set and cannot be changed on the ship. It is different vendors who sell drink packages on the Internet from those who sell on a cruise ship. The phone number to call if you have questions about any drink package is 800-398-9819 for Royal Caribbean and 800-722-5941 for Celebrity. There is no discount for booking drink packages prior to boarding ship, making it yet another good reason why 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 to use in your room.
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, spot remover, bottle opener, sinus pills, aspirin and sewing kit just in case.
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 a
shower cap. Bring a shower cap to be sure you have one.
Do not bring extra hangers. Ship has plenty. Just ask steward. Closet door extension hooks are good to have.
Cruise ship provides all towels for your bath,
pool and beach visits. Do not bring towels.
Cameras? Pack them only in your carry-on.
Do not pack in checked luggage. Security x-rays will harm cameras.
Photo shop on
ship sells selection of flash cards, batteries, camera and almost all tech supplies you would need.
stores on ship have sun tan lotions,
toothpaste, brushes and most all known toiletries.
- Take 50 U.S. $1 bills for tips to give on shore. Otherwise you return home with foreign currency given back to you as change from island/local shopkeepers who want to keep their U.S. dollars! Your tips for your cruise attendants are usually pre-paid.
- A safe is in your cabin. Steward can show you how to use it. Leave your passport in it. Do not take your passport on shore. It's not necessary. SeaPass card the ship issues you is all you need on shore.
- Computer rooms with Internet access open 24/7 on each ship. Use the facilities. iPads can disappear.
- Bring more than one swim suit. Suits rarely dry out overnight in your cabin when out to sea.
- Cabins have TV sets with constant weather reports showing conditions outside.
- Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships use American standard plugs and electric current.
- There's one USA standard electric plug on main dressing table in stateroom. Bring small electric strip to plug into that main outlet so you have enough spaces to charge cell phones, cameras, etc.
- Stateroom showers have shampoo/conditioner combos, but no shower caps. Best to bring one.
- Bring sticky notes to leave notes for steward since you rarely are in your stateroom when s/he is.
- Bring your own hand held mirror to apply makeup and see your hair in back to style.
- Wi-Fi is available at a cost of about 65 cents per minute. Cell phones work when ship is docked. They cannot work out at sea because there are no towers in the ocean to carry signals.
- Check with your carrier to learn what cell phone service is available where you're going. "Roaming rates" will apply 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.
Cynthia Neu McCluskey
20.) 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. If you purchase an Internet package on board ship your cell phone likely will work in your stateroom too or in other specified areas when you're out to sea. Many guests report the most economical way to communicate with home when cruising is by texting. If your family has an emergency when you're 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 stateroom number. If you have questions about cell phones call Royal Caribbean at 800-398-9819 or Celebrity at 800-722-5941.
21.) Is Internet service available? Yes,
ships do have Wi-Fi Internet packages costing from $40 to a few hundred dollars per package depending upon how much time you want to purchase. However, do not rely upon the Internet on any ship
for business purposes because weather
conditions can impact satellite access. Sometimes a signal is not available due to poor satellite visibility. And signal can break up constantly because the ship is always moving. As your Cruise 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 24/7 at public computer stations located throughout each ship. You can stay in touch with your home and office by using the ship's public computers while paying by the minute. This is better than bringing your own electronic tools 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 and sound. 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 questions about your iPhone, tablet, or iPad usage working aboard ship call Royal Caribbean at 800-398-9819 or Celebrity at 800-722-5941.
22.) 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 for Royal Caribbean or 844-418-6824 for Celebrity. If you return home to find an unexplained 'pending' charges on your personal credit card you can call the same appropriate number to ask about them. However, most 'pending' credit card charges will drop off 72 hours after you disembark.
23.) 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.
24.) What safety precautions should I take when cruising? Practice the same safety precautions you do at home when 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. On shore shop only in the downtown area or at open pubic markets. When on the ship shop only at stores or kiosks with crew members 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 both 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 wear your valuables on shore. Your ship Sea Pass card and home state driver's license will suffice as legal identification when you're on shore. Do not take your passport on shore! Your SeaPass card issued by the ship tells local authorities who you are and indicates you are in town for only a matter of hours. Electronic gadgets and purses should be carried out of sight and secured on your person with a strap whenever you go onto shore. Do not carry a purse just in your hands. Leave all your electronic items on the ship, preferably in your cabin's safe locked up. If you'd be devastated losing anything do not bring bring it on the cruise. And most certainly do not take it on shore!
25.) What are good questions to ask a potential 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 good questions to ask any travel partner. Click here to view the roommate matching page.
26.) What is the Crown and Anchor Society at Royal Caribbean and Captain's Club at Celebrity? Both are Loyalty Programs with more cruise benefits given to you each time you cruise. You accumulate points automatically every time you cruise. You qualify for a loyalty number with either cruise lines starting on your first cruise. After you board ship you may pick up your number at the Guest Relations Desk. Yes. You may combine your points with both cruise lines since they are corporate sisters. Every time you cruise with either cruise lines points are added automatically to your appropriate cruise lines' loyalty program.
27.) The ship is handicap accessible, but what about shore excursions? Very few tours are wheelchair accessible. And unfortunately neither we, nor either cruise lines can accommodate guests who are completely dependent upon wheelchairs for movement. The ship's shore excursions routinely require extended periods of time to walk over unknown surfaces and/or across uneven terrains. And there are often extended times of standing with steep steps to climb. There are easy shore excursions, such as 'local city tours' allowing one to take the tour riding on a bus. However, you must be able walk up to and step onto the bus. Please contact the Access Departments at either cruise lines if you have more questions. The phone numbers are (866) 592-7225 for Royal Caribbean or (954) 628-9708 for Celebrity on any Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time. It is the policy of this travel club that each guest be able bodied and capable of taking care of him or herself, or is traveling with a companion who can fulfill any duty needed for more assistance.
28.) When we dock do we follow the ship's time or local time? They are the same. Just as you follow local times when you fly in and out of airports so do you follow local time when your ship is docked at different ports of call. When you enter a new time zone the ship automatically resets all its clocks. You should do the same. Be sure to ask a crew member what is the local time every morning because you may have unknowingly crossed into a new time zone over night. Do not let the watch you are wearing have the wrong time! When booking shore excursions through Royal Caribbean or Celebrity you have no time worries. Your tour guides 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 question later about when to return. Be back on the ship at least one hour before it departs. 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 problems with time.
29.) What if I forget to bring something?... If you forget a toothbrush,
or another personal item, don't worry. Such items are available
in the 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.
To feel totally secure bring whatever you think you may need at any time: a needle and thread, Orajel in case you get a toothache, a spare set of reading glasses.
There is no limit to how much luggage you may bring
onto a ship. The trick is to get it all past the air lines. Plus you must store all your suitcases in your own Stateroom, which has limited space. Most important of all remember that whatever you bring onto the ship you will take home too....including your fabulous memories!
Cynthia Neu McCluskey
Club Co-Founder and Cruise Coordinator
FUN & FITNESS Travel Club® founded 1998
703-827-0414 or 800-955-9942