Useful Tips for Cruises

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    Online check-in & documentation

    You are required to complete your online registration and check-in 45 to 5 days prior to sailing by accessing the cruise line's website with your cruise reservation number. Failure to check-in in advance may lead to long delays at the pier.

    You must be in possession of all the valid documentation required to enter each country that will be visited on your cruise. With a few exceptions, all travel visas and documents that are required to enter a country must be in your possession at the time of embarkation. Otherwise, your boarding may be denied.

    See our Online registration page for more information.

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    Embarkation & Disembarkation

    Most ships begin boarding around 12PM (noon). However, staterooms may not be ready until after 1PM. The cut-off time for checking-in at the pier may be anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes prior to sailing.

    Disembarkation on the last day is staggered over several hours to alleviate congestion at the pier. Given recent cutbacks in U.S border security, we recommend giving yourself plenty of time when disembarking a ship in a U.S. port and connecting to a flight the same day. Priority disembarkation is available if you are able to carry you luggage off the ship yourself.

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    Shore excursions

    Shore excursions are a convenient way for you to explore each port of call. You are escorted directly from the ship of the pier onto your bus. Should there be any delay returning to the ship, the ship will wait for its shore excursions guests.

    If you're an independent traveller who prefers exploring on your own, you may consider a shuttle excursion, especially in ports that are a further distance from town. Shuttle tours also provide you with peace of mind in case of any delays returning to the ship.

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    It is customary to tip your stateroom attendant and wait staff. Suggested guidelines are $11 per day (varies slightly by cruise line and is typically higher for suite accommodations).

    You may choose to prepay gratuities with your cruise fare, or pay on board. As a convenience to you when paying on board, most cruise lines automatically charge gratuities to your onboard account. For most cruise lines, this amount may be altered at your discretion.


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    Special dietary needs

    Cruise lines can accommodate special diets including gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian, kosher and others. Such requests should be noted on your file at time of booking, and communicated to your wait staff and Maïtre D' once on board. Having fixed seating with the same wait staff each evening may be more convenient option.

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    All-inclusive beverage packages

    Most cruise lines now offer all-inclusive beverage packages, providing unlimited alcoholic beverages throughout your cruise. Priced at approximately $50 per day (prices may vary by cruise line) these packages eliminate any concern about your bar tab at the of the cruise, and can provide excellent value.

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    Dress code

    Casual attire is the norm by day. At night, smart casual attire is enforced in all dining rooms, which includes at minimum, sun dresses for ladies, and long pants and collared shirts for gentlemen. Carnival permits dress shorts in the dining room.

    All cruise lines (except NCL) have at least one formal night per cruise, where more dressy attire is required. Suggested wear for ladies is a cocktail or evening gown; for gentlemen, a dark suit. The choice of how dressed-up is entirely yours. If you prefer to dress casual, the buffet restaurant always allows regular shorts and t-shirt.

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    Dining Seating

    Cruise lines offer the choice of either open seating or fixed seating at dinner, except for Norwegian Cruise Line, which only offers open seating.

    OPEN SEATING: Allows you the flexibility to go to dinner every evening at whatever time you choose and dine with whomever you choose.

    FIXED SEATING: Typically at 6PM and 8:30 PM, although times may vary by cruise line and itinerary. You are assured a reserved table at the same time each evening. Being served by the same wait staff each evening provides more personalized service. Book early to secure your preferred seating.