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Greetings

 

A1 CRUISING  GUIDE

 

For Cruising with Royal Caribbean

 

Published by:

A1 CRUISES, LLC

1260 Lake Frances Blvd.

Tavares, FL  32778

352 742-3000

 

Sixth Edition

 

June 1, 2016

 

 

                                           1.  Overview

                                           2.  Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

                                           3.  Pre-Register for your Cruise

                                           4.  Travel Insurance

                                           5.  How do we get to the ship?

                                           6.  The Crown & Anchor Society

                                           7.  Gratuities (Tips)

                                           8.  How much money should I take?

                                           9.  What about Hurricanes?

                                        10.  Motion Discomfort

                                        11.  The Skinny on Shore Excursions

                                        12.  The “Next Cruise” Opportunity

                                        13.  What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise?

                                        14.  Future Cruises

                                        15.  When Do We Eat?

                                        16.  Packing for your Cruise

                                        17.  Going Cruising—Checklist

 

© 2016 by A1 CRUISES, LLC                www.A1CRUISES.com                1-800-333-3960

 

 

1.  Overview

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Cruising!!!  If this is your first cruise, or if you are a veteran cruiser, we hope you will find some interesting and useful information in this Cruising Guide. The modern world of cruising offers huge ships, plentiful activities, scrumptious food, and absolutely outstanding entertainment.

     Everyone has a different appetite for cruising.  For some of you, it may be that one cruise is enough.  For others of you, you may want to cruise every year.  For yet others, you could cruise a couple times every month, and still want more.  Visit PERFECT CRUISES on our website.  Whatever your appetite for cruising, you should easily be able to find your next cruise, and the one after that, and then the one after that…

     The three-night cruises are over the weekend—they are all Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night, arriving back in Port on Monday morning.  These cruises are ideal for people who work—they’ll miss work Friday afternoon, when they go to the ship, and they’ll miss work Monday morning, when they get off the ship—but the rest of the week, they can work.  The four-night cruises are mostly during the week—Monday night through Friday morning.  These cruises are ideal for people who like to be home on weekends, or for people who do not want to miss church on Sunday.

     Then there are some four and five-night cruises on various days that may ideally fit your particular schedule.  The seven-night cruises, though, are generally the best—they are on the newer, larger ships, with the best activities and the best entertainment.

     Come Cruise With Us!!!      You’ll Love it!!!     Sincerely, A1 CRUISES, by:  Don Raleigh, Cruise Counselor

 

2.  Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

     You will need Proof of Citizenship to board the ship.  If you do not have satisfactory Proof of Citizenship with you, you will be denied boarding, and you will NOT get a refund.

     The best Proof of Citizenship is a Passport Book.  If your Passport expires within six months of the last day of the cruise, you should get it renewed before the cruise.

     However, if you are a US Citizen, or a Canadian Citizen, and you are cruising in the Western Hemisphere, on a Closed-Loop cruise, then you may use your Birth Certificate and a Photo ID as Proof of Citizenship, instead of a Passport.  A Closed-Loop cruise is a cruise that departs from, and returns to, the same US Port.  If you rely on a Birth Certificate, it must be either the original, or a Certified Copy, issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State where you were born.  It cannot be just a hospital record, and it cannot be just a copy-machine copy.  If you rely on a Birth Certificate, you must also have a Photo ID, and it must be a Government-Issued Photo ID, like a Driver’s License.

     If your name on your Driver’s License does not match your name on your Birth Certificate, take with you your Marriage Certificate, or whatever paperwork explains why your names do not match.  Guests under 16 will not need a Photo ID.

     If, during your cruise you need to fly home because (1) the ship experiences mechanical difficulty, or (2) you find out there is an emergency at home, or (3) you have an accident or become ill, and you do not have a Passport, you will have a very difficult time trying to fly into the US without a Passport.  Passports are expensive, but they are good for 10 years.  Your best bet is to obtain a Passport.  You can get a Passport application at any Post Office, or visit our website:  www.A1CRUISES.com, and select Passports from the menu at the left.

     In addition to your required Proof of Citizenship, you should also have a SetSail pass (it’s like a boarding pass), which will save time at embarkation.  When you pre-register for your cruise on Royal Caribbean’s website, you can print out your SetSail pass.  To pre-register, see Number 3 below.

 

3.  Pre-Register for your Cruise

     For every stateroom, you should visit Royal Caribbean’s website, pre-register for your cruise, and print out your SetSail pass to take with you to the ship.

     Get four things ready before you go online to pre-register:

1.  Your Royal Caribbean Reservation Number, from your A1 CRUISES Confirmation.

2.  Your Passports, if you are using Passports as your proof of citizenship.

3.  The credit or debit card you will be taking with you to the ship.

4.  The name and phone number of your emergency contact person.

     Then visit:  www.RoyalCaribbean.com    In the top menu, click:  “ALREADY BOOKED”     Then click:  “ONLINE CHECK-IN”     At the right, under “Log-In to Online Check-In”, enter the Required Information.  Then click the “SUBMIT” button.

     Complete all steps in the Online Check-In process and then print out your SetSail pass.  Take your SetSail pass with you to the ship, together with your Proof of Citizenship and your credit or debit card.

     If you do not have Internet access or a printer, we will be happy to print out your SetSail pass for you.  Please call us at 352 742-3000 or 1-800-333-3960, either for an appointment to come visit us, or to give us the information we will need to print out your SetSail pass for you.

 

4.  Travel Insurance   Most people’s medical insurance does not cover them when they are out of the country.  Medicare does not.  Therefore it is very important to purchase Travel Insurance before you cruise.  We recommend TravelGuard insurance, which we have been selling for 18 years.  TravelGuard has an 800 number, available 24/7, that you can call to get answers to any questions you might have.  The TravelGuard information number is 1-800-826-1300.  Then, please do call A1 CRUISES at 352 742-3000 or 1-800-333-3960, and allow us to purchase your TravelGuard Insurance for you.  The cost will be the same, but by purchasing your TravelGuard Insurance from us, you will allow us to monitor your coverage, and service your policy.  We can purchase your Travel Insurance for you, up until the DAY BEFORE YOU TRAVEL.

     FULL-COVERAGE INSURANCE:  The Full-Coverage insurance will reimburse you for all the non-refundable costs of your trip, if you have to cancel because of illness of you or a family member, or if you have to cancel because of any other covered reason.  We recommend TravelGuard’s Platinum full-coverage insurance, which is their highest level of coverage.  If you are going to get Travel Insurance, there are extra benefits to buying the Platinum or the Gold full-coverage insurance within two weeks of your initial deposit—it covers Pre-Existing Medical Conditions, and the Medical Expense coverage is Primary.  All the costs below are per person and include a $7.00 policy fee, so if you put two guests are on the same policy, you’ll save $7.00. 

 

For a trip cost of $251.00 to $500.00, here are the costs for the insurance:

  Full            Medical   Emergency     Age     Age     Age     Age     Age     Age

Coverage   Expense  Evacuation   35-59   60-69   70-74   75-79   80-84    85+_

Platinum   $50,000  $1,000,000   $  85   $  97   $ 116     146   $ 257   $ 312

Gold....    25,000     500,000      48      65      97     120     178     238

 

For a trip cost of $501.00 to $1,000.00, here are the costs for the insurance:

  Full            Medical   Emergency     Age     Age     Age     Age     Age     Age

Coverage   Expense  Evacuation   35-59   60-69   70-74   75-79   80-84    85+_

Platinum   $50,000  $1,000,000   $  95   $ 120   $ 142   $ 176   $ 329   $ 380

Gold....    25,000     500,000      62      84     120     146     212     282

 

     ZERO-COST OPTION:  The Zero-Cost Option insurance, will NOT reimburse you if your trip is cancelled.  If you select this option, it assumes that your trip did not cost you anything, so if you cancel, you will not get any money back.  The first two coverages listed in the pamphlet—Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption—will not apply.  However, all the other coverages will apply, including the Medical Expense Coverage, and the Emergency Evacuation coverage, which are the coverages you really need.   So, if you can afford to lose the cost of the trip, but you want the Medical Expense Coverage, get the Zero-Cost Option.  All the costs below are per person and include a $7.00 policy fee, so if you put two guests are on the same policy, you’ll save $7.00. 

 

Zero-Cost   Medical   Emergency     Age     Age     Age     Age     Age     Age

 Option    Expense  Evacuation   35-59   60-69   70-74   75-79   80-84    85+_

Platinum   $50,000  $1,000,000   $  54   $  56   $  69   $ 103   $ 206   $ 244

Gold....    25,000     500,000      28      39      67      80     134     171

Pack‘N Go   25,000     500,000      35      44      51      58      83      99

 

     If you have decided to get the Zero-Cost Option then you will not be covering the cost of your trip, so there is no point in getting the insurance until a few days before you travel.  (That way, if you do decide to cancel, you will not also lose the cost of the insurance, in addition to the cost of the trip.)  Call us about three days before the trip. 

     We Highly Recommend that you get as much Travel Insurance as you are comfortable buying.  Please call us at 352 742-3000 or 1-800-333-3960, ask us for a free insurance pamphlet, and let us insure you, for your peace of mind on your cruise.

 

 

5.  How do we get to the ship?

     Well, first of all, you are welcome to get to the ship any way you want.  A convenient way, if you live close to the Cruise Port, would be to drive, and if you take another couple with you, you can share the cost of the parking and other expenses.  Parking at the Port Canaveral, Florida, Cruise Terminal costs $60.00 for a 3-night cruise, $75.00 for a 4-night cruise, and $90.00 for a 7-night cruise.  Parking at the Tampa, Florida, Cruise Terminal costs $12.00 per day.

     If you do not live close to the Cruise Port, you can fly to an airport near the Cruise Port, and we can purchase transfers from the airport to the Cruise Terminal for you from the Cruise Line.  Call or email us for the cost of these transfers.

 

     If you do not want to fly, and you want to consider other alternatives to driving, first of all, ask us whether the Cruise Line is offering bus service for your cruise.  If not, you are welcome to check with:

     A.  SuperShuttle, 1-800-258-3826

     B.  Mears Transportation, 407 422-4561

     C.  Cruise Connection by Escot Bus Lines, 1-888-501-5388

     D.  Greyhound Lines, 214 849-8966

     E.  Amtrak, 1-800-872-7245

Finally, if you have a group going on your cruise (more people than just the two of you), we may be able to arrange a charter van or motor coach for your transportation to the ship.

 

6.  The Crown & Anchor Society

     Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society is a membership organization for guests who have cruised with Royal Caribbean before.  Anyone who has completed one cruise with Royal Caribbean is eligible to join, and there is no cost of membership.   All you have to do is sign up.  Once you sign up, you get one point for every night that you have cruised.

     There are different levels of membership.  3 Points is Gold, 30 points is Platinum, 55 Points is Emerald, and 80 Points is Diamond.  The higher your level of membership, the more rewards you get.

     Starting at the Gold level, you will be invited to a cocktail party on your next cruise, with free cocktails.  There are Crown & Anchor Discount Coupons available, and when you get to Platinum, you can get a Balcony Discount on every cruise.  When you get to Diamond, there is a Diamond Lounge, exclusively for Diamond Members, where you can get free hors d’oeuvres and cocktails every day!

     So, join the Crown & Anchor Society, whose loyalty program is Par Excellence, and then just keep on cruising on Royal Caribbean, always striving to get to your next membership level.

 

7.  Gratuities (Tips)

     Your gratuities (tips) go to your Cabin Steward (or Stewardess), your Dining Room waiter and assistant waiter, the head waiter, and the housekeeping staff.  For your Cabin Steward and your wait staff, your tips are the only money they make—they are not paid, and they work very, very hard.

     There are basically three ways to pay your gratuities:  (1) you can pre-pay your gratuities before your cruise, (2) you can not pre-pay your gratuities, and the cruise line will add them daily to your onboard account, in the recommended amount of $13.50 per person per day, (3) you can tell the information desk that you do not want the gratuities added to your onboard account, because you want to pay them in person.  They will furnish envelopes for you to put the cash in, to give to your service staff on the last night of the cruise.

     If specific servers give you exemplary service, you may want to give them a few extra dollars on the last night, which you can do either in envelopes, or by just handing them cash.  (If a specific server gives you less than exemplary service you can go to the information desk and request that less than the standard amount be given to that specific server.)

     We used to always pay the servers in cash, but now we just let the Cruise Line charge the gratuities daily to our onboard account, and let the cruise line distribute the gratuities.  The servers know which guests have pre-paid.  They still give exemplary service, not just hoping for a few extra dollars, but because it is their job, and most of them really want to give the very best service they can. 

 

8.  How much cash should I take?

     At embarkation, you will be issued a SeaPass card, which, in addition to being your cabin key, can also be used to make purchases onboard the ship.  In fact, you cannot use cash anywhere on the ship, except in the Casino.  If you need more cash in the Casino, there is an ATM Machine, and you can get cash in the Casino from the cashier.

     So, how much cash should you take? 

     Well, you will need cash for any donations you plan to make in the Casino, to purchase souvenirs and craft items from the natives on Labadee or CocoCay, and you will need cash for any taxicabs you take during your Port Visits.  The merchants at the Ports will accept your credit or debit card.

     So, if you plan to make some donations in the Casino, buy a lot of items on Labadee or CocoCay, and take lots of taxicabs, you might want to take $200 to $300 in cash per person, or even more.

     If you do not plan to make large donations in the Casino, buy very much on the private islands or take many Taxicabs, then $100 to $200 in cash per person should be more than enough.

     You might want to give some of your servers on the ship a few extra dollars at the end of the cruise, to show your gratitude for exemplary service.

 

9.  What about Hurricanes?

     Hurricane season is from June 1 until November 30 every year.  However, you should not ever worry about hurricanes.  Your ship will never be in a hurricane.

     First of all, each cruise ship costs from 400 million dollars, to well over a billion dollars, and so no Cruise Line will risk their ship in a hurricane.  Secondly, the Cruise Line wants its guests to have a good time, so the guests will come back again and again, so the Cruise Line does not want its guests to be in a hurricane either.

     So, the upshot is that you will never be in a hurricane.  If a hurricane comes close on your sailing date, the Cruise Line will cancel your cruise, refund all your money, and give you a discount on a future cruise—lucky you!  If a hurricane comes close when you are cruising, the Cruise Line will change your itinerary as necessary to avoid the hurricane.  Your cruise ship can go 500 miles in a single day, and no hurricane can possibly go that fast, so there is no chance a hurricane can catch your ship.  So, go cruise, smile, and be happy, and don’t worry about hurricanes.

10.  Motion Discomfort

     Motion Discomfort (the polite term for Seasickness) is a significant issue that needs to be addressed.  If you have ever experienced motion discomfort, you know that it can not only be most uncomfortable, it can be completely debilitating.

     First of all, what causes it?  There are semi-circular canals in our inner ears that sense when our body moves, and they communicate this motion to our brain.  So far, so good.

Our eyes also see our surroundings, and when our body moves, relative to our surroundings, our eyes also communicate this motion to our brain.  Still, so far, so good.

     The problem is when our body moves, and our eyes do NOT see us moving, so our ears tell our brain we’re moving, while our eyes tell our brain we are not moving, and our poor brain doesn’t know how to process this contradicting information, so it makes us start to feel bad.  The feeling can get worse and worse, until we get nauseated, etc., etc.

     So, what can you do about it?  Well, first off, be assured that the ship will not be pitching about wildly the way some ships do in the movies.  The ship has stabilizers that keep it from rolling more than two degrees, which is not much at all.  The front end and the back end of the ship tend to go up and down, but it is not as noticeable in the middle of the ship.  The best location for your stateroom, to minimize the effects of the ship’s motion, is about one third of the way from the back to the front, and as low as possible.  We try to get everyone’s stateroom as close as we can to that ideal location.

     The ship is huge.  It is not affected very much by the waves, and the ship will avoid really bad storms.  Unless you are watching out on deck, you will not realize when the ship leaves the dock, and unless you are outside, you will not even realize you are on a ship.

     Motion discomfort affects everyone differently.  Some people never get it—they can go anywhere and do anything, and they will continue to feel just fine.  For others of us, we can start to feel queasy just riding in a car.

     Okay, let’s start with the lesser cases.  If you start to feel uneasy on the ship, look up from your dinner table, and look across the dining room.  Look out one of the windows, and see whether you can see the horizon.  Watch the horizon for a few minutes.  You’ll see it slowly going up, and then down.  Seeing this may just in itself make you feel better. 

     If that doesn’t help, go to one of the outside decks, and go outside, so you can look out at the horizon while getting some fresh air.  This is where an Ocean-View or Balcony Cabin will help, so you can look out at the horizon, and if you have a Balcony, you can get some fresh air.

     The next step is to stop at the Information Desk and ask for motion discomfort pills.  They will give you some, and they are free.  If the pills don’t help you, and you continue to feel really bad, go see the ship’s doctor.

     Most people know whether they are prone to motion discomfort.  If you are susceptible, you could go buy some seasickness pills at Walmart, so you can start taking them before you even get on board the ship.  Walmart also sells Sea-Bands, that you can put on your wrists to prevent nausea, for $6.49.

     If motion discomfort really, really bothers you, see your doctor before the cruise, and ask him to prescribe something for you.  This might be a patch you wear behind your ear, or something to take, so you will be sure to enjoy your cruise.

     Hint, hint: The more you cruise, the less you should be bothered by motion discomfort!!!

 

11.  The Skinny on Shore Excursions

     Shore Excursions, Shore Excursions—everyone is so concerned about shore excursions.  Well, don’t be.  To start with, they are optional.  You don’t have to do any.  That’s right, you don’t have to do one single shore excursion, unless you want to.

     For one thing, you can just stay on the ship.  The ship is wonderful.  It is comfortable, it is safe, it is cool and dry, the food is great, the activities are great, and the entertainment is great.  Everything is even better when everyone else gets off the ship to go on shore excursions, because then there’s so much more room on the ship for us!!!

     Now, if you want to experience the Port, you can get off the ship and go sightseeing, play on the beach, and shop in the shops, without taking any shore excursions.  Except for what you buy in the shops, this will not cost you anything.  On the private islands—Labadee and Cococay—there is Chicken Bar-B-Q lunch, served on the island, and it’s free.

     Now, if you want to take shore excursions, you are welcome to do that.  All the shore excursions are listed on the Cruise Line’s website, and you can look them up right now:  Visit:  www.royalcaribbean.com/beforeyouboard/shoreExcursions.do  Then scroll down and click:  Shop or Modify Shore Excursions  Then enter your last name, your Reservation Number from your A1 CRUISES Confirmation, the Date of Departure, the Ship Name, and then click the Submit button.

     Then you can view all the available shore excursions, with a description, the time they take, and the cost, and you can go ahead and book however many you want.

     You can also book shore excursions at the shore excursions desk on the ship, and, on most ships, you can book them from the interactive TV in your stateroom.

     Please do NOT book shore excursions with anyone except Royal Caribbean.  If you book with Royal Caribbean, your shore excursions will be safe, and the operators will be responsible, licensed and insured.  Also, if you book with Royal Caribbean and your excursion gets delayed, the ship will know about it, and the ship will wait for you!!!

     If you book your excursion with some other operator, it is at your own risk, and if you are late, the ship will leave without you.  It will then be up to you to catch up with the ship or get home on your own.  So—don’t do it!  Book only with Royal Caribbean.

     As a suggestion—take it easy on yourself.  Just being on vacation is strenuous enough by itself.  If you load yourself up with too many shore excursions, you’ll end up stressed out and frazzled.  Do things in moderation, so you can thoroughly enjoy your cruise.

 

12.  The “NextCruiseOpportunity

     Royal Caribbean offers a “NextCruise” opportunity to guests while they are on the ship.

     While on the ship, you can visit the Loyalty & Cruise Sales Team, and make a deposit on your next cruise, even if you are not sure which cruise you will be cruising on next.  When you make your deposit, you can choose whether to “Decide Now” which cruise you will be going on next, or you can choose to “Decide Later” which cruise you will be going on next.  If you “Decide Now”, and then change your mind, you can change your next cruise to a different Royal Caribbean Ship or cruising date.

     The deposit for your “NextCruise” is only $50.00 for a short cruise, or $100.00 for a 7-night cruise.

     The advantages of doing this are: (1) when you next cruise, if you use your “NextCruise”, the reduced deposit you have already paid applies to the next cruise, and that’s all the deposit you have to make, up until your Final Payment Date, (2) you will get free onboard credit on the “NextCruise”, depending on how many days the cruise is, (a 7-night cruise offers $100.00 in onboard credit, and this is like FOUND MONEY), and (3) your “NextCruise” deposit is good indefinitely, and never expires.  In addition, the benefits of the “NextCruise” can be shared with two other cabins, so your family and friends who cruise with you can also get the reduced deposit and the onboard credit.

     The disadvantages of doing it are: (1) your deposit money is tied up until you use the “NextCruise”, (2) your “NextCruise” is not transferable to anyone else, and (3) the deposit is non-refundable.

     So, the upshot is that, if after a few days on the cruise, you are pretty sure you like cruising and will cruise with Royal Caribbean again, and if you can afford to tie up $50.00 or $100.00, you should put a deposit on your “NextCruise”, in order to get the benefits of the reduced deposit and the free onboard credit.

     Personally, we always have several “NextCruises” in the works, so no matter how often we cruise, we will always have a “NextCruise” that we can use.

     I’d suggest you put just one name on your “NextCruise”—the person most likely to cruise again.  The other person’s name can always be added later.

 

13.  What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise?

     For many people, winter is the best time of year to cruise.  Lots of people cruise to the Caribbean, where it is very warm—after all, it is further south than Miami, Florida, so even in the winter, the Caribbean is in the 80’s and 90’s.  Also, most Americans vacation in the summer, and that is when kids are out of school, so summers are busy and therefore more expensive.  In the winter, cruises are less expensive.  However, if you want to cruise to Alaska, Bermuda, or the Mediterranean, then summer it is.  December and January are usually the least expensive months to cruise, except for cruises that have a holiday during the cruise.  We especially like the second week in December.  It’s half way between Thanksgiving and Christmas, most kids will still be in school, it’s inexpensive, and the ship is already decorated for the holidays.  Won’t you Come Cruise with us on December 11, 2016, and also on December 3, 2017?  Both cruises are on OASIS OF THE SEAS, out of Port Canaveral, Florida!!!

 

14.  Future Cruises

     Check your calendars, and talk with your cruising friends—then visit PERFECT CRUISES on the A1 CRUISES Website.  All the cruises listed are group cruises that we have already booked, and you are welcome to book your next cruise on any of the cruises listed.  The groups were specially selected to be generally interesting and popular, and also to have good value.  In addition, the prices were locked in early, so in most cases, our listed prices are significantly less than these cruises would cost if purchased from the Cruise Line or any other Travel Agency.

     So, check out PERFECT CRUISES, and start planning your next cruise!

 

15.  When Do We Eat?

     For some people, it’s all about the food.  If that’s you, you’ll find taking a cruise is like being in heaven.  You can eat at any time of the day or night, and it’s all-you-can-eat, and it’s all included in your cruise, so, once you are on the ship, it’s like free food.  There are also food options that cost money, but they are just options, so you can skip the options that cost extra, and there is still plenty of food that is totally free!

     Let’s start with the main dining rooms.  There are two or three main Dining Rooms, depending on which ship you are on.

     The daily newspaper, CRUISE COMPASS, delivered to your cabin the night before, tells you which of the main dining rooms is having Breakfast with open-seating from 8 AM to 10 AM, and which of the main dining rooms is having Lunch with open-seating from Noon to 1:30 PM.  In the main dining rooms, you will order from menus, and waiters will bring you your food.

     There is also usually a Grab and Go Breakfast in the Windjammer Buffet from 6 AM to 7 AM, and then regular Breakfast Buffet is served from 7 AM to 11 AM.  Lunch Buffet is served in the Windjammer Café (or the Windjammer Marketplace) from 11:30 AM until 3 PM.  Afternoon Tea is then served in the Windjammer from 3 PM until 5 PM.

     Dinner is served in the main dining rooms at 5:30 PM or 6:00 PM, with a second seating at 8 PM or 8:30 PM.  At embarkation, you will be assigned a table number and a time for your dinner every night in the main dining room.  If you decide to eat in the buffet instead, or you do not show up for dinner in the main dining room, your seat at your assigned table will be empty.  As a courtesy to your tablemates, if you are coming to dinner, please show up promptly at the assigned starting time for dinner.  Casual Dinner Buffet is also served in the Windjammer Café from 6 PM until 9 PM.

     Voyager-Class Ships also have Café Promenade, open 24 hours, with mini sandwiches, Pizza, and desserts, and Freedom-Class ships also have Sorrento’s Pizza.  In addition, there is soft-serve ice cream available Poolside from 11:30 AM until 7 PM.  All the above food is FREE, no charge, all-you-can-eat.

     Besides all the free food, you can dine at Chops Grille (Steaks) with a $30 cover charge per guest, Portofino (Italian) with a $20 cover charge per guest, or Johnny Rockets (Burgers, Fries, and Shakes) with a $4.95 cover charge per guest.  There is also a charge for Cupcake Cupboard, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Vintages Wine Bar, and Starbucks Coffee (or Seattle’s Best Coffee).  The Specialty Dining varies from ship to ship.  So, whether you stick to the free food, or whether you also try the specialty dining and other options in this paragraph, your challenge on the cruise (which I take quite seriously) is to not miss any meals!!!

     The average person gains a pound a day on a cruise.  Now, you don’t have to eat that much.  You can try to restrain yourself, and there is a state-of-the-art health club and spa, and there is even a walking/jogging track, but still, the average person gains a pound a day on a cruise.  As a helpful hint, if you brought some clothes that are a bit tight, wear those outfits on the early days of the cruise, since toward the end of the cruise, you may not be able to get into them!

 

16.  Packing for your Cruise  Most people pack way too much for their cruise.  It’s as if they pack all the clothes they own, so they can decide on the ship what to wear.  What we recommend is that you decide before you leave home what you are going to wear, and pack just that.  To start with, do NOT take any pillows or blankets—these will be provided free, even if you want extra ones.  Do NOT take any towels or washcloths—these also will be provided free.  Do NOT take an iron—they will not let you take it onto the ship.  Do NOT take a hair dryer—there is one in every cabin.   You may take up to two bottles of wine per cabin onto the ship, if you want to.  On your prescription medicines, take them in their original containers, and take copies of your prescriptions with you. 

     Let’s use a 7-Night Cruise as an example.  The cruise is only seven nights.  Focus on what you want to wear to dinner on those seven nights.  For the first night, which is always informal, wear what you wore to the ship, to dinner that night.  You can also wear that same outfit to dinner on the last night, which is also informal.  So, that leaves only five nights.

     Two of the nights will be formal (a recommendation only).  So, if you want to dress up for formal night, it’s a tux or suit, or jacket and tie, or just a jacket and a turtleneck for the guys.  For the gals it can be a formal gown or just a cocktail dress, or any dressy dress.  The guys can rent a tux onboard if they want.

     Okay, select your outfits for your seven dinners.  If you mix and match, you can get more outfits with fewer items.  You do not need a pair of shoes in every rainbow color.  Black shoes go with anything.  White shoes go with almost anything.  You might want to take a pair of tennis shoes, or comfortable walking shoes, for when you get off the ship.

     Cruises to the Caribbean will be very warm—in the 80’s and 90’s—you will not need jackets and coats.  On the other hand, the ship will be air-conditioned really cool—you should take a light dressy jacket, sweater, or shawl to wear at dinner, and to the theater.  

     There is no limit to how much luggage you take on your cruise,  However, look carefully at the following two choices:

     Choice Number 1.  You take one carry-on with rollers (24” x 16” x 9” max), and a personal item (laptop or purse).  You take your luggage through security with you, and keep it with you until you get to your cabin.  When it is time to get off the ship, you take your luggage off the ship with you.  There is no chance any of your luggage will get delayed, damaged, broken into, or lost. 

     Choice Number 2.  You take a bigger suitcase than above, or more than one.  You will have to check your luggage at the ship, for delivery to your cabin later—as much as 5 or 6 or even 8 hours later—maybe not even in time for dinner.  There is a chance some of your luggage might be damaged, broken into, left on the dock, or lost.  You will have to leave your luggage outside your cabin door the last night of the cruise, to be picked up by the crew, and you will be given a number to retrieve your luggage.  You will then have to wait onboard until your number is called, before you can get off the ship.  Then you will go to an on-shore warehouse and find your luggage, before you can go through customs and immigration.  Now, which choice do you want to make, Choice Number 1, or Choice Number 2? 

     Pare down your clothes.  Find clothes that do not wrinkle.  Roll your clothes, instead of folding them.  Mix and match your outfits.  Find a dress that is reversible.  Wear the same thing twice.  Life is not a beauty contest.  We suggest you limit yourself to one carry-on per person.  However, if you need to take more than one suitcase, in order to enjoy your cruise, then we say, “Go for it!!!”

 

17.  Going Cruising—Checklist

 

It is a good idea to use a checklist to make sure you do not forget anything.  Print this checklist.  Cross off the items AFTER they have been packed, or AFTER they have been done.

Things to take:

  1.  PASSPORTS.

  2.  SetSail pass.

  3.  Credit or Debit Card.

  4.  Money.

  5.  Wristwatch.

  6.  Cell phone.

  7.  Cell phone charger.

  8.  Two-way radios and charger (to talk with each other on the ship).

  9.  Medicines, including motion-discomfort pills.

10.  Cosmetics.

11.  Glasses.

12.  Sunglasses.

13.  Hat for protection from the sun.

14.  Sunscreen.

15.  Bathing suit.

16.  Comfortable walking shoes.

17.  Underwear.

18.  Socks.

19.  Formalwear for two nights (on 7-night cruises).

20.  Clothes for six days and nights.

21.  Jewelry.

22.  Shaving apparatus.

23.  Perfume/cologne.

24.  Dopp kits.

25.  Suitcases.

26.  Laptop computer.

27.  Wallet/Purse.

Things to do:

  1.  Make arrangements for your pets.

  2.  Have your mail held by the Post Office, or saved for you by a neighbor.

  3.  Return library items.

  4.  Put some ice cubes in a glass in your freezer.

  5.  Leave an appropriate message on your answering machine.

  6.  Tell a neighbor, and a relative, what cruise you are going on, and when you will return.

  7.  Make sure your windows are locked.

  8.  Set your curtains, shades, and lights the way you want them when you are gone.

  9.  Set your thermostat to the desired temperature for when you are gone.

10.  Turn off your water heater.

11.  Shut off the water to your house.

12.  LOCK YOUR DOORS.

 


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