Linda responded to questions posed by The Travel
Channel viewers during Cruise Week in April 2003. Following is a
you book a land tour on board, and the tour for some reason is late
for the departure, does the boat wait? If not, how do the people
re-board? Who pays for it?
Yes, if you book a shore tour through the ship's excursion desk
and are delayed, the ship will wait for you. In the rare case that
the ship has to leave the pier, arrangements will be made for you to
meet the ship. A likely scenario would be that the ship would anchor
offshore and passengers would be tendered to it to reboard.
I've taken 40+ cruises and have only had occasion to run into this
situation twice. Once we were delayed and the ship waited for us.
The other time we were anchored offshore at a port that required
tendering. A storm blew in and sea conditions made it unsafe to
continue ferrying passengers back to the ship. We had to move to the
nearest port to dock and passengers were shuttled to meet the ship.
No one was left behind.
If you arrange a private tour and are late returning, the ship may
leave without you. When touring independently, you are responsible
for being back on board in time and, if you miss the ship, you have
to pay to get to the next port to reboard. In foreign ports where
you want to explore areas that are relatively far from the ship, I
recommend ship's excursions for safety and peace of mind. Just a
hint... your daily program should have the name and telephone number
of the "port agent" listed in it. If you have a problem
ashore, you can call on the port agent for assistance. Always carry
that information with you when going ashore.
If you get sick on board, is
it treated as a regular hospital visit, billed to your medical
insurance coverage? What if it is due to some ship-related illness?
I'm glad you asked this question. Medical care is available on
cruise ships, much like that which is available at an outpatient
clinic, although there are overnight accommodations for more serious
If you are examined by the ship's doctor, be prepared to pay for
your office visit. Unless you carry very comprehensive medical
insurance coverage, you probably are not covered for treatment
aboard a cruise ship, or in any foreign country, for that matter.
Check before you leave home and be prepared to pay for any treatment
you require and file your own claim later. If your medical coverage
is through Medicare, you will not be covered outside the United
States. It is worth noting that ALL ships of foreign registry are
considered to be "outside the United States" by Medicare;
however, this point is not explained clearly in the Medicare Manual.
When booking a cruise, your travel agent should inquire whether you
wish to purchase a special travel insurance policy that covers
illness and injury in addition to other hazards. If the agent
doesn't ask you, you should ask him. Some independent insurance
carriers offer very comprehensive policies at attractive rates and
nearly all cruise lines offer their own line of insurance. Compare
the coverage and rates to determine which is best for you.
And don't forget to pack an adequate supply of any prescription
medications you regularly take. The ship's pharmacy may not have
what you need. If they do, great. But don't expect the ship's doctor
to hand over pills without examining you. After all, if you were on
a land vacation, a physician unfamiliar with you wouldn't be likely
to give prescription medications because you said you needed them.
If there is an outbreak of illness on your ship, the cruise line may
offer complimentary medical treatment as several of them did when
many passengers became ill with Norwalk Virus last year. Those
instances of on board illness are usually rare and are often handled
on a case by case basis.
On the other hand, it's been my experience that if you are injured
on the ship or on a shore excursion you arranged through the cruise
line, then medical treatment is usually offered without charge.
Again, that is determined by the policies of the individual cruise
lines and may vary. That's another good reason to purchase
insurance--it's better to be safe than sorry!
I like to go exploring, but
I don't want to feel rushed or be worried that I may be late. If a
boat is in port for 8 hours (arrive ~ 8am, departs ~ 4pm) how much
real time ashore is there? What is the average time to get off, and
on, assuming those wanting to get off at the same time?
If your ship arrives in port
at 8am, you will probably be able to debark the vessel within a half
hour or so. However, the ship must "clear" before anyone
goes ashore--in other words, local officials come aboard to make
sure all paperwork is in order and, in some ports, to examine
passengers' passports. Depending on the port of call, this can be a
very brief or drawn-out procedure. There's really no way to
anticipate how long it will take, particularly if your fellow
passengers hold up the process by not reporting to immigration
officials as required.
If your vessel calls on a port where it cannot dock, the passengers
on scheduled shore excursions are usually the first to go ashore in
the ship's tenders. Everyone else queues for a numbered "tender
ticket" (first-come, first-served) and then waits to be called
to catch a boat ashore.
All passengers are required to be back on board the vessel at least
a half-hour before scheduled departure. In a perfect world, an 8am
to 4pm port call is realistically a maximum of seven hours ashore.
I need to bring my own hair dryer and clothes iron? If so, do most
ships have US-related electrical conditions, 110 volt outlets? Also,
does one's room get made up each day?
First... irons are a no-no
on cruise ships! The worst disaster at sea is fire and the use of
irons in cabins is viewed as a terrible fire hazard. Instead of an
iron, consider a travel steamer or send wrinkled garments to be
pressed by the ship's laundry for a modest fee. Some ships have
self-serve laundry rooms with ironing stations.
Most modern cruise ship cabins have hair dryers and your travel
agent can find out for you if yours is equipped with one. For your
other small appliances, such as a battery charger, curling iron, or
electric shaver, there are 110-volt outlets. However, there is
usually only one outlet in the bathroom (for shavers only) and one
in the stateroom near the desk or vanity table. If you have to plug
in more than one item at a time, you might want to bring along a
small power strip.
Your cabin will be made up twice each day. The steward will make the
bed, leave fresh towels, and tidy things up in the morning. While
you are at dinner he will turn down the bed, bring more fresh
towels, and leave you the program for the next day and a mint on
your pillow. Get ready to be spoiled!!!
What is the average
additional amount of money spent per person, per day on extras they
use(i.e. services) or consume (i.e. liquor) on board, above the
booking price? Do not include souvenirs or things they take home.
Cruise lines may have
statistics regarding on board spending averages, but I've never seen
My observation is that spending on additional items that are not
included in the basic cruise fare is a very personal matter, based
on individual lifestyles. For instance, at a table for eight... one
couple might order a bottle of wine with dinner each evening,
another may drink iced tea, a third couple might order soft drinks,
and the fourth may prefer to drink water. Some passengers like to be
pampered in the spa, while others have fun playing Bingo.
My husband and I enjoy a late evening liqueur in a quiet lounge, but
some of our friends get a kick out of the excitement in the casino.
Odds are that some of us are going to come out ahead spending-wise
(depending on Lady Luck).
Each individual has to consider their vacation budget and watch
their on board charges accordingly. It's a good idea to get a print
out of your charges at least once or twice during your cruise to
make sure you haven't exceeded what you can afford. There are many
shipboard activities that cost nothing additional and it's possible
to spend very little while still having a great cruise experience.
Another consideration is the all-inclusiveness of your cruise. More
"extra" items are included in the fares of the luxury
cruise lines, such as Silversea, Radisson, Crystal, and Seabourn,
than on other cruise lines. When computing the total cost of a
cruise, sometimes it doesn't cost more to sail on a luxury ship when
you look at the bottom line.
I love to cruise, but the
sailing schedules offered by many cruise lines don't always seem to
fit my schedule. Are there any cruise lines that offer greater
I understand your
frustration. While you can leave almost any ship after a few days,
you have to pay for the entire cruise.
However, there are some alternatives to the traditional one-week
schedules that most people associate with cruises. Cruises now
embark from more port cities throughout the US than ever before and
it's not necessary to travel to Miami or Fort Lauderdale to take a
cruise. Depending on where you live, you might find you are within
driving distance of such ports as Galveston, New Orleans,
Charleston, Baltimore, and others. In addition, many cruises are
offered in varying lengths, from three, four, and five days. You may
be able to squeeze one into a long weekend.
Silversea Cruises' "Personalized Voyages" offers the
greatest flexibility. A Personalized Voyage allows passengers to
create their own cruise vacation itinerary by enabling them to
embark and debark from a wide selection of enticing Caribbean, South
American, and European ports. Your cruise ship is essentially a
luxurious floating hotel that takes you where you want to go and you
pay for only those days you actually spend on board.
addition, "The World" of ResidenSea. She's a gem and is
returning to North America soon. According to a recent announcement:
The World's new itinerary in May, June and early July take guests
and residents from Hawaii to Los Angeles, sailing down the coast for
sun and surf throughout the Mexican Riviera; back up along the
California coast and Oregon, visiting destinations such as Los
Angeles, San Diego, Catalina Island, Monterey, Sausalito, San
Francisco and Astoria; then north to Victoria and into British
Columbia, with a round-trip voyage from Vancouver calling in
Nanaimo, Campbell River and Tahsis. After calling in Sitka and
Kodiak in early July, The World will resume its original 2003
itinerary on July 11 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Linda, I'm a big fan of your
website, CruiseDiva.com! I was browsing recently and came across
your link to ShoreTrips.com, the online shore excursion company.
When I was checking to see what excursions were available for Grand
Cayman and what times they left and returned, I noticed that they
schedule according to "Island Time." I was wondering how
that worked with respect to "Cruise Ship Time," like, if
my ship departs from Tampa, FL, and arrives at 7:00 am in Grand
Cayman, what time is it really on the island? I know that Grand
Cayman is 1 hour behind Tampa, so if we arrive there at 7, is it
really only 6 am? Or do the ships change the clocks accordingly? I
don't want to miss the boat!
Thank you! It is so
rewarding to have such nice feedback on my web site.
Ship time vs. local time... it's such a cause for confusion. A lot
depends on which ship you are cruising on, the itinerary, and the
time of year (whether the US is on standard or daylight savings
time). Most of the ships I've sailed on adhere to the time zone they
are in and the ships' clocks have been set forward or back to adhere
to local time. Passengers are also advised to change their watches
to the 'correct' time--there is usually a reminder card on your
pillow before you go to bed. However, not all ships do that! As you
noted, some ships stay on "ship" time, which can be
different from "island" time.
Here's where it's tricky... Florida embarkation ports are on Eastern
time (and Eastern daylight savings time). Grand Cayman is in the
same time zone so during standard time (last Sunday of October until
the first Sunday of April) there is no problem, mon. However, during
daylight savings time, Grand Cayman will be one hour behind Florida
because Grand Cayman doesn't observe daylight savings time.
If you arrive in Grand Cayman at 9am and your ship DOES NOT make the
local time adjustment, it will be 8am ashore when the US is on
daylight savings time. If Cozumel is on your itinerary, it is in the
Central Time Zone, but DOES observe daylight savings time on the
same schedule as the US. Therefore, Cozumel is always an hour behind
Florida (and it's the same time there as in Grand Cayman during
daylight savings time).
The best way to insure that you return to the ship on time is to
check and double check what time the ship is observing before you go
ashore and make certain your watch is correct. Allow yourself plenty
of time to get back on board, especially in Grand Cayman where
tendering is mandatory. Local tour operators are accustomed to the
ships' schedules and will lend a hand with timing when you book your
excursions. I hope this is clearer than mud!
I'm wondering -- out of all
of the cruises you have been on, which one has been your favorite
Goodness, selecting a
favorite cruise is like a mother picking her favorite child. Some
cruises stand out, though. Our first was on Norwegian Cruise Line's
SS Norway and we fell in love with the ship. So much so, that Mel
and I have sailed on her three times.
The most romantic cruise we've taken together was on Windstar's Wind
Surf--the itinerary (Lisbon to Barcelona) was fascinating and the
ship is a delight with intimate spaces and warm, personal service.
I sailed last year on Silversea's Silver Shadow from Rio to Buenos
Aires and the ship and itinerary were exceptional. The service was
top-notch and the food (including Thanksgiving dinner) was just out
of this world. The suites are beautiful. Last year I also sailed
with a group of online girlfriends on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment
of the Seas. We had a marvelous time!
Personally, the BEST cruise is the one I'm looking forward to!
I'm interested in spending
as much time in a port as possible. Are there some cruise lines that
offer more time in port with overnights than other lines?
Yes, there are! And you
bring up a good point--a cruise is a wonderful way to travel to
numerous destinations. Everything is taken care of for you and you
aren't constantly unpacking and repacking so it's possible to
concentrate on the ports of call. When I research a cruise, one of
the first things I do is evaluate the itinerary. Then I read
guidebooks to determine whether a particular ship spends enough time
in port to see the places that are the most appealing to me.
While a day might be all the time that is needed to explore a tiny
island destination or a small port in Alaska, there are other
destinations that demand more time. Two of my favorites are Venice,
Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia. It's just not possible to
experience Venice in a day and, although most cruise ships spend two
days in St. Petersburg, seeing the most fascinating sights can be a
mad blur of rushing from one place to another to take it all in.
Silversea Cruises has extended their port calls in St. Petersburg to
three days this summer, affording guests more time to sightsee at
Overnight port calls offer another attractive option--the ability to
dine ashore, attend a show, or take in the nightlife. This is
especially desirable in South America where a tango show is a
must-see in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Your options for overnight port stays are generally broader on
luxury lines that cruise to far flung worldwide destinations. Look
over the itineraries offered by Silversea Cruises, The World of
ResidenSea, Raddison Seven Seas, and Windstar Cruises. Even some
segments of world cruises feature overnight port stays. In the
Caribbean, some ships overnight or have late night departures in
Cozumel and Aruba, which allows passengers to sample the clubs. A
rare late night sailing from Key West is a sublime treat for viewing
the legendary sunset.
Bear in mind that sometimes itineraries must be altered due to
weather or other unexpected problems. That can work to your
advantage, though. One time we couldn't leave port because of a
nasty storm, but we were delighted to have an extra day in Rome as a
result. I hope this gives you some ideas.
I have received conflicting
views when I ask people who have taken a cruise before if they
suggest using the cruises excursions or planning your own adventure?
What do you suggest? Are there things to watch out for when planning
your own excursions outside of the cruise company? I have heard
several people say it can be much more enjoyable to do it on your
Tours can be a large
expense, so you want to select them wisely. Shore excursions range
from a simple half-day bus tour for less than $50 per person to
exotic adventures and helicopter flights that can run $200 and
higher per person. Some tours are cheaper if you arrange them
yourself, either by contacting a tour operator ahead of time or
hiring a guide when you arrive in port. In the latter case, the per
person cost can be cut even further if you share your guide and
transportation with another couple or group.
Whether you book a shore excursion on the ship or explore your port
of call independently depends on you and your comfort level in
unfamiliar surroundings. It helps if you speak the local language.
I don't hesitate to suggest touring on your own in most Caribbean
islands--many taxi drivers are accustomed to acting as impromptu
guides. A taxi or van can certainly be more comfortable than a bus
and you might get a lot more insight into your destination from your
On the other hand, if what you want to see is quite a distance from
the pier, you might want to book a ship's excursion for safety and
to insure you return to the ship on time. If you're on your own and
are delayed, the ship will sail without you. In some ports of call
it's just advisable to stick with a ship's tour. For instance, you
don't want to go wandering around in some locales on your own.
A private guide who comes highly recommended can offer a very
satisfying experience, you can set your own agenda, and often see a
lot more than you would with a ship's shore excursion. Striking off
on your own with a guidebook can be a satisfying adventure and many
port cities around the world have efficient public transportation
systems that aren't difficult to navigate.
These are some of the pros and cons, but only you can determine what
is the right choice.
Hi, I saw a show on the
Travel Channel that featured this amazing cruise ship. The part that
sticks out in my mind is this area in the belly of the ship that was
designed like a public street, with shops and restaurants and areas
for the people to dine "outside" as if it were truly out
in the open. It also had a dance club that was completely
sound-proof. It also had a private island it visited. I also
remember that some of the estate rooms were on this
"street" so people could look out over it for their
"view." I've been searching everywhere for the name but
can't find it. Please tell me you know the name of this ship! I have
to know! Please help!
The ship you saw is Royal
Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas. Isn't she incredible? Her
facilities also include an ice skating rink and rock climbing wall.
Modern cruise ships are often built as "classes" of
vessels and are nearly alike. Other sister-ships to Adventure of the
Seas are Explorer of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, and Voyager of
the Seas. They are the largest cruise ships ever built, virtually
small cities at sea. The ships have many of the same features, but
are not identical--each ship is slightly different in decor. I hope
you are able to experience a cruise on one of these amazing ships
We are taking our 7-year old
daughter with us on our first cruise this summer (Carnival Cruises).
Do you have a packing list (including recommended clothing) for
children? What sorts of toys, if any, should we bring with us?
What a treat for your young
daughter! Camp Carnival is one of the most comprehensive programs
for junior cruisers and she should love it. Cruise line youth
programs are manned by counselors carefully screened and chosen for
their ability to relate to children; most have a background in
education or early-childhood development. Their function is to
provide a safe environment for age appropriate play and
learning—-a "day camp" at sea. Activities vary, but the
emphasis is always on fun and many of the enjoyable pursuits offer
an educational bonus--science and astronomy programs, arts and
crafts projects, history and geography of the ports of call, to name
just a few. I've seen children cry when their parents pick them up
at the end of the day to get ready for dinner--they don't want to
It's always a good idea to bring along your daughter's favorite
small toy or game for times when she is not participating in Camp
Carnival, especially if you are flying to your embarkation port.
Airports are pretty boring for kids. You might also purchase a few
one-use cameras for her to snap her own photos. It's never too early
to start a travel scrapbook that she will treasure for years to
While I have an extensive packing list for adults, as well as
suggestions for baby items, I don't have a specific one for
children. What I suggest is day-by-day planning. I always make a
chart with columns for each day. I list whether it is a port day or
sea day and then fill in what I will need--shorts and tee-shirt,
bathing suit, shoes, etc. Then I determine what I want to wear each
evening, based on how many formal, informal, and casual nights are
specified in the cruise documents. Planning for your daughter will
be similar to planning for yourself. Formal nights are a great
opportunity to get a family portrait taken when you are all dressed
One thing you might do that makes daily planning a bit easier is
fold and stack each day's outfit together, including undergarments
and socks. Then put each stack into a zipper-top storage bag and
seal it. Mark each bag with the day-of-the-week and your daughter
will be all set with pre-selected outfits. It makes unpacking a
simple matter (just leave everything in the bags and pop them in
drawers) and your daughter can help you, which will involve her in
the preparation. Do take along at least two bathing suits so she'll
have a dry one handy. Carnival ships have laundry rooms if you want
to pack a bit less and take advantage of them. I hope these ideas
I would like to find a
cruise that not only takes my family of four to exciting places, but
also teaches something about the culture and the ports. I heard that
there is one for Hawaii. Does anyone know the name of this cruise
and any other cruises like it? I don't want to be limited to just
Disney Cruises for my family.
Unfortunately, the cruise
line that immersed its passengers in Hawaiian culture was American
Hawaii Line and they are no longer in business.
However, Norwegian Cruise Line's beautiful Norwegian Star sails
throughout the Hawaiian Islands year-round. Numerous other cruise
lines' ships make port calls in Hawaii and some offer a series of
regularly scheduled sailings that begin and end there as well. A
cruise through the Hawaiian Islands gives passengers a taste of
paradise and to explore a bit further, you may want to consider a
pre- or post-cruise stay at one of the land resorts. The Norwegian
Star has an extensive "Kid's Crew" program of activities
for children and the facilities are among of the nicest I've seen on
any ship. Some of the activities offered have a Hawaiian theme.
In addition to Hawaii, you might want to consider an Alaska cruise
for your family. If you do, be sure to select a cruise line that
still features native Alaskan naturalists as part of their on board
cultural and lecture program.
My first cruising experience
was wonderful! Can you recommend any cruises in which you've seen a
larger percentage of singles on board? Or is there a time period or
destination to which more singles travel? (Over the age limit
It's really difficult to say
whether any particular cruise will have a high percentage of singles
on board. Passenger demographics are hard to predict. Although there
are age restrictions (and "chaperone" requirements),
Spring Break is a popular time to take a cruise for the young,
While the "single supplement" charged by most cruise lines
makes solo sailing expensive (often 150-200% of the double-occupancy
rate), some high-end cruise lines offer more attractive fares for
singles. Look for cruises that with no single supplement, or one
that is low, and you'll find other singles taking advantage of it. A
good travel agent can keep an eye open for these offerings. Watch
Crystal and Silversea in particular.
On the other hand, if you don't have a sailing companion and don't
mind sharing a stateroom, some cruise lines will match you with a
roomie. You might even get a cabin all to yourself if no roommate is
available. If you go to a search engine such as Google and enter the
term "singles cruises" you will find numerous travel
agencies that advertise cruises for singles.
My personal experience has been that Silversea attracts a lot of
single cruisers in all age ranges. Here's an offer I received from
Crystal Cruises that is sure to attract single cruisers...
"Sailing solo has never been so sweet. In addition to supplying
extra Ambassador Hosts to serve as dancing and dining partners,
Crystal Cruises has waived the single supplement for most stateroom
categories and is offering special savings and future benefits for
those sailing on the luxury line's October 19 Fort Lauderdale to
Buenos Aires cruise aboard Crystal Symphony."
My husband and I are taking
our first cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship and were wondering how
dinner seating is assigned.
Great choice for a first
cruise! Dinner is served twice nightly on Royal Caribbean vessels,
either Main Seating or Late Seating at approximately 6:00pm and
8:30pm, respectively. Your travel agent should ask your preference
when you book your cruise.
At check-in, you will receive your assigned dining time and table
number. There is no guarantee that you will receive your preference,
but cruise lines try very hard to accommodate all passengers. To
iron out any problems in dining assignments, the Maitre'D will be on
hand the day you embark at a time and location specified in the
daily program of events.
In addition to the main dining room, casual dining alternatives are
available on Royal Caribbean ships in the Windjammer Cafe, which
features a partial buffet with a limited dinner menu. Depending on
your ship, there may also be other alternative restaurants that
require dinner reservations on a day-to-day basis. I hope you enjoy
your cruise and become a frequent sailor.
I would like to go on an
Alaska cruise and would like to know what would be the best time to
see the shore when it isn't fogged in. Any suggestions from past
As you may know, Alaska
cruises are seasonal from May through September. I've cruised the
Inside Passage in late-May and early-June. At that time of year
there is still a lot of snow on the mountain tops and the weather
can be quite brisk. When the snow caps begin melting and streams
fill with the run-off, the waterfalls hugging the shoreline are even
more impressive a bit later in the season.
It's nearly impossible to predict the weather and any fog or mist
you might encounter. One area in particular that really lives up to
its name is Misty Fjords. Named for its climatic conditions,
precipitation tends to soften the distant views which appear as
though under a constant mist. The scenery is still magnificent,
although avid photo buffs may be somewhat disappointed in
picture-taking conditions. You are liable to encounter brilliant
sunshine, fog, mists, and even rain--all in the same day. One thing
you can be certain of is that the weather will be changeable. For
instance, In Ketchikan, with average annual rainfall measuring a
whopping 160 inches, it’s either getting ready to rain, is
raining, or it’s just stopped raining.
For maximum warm weather, I tend to lean toward the months of July
and August. However, spring is generally considered more beautiful
and the savings on cruise fares are greater in early spring and late
We are going on an Alaskan
cruise May 17th on the Norwegian Sky and I have been given
conflicting answers on whether I should take summer or winter
clothing. Could you please help?
You should take what could
be called "transitional" clothing for an Alaska cruise in
May. You won't need a down parka (it's not the north pole!), but
summer clothing will be too light. Comfort is your first concern.
The secret to being comfortable on an Alaska cruise is
"layers" of light clothing in natural fabrics. You can add
or remove layers as the weather dictates. Silk undergarments are the
ultimate in warmth and luxury next to the skin. Top that with a
cotton turtleneck or shirt and finish up with a sweater and wind
breaker. Bottom wear can be jeans or docker-type pants. Warm socks
and shoes that fit well and keep water and cold at bay are a must.
In late-May and early-June I found nylon "wind-suits" with
a light cotton lining were ideal. They fit the bill for comfort
(elastic waistbands!) and warmth. With a turtleneck and light
sweater under the jackets and, if necessary, a pair of leggings
under the pants, they were even warm enough for glacier viewing
Anorak-style jackets with a hood are just about perfect outerwear. I
highly recommend a rubberized or Gore-tex slicker or poncho if you
have one. They don't take up much suitcase space and really cut the
wind. You'll want to be outside at a deck's rail as your ship slips
silently into a passage and you suddenly encounter small icebergs
and finally, a surprisingly blue-tinted glacier. It can be an
hours-long experience and for that, a hat that covers your ears and
gloves are must-haves.
Formal evening wear is more likely to be heavy on brocades and silks
and light on strapless evening dresses for the ladies. Less is
more... think pearls, not sequins. Men deck out formally in tuxes or
dark suits and a lot of navy-blue blazers will be sported at dinner,
even on casual nights. On those casual nights, nice pants or skirts
and sweaters are very appropriate for women; mix and match and add
accessories to stretch your wardrobe.
Don't forget to pack an umbrella, binoculars, and lots of film and
extra batteries for your camera. You're in for a spectacular
experience in Alaska!
I am going on the ship
Triumph from Carnival next Saturday and I wanted to know a if you
think it is a good ship to cruise on?
Yes! Carnival Triumph is
stunning and features all the amenities you expect on a modern
cruise ship. The decor is tasteful throughout and there are a
variety of lounges, high-energy entertainment, and virtually
non-stop activities. The 15,000 square foot spa is fantastic and the
outdoor spaces on the Lido Deck are more expansive than on some
other ships this size. Plus, Carnival Triumph boasts a 200 foot long
water slide--one of the longest at sea. You'll also find the largest
standard cabins on Carnival ships and the Triumph is no exception.
What is the family oriented
cruise line for a cruise to Jamaica? Kids ages 14-14-12 plus two
If you mean Disney Cruise
Line, their western Caribbean itineraries do not include Jamaica.
Several other cruise lines that call on Jamaica and are especially
family-friendly include Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and
Norwegian Cruise Line.
Your children may enjoy climbing Dunns River Falls while in Jamaica.
It's not difficult, although you should be prepared with old
sneakers or "water slippers" to protect your feet during
the climb. Some catamaran excursions include a stop at Dunns River
Falls along with a beach and snorkeling interlude.
We are cruising the western
Caribbean on the fascination in may. Since we booked with Carnival,
I have heard that other cruise lines are much better. Please tell me
it isn't so. We are very excited. Would love to know your expert
opinion. Also, any suggestions for excursions in Key West and
Cozumel? Love your website.
"Better" is in the
eye of the beholder! What one person considers best, might not suit
another person at all. Carnival Cruise Line didn't get to be the
world's largest cruise line by not satisfying passengers.
In Key West you really don't need to take an excursion. Getting
around couldn’t be easier on the Conch Tour Train or Old Town
Trolley. Catch the Conch Tour Train in Mallory Square for a
90-minute narrated tour up and down Key West’s most interesting
streets. It’s a great way to learn about the area and its famous
residents, but it doesn’t stop. The Old Town Trolley is more
flexible, allowing riders to get off and explore on their own and
then catch another trolley later. Watch for the signs near the pier
or throughout town to board the trolley. The Mel Fisher Maritime
Heritage Society Museum and Hemingway House are two interesting
In Cozumel, San Miguel is so small that walking is the easiest way
to have a look around. You’ll find a Tourism Office on Plaza del
Sol that distributes information and maps. Just outside San Miguel
is Chankanaab Nature Park, where visitors find an archaeological
park with reproductions of Mayan dwellings, a salt water lagoon,
offshore reefs, and underwater caves to explore. With a wide
white-sand beach and full facilities, it’s a favorite spot to
spend the day scuba diving or snorkeling to discover the sunken
Located near Playa del Carmen is the Ecological Theme Park, Xcaret,
a 250-acre site that includes Mayan ruins, lush landscaped grounds,
a botanical garden, and underwater river ride through a series of
caves. It’s somewhat touristy, but a nice place for families to
spend the entire day.
Because of the distance to the Mayan ruins you can tour from this
port stop (and the advantage of disembarking the ship in Playa del
Carmen), shore excursions are the best ways to reach Chichén Itzá,
Tulum, and the ruins at Cobá, a half hour drive northwest of Tulum.
I hope you have a wonderful cruise!
Is it unwise to book a
Caribbean cruise in September when Hurricane risk is highest? What
usually happens if there is a storm?
The official hurricane
season consumes a full six months of the year, from June 1st until
November 30th! While it is something to ponder in terms of comfort
and convenience, I wouldn't let it stand in my way of scheduling a
cruise during that time frame. Changes are, you'll never have a
Hurricanes build slowly and pick up speed, but by using modern
technology forecasters are able to predict and track them to a
certain degree. However, even the most up-to-the-minute devices
aren't perfect. Impossible as it is to say with one hundred percent
certainty exactly where they will hit, at least the National
Hurricane Center is able to issue advance warning to those in harms
way. On board your ship, course alterations are made as necessary to
avoid storms. If a hurricane has a tryst with one of your Caribbean
port stops, you might alter course to a different (and possibly more
I've sailed on Caribbean itineraries many times during hurricane
season and never experienced a storm. I hope this sets your mind at
We are looking into taking
the Disney Cruise with some friends in summer '04. Is it best to go
through Disney for the reservations or a travel agent? Are there
saving or other benefits one way or the other?
Contrary to what
conventional wisdom might suggest, cutting out the travel agent and
booking directly with a cruise line won't necessarily get you the
lowest price and best service. Cruise line reservation systems
simply aren't set up to deal with tens of thousands of direct calls
from potential passengers; however, they will usually take your
reservation and ask if you'd like to assign your booking to a travel
agent. Without an agent working on your behalf, you are on your own
if a problem arises. Also, if the cruise line lowers the fare for
your cruise, it will be up to you to discover it and request the
lesser amount yourself. A good agent will do that for you.
If you don't have a travel agent, you may wish to search for one on
the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) web site at www.cruising.org.
Travel agents who are affiliated with CLIA have completed a
demanding training program, including touring or sailing on a
specific number of ships. They've made it their business to know all
they can to serve their clients' needs.
I am getting married next
June and I was wondering what cruise is the most suitable for
honeymooners. We're looking for lots of fun but not too much noise,
exciting excursions, excellent food and of course the best rooms!
Congratulations on your
upcoming marriage! CruiseDiva.com recently highlighted our choices
for the Five
Most Romantic Ships and you might want to read that article to
get an idea of the various romantic aspects of cruises and specific
My choice would be any of Windstar Cruises' vessels and Wind Surf is
my favorite. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on Wind
Surf and agree that it was our most romantic. I would highly
For a larger, traditional ship, why not consider a "Love
Boat"? Princess ships are beautiful, offer a variety of dining
options, and their excursions are top notch. Although larger in
size, they feature intimate spaces and comfortable staterooms.
I am currently living in
Hawaii. My family is coming to visit and wants to take a cruise of
the islands. The only cruise line that departs and returns to Hawaii
is NCL. We have only cruised on RCCL. Is NCL a good line and is
their Hawaiin cruise worth the money? I have heard good things and
Naturally opinions vary and I've heard positives and
negatives. However, I personally have taken over a dozen very
satisfying cruises on Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). In many regards,
NCL is similar to Royal Caribbean, but NCL features "Freestyle
Cruising" which is more laid back--the dress code is
"resort casual" and no formal clothing is required
(however, there is an optional "formal dinner"). Plus, you
can choose to dine in any of the restaurants at the time convenient
for you. It's a much less structured cruise vacation.
One of the biggest complaints about a Hawaiian cruise on the
Norwegian Star is that she has to make a "detour" to
Fanning Island in order to satisfy the requirements of the Passenger
Services Act and that detracts from the time the ship can actually
spend cruising the Hawaiian Islands. On the other hand, any cruise
through Hawaii features a mere sample of what the Islands have to
Fares are presently very attractive and you may want to look into
booking your family cruise soon. Be aware that all passengers need
passports due to that Fanning Island port call. For a peek at the
Norwegian Star, you might want to look over the illustrated
preview on CruiseDiva.com. In addition, there are several
Norwegian Star cruise reviews you may wish to read.
been looking for a cruise that departs from New York and I'll I've
seen are cruises that go to Canada. Are there any cruise lines that
offer cruises to other places than Canada? Or any closer ports to
New York? Florida is a heck of a drive from Michigan!
Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn will soon begin
sailing year-around weekly cruises from NYC to Florida and the
Bahamas. If you can consider Baltimore as an embarkation port,
Celebrity Cruises' Galaxy offers 10- and 11-night Caribbean cruises
departing from there at least through the end of 2003.
Otherwise, your non-Canada itinerary choice is pretty much limited
to weekly Bermuda cruises during the summer season. Popular cruise
lines such as NCL, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity have regular
weekly sailings from both NYC and Boston. Some lines, such as
Carnival and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, will have a few select
dates on their schedules. Other cruise ships sometimes make a stop
in Bermuda during trans-Atlantic crossings.
I hope you find a cruise within comfortable driving distance. We
enjoy making the "road trip" to our embarkation port a fun
part of the total vacation.
Question: Recently, the
Travel Channel had an Alaskan cruise which offered a train trip
through a national park. Can you tell me the name of the cruise
company and the ship's name? Or, can you recommend an Alaska cruise
that offers passage by both ship and train. I am looking to cruise
in August. Thanks
Yes, that was Royal
Caribbean's ship Radiance of the Seas and the national park is
Denali. The focal point of Denali is Mount McKinley, commonly called
by its original Native name, “Denali,” meaning “the great
Other cruise lines that offer land-and-sea tour packages are Holland
America Line, Princess Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises. I recommend
that you get brochures from those cruise lines and compare the
features they offer to determine which will be the most personally
satisfying experience for you.
I will take a cruise this summer, but don't want to carry my
passport. Where can I take a cruise without my passport outside the
US? I heard Puerto Rico? Thank you.
Yes, you can certainly take many Caribbean cruises this year without
a passport. Americans currently need a certified birth certificate
and a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) as
proof of citizenship for most Caribbean itineraries, including
There has been some talk that passports will be required for all
travel at some future point, possibly as early as 2004. If you have
a passport, use it. It is the ultimate form of identification and
will speed you through airport and cruise port check in. Once you
are on your ship, leave your passport in your stateroom's safe. You
will likely need a picture ID when you go ashore, so you can carry
your driver's license. It's always a good idea to carry a copy of
your passport photo page with you at all times and also leave a copy
of it with a friend or relative at home.
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