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Cruises FAQ

I assume the cruise line will give me the best price?

Sorry but that’s a bad assumption. The cruise line cannot sell any cruise for less than Cruise800. In fact, often times, you can get a lower price from us. And when it comes to service, well there is no comparison. Cruise 800 looks at you as a personal client, not a reservation. You can either call the cruise line and be placed on hold, for who knows how long, or contact your personal travel partner at Cruise 800 and get all your questions answered quickly and professionally.

What does a quote include?

When you get a quote for the cost of a trip, make sure you understand the bottom line. It’s important you know if the quote includes EVERYTHING. You certainly don’t want any surprise charges. Quotes are usually on a per person basis. First let’s look at what’s included in a cruise quote. There are always three basic parts. 1. The cost of the cruise itself. 2. Any port fees (the cost added to each passengers fare for docking the ship at the pier). 3. The government taxes and fees. Most of the time the port fees are included but not always. Government taxes are not included because they can vary on a regular basis. A lower price may be misleading, as it may not include everything. The price you are quoted at Cruise 800 will always include the port fees and government taxes. Now there are additional costs that should be considered, such as transportation to the port of embarkation and your onboard staff gratuities. Be specific as to whether you want these included in your quoted price. If the cruise line is handling your air transportation to the port of departure, the cost of the air fare portion will usually be quoted separately and will affect the cost of the government taxes and fees. Transfers will be included. Be very clear on this point, because whether the cost of the air is included or not, is often the easiest place for a serious misunderstanding. Some agencies may automatically include travel insurance but you may not want the travel insurance policy they included. There’s more information on this subject below.

What do you get on board for the money you paid?

Included in your cruise price are most all of your food, entertainment shows, dance lounges and use of most facilities. On many cruise ships there are specialty restaurants, which will charge a fee but these are totally optional. At your normal dining meals, and most times during the day, juices, milk, coffee and tea are available at no charge. If you would like to partake of alcoholic beverages, bottled water, or soft drinks (on most ships) expect to pay extra for them. You can also pre-purchase “beverage packages”, which include anything from soft drinks to premium alcoholic drinks. Your travel agent can give you all the information on the various packages.

What else will I pay for on board?

The cruise staff that takes care of your every need makes their living from gratuities. On board gratuities are generally given to your restaurant and stateroom staff. Usually these gratuities will be automatically added to your room charges; however, if for some reason you do not feel the staff earned the amount suggested (generally $13.50 per person, per day) these gratuities are not mandatory. You can always go to the purser’s desk to adjust these gratuities if so desired. You can also expect to pay additional for services of a personal nature such as a visit to the beauty salon, receiving a massage, a trip to the ship’s casino, or the photos and portraits from the ship’s photographer. You don’t have to buy the photos or portraits so it costs you nothing to let them take your picture. Shore excursions are also additional. These excursions can vary greatly in price and description. It is highly suggested that you take the time to research the types of shore excursions that may be of interest. Lots of information is available on the cruise line’s website. Be aware however, that the operators of these excursions are subcontractors hired by the cruise line and the cruise line is not responsible for your enjoyment. Finally any shopping you decide to do on board the ship will be extra. And understand that all purchases are subject to U.S. Customs duty and taxes. You are limited to the amount of merchandise you can bring back home depending on the location you purchased it, so know the limitations before you buy. The salesperson may be only concerned with making the sale and not your duty free limit.

What should I consider when choosing the type of stateroom?

There are three basic types of staterooms: an inside or interior stateroom; an outside or ocean view stateroom; and a balcony stateroom. They can generally accommodate up to 4 people, with some ships accommodating up to 5 passengers. With the release of the new ship designs, it has gotten a little more confusing. Each kind of stateroom is divided into categories, which will affect the price. Let’s try and explain.

An interior stateroom is simply a room with no window and are so named because they are located inside the corridors of the ship. These type staterooms are generally the least expensive; however, passengers in these rooms are afforded the exact same amenities as those in any other type stateroom. These rooms are great for people who need plenty of darkness for sleeping and are price conscious. However, an alarm clock would be handy since you can’t tell whether it’s night or day when you awake. The newer ships feature interior staterooms with windows, and even some with a lanai, which overlook the promenade on the lower levels.

Ocean view staterooms are located on the exterior of the ship. They are called ocean view because they have a window which allows you to look outside. With the newer designed ships, these rooms are generally located on the lower decks; however, there are oceanview staterooms on some ships that provide what they call a panoramic view. They can be located on some of the upper decks, many times in the front of the ship. Inexperienced cruisers may think the rooms located on the lower decks are under the surface of the water. That’s not the case. And be aware that the window may vary in size from a port hole to a picture window. The size of the window will be determined by the category selected. These rooms are good for those who want an economical price but are a little claustrophobic. The window provides a glimpse into the day ahead and makes your cabin feel more like home.

A balcony stateroom is laid out the same as the other categories of staterooms with the exception that it has a small balcony to which you have access. Depending on the category, the size of the balcony will vary. These type staterooms are generally the most expensive; however, many feel the opportunity to spend a romantic evening in the moonlight or seeing spectacular scenery from your private veranda is worth the added cost. The newer ships have expanded the balcony category to include suites. These are larger balcony rooms with added amenities. There are also family staterooms that can accommodate a greater number of people. Your Cruise 800 travel professional can help you sort out all the options.

Why are there so many categories within the same type of stateroom?

That’s a really good question! I guess the best answer is marketing! The lower the location of the stateroom on the ship, the less expensive it will be. As you move up to the higher decks, the price will generally move up with you. Most folks want to be on the higher decks and the cruise lines understand that so they can charge a higher price for those cabins. But if you are prone to motion sickness, a stateroom on a higher deck may sound enticing but may not be the best idea. More on that under the question about motion sickness.

What should I consider when choosing my stateroom?

The location of your stateroom is a very important decision. Although the passenger staterooms are generally located on specific decks, public rooms may also be interspersed on those decks. You should be aware of where your stateroom is located in connection with the public rooms. If you tend to turn in early, you probably don’t want a stateroom above, below or near the disco. If you have difficulty walking, you want to try and get a stateroom near an elevator. You should know that often times the staterooms on higher decks are the same size as those on the lower decks but the higher deck staterooms are generally more expensive. Your cruise specialist will help you in choosing the proper stateroom.

Does a guaranteed stateroom mean I have an assigned stateroom?

In a word, NO! Most of the time when you book a cruise, you will have a stateroom assigned to you. You can look at the ship’s deck plan and see where your stateroom is located. You specify your request and your Cruise 800 travel professional will work tirelessly to get you near the location you desire. However, a stateroom guarantee means you will not know the location of your stateroom until just before sailing. The cruise line will determine which stateroom you will occupy. Generally these type staterooms are less expensive; however, you could end up right above the disco or show lounge, which could get rather noisy. And remember if you’re traveling with friends or family, there is no guarantee your staterooms will be near each other let alone on the same deck. We can help you evaluate all your options. That’s the value of a travel professional. You should be careful because often times, someone will try and lure you in with a low price and you then find out it’s actually for a stateroom guarantee.

What about an upgrade?

An upgrade is probably the most over-used and over-rated word in the cruise industry. If you are assigned a specific stateroom, the odds of getting a free upgrade are remote. And exactly what is an upgrade? It means you pay for a certain category stateroom and possibly get a higher priced stateroom. But the upgrade is within the same category of stateroom. In other words, an interior stateroom to an interior stateroom – ocean view to an ocean view, etc. An upgrade does not mean you will go from an interior stateroom to a balcony stateroom. And many times the “upgrade” is included in the price given by the travel supplier in the beginning.

When is the best time to book a cruise?

NOW! You figured we would say that didn’t you? But it’s true and here’s why. It is not unusual for some cruises to sell out almost a year in advance. Cruise lines used to offer great last minute sales; however, with the increase in security, this is becoming increasingly rare. Also the cruise lines are trying to honor the early booking clients by not lowering the rates. In most cases, the price of a cabin will go up the closer you get to the sailing date. For best pricing and availability, we suggest booking as early as possible, especially if you’re booking a holiday sailing, spring break sailing, any sailing from June through mid-August or when multiple parties are traveling together. We recommend at least 9-12 months; longer if you want a balcony or suite, or need a cabin for more than two persons. And we make you this pledge: if you book a cruise with Cruise 800 and the price of that cruise goes down, we will do everything in our power to get you that lower rate. If the price goes up, you’re locked in at the lower rate. It’s a win-win situation.

You call yourself a concierge travel agency. What does that mean?

When you think of the term “concierge”, it brings to mind a person that will take care of your every need. Well that’s what our “Concierge Travel Agency” does for you. There’s more to taking a vacation than just making a reservation and writing a check. What citizenship documentation do you need? Are there forms that need to be filled out prior to departure? Do you want insurance and if so, what’s the best plan? These, and many more, concerns are just a few of the things taken care of by Cruise 800. In a nutshell, you can relax and let us worry about the details, even down to the smallest ones.

Is a cruise vacation safe?

According to the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard, a cruise is among the safest of travel options. Of course that’s contrary to what the media would have you believe. All passengers’ photographs are taken and put into a security system, which is used to verify identities as passengers exit and enter the ship. Passengers are also subject to metal detection every time they board the ship and all luggage is screened prior to being loaded onto the ship. You may also have heard about travelers getting sick with the norovirus on board cruise ships. The likelihood of getting a virus on board a cruise ship is no better or worse than anywhere else. Any time you have a lot of people in a confined area, such as an office building, school, vacation resort, nursing home or church, you run the risk of getting flu like symptoms from incidental contact. The best defense against catching the norovirus, or even the flu, is to wash your hands frequently. Almost all cruise ships have hand sanitizers placed at the gangway and at other locations throughout the ship. The media loves to sensationalize the reports but in fact, the number of cases on board cruise ships represents less than .01% of all cruise passengers annually.

Is a cruise vacation family friendly?

Some of the most satisfied passengers are the kids! Most major cruise lines have special children’s programs separated into specific age groups and all are run by children’s’ counselors with college degrees. And children, who represent the third or fourth person in the stateroom, travel at a reduced rate, so you save money as well! Your children will be busy for much of day and best of all, the cruise staff looks after them, freeing you up to enjoy your vacation too!

What citizenship documentation will I need?

At the present time you do not need a passport to cruise, as long as your cruise ship leaves from and returns to a U.S. port. In that case, you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate and a government issued identification card, such as a driver’s license. However, should you need to return to the U.S. from a foreign port before your cruise ends (such as a family or personal emergency), getting back into the U.S. will be extremely difficult without a passport *Book* (passports cards are not valid for air travel, so Never buy the cheaper passport “card”). A traditional “Passport Book” is required for all air travel to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Our suggestion would be to go forward and apply for a passport. They’re good for 10 years. You should also apply well in advance of your trip as the processing time can be as long as 6 to 8 weeks. Your cruise 800 travel professional will be able to advise you of the documentation needs. You may also click here for additional information. Click on traveling to the Caribbean and then on FAQ’s.

How do I know if I’m getting a bargain?

Well known author and businessman Harvey McKay wrote a book entitled “Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt”. So beware of those so called bargains. Just about everyone is offering a discount on a cruise vacation. As we mentioned before, a cruise vacation is an investment that you’ve worked very hard to obtain. So how do you know when a bargain is really a bargain? First, the lowest price may not be a bargain at all, if you choose the wrong cruise ship. The last thing you want to do is be miserable on your second day of a 7-night cruise. Pick your cruise ship carefully. That’s why it’s a good idea to speak with a specially trained cruise consultant at Cruise 800. Our agents have been on the ships and sell from experience, not from a brochure. Watch out for those low, low cruise prices. You know the ones that look too good to be true. Chances are, they are. It’s the oldest sales trick in the book. And a cheap price isn’t always the final price. Remember there can be additional hidden charges. At Cruise 800, the price you’re quoted is the price you pay. Additional charges aren’t added on after your reservation is made. What makes Cruise 800 different from all the rest is our outstanding customer service and that adds significant value to your vacation investment.

What About Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness is a legitimate concern for some people, but cruise ships have what’s called stabilizers, which help to smooth out the ride. In most cases, you don’t even realize you’re on a ship. First, let’s talk about why you get sick in the first place. Your inner ear is your sense of balance and it can determine that the ship is moving. However because you are inside the ship, you’re moving with the ship so your brain says you’re not moving. Those two things in conflict cause motion sickness. So if you are extremely prone to motion sickness, you don’t want an interior stateroom. What to do? There are ways to combat the discomfort. Often times all you need to do is watch the horizon and then your brain says, “Hey, we are moving!” But for others, some people will wear the patch behind the ear but it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects. Others will take Dramamine, although we have heard from clients that they liked Bonine a little better because they didn’t suffer as many side effects. Motion sickness bracelets are also used. And there are natural methods such as eating ginger cookies or taking ginger pills, sucking on a peppermint candy or drinking peppermint tea. It seems there are as many ways to overcome motion sickness as there are opinions. So here’s our opinion, ignore it. The more you think about it, the more you’ll talk yourself into it.

How can I make a reservation?

A: Call the professional, friendly travel agent staff at Cruise 800 at 1-800-285-1133 or 513-530-3133. When booking with your travel consultant, you can hold a reservation with the promise to send a check for the deposit. Deposits typically range from $200 to $500 per person, based on length of trip and destination. Placing a full deposit on a reservation is the only way to guarantee the rate you have been quoted will not change, and to ensure you reserve a specific location on your tour or at your resort. Each traveler, whether child or adult, is subject to the deposit requirement.

Once your reservation has been made, there are two important dates to remember: the deposit due date and the final payment date. If we do not receive your deposit by the due date, the price and location of your room can be affected or expire. Different properties and tour companies will hold a reservation for different lengths of time without a deposit. They may give you a 5-7 day option for travel far enough in the future. However, if it is for a date within a few weeks, you might only get a few hours option. The other important date to remember is the final payment date. This is when the final balance on your vacation is due. Failure to make that payment may result in you losing your deposit and space at your resort or tour. At Cruise 800, you can cancel your reservation before the final payment date and get a full refund of all monies paid. We don’t charge an administrative fee. Your travel agent will be in continuous contact with you about all due dates, cancellation timelines and every other detail imaginable so that you have complete control over your vacation. Any and all questions you may have about this are completely welcome, as we want you to be “in the know” when you travel with the experts at Cruise 800.

What is the difference between traditional passport books and the new passport 'card'?

A: It’s important to know that a passport *Book* is required for all air travel to Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda.  There are also strict requirements for travel to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and South America.  A passport “card” is useless for these trips, and is only for people who drive across Canadian or Mexican borders for work or other regular reasons.  A passport Book is for travelers like you, and passport cards are worthless for 99% of vacation travel.

Our suggestion would be to go forward and apply for a passport book as soon as you know you want to travel outside the U.S.  Passport books are good for 10 years for anyone 16-years old and up.  They are good for 5 years for children 15-years old and younger.  You should also apply well in advance of your trip as the processing time can be as long as 6 to 12 weeks.  Your Cruise 800 travel professional will be able to advise you of the documentation needs.  IMPORTANT: If applying for or renewing a passport and you normally wear glasses, you must remove your glasses for your passport photo.  As of November 1, 2016, the U.S. State Department no longer accepts any passport photo of an individual wearing glasses.

If you are taking a cruise, you do not need a passport as long as your cruise ship leaves and returns to a U.S. port.  In that case, you will need a certified copy of your birth certificate and a government issued photo ID, such as a drivers license.  However, should you need to return to the U.S. from a foreign port before your cruise ends (such as a family or personal emergency), getting back into the U.S. will be extremely difficult without a passport.  That’s why we highly suggest a passport.  You may also click here to visit the U.S. Department of State for additional information about passport requirements for travel outside the United States.  Our travel agents are also able to provide you with specific information about passports and visas you may need for your particular destination, anywhere in the world.

How do we pay for our vacation?

A: One of two ways: credit card or check. Most people prefer to pay with a credit card. The payment information we process is typically charged directly to your travel provided, not us. Remember it should be the cruise line that debits your credit card, not the travel agency. Paying by check can be a bit more complicated and risky, because timing could become an issue if your check is late or delayed beyond your control. As long as you let your travel agent know in advance, we can work with you and even set up a payment plan so that nothing falls through the cracks.

All travel companies have established cancellation guidelines and penalties, which are strictly followed. Cancellation policies do vary by vendor, so it is important that you familiarize yourself with the guidelines and penalties of your specific operator. Like other Terms and Conditions related to your trip, the cancellation policy can be found on their website, or simply ask us for a copy of all the details. Cancellation penalties are imposed on a chronological basis so the closer you get to your departure date, the higher the penalty assessed.

It is important to note that these penalties are imposed by the vendors we use and are not influenced in any way by Cruise 800. That’s why travel protection is so important. Our staff will discuss travel insurance with you prior to your final payment so you have all the tools necessary to protect your investment of travel costs.

Deciding not to get insurance and accepting the risk is a personal decision. But, accepting the risk and then trying to go back to the supplier and plead a special case is much like trying to talk an Auto Insurance Company to retroactively give you collision damage coverage after you’ve had your auto accident!