Frequently Asked Cruising Questions
Should we get travel insurance?
We do not. About 10% of our clients do.
Do you have any suggestions or discounts set up for the airfare?
Please disregard our prior information on this question. We are getting all of our airfare through the group rates John Riddle at Dancfun has created for our students (866)DANCEFUN. We personally leave a day or two early and staying a few days later.
What about hurricanes?
Hurricanes come in a specific season. The cruises we book avoid the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico and other vulnerable locations.
What is included in the price?
- Shipboard accommodations
- Ocean transportation
- Most meals
- Some beverages
- Most entertainment aboard the vessel
- Airfare (we normally choose the group cruise line airfare as it is less expensive once considering any transfers to and from the ship, they guarantee getting our luggage to us at the next port should our luggage ever be lost, and they hold the SHIP, or fly us to the ship or next port if our flights are delayed!)
- Purchases and alcohol on board
Should I worry about signing up for excursions now?
We don’t. We sign up while on board the ship. The day before is usually plenty of time.
We like to talk with others at dinner (we all sit in the same general area in the same dining room, at the same time each night). We find out what others are doing, find out their tips and suggestions, and enjoy going on excursions with others.
There are very informative explanations on one of the ship TV channels which play over, and over, and over in the convenience of your own room. Some cruise lines even let you order the excursions ON your television.
Should we do the excursions by the cruise line or independently?
We’ve found out there is usually only a $5 if any difference, and it’s worth it. For three main reasons, it works out well: The convenience of booking on the the cruise ship, the convenience of the cruise line getting you to the excursion, and the guarantee the cruise line gives that the ship will not take off without you when on a cruise sanctioned excursion. The only exception is if you want to just see the town and be with a few friends. We have found it fun to jump in a cab at the port and make our own excursion.
We’ve been fortunate to have great drivers throughout the world, some of whom we actually keep in touch with! We’ve always negotiated a price BEFORE getting in the cab so there are no surprises after the fact. We either say where we want to go, or for how long and agree to a price before we leave the port. Keep in mind that air-conditioned cars are not the ‘norm’. We have paid more for the comfort of A/C.
What to pack and what to wear?
- Summer Clothes? Really? See pictures of the last Mexico cruise in January 2003. Although it may be difficult to think Summer as we hear the pounding of the raindrops outside, yes, that’s what we pack – Summer clothes. Ladies, sarongs and open toe-shoes, gentlemen Summer shirts and shorts. Of course we always bring pants and sweats for lounging (this is especially key for those with balcony cabins). We are bringing a light -weight windbreaker in case of rain. Think layers, but not heavy.To get an idea of the weather at this time of year, see pictures from the January, 2005 Mexico cruise on this page: http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/gata104/album?.dir=/8181&.src=ph&.tok=phjJVZCBlG9sRN.q
- How formal on Formal Night? We do tux and formal cocktail dress. This is our first time doing the “formal optional” cruising but we enjoy this special night – it’s great for pictures, too. There is one night that the entire group of 100+ of us will have a meeting place to have our picture taken by the someone on the cruise photography staff.
- What NOT to forget? Passport (we use the Post Office to apply or renew and give ourselves 8 weeks prior to submit). In your purse to carry on the ship (not in luggage as it won’t arrive at your room for a while).A swimsuit & flip flops.Wear or bring a shirt that can double as a cover-up.Why? Because when getting on the ship, so many people are waiting for their luggage and are in their heavy clothes sitting out on the pool deck. Why not be prepared and run to the restroom and come out with your swimsuit, cover-up, flip-flops? You’re ready to order a foofy drink with an umbrella in it!Gum or mints for dance classes (on board shops are closed until we set sail, and ports do not often have gum/mints we are used to in the states) Bring a bunch of your favorite with you.SlippersA bottle of wine or cigars amidst your clothes(We didn’t tell you that, though).
MULTIPLE pair of dance shoes. The ship is big. You will be walking from your cabin to and from your classes and dances. There is a lot of walking (on carpet) in addition to the dancing on wood, linoleum or marble. More than one swimsuit and/or light-weight, casual lounging outfits.
Your pillow/pillowcase if it makes you feel at homeSpecial toiletries for pampering… the stuff you don’t have time to enjoy when at home in the rat-race. We enjoy taking our time getting ready on cruise vacations. Note: Most rooms are equipped with showers only.
Battery operated alarm clock
Laptop (our suggestion is to buy pre-paid minutes for your wireless laptop and then you can operate in your own room). In Europe and parts of the Caribbean the connections (even satellite wi-fi) can be spotty. We found it best to get up early once we’re in a port. It can work out at sea, but it can often take longer (use up your wireless minutes).
Cell phone (please contact your provider if you plan to use your cell phone, i-phone or your internet on your phone. There are international plans that you can usually buy for one week or one month which will give you the access for the days you are away, but you do not need to pay for the plan for an unlimited time.
Passport or Birth Certificate AND Photo I.D.Paperwork “Advanced Guest Registration” FILLED-OUT (if not already done online or faxed to NCL)Luggage Tags secured to your luggage before leaving
REMINDER:When airline flights are involved in our cruise: The weight limit is now 50 lbs. per piece of luggage. It is very easy to go over. To avoid the $25 per bag fine, and to better ensure they get there on time, we have found it better to pack many smaller luggage bags. In addition, we pack heavy shoes, lotions, etc. in the smaller bags. We try to pack the light things in the large bag and the heavier things in the smaller bags. Hope that helps!
- What TO forget. Heavy clothing. We don’t bring jeans, but that’s just us. We like being in the tropical mindset.Bathrobe – they have one waiting for you in the cabin.
Be prepared for DAY ONE
Day one can be a PAIN in the arse! So just be prepared… the day will go:
- Limo (fun)
- The line at the port (kinda fun?)
- The Passport & Advanced Guest Registration to the registration desk (dull – unless, of course, one of us is illegal, which in that case could make for some great pictures!… but not likely – count on “dull”)
- Room (can be 10 minutes of “fun” for couples, but count on dropping in exhaustion).
- At this point we can all go eat! (fun)
- Announcement over the loud speaker: “This is a drill. Please put on your life jackets located in your stateroom and walk to your reporting station” Think Titanic and you’ll get the picture.Crowds trying to get to their appointed little boats attached to the side of the ship. Yes, crowds, yes, everyone trying to use the elevators simultaneously, yes, crowded staircases and families yelling at each other in exhaustion… all of the above.We’ve found bringing a camera helps lighten the atmosphere.There’s hardly a better blackmail picture than a restrained friend trapped in one of these obnoxious orange straight-jackets called a “life jacket”. Take a camera! THAT’S THE WORST PART. THEN YOU’RE HOME FREE! It’s 100% FUN from the moment the bell sounds and the drill is over – FUN, FUN, FUN!
How many students usually come to this? See a usual group of us below:
- On Board – Duty Free. Duty Free on board has some nice deals – of course “Duty Free” means “tax free”, but this only applies when out at sea. In addition, the casinos are closed when at port. The stores include Jewelry, Clothing, Logo Items, Perfumes, etc. These shops are closed when we are in port.
- On the Mexican Riviera we’ve found that each port has many of the same trinket things… but the last port is when there’s a mad dash to get souvenirs for loved ones back home. We find it just as easy to buy as we go as the last port will likely not have anything SUPER SPECTACULAR we couldn’t have found (for probably a better price) at one of the earlier ports. So, as a friend says, when you find it, buy it.
- Daily use items from each port. Not always easy to find a Target, Savon or comparable – it’s better to just find what you need on board. Any alcohol purchased at the Duty Free is not available for pick up until the last day when leaving the ship. Most people who want to buy alcohol purchase it while at a port and find ways to confiscate it on board in Sparklettes or Soda bottles. (We’ve never tried this, of course, but that’s what we’ve been told)
- Massage and Facial Services. When taking advantage of these services we normally wait until a few days in when they might offer special discounts or additional free services. The one draw-back we’ve encountered is it can feel like a “Tupperware Party for One Guest” when they start trying to sell you every product they’ve used on you before you leave. If we’ve been polite to say ‘no’ they are too… not too many arm-wrestling knock-downs have occurred. Again, if you anticipate one, please bring your camera – we want the pictures!
- With the exception of the massages, we have found that the services range from a B to a C+ in terms of quality. The spa massages have been incredible and give you full use of the spa (private jacuzzi) before and after your massage. I always try to get all of my manicure, pedicure, waxing, etc. done before leaving. Hope this helps!
Should we exchange our money before we leave for the foreign currency of the country(ies) we are visiting?
We do not. We have found a few tricks when it comes to money exchange:
- We use our ATM over seas. What comes out of the ATM on shore is THAT COUNTRY’ S currency. We just take out what we need at each port for taxi, etc.
- We use CCard or ATM/CCard to pay for most things. In this way the Credit Card company
- When asking to pay in dollars in a foreign country, they most often charge you more and give you a terrible exchange rate (with the exception of Mexico)
- The ATM on board the ship gives dollars (US Currency)
- The Pursers Desk on board gives a terrible exchange rate.
- Any currencies not used on the trip can be spent at most any Duty Free store in the airport before leaving, or on flights with the in-flight Duty Free Shopping.
- In Europe most countries are using the Euro. Croatia is still using the Cunta and their exchange is closer to what the Peso is to the Dollar, so it is very important in Croatia to use a credit card to pay for meals, etc. or go by an ATM to pull out come of their currency. In this way you’re insured of getting the most for your money.