The Nation's Leading Professionals in Cruise Travel since 1990

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Cruise Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Back to Booked Clients

Getting Started With a Cruise

Q. I keep hearing about booking early and getting a better price. Should I?
A. Yes, because the cruise lines want to sell out the ship early and will offer better discounts early on and before the ship starts to fill. The earlier you book, the better the savings and the better the cabin location. Remember, on all the modern ships most of the cabins are the same size and design, but where they are located it important to your comfort and convenience. With The Cruise Outlet, if the price is reduced after booking, we guarantee you the new lower rate.
Q. What do I pack?
A. For Southern cruises, you can pack light. Cotton shorts, loose shirts, sandals, walking shoes, athletic shoes and a swimsuit will comprise most of your on board wardrobe. Sunglasses and a hat or sun visor are also a good idea. There’s normally at least one formal night when cocktail dresses are recommended for the ladies, and the men wear a jacket and tie or tuxedo. On the informal evenings, just about anything but shorts is fine.
Q. Are there any limitations to luggage?
A. Each person is allowed up to 200 pounds of personal luggage on board the ship. However, if you are traveling by air, your airline might have different restrictions. Please contact the airline for such information. Suitcases should not be locked unless they have a TSA locking system. Items such as medications, jewelry or other valuables, and important documents should be hand-carried. The cruise lines do not assume responsibility for loss or damage of these items.
Q. What travel requirements and forms of identification are needed?
A. Passports are required for all Cruises that visit a foreign country. Passport expiration date must not occur within six (6) months of voyage termination date. No refunds will be given to individuals who fail to have the required documentation.
Q. When can I board?
A. Embarkation normally begins at 1:00 pm. Passengers must be onboard no later than 60 minutes before the scheduled sailing time. It is the passenger’s responsibility to arrive on time. Please note that for security reasons passengers are not allowed to bring guests onboard. Check the brochure for your specific ship and sailing.
Q. Can passage be refused?
A. Passage may be refused to any passenger, and their cruise terminated at any time, at the risk and expense of the passenger. The ship’s Captain or physician deems a passenger unfit for travel, a risk or danger to themself or a disturbance or danger to others. Such passenger may be left at any port or place at which the ship calls without any liability to the cruise line. The cruise lines shall not be required to refund any amount paid by any passenger who must leave the cruise prematurely for any other reason set forth above or otherwise, nor shall the cruise lines be responsible for lodging, meals, return transportation or other expenses incurred by the passenger.
Q. Can minors cruise unaccompanied?
A. Each cruise line has their own set of rules in regard to a minor traveling. Check the brochure of the cruise line you are sailing on for the specific rules or we can find out for you when you book your cruise.
Q. Is it possible to have a family reunion on a cruise ship?
A. Family reunions are becoming more and more popular onboard a ship. There are facilities for meetings every day, have meals together, private parties and best of all participation in the many activities and programs onboard. There is something for everyone. Let us advise you which ship would be best for your family's needs.
Q. What if I am traveling with a group?
A. Persons traveling with a group should consult their Group Leader or Coordinator for deposit, payment and cancellation information. Terms and conditions for persons traveling with a group are different from individual bookings.

Medical Issues While On A Cruise

Q. What about passengers with special needs?
A. The Cruise Lines welcome passengers with special needs and work hard to assist them throughout their vacation. To receive appropriate assistance, you must inform us, in writing at the time of booking of any special medical or physical need and other relevant information, including wheelchair assistance, etc. Passengers with special needs should be self-sufficient, and it is recommended that they travel with a companion to provide any required assistance. Tendering may prevent passengers with wheelchairs from going ashore at certain ports of call.


All passengers must insure that they are medically and physically fit for travel and that such traveling will not endanger themselves or others. Any condition requiring medical treatment or attention must be reported to the cruise line in writing when the booking is requested or, if such condition arises after the booking is requested, prior to the embarkation date for that passenger’s cruise.

Passengers dependent on oxygen or requiring oxygen therapy must meet certain requirements prior to boarding the vessel. Professional medical services are available for a reasonable fee. Normally, at least one qualified physician and a registered nurse are on board the Ships.

Most Cruise Lines will not accept passengers who will have entered their third trimester of pregnancy by the beginning of their vacation.

While On Board Your Cruise

Q. Can I change my cabin?
A. Passengers desiring to transfer to higher priced accommodations, which may be available during embarkation or after sailing, may do so by paying, in cash or traveler’s checks, the difference in published full cruise prices if there is a cabin available.
Q. How do I pay for onboard purchases?
A. For the passenger’s convenience, almost all cruiselines have a Cashless Society. This allows you to charge all onboard purchases simply by presenting your validated passenger cruise card which is issued to you upon boarding. Your charges will be billed automatically to you’re your credit card allowing for fast and convenient disembarkation. On the last morning of your cruise, an itemized, carefully audited statement of your account will be delivered to your stateroom for verification. The charge is used for all purchases on board except for those few instances where they require cash such as gratuities (other than bar and wine service), casino and foreign exchange. Traveler’s checks may be cashed at the Purser’s desk.
Q. What about dining?
A. When you make your cruise reservations, you may indicate your preference for main or second seating. Your seating time will be noted on your cruise ticket for most cruise lines and your "passenger cruise card" will indicate your pre-assigned table number. In addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight buffets, complimentary 24-hour cabin service is also available for the convenience of all passengers.
Q. What are the tipping guidelines?
A. The cruiselines encourage passengers to recognize excellence. The following amounts are suggestions. Dining room waiters and cabin stewards are typically tipped $3.50 per passenger per day; assistant waiters, $1.75 per passenger per day. PLEASE NOTE: A 15% gratuity will be added to bar and wine checks. On many cruiselines, tips are automatically added to your onboard account at the end of the week in order to make it easier on the passenger. This amount can be modified very easily by just advising the Purser of your desire.
Q. What about alcoholic beverages?
A. The cruiselines reserves the right to refuse sale and/or service of alcoholic beverages to passengers under 18 years of age while at sea or the applicable legal age limitation while in port.
Q. Is smoking allowed in public spaces?
A. Most ships have designated smoking and non-smoking areas throughout the ship. The Dining Rooms are almost ALL non smoking. Pipe and cigar smoking is permitted only in designated areas and the outer decks. All showrooms are non-smoking during performances.
Q. Is babysitting available?
A. Most cruise lines offer baby-sitting services for a small fee. Ask for information at the purser’s desk.
Q. What kind of communication facilities are available?
A. You can telephone, telex, radiogram, e-mail, or fax to anywhere in the world and you will be billed at applicable ship-to-shore rates. The most economical way for someone to contact you on a ship is to call 1-800-SEA-CALL. They will need the ship name, your cabin number and your name. Many cell phone providers are now able to connect with the cruise ships while at sea. Check with your provider and well as the cruise line brochure for more information.
Q. Do the cruise ships have computers and e-mail facilities?
A. Most ships have Conference Centers, Internet Centers with e-mail capabilities.
Q. What About Shore Excursions?
A. If you have booked at least (30) days prior to sailing, complete descriptions of shore excursions will be provided to you with your cruise documents. Shore excursions are available for purchase aboard ship. These may also be purchased via the cruiselines Web site. During local or national holidays abroad, certain facilities such as museums, sightseeing tours and shopping may be limited.


Q. What does my price include?
A. The price of your cruise includes shipboard accommodations, ocean transportation, meals and most entertainment aboard the vessel. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy of the stateroom, and are quoted in U.S. dollars. Your price does not include port fees, service charges, government taxes, air transportation, transfers or items of a personal nature, such as shore excursions, carbonated and alcoholic beverages, photographs, gratuities, medical services, etc.
Q. How much is my deposit and when is final payment due?
A. Deposits vary by cruise line and sailing. The Cruise Line brochure will denote the exact deposit required.
Q. When do I have to pay the balance for my trip?
A. Final payments are due between 60 and 90 days prior to the sailing. Each cruise line has a specific requirement. Our confirmations contain all the specific information.
Q. If I have to cancel my cruise, will I receive a refund?
A. There are cancellation and processing fees in regarding canceling your cruise by us, as well as, the cruise line. These fees vary based upon when you cancel and the cruise line. Our Confirmation and the Cruise Line Brochure outline the fees if applicable.
Q. I have been told to take travel insurance. Is it worth it?
A. There are many different insurance programs, but a couple of very good ones for cruising cover trip and travel delay and carrier default, if you have to cancel for illness or injury. For a cruise or vacation package where you are spending few thousand dollars or more, the cruise lines have penalties if you cancel.
Q. What about advanced or delayed sailings and changes in itinerary?
A. In the event of strikes, lockouts, local riots, weather conditions, mechanical difficulties or for any other reason whatsoever, The cruise lines may at any time and without prior notice cancel, advance, postpone, or deviate from any scheduled sailing or port of call and may, but are not obliged to, substitute another vessel or port of call, and shall not be liable for any loss whatsoever to passengers by reason of such cancellation, advancement, postponement, deviation, or substitution. The cruiselines shall not be responsible for any failure to adhere to the arrival and departure times published in the brochure for any of its ports of call. The passengers’ safety is their first concern and many times depending on the situation, compensation will be provided.

Legal Issues

Q. How are disputes settled?
A. Any dispute between a passenger and the cruise lines in connection with a passenger's cruise booking shall be litigated, if at all, in and before a court located in Miami, Florida, U.S.A., to the exclusion of the courts of any other state, territory or country.
Q. What is the cruise line’s liability?
A. The cruise line is not responsible for omissions or negligence of any independent contractors not affiliated with the cruise line, such as air carriers, hotels, shore excursion providers, restaurants, transportation providers, medical personnel or other providers of services or facilities. Under no circumstances does the cruise line’s responsibility extend beyond the vessel. All arrangements made for the passengers with independent contractors are made solely for the convenience of the passenger. The cruise lines disclaims all liability for damages for emotional distress, mental suffering or psychological injury of any kind, under any circumstances except to the extent such disclaimer is prohibited by 46U.S.C.183c(b.).
Q. What is the passenger’s liability?
A. Each passenger agrees to indemnify the cruise lines for all penalties, losses, or expenses incurred or imposed upon the cruise lines by violation of law by the passenger. In the event of a willful act of neglect, the passenger will be held liable for any damages incurred.
Q. What about my personal property?
A. Property lost or damaged should be reported to either the purser’s desk or to a designated cruise line employee prior to leaving the U.S. Customs area. In the event of property loss or damage, report it as soon as you can. Refer to you cruise ticket contract for the time limitations on reporting missing property. Valuable items may be deposited for safekeeping at the purser’s desk.

Whether carried or contained in luggage, the cruise lines will not allow dangerous articles such as controlled substances, firearms, explosives or combustible substances to be brought on board. Additionally, the cruise line has the right to refuse any item they deem inappropriate.

No animals are permitted on board with the exception of service animals for passengers with special needs.

In the absence of negligence on its part, the cruise line is not responsible for any loss, theft or damage to a passenger’s property. The cruise Line’s liability is usually limited to $300 per passenger and in accordance with the provisions in the cruise ticket contract.
Q. What are my customs allowances?
A. U.S. citizens are allowed a certain dollar amount worth of merchandise when returning to the United States from abroad. Passengers over the age of 21 may also bring back 1 quart of liquor or wine and 200 cigarettes. The cruiselines will advise you onboard the ship, or you may check with your local US Customs office.