Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?
Answer: Yes, you will need a passport, even if you are doing a British Isles cruise from a UK Port. It is very important that you ensure your passport will still have 6 months validity on the last day of the cruise. One exception to this rule is that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines will allow you to use an alternative Photo ID on cruises around the UK & Ireland.
Question: Do you sell travel insurance?
Answer: To ensure that you get a policy which covers all your requirements, we have selected Holiday Extras as our preferred travel insurance provider. For a bespoke policy, which can cover pre-existing conditions, and travel up to the age of 85, call 08000931900 and please quote reference AH383 (Ian from GoCruise) or go online
Question: Do I have to dress up in a suit and tie every night on a cruise?
Answer: The dress code varies for each cruise line, with some having perhaps a couple of formal nights each week, and others where it is casual every night. Part of helping to find the right cruise for you, is checking to see what you are comfortable with.
Question: How do I find car parking and hotels near airports, or ocean ports?
Answer: Holiday Extras have contracts with hotels and car parks at just about every airport in the UK, as well as the ports of Southampton and Dover. They also offer other services such as lounge passes and currency cards. Call 08009775171 and please quote reference AH383 (Ian from GoCruise)
Question: How much do shore excursions cost on a cruise?
Answer: There isn’t an easy answer to this question, as costs vary from cruise line to cruise line, and also vary depending on which country you are in and how long the excursion last for. There are number of ocean cruise links which include excursions in the cost of the cruise, such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Swan Hellenic and Viking Oceans. Shore excursions do not have to be purchased from the cruise line you are with, and you can purchase them in advance, with a guarantee to get you back to the ship in time. If you want to have a look at the sort of prices involved, which can offer a big saving over cruise line prices, then click on the following link Shore Excursions. When you are looking at river cruises, most of them include a programme of excursions in the cost of the cruise.
Question: What is the situation about paying gratuities or tips on cruises?
Answer: Policies vary, as well as the amounts in question. Many of the luxury cruise lines include gratuities so you don’t need to pay any extra. Others tend to add a daily amount to your onboard account, which you can have amended or removed by asking at reception, while some still leave it entirely up to you to give what you want to who you want.
Question: Is cruising suitable for families with children?
Answer: Many of today’s larger ships offer an amazing amount of activities to keep children of all ages occupied, including P&O Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises to name just three. They have Children’s Clubs for different age groups, with fully qualified staff to run them. Some of the smaller and perhaps older ships, will take children, but don’t have organised activities for them. Bear in mind that not all cabins have the beds to take 3 or 4 passengers, so they do tend to get booked up earlier, especially in school holidays. There are a number of ‘adult only’ ships as well, for anyone who wants a child free experience onboard.
Question: Will I feel seasick on a cruise?
Answer: This will of course vary from person to person. Modern cruise ships are built with stability in mind, and have very good stabilisers. The ship’s Captain will of course do what he can to avoid any rough weather, as his aim will be the comfort and safety of everyone onboard. You can buy many over the counter remedies before boarding the ship, and the reception onboard will usually be able to provide some tablets for you. If you really feel that seasickness could be an issue for you, then you could always consider a river cruise.
Question: What are the main differences between an ocean cruise and a river cruise?
Answer: In general terms, an ocean cruise ship is likely to carry between 500 and 6,000 passengers, and you will be visiting a number of different countries during your cruise, with a certain amount of time spent at sea. There will be up to 20 different dining venues onboard, lost of different entertainment, and most ships will have good facilities for children. When you take a river cruise, the ships will probably carry between 80 and 200 passengers. You will call at different towns and villages each day, generally mooring up in the centre of town. There will be just one or perhaps two dining rooms onboard, with no large scale entertainment, and no specific children’s facilities. Think of your ship as a good quality hotel, but each time you walk out of the front door you are in a different place. Most river cruises include a number of shore excursions, and many include drinks with some meals, or even offer All Inclusive. There is always scenery to look at on both sides of the ship, and there is no need to worry about being seasick.
Question: How much luggage can I take on a cruise?
Answer: If you choose a fly cruise, you will be restricted by the airline’s weight allowance, which could perhaps be as low as 18 or 20 kilo each. However, one of the benefits of cruising from a UK port is that there are no luggage restrictions, so you can take all the outfits you want with you, as long as you can fit the cases in your car.
Question: Will I have to pay a lot more to cruise on my own?
Answer: Not many ships have single cabins, and therefore there is a single supplement to pay for sole use of a double cabin. The supplement can vary from 0% to 100%, depending on the cruise line and also what availability there is on the ship at the time you book. The ships in the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines fleet do have a bigger percentage of single cabins than any other cruise line, and NCL’s Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway all have a dedicated section of the ship with Studio cabins just for solo travellers. Cruising is actually a great holiday for single travellers, as there is always going to be a lot of people around you so there is no need to be alone, unless of course that is what you want. Another good point with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is that they have Dance Hosts on their ships so if you are travelling alone, but enjoy a dance or two in the evening, you won’t have a problem finding a partner.
Question: What is there to do in the ports of call on a cruise?
Answer: Whenever you are in port you have a number of choices. You can book one of the organised excursions arranged by the cruise line, and they will take you from the ship, and bring you back again. I also have access to a company which arranges shore excursions to tie in with many of the cruise itineraries, so ask me for details. You can also go ashore on your own and perhaps wander into town, or get a taxi to take you on a tour. Please don’t lose track of the time though if you are on your own, as if you are late back the ship won’t wait for you. Another option is to stay onboard and relax, and take advantage of the fact the ship will be really quiet with most people ashore.
Question: When should I book my cruise to get the best price?
Answer: This is one of the most frequently asked questions, and also one of the most difficult to answer. What I can do is give some of the points you need to take into account when deciding whether to book early or late. It basically comes down to the fact that the more flexible you can be, the later you can book. For instance, if you are retired or can get time off work at very short notice, and you fancy a 7 night Mediterranean cruise, and aren’t too concerned which cruise line you travel with, or where your cabin is on the ship, you can probably leave it until closer to the date of departure. Many ships in the Mediterranean operate the same 7 night cruise throughout the summer, so if you don’t get on a particular date, there will be another one soon after. The same applies of you are looking for a Norwegian Fjords cruise from a UK port such as Southampton or Tilbury. However, if you need to give plenty of notice at work, and want a particular cruise on a specific ship, on an itinerary which only occurs once or twice a year, then you need to book earlier. This is even more important if you want a certain grade of cabin, in a particular part of the ship. If you want a cabin to take 3 or 4 people you need to book them earlier, especially if it is in a school holiday.
Question: What currency do I need onboard a cruise ship?
Answer: Cruise ships operate on a cashless system, and you will have a card similar to a credit card, and everything you buy onboard will be charged to your onboard account. This includes shop and spa purchases, drinks at the bar and any excursions you book. The main exception to this is usually the casino. Before you board the ship you will be asked for a swipe of your credit or debit card, and then at the end of the cruise you approve the onboard account and it will be charged direct to your nominated card. You would need to take some currency for when you are ashore in the different ports of call, and a credit card is always useful to have with you.
Question: What is the difference between a cabin and a stateroom on a cruise ship?
Answer: Some cruise lines refer to cabins, while others use the term staterooms, but they are both the same so to save confusion I usually refer to cabins. They are usually then split into inside (or interior), outside (or sea view / ocean view) and balcony (or veranda / verandah). Depending on the ship, an inside cabin may well be the same size, with the same facilities, as an outside cabin, but it just doesn’t have a porthole or window. With very few exceptions you are unable to open the porthole or window in an outside cabin. If having easy access to the open air is important to you, you need to consider booking a balcony cabin. Although more expensive, you do have the facility to sunbathe and relax in the privacy of your own accommodation. You will also find a number of suites available on many ships, giving even more space, with perhaps a separate living room and bedroom.
Question: Is smoking allowed onboard a cruise ship?
Answer: Rules have been tightened in recent years with very few ships allowing smoking in cabins, and many no longer allow smoking on balconies. Some cruise lines allow smoking in designated areas within the ship, and also on any open decks, while some only allow it in certain open deck areas. If smoking, or indeed non-smoking, is an important point for you when choosing a cruise, then please ensure you mention it to us when making your enquiry, so it can be taken into account when suggesting suitable cruises to you.
Question: Have cruise ships and cruising changed much over the years?
Answer: Cruise ships have definitely changed in size, which some being massive compared to the 1960’s or 1970’s. The facilities onboard have also improved and there is so much more you can do onboard, which never used to be available. However, when it comes to food and service they always were good and are still very good, and offer exceptional value for money. Click on the following link if you would like to look at a few cruise brochures from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Please note that things can always change, so always ask me if you would like up-to-date details of anything I have covered above.