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Cruise Smart Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is Cruising affordable and a good vacation value?
  2. How long are cruises? 
  3. Where can I go?
  4. How do I book a cruise?
  5. Are all ships and cruises fairly similar?
  6. What's an air/sea cruise?
  7. Can I book on short notice?
  8. Do I need a passport?
  9. Are there different classes of service?
  10. Will I get bored? Feel confined?
  11. What's there to do in port?
  12. Do I have to participate in the activities?
  13. Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?
  14. What's there to do at night?
  15. Is there a charge for entertainment?
  16. Is it easy to meet people?
  17. Will there be people like me?
  18. What should I pack?
  19. Will I need a tuxedo?
  20. Can singles have fun on a cruise?
  21. Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
  22. What are different meal seatings?
  23. Is cruise ship dining as good as I've been told?
  24. Can I get a special diet?
  25. What if I don't like my tablemates?
  26. Are there non-smoking areas?
  27. Can we celebrate a "special" day?
  28. Is cruising right for honeymooners?
  29. Can we stay in touch with the outside?
  30. What about tipping?
  31. Are there medical services onboard?
  32. Are there laundry services aboard?
  33. Do cruise lines accept group bookings?
  34. Are there meeting rooms onboard?
  35. Can I extend my cruise vacation?
  36. Is motion-discomfort a problem?
  37. It sounds too good to be true! Is it?
  38. Who should I see if I have questions that haven't been answered?

1.  Is Cruising affordable and a good vacation value?

Yes! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best travel value for your money. Your fare includes all meals, your cabin, onboard daytime activities, nighttime parties and entertainment. So for once, you'll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. (Your only extra expenses will be drinks, optional shore excursions, and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.) See the chart to compare a cruise to the total cost of other vacations. You'll be amazed at the value.

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2.  How long are cruises?

As long or short as you want. Smart Set Travel deals with CLIA's member lines offer itineraries from three days to three months.

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3.  Where can I go?

Where do you want to go? Cruises visit practically any destination accessible by water. Just check the Cruise Guides for Worldwide Destinations to see all the exciting choices you have.

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4.  How do I book a cruise?

Visit or call Smart Set Travel! Our professionals will help you pick the cruise that fits your vacation schedule, tastes, and budget; then make all the arrangements to get you from your doorstep to your cabin and back.

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5.  Are all ships and cruises fairly similar?

Far from it. Bookings made by Smart Set Travel withCLIA member lines have ships that range from under 200 feet to over 1,000 feet. You can sail with anywhere from fewer than 100 fellow passengers to over 2,600. Experience atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, classically simple to ultra-deluxe. You can even choose between traditional propeller-driven craft, sail-assisted cruise ships, or even a paddle-wheel river boat.

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6.  What's an air/sea cruise?

A fly/cruise or air/sea cruise vacation package includes either free or much reduced airfare along with your cruise ticket. These money-saving options are available from most major North American cities and include transfers between the airport and ship as well as baggage handling.

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7.  Can I book on short notice?

Even the most popular cruises sometimes have space available because of late cancellations. So, have your Smart Set Travel booking agent check. But, to get exactly the ship, cabin, and sailing date you want, you should plan and book early. Most cruise lines also offer early booking discounts for customers who plan ahead. Then, just sit back and anticipate all the fun you're going to have!

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8.  Do I need a passport?

This depends on the type of cruise and your destination. You'll probably need at least some proof of citizenship. You'll receive complete information on required documents well in advance of your departure, so you'll have plenty of time to make arrangements.

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9.  Are there different classes of service?

Today's cruise ships are "one-class". Everyone onboard can use all of the ship's facilities. The price of a cabin is based primarily on its size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you'll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else onboard.

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10. Will I get bored? Feel confined?

Hardly. Being at sea gives you a feeling of freedom few places can offer. There's plenty of room. And it'll probably take you two or three days just to discover what's onboard. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring new and exciting ports of call.

Cruise ships are like floating resorts with all the choices fine resorts have to offer. You can be by yourself and lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing view. Or, you can join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests and other organized deck activities. Perhaps you can practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or shoot some baskets. You can go for a swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym. You can see a feature movie, attend a lecture by renowned experts, play backgammon or bridge. And that's just when you're onboard! For more details, see the Cruise Guide for Active Adults.

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11. What's there to do in port?

So much you'll have a hard time choosing! You can go off on your own. Or take a guided tour. You can search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids, a bicycle down the side of a 10,000 foot volcano, or ride a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. See the birthplace of civilization or listen to steel drum bands. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a water-skiing boat. If there's still time, play golf or tennis. Eat native foods. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world's best beaches. Catch a record marlin. Sail, snorkel, or go scuba diving. Go to a nightclub or glittering casino. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs.

In short, a cruise is the easiest way to see new places and do all the things you dream of. Cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of destinations that you may want to return to for another vacation...and you never have to pack and unpack the destinations come to you!

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12. Do I have to participate in the activities?

On a cruise, you do what you want to. You can do everything. Or you can lie back and do absolutely nothing. It's your vacation.

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13. Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?

More and more cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines make a special point of providing supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, they'll love a family cruise. You'll find the kids adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won't have to wonder what they're up to every minute. The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate. For more details, see the Cruise Guide for Children.

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14. What's there to do at night?

At night, life aboard a cruise ship really turns on. There's dancing; live entertainment in nightclubs, discos and lounges; feature films; and parties with all your new friends. Most ships even have casinos. There are also many special events like the Captain's Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, the Masquerade Parade, the Late Night Buffet (just for one last bite to tide you over 'til breakfast). And the night can go on as long as you want. Even until the spectacle of sunrise at sea.

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15. Is there a charge for entertainment?

Never. On a cruise vacation, the entertainment is on the house. There's no cover. No minimum. No charge for an admission ticket. The shows are live. The movies are first-rate. The variety is limitless.

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16. Is it easy to meet people?

A cruise ship is a great place to make new friends, because everyone's so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed. And you'll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. At dinner. At cocktails. Around the pool. Or along the promenade rail. And don't be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard ship again next year.

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17. Will there be people like me?

No matter what you've heard to the contrary, there's no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises... of all ages... from all walks of life... singles, couples and families. Passengers can vary from ship to ship and cruise to cruise. Just ask us at Smart Set Travel for advice on the best ship for you, based on your tastes and lifestyle.

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18. What should I pack?

Pack like you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you're on the ship or ashore. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. As on shore, attire is dictated by occasion. For the Captain's Gala, for example, you'll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown.

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19. Will I need a tuxedo?

On some cruises, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. But don't buy a tuxedo just for the trip. If you do want to dress to the nines, many ships offer tuxedo rental services. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine for the dressiest occasions.

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20. Can singles have fun on a cruise?

Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone, because it's so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties just for singles early on, so you can start to be involved right away. Most ships also have single cabins as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, a cruise line will even find you a roommate to share a double if you ask them. For more details see the Cruise Guide for Singles.

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21. Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?

Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms. But do check with our booking agents to be sure. Many ships even feature hair-dryers in your cabin.

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22.  What are different meal seatings?

 Some ships' dining rooms can accommodate all passengers in one seating. But most ships have two seatings which differ only by time. To choose, just decide whether you prefer to dine early or late then have a Smart Set Travel booking agent request your preference when you book. Which ever seating you choose, remember that one of the best ways to make new friends is to ask for a large table. In addition, some ships offer alternative dining options. For example, theme restaurants such as Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Southwestern restaurants separate from the main dining room may be available.

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23.  Is cruise ship dining as good as I've been told?

 Everything you've heard about cruise ship dining is true. You'll find a varied selection of entrées (appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables, and desserts, too) every time you sit down. And there's virtually no limit on what or how much you can order.

 Just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food doesn't mean you'll come home out of shape. You can choose low-cal, spa, or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. You can also jog, do aerobics, work out in the gym, swim, golf, play tennis, and much more. See the Cruise Guide for Active Adults.

Burning calories was never so much fun! Best of all, the one thing you'll never see on a cruise ship menu is a price!

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24. Can I get a special diet?

Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, Kosher, or other diet preferences. However, this request must be made in advance, so be sure to advise our Smart Set Travel booking agent of this requirement when you book your cruise.

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25. What if I don't like my tablemates?

 Rarely is this a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, speak with the maitre d'. He'll make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions...discretely and politely.

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26.  Are there non-smoking areas?

 Today, virtually all ships have smoking and non-smoking tables or non-smoking sections in the dining rooms and lounges. In fact, many cruise ship dining rooms are now totally smoke-free, and at least one ship is a completely smoke-free cruise ship, reflecting passenger requests. If you want your dining table in a non-smoking area, or prefer a smoke-free ship, just tell your us and we will be happy to make the arrangements for you before you go. Onboard, in "open-seating situations," you can advise your waiter or the maitre d'.

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27. Can we celebrate a "special" day?

Absolutely! Most cruise lines will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus of Happy Whatever to honor the occasion. Your birthday or anniversary can be more festive with champagne, flowers, canapés, wine or cheese. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise our Smart Set Travel booking agent in advance.

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28. Is cruising right for honeymooners?

Without a doubt. Cruising offers an atmosphere that's just right for romance...cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars) and so much more to remember forever. Most lines provide special services from Sunday or Monday departures to welcome champagne and breakfast in bed. (And, speaking of beds, most ships have them in double, queen, or king sizes!) For more details just check the Cruise Guide for Honeymooners. Also, some ships offer special programs for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing your marriage vows in port.

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29. Can we stay in touch with the outside?

Quite easily. Most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores. Staterooms on many ships are even equipped with televisions. While most ships now have telephones in passenger cabins, you can also call someone on shore through the ship's

radio operator while at sea. And, you can make phone calls from most ports. In addition, many ships have fax capabilities and newer ships offer Internet access and e-mail capabilities to passengers.

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30. What about tipping?

Tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is to plan for about $2.50 to $3.00 per person per day for your room steward and dining room waiter, and about half that amount for your busboy. (A few cruise lines include tipping in the price and will so inform you.) Other shipboard personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion.

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31. Are there medical services onboard?

Virtually every cruise ship (except for some smaller vessels operating in coastal waters) has a fully-equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency.

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32. Are there laundry services aboard?

Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and a great many provide dry-cleaning services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services. Most ships also have self-service launderettes.

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33. Do cruise lines accept group bookings?

Most lines will work with groups often at reduced rates depending on how many people are involved. Policies vary from company to company and sometimes during certain times of the year. Just consult our Smart Set Travel booking agent for details.

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34. Are there meeting rooms onboard?

Just about every full size ship has public rooms to offer as meeting space for groups. If you'd like to make such arrangements, ask us to contact the cruise line's group sales department to coordinate schedules and arrange for any catering needs. Your ship may also be able to offer audio-visual equipment.

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35. Can I extend my cruise vacation?

Any Smart Set Travel booking agent can arrange pre- or post-cruise land packages at the same time you book your cruise. And, in many cases, your airline ticket will include helpful options, such as free stopovers, that enable you to make your own special arrangements.

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36. Is motion discomfort a problem?

Not really. The most popular cruise areas boast some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, advance availability of accurate weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.

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37. It sounds too good to be true! Is it?

The one major complaint we hear over and over again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it's hard to find any negatives. After all, you don't have to run to make plane connections to get from one port to the next. You don't have the hassles of making dinner or nightclub reservations. You don't have the bother of packing and unpacking as you move from place to place. You don't get unexpected, expensive surprises at restaurants or nightclubs. You have a wealth of options for shopping, adventure, sightseeing, exploring, entertaining and sports activities. All you have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member onboard is dedicated to making your cruise vacation the best vacation of your life (until you top it next year with your next cruise!)

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38. Who should I see if I have questions that haven't been answered?

Just check with us at Smart Set Travel. Call 1-800-318-SMART. Our travel professionals are the most knowledgeable about all the options available for your cruise experience. In fact, you'll find that all our staff have been on cruises, so they can advise you from their own personal experience. We have a professional staff that can help you choose the cruise that's right for you.

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