Monthly Archives: September 2009

Cruising – FAQ’s

Rainbow Travel Inc - Your Source for Cruising

Rainbow Travel Inc - Your Source for Cruising

Here are responses to common questions about cruising that we often encounter at our travel agency:

Q. Can cruise lines accommodate my special dietary requirements?

A. Cruise lines can accommodate most special dietary requirement, like low sodium, Kosher, low carbohydrates, etc. Make your request in advance with your Travel Consultant at the time of booking.

Q. Will I get seasick?

A. This has becomes an infrequent occurence with the new technological advances in cruise ships today. Their sheer size, the use of stabilizers, and the advanced weather tracking systems enable ships to avoid choppier waters.  If you have any concerns about motion sickness, please consult your doctor prior to sailing.

Q. I booked a Cabin Guarantee, not a specific cabin. When do I find out my cabin assignment ?
A. A “Cabin Guarantee” entitles you to a cabin in the category that you booked.  You will find out your cabin assignment when you check-in for your cruise.  If the cabin category category happens to be full at this time, you will receive a complimentary upgrade to a higher cabin category.

Q. How much luggage can I bring onboard the ship?

A. There is no limit on how much luggage you can bring on your cruise. However, if you are flying to your embarkation city, airlines do have limits and may charge fees for check-in luggage.  Ask your Travel Consultant at the time of booking your cruise. 

Q. Should I purchase the Air/Sea package through the cruise line?
A. Once you’ve booked your cruise through your own Travel Consultant, you will be referred to a Cruise Line representative who will take care of the air/sea arrangements . The main benefit of booking the cruise lines’ air/sea package is worry free convenience.  The Cruise Lines is responsible for arranging your flights and the  ground transportation from the airport to the ship and back from the ship to the airport on your return.  

Q. If I book my own airfare with my Travel Consultant, what time should my flights arrive and depart?

A. We recommend arriving at least 1 day before the cruise to minimize any concerns about delayed or cancelled flights.  This becomes especially important during the winter months when bad weather often affects flights.

Return flights can be booked for the late afternoon or evening on the day your cruise returns. We strongly recommend investigating the transportation options between the cruise terminal and the airport before booking your airfare.

Q. Should I splurge on a stateroom with a balcony?

A. It depends. Balconies are great, you have your own private floor to ceiling view of the water and your journey to your next destination.  Plus, it’s nice to be able to getaway from the crowds and enjoy the relaxing ocean breeze in the cabin with a beverage in your hand.  

However, if you like meeting new people, getting involved in the many shipboard activities , taking advantge of the amenities onboard (spa,  swimming pool, basketball, bowling, etc), signing up for the excursions at each port, then a balcony may not be a priority for you.

Talk to your Travel Consultant and let them know what you’re looking for, your budget, and your availability to travel. There may be a sale / promotion available to get a stateroom with a balcony at a discount price.

Cruising – Traditional Versus Freestyle

Norwegian Star

Norwegian Star

A common question I received from a few articles I wrote about cruising was “what is Freestyle Cruising®?” and “how is Freestyle Cruising® different from Traditional Cruising?”.

Traditional Cruises feature pre-assigned times for meals with the same tables mates in the same restaurant. There are scheduled formal dining nights where everyone will be expected to dress appropriately. Generally, there are a couple of main shows each evening with bar / lounge shows afterwards.

Freestyle Cruising® was pioneered by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).  This was in response to feedback from passengers that they didn’t want to have their meals at the same time each day with the same group of people.  Freestyle offers the freedom to do what you want, when you want, and with whom you want.

On a Freestyle Cruise®, passengers have a choice of food and dining options for their meals, from the main dining room for a buffet, or specialty restaurants like French, Mexican, Asian, Steakhouse, etc.  (there may be a cover charge at specialty restaurants).  There are no set times, seating arrangements,  or dress code.  There is usually 1 formal dining night during a cruise on a specific evening and restaurant for those that are interested in participating.

In our opinion, if you prefer a less structured cruise, Freestyling is definitely worth looking into further.

Here are a few suggestions if you choose to freestyle type cruise:

*For adults looking for a quiet / romantic evening, the specialty restaurants are their best option since parents are less likely to bring their children to them.

*We strongly recommend a reservation for at least your first evening meal at a specialty restaurant to avoid the crowds. Most people tend to dine at the main dining room for the buffet on their first night.  This gives you the opportunity to plan your evening meals for the rest of the cruise taking into account onboard activities and excursions you may be interested in.

*If you prefer dining at prime times, we recommend making all your dining reservations at the beginning of the cruise since these are the first to go.

NCL has expanded the Freestyle concept to other areas to make it a truly flexible experience:

*NCL offers a variety of cabins types with interconnecting options to accommodate groups of any size.  For those with a bigger budget, they also offer a ship-with-a-ship concept where a collection of villas and Deluxe Owner’s Suites are located on a private deck with luxurious accomodations and special amenities.

*People can be as active as they want or just relax and sit on the deck reading a book. Passengers have a choice of activities ranging from Broadway style shows, comedy acts, bowling, gambling at a casino, watching a movie in the theatre, rock climbing, basketball, swimming lengths in the pool, and even playing the Nintendo Wii on a two-storey screen.

*Disembarkation is also Freestyle. Passengers have the option to sleep in abit, have a leisurely breakfast, relax in their cabin or on the deck before checking out. For those who want to get back on shore quickly, an Express Disembarkation is available.

The Freestyle concept has been imitated by several other cruise lines to varying degrees providing their passengers greater flexibility.  If you are planning a vacation, contact your travel consultant to find out the latest cruise promotions.