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20 Questions About Cruising

20 Questions to Ask & Think About
Before Planning Your Cruise

Knowing what to expect before booking or going on a cruise is important but can prove to be stressful especially if it is your first time sailing out on the open water.

Is the Love Boat an accurate picture of what a cruise is like?
The air of fun and frivolity is correct, but today's cruisers rarely closely interact with the crew, solve a life crisis and learn how to cuchi-cuchi during a voyage.

2. Where should I cruise?
Young couples and families with children enjoy the Caribbean. Most Alaska and Mediterranean cruisers are over the age of 50, but more families are plying the Alaskan waters these days.

3. Big ship or a small ship?
Large cruise ships have more options for activities, entertainment and dining. Smaller vessels tend to visit smaller ports and can get closer to aquatic wildlife.

4. How do I decide on a cabin?
If you plan to spend most of your time exploring the ship, book an inside cabin. If you plan to watch sunsets from a private veranda, get an outside cabin.

5. Do I have to dress up for dinner?
Most large cruise ships have a few formal nights; smaller ships do not. There's always the option of room service, where you can dine in the comfort of your pajamas.

6. Which cruise line is right for me?
Each one has its own flavor. Carnival is the favorite of the young and young at heart. Holland America and Princess host a lot of empty nesters. Disney is great for families and Cruise West is an excellent choice for those interested in a casual atmosphere.

7. Do I need a passport to cruise?
Although not specifically required for Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico and Canada/New England cruises, it's a good idea to have one. At the least, you'll need an original or certified copy of your birth certificate and your driver license. Travel to other international locations will require a passport.

8. Can I be reached at sea in case of an emergency?
Yes, calling instructions will be included with your cruise documents so please be sure to leave these with friends and family in case of emergency.

9. How can I remember which side is port and which is starboard?
When you're facing the bow, port is on the left. Remember port and left each have four letters.

10. Will I gain weight on a cruise?
Probably, unless you exercise.

11. How do I pay for things?
On a cruise, you sign a receipt for purchases, then settle your account with a credit card, traveler's check or cash.

12. What about tipping?
A tip of $10 a day to staff members is recommended. Hand out your gratuities on the last night of the cruise.

13. What about the children's programs?
Many ships have a full activity schedule for children. Ask your travel agent for recommendations.

14. Which shore excursions should I take?
Your cruise documents will come with a booklet that describes each excursion. You can sign up for side trips on the Web.

15. Are the days at sea boring?
Many cruisers say sea days are their favorites because of shipboard activities and relaxation opportunities.

16. Will I get seasick?
If you're susceptible to motion sickness, you may need preventative medications such as Bonine or Triptone. Some people find an acupressure wristband or the Transderm Scop patch helpful in combating nausea.

17. Are there any nonsmoking cruises?
Smaller ships often offer nonsmoking cruises.

18. What about cruise ship security?
During the past two decades, North American cruise lines have compiled the best safety record in the travel industry while transporting more than 60 million people.

19. Is the Norwalk virus still around?
Cruise ships have enhanced cleaning measures, and the International Council of Cruise Lines reports that less than 1 percent of cruisers contract this virus.

20. How should I book my cruise?
Approximately 95 percent of cruise vacations are purchased through a travel agent. Contact AAA Travel for information or visit the AAA Web site.

(Source: AAA)

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