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since 1972

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East Providence, RI 02914
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FAQs - First-Time Cruisers

Click on any cruise question to view the answer.

If your question is not answered here, please let us know! We add to our FAQ page when we see a common question. Thanks for your input!

Dear Steve & Russ,
I've been thinking about taking a cruise but have no idea where to begin. I feel like I'm lost in a sea of information… Help!

Find a good cruise travel agent! If you need a doctor, lawyer or even a car mechanic, the first thing you would probably do is ask your friends for a referral. Well, it's no different with travel agents. If you are going to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your vacation, shouldn't you get professional advice? Like other professionals, travel agents have specialties. You want to be sure to find a cruise specialist that has knowledge about the type of cruise you desire. Just as most garages can patch a leaky tire, most cruise travel agents can help you with a 3 night Bahamas cruise. However, if you want to cruise to Alaska or Europe, or find the cruise ship with the best kid's program, or that specific itinerary that includes an overnight stay in Aruba, then you need a specialist.

If you don't have a referral, call a cruise travel agency and speak with the agency's Sales Manager. Explain what you'd like to do on your vacation and then the he or she can match you with the agent who specializes in what you're looking for. The best thing your agent can do for you is LISTEN! Tell the agent about your interests and lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, your expectations of your vacation and, of course, your budget. A good cruise travel agent will listen, give you qualified information tailored to your needs and will help you make an informed decision - something a computer just can't do. Just because a ship out there has everything available for the sports enthusiast, your idea of the perfect cruise may be a Big-Band themed cruise with plenty of ballroom dancing, not rock climbing and in-line skating. If you are booked on the wrong ship, the lowest price in the world is not going to make up for it.

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Dear Cabin Closeouts,
What is the test to determine if I have a knowledgeable cruise travel agent working for me?
--Looking for the Right Agent

When considering a cruise travel agent, you want one in which you can have complete trust. Be sure to interview the cruise agent, and don't be afraid to ask how many cruises the agent has been on. Would you buy a car from someone who doesn't drive? If you don't feel comfortable with one agent, move on to another. An agent that can describe the ships or destinations from personal experience far outweighs the one who just reads about it. A good agent will even keep a photo album at her desk to show you. Don't forget, this is YOUR vacation and you need to be sure you are getting the most for your investment. A good cruise travel agent can provide you with a wealth of information. Things you might not think to ask, like: what a guarantee cabin is; why you should pack a bathing suit for Alaska; what is “duty-free”; why you need to “tender” in some ports; and what to do if you need to cancel, a good cruise travel agent can advise you on. A good cruise travel agent will become especially valuable if you have any problems on your vacation, with your airline or while on the cruise. Remember, this may well be the most important two weeks of your year – don't trust your Rolls Royce to the backyard mechanic.

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Dear Steve,
I'd like to take my family cruising. What will my cruise price include? What will my cruise price not include?
--Mother of 3

Most cruises include your selected shipboard accommodations, 24 hour cabin service, standard meals in the dining room and/or numerous buffets, various ports of call and most entertainment: from bingo to 5 star Broadway productions aboard the vessel. Children's programs are extensive and included, so you have some time alone. Airfare and transfers may also be included for an additional fee.

Most do not include organized shore excursions, meals at alternative restaurants, alcoholic beverages or carbonated soft drinks (drink packages may be purchased and are a big savings for thirsty families), photographs, gratuities, spa and beauty treatments, medical services, casino expenditures or other miscellaneous items you may purchase on board.

As a mother, you'll especially appreciate the variety of dining options that pleases all ages and the most finicky eaters, as well as the free recreation opportunities on board to keep them busy.

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Dear Steve & Russ,
What is the difference between an inside, outside & balcony cabin?
--Love the Sea

An inside cabin has no windows, an outside cabin (ocean view) has a window or porthole and a balcony (verandah) cabin has a glass door leading out to a balcony (private or semi-private) usually equipped with a small table and two chairs. Beware! Balcony cabins can be addictive to a lover of the sea.

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Dear Russ,
My husband is afraid he will be bored on a cruise ship. I have cruised only once before and of course he will not believe me. What can I do to convince him?

Chances are that whatever activities your husband really enjoys can be found while cruising. He needs to know that cruise ships are like floating resorts and offer just as many options as a fine resort does. The activities on board a cruise ship are amazing and he should be prepared to be dazzled with too many choices. Typical activities include: shore excursions, water sports, pool activities, fitness centers, live entertainment, casinos, bingo, dance lessons, talent contests, karaoke, wine tasting, movies, and much more. In addition, you have the opportunity to explore new and exciting ports of call. Golfers cannot resist a round of golf at a challenging island course; gourmands love experiencing the dining available on ship or in port; explorers can find adventure in every port. You know your guy. Make sure he knows how much a cruise can enhance his favorite pastime.

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Dear Cabin Closeouts,
When is the best time to take a cruise?
--Timing is everything

Really, whenever you want to go! Alaska cruising season runs May through September; Europe between April and November; Bermuda, April through October; and Panama Canal, between September and April. Cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas, of course, run year-round.

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Dear Steve & Russ,
Will we need a passport for our cruise?
--Illegal Alien

A passport is required. Non-U.S. citizens who are residing in the U.S. are required to travel with their Alien Registration Card and valid passports. Non-U.S. citizens should contact their consulates to be sure.

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Dear Steve,
Why choose to cruise? Is it really a good deal?
--Bargain Hunter

Cruising is not only the best travel deal there is, according to CLIA, Cruise Lines International Association; cruises also have a higher percentage of satisfied customers than any other vacation experience. On a cruise, there's fun for every family member: adults, kids, teens and grandparents. Maybe the best part is that you can do it all - or none of it. It's your option to pick and choose exactly what's most appealing. It's all laid out for you, so there's no need to study travel books and planning guides before you leave home. Take your hotel and restaurant with you, no daily packing and unpacking. On a land-based vacation, you'd be doing it every time you drove to a new city. On a cruise, once you unpack, you're done, and best of all, almost everything is included up front. Published statistics indicate that, in general, a 7 night cruise for two is about 35% less than 7 nights at a comparable resort. Now that's a deal!

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