Cruising is such a great value holiday as your fare includes accommodations, all main meals onboard ship, onboard daytime activities, and night-time entertainment including live stage shows. One reason cruising is good value is because you'll know what most of your holiday will cost before you go. Generally your only extra onboard expenses could be your beverages (though these are sometimes included on luxury ships), optional shore excursions, personal services such as spa treatments, and any purchases at the gift and duty free shops.
The entertainment on board comes in many different styles and formats but is always included in the cruise fare. In the evening there are shows in the main show lounge (except small ship cruising). Typically there are two sessions a night so, depending on your dinner time, you can always catch the show. The style of these shows changes daily. Some nights it will include all of the ship’s entertainment crew with a Las Vegas style production. Other nights there may be a guest entertainer or comedian. There is something for everyone.
The entertainment doesn't stop with the nightly performances. Each night the ship provides a newsletter detailing all the activities that will take place the following day. These activities may include dance classes, arts and crafts, table tennis, live music, tournaments, trivia quizzes, recent release movies, and other deck games and deck parties. The great thing about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you like. If your idea of a holiday is sitting back with a good book, you can do that. If you like to be entertained there is no shortage of entertainment.
The chances are you will not get seasick. On a cruise most people do not suffer from motion sickness. However, if you are going to get seasick then it is likely to happen in the first 24 hours. If you limit the amount of alcohol you consume and activities you do in the first 24 hours you can reduce the chance of this happening. Another thing you can do is select a midship cabin on a lower deck. A cabin in the middle of the ship (midship) will experience the least amount of movement.
There are a number of other precautions/medications you can take, and these can be purchased before you travel at a pharmacy or health shop. Otherwise you can buy them on board.
The best thing you can do if you feel seasick is visit the ship’s doctor. They can give you an injection that will give you relief from your seasickness within 30 minutes. You have planned and saved for your holiday, don't ruin it by feeling sick. Visit the doctor for the injection and get it treated straight away. If you have travel insurance then you can claim this back.
IMPORTANT: A visit to the doctor on board will cost you money so we strongly recommend you get travel insurance before you depart on your holiday.
Shore excursions are pre-organised tours & sightseeing options that you purchase on board for when your ship is in a port of call. Every ship has a “Shore Ex” desk with qualified staff who can advise you of different excursions available, what’s best to do and generally help you with information on the particular region your ship is visiting.
Shore excursions can be booked on board your ship however some cruise lines allow you to pre-book and pay for excursions online. If there is a tour you really want to do then we recommend you pre-book it as popular tours do sell out.
Tour costs vary depending on the activity, itinerary and inclusions. There is always a wide variety on offer for all age groups and abilities that can start from as little as $25.
Sometimes you can book your tour, when you arrive at your port, direct from the operator at a much cheaper price. However, this comes with a buyer beware warning. The operators used by the cruise line are trusted professionals so you will not be ripped off. Also, if something goes wrong on your tour, the cruise line knows where you are and will take the necessary steps to pick you up if your vehicle has broken down. In extreme cases they will even hold the ship's departure for you if you are late returning from a tour booked through the ship. They will not wait if you go direct through the operator, as they will not know where you are.
Cruise lines around the world do not all operate using the same onboard currency. The currency varies from cruise line to cruise line with the most common currency being US dollars. P&O Cruises Australia, Carnival Spirit and the Sun and Dawn Princess all use Australian dollars as their onboard currency.
Many cruises on our websites come with onboard credits. This could be from a special promotion that is being run by the cruise line or because of the relationship we have with the cruise lines that allows us to select certain cruises to receive onboard credit. The amount of onboard credit does normally depend on the length of the cruise.
If your reservation receives onboard credit we will confirm this with you in writing and then your onboard account will automatically be in credit for the amount we have confirmed to you. This credit can be used towards any onboard expenditure that is charged back to your cabin. It is important to note that if you do not spend all of your onboard credit it will not be refunded to you in cash so it is best you spend it all while on board.
The rules surrounding where you can smoke on board a cruise ship vary from cruise line to cruise line. However, none have taken steps to ban smoking completely. Most only allow smoking in designated areas on the open decks. Many have banned smoking on cabin balconies as this poses a fire risk.
All your main meals are included on a cruise. Typically for breakfast, lunch and dinner there is an a la carte option (order from a menu) or a buffet option. There is so much choice available, and the food is excellent. However, your cruise doesn't always just include these 3 main meals. You can in fact eat non-stop for 24 hours a day if you like.
Most cruise lines also offer specialty dining as an alternative option to the main restaurants. There is typically a small cover charge for this. However, the food is well worth it, and the specialty restaurants are normally smaller and more intimate than the main restaurants so they make for a great place to celebrate a special occasion.
One of the main reasons for a cruise making such a great family holiday is the “kids club” facilities offered on board, and they are all included in your cruise fare. Typically the kids clubs are broken into 3 different age groups - 3 to 6 years, 7 to 12 years, and 13 – 17 years. In these dedicated children’s facilities they are looked after by trained staff and the facilities are open from 9am – 10pm. Parents can check their children into the “kids club” whenever it suits them. Children love these facilities as it is “their space” aboard the ship.
NB Each cruise line has limited space on board the ship for children as the kids club facilities can cater for a limited number of children, and any child booked onto a cruise has access to the kids club. If you are planning on taking a cruise during the school holidays then you need to book early as the children's space will sell out. Also, while most cruise lines have kids club facilities there are some exceptions (not common) so you should check this at time of booking.
Do not let the idea of formalities put you off going on a cruise. Unless you are travelling on a 5 star + cruise ship, formal does not mean a tuxedo.
On a standard 7-12 night cruise you may find there are two formal nights, one being the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party and the other being the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party.
But even then, formal is only the “suggested dress”. Please don’t feel you have to get dressed in a tuxedo or evening dress. For men – a jacket & tie (tie is optional) will suffice, for the ladies a cocktail dress. Should you not wish to attend either of the planned formal evenings you can opt to dine in an alternative restaurant or even order room service from your cabin.
On non-formal nights, men usually wear a shirt & trousers and women a tidy dress, skirt or dressy trousers & blouse. Many ships today operate a more casual dress code to limit the amount of dressing up – after all you are on holiday.
During the day, dress for the weather outside, however you will be required to wear shoes into the restaurant.
Shore excursions are not compulsory, you are free to go ashore and return to the ship as many times as you like.
When you go ashore it is important to note:
You must take your cruise I.D. card (ticket) as proof for re-embarking.
The city or town you are visiting may not be close to the port where the ship is docked, cruise lines normally organise shuttle buses (at a minimal charge) throughout the day to and from the city centre.
You must return to the ship at the stipulated time as the ship WILL NOT wait for late passengers.
Unlike airlines, there are no luggage restrictions on a cruise. However you need to consider that you need to store it in your cabin for your holiday. There is plenty of storage space in your cabin but if you are travelling in a quad cabin you may want to impose your own restrictions.
NB It is important to remember that airlines have different luggage restrictions, so if you are flying either pre or post cruise then you may want to keep within their allowances.
Cruising is a cashless society which means when you purchase anything on board you do not pay for it in cash. When you board the ship it is like checking into a hotel, you can either give a credit card imprint or the cruise line will take a cash deposit of approximately $300. You are then given a “cruise card”. Your cruise card is your door key (on most ships), has your dinner table number on it (for traditional dining), and it is used for making any purchases aboard.
When you make a purchase with your cruise card, it is swiped and a receipt is printed that you will need to sign. The cost of the purchase is then added to your onboard account which you settle at the end of your cruise.
Tipping/gratuities are a big issue for a lot of Australasian cruise passengers as it is not our custom to reward good service in this way. What cruise passengers need to consider is that outside of Australasia, the remuneration for personnel in the service industry is quite low. Hence, to keep up a high standard, employees have the incentive of earning additional income via the tips they receive. At the end of the day, how much you tip is up to you.
The most common way cruise lines suggest tipping, is that they add a suggested amount to your daily onboard account. You can choose to keep that on your account or you can ask the purser to remove it. This suggested amount is divided out amongst your cabin steward, your dinner waiter, your assistant waiter, your wine steward, and maitre d’.
Some cruise lines ask passengers to wait until the end of the cruise and they discreetly leave an envelope in your cabin in which to place the appropriate amount. Some cruise lines state that the fare you have paid includes gratuities. Some cruise lines ask that you pre-pay the gratuities with your cruise fare prior to your holiday departure.
Again, the amount you tip is up to you (unless it is prepaid) and it isn't intended to have a negative impact on your holiday. Do what feels most comfortable to you.
Many cruise lines have rules restricting you from taking your own alcohol on board your cruise ship. If you have pre purchased duty free alcohol the ship will take it off you when you board and store it away for you. This alcohol will be delivered to your cabin the night before you disembark. The same applies if you purchase it when you are in port. Any purchases made on board will also be delivered the night before you disembark.
However, Princess Cruises will allow you to bring a bottle of wine aboard which you can drink at dinner or in your cabin.
These restrictions were put in place to create a safer environment on board your cruise ship, where people drink within a controlled drinking environment.