Paul Gauguin








Return to Cruising

Oceania Marina, Rangiroa

Oceania Marina in Rangiroa, French Polynesia

What's included in a cruise?

  • Shipboard transportation

  • Shipboard accommodation

  • Meals

  • Entertainment

What's usually not included in advertised prices?

  • Alcohol - Most luxury lines include alcohol, though Crystal does not.  Viking Ocean Cruises includes wine or beer with lunch and dinner.  Popular cruise lines have aloholic beverage plans for purchase.

  • Soft drinks - Only covered by higher end cruise lines, including Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Uniworld, Yachts of Seabourn, Silversea and Viking Ocean Cruises.

  • Gratuities - Most cruise lines charge a stardard rate per person per day, payable at the end of the cruise.  AMAWaterways, Azamara, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Yachts of Seabourn and the Celebrity Xpedition (Galapagos) include tips in their pricing.  Oceania does not automatically charge a gratuity. 

  • Shore Excursions - Luxury cruises such as Crystal, Uniworld and also the Celebrity Xpedition include these.  Viking Ocean Cruises was founded in 2013 and includes a complimentary shore excursion in each port of call.

  • Medical Facilities

  • Taxes and port charges.

What about motion sickness?

  • most major cruise ships have stabilizers to reduce motion.  

  • cabins near the center of the ship experience less motion

  • most major cruise lines can provide patches or medications to reduce sea sickness

  • motion sickness is more common in smaller boats that move in multiple directions, such as a small skiff at anchor for the night or a zodiac used as a base for snorkeling.

Ways that may reduce or prevent motion sickness:

Prior to onset

  • Acupressure - apply pressure to the wrists with the thumb and 3 fingers.  Alternately try Sea-Band motion-sickness wrist bands

  • Eat ginger

  • Non prescription antihistamines, such as Dramamine and Benadryl

  • Non precription Gravol

  • Non precription Meclizine or Cyclizine (Marezine)

  • The patch - Transderm Scop, containing the drug scopolamine, is effective over a period of several days. Non prescription.  Don't combine this medication with antihistamines.  

After onset

  • Focus on a fixed point, reduce body temperature by removing clothing or going on deck and eat crackers.

  • Avoid strong smells, such as diesel.

  • For more severe cases, lie down and close your eyes.

Do I need to know other languages than English in foreign ports?

  • No, cruise excursions are provided in English and you will also find that most vendors near foreign ports speak English and several other languages too.

Do I Need to Arrange for Visas?

  • No, cruise lines handle your visas for ports of call, even for places like Egypt and Turkey.  They will warn you of unusual cases where you must obtain a visa yourself, such as for Russia.

How Much Cash Will I Need On Board?

  • None.  All major cruise lines use your room cards for charging extra services and these are linked to your charge card.

Cruise Ship Branding

  • Azamara - You'll Love Where We Take You

  • Carnival - Fun for All, All for Fun

  • Celebrity - Designed for You - sophistication, anchored in excellence

  • Cunard - Intimate Luxury on a Grand Scale

  • Holland America - A Signature of Excellence - traditional

  • Norwegian - Free Style Cruising - no set dining or disembarkation times

  • Oceania - Your World. Your Way

  • Princess - Escape Completely - relaxation

  • Royal Caribbean International - Nation of Why Not - adventure

  • Uniworld - Boutique River Cruising- small, interesting and diverse

What Destinations are Best for First Time Cruisers?

  • Most 1st Time Cruisers start with a 7 day cruise in the Caribbean (November - April) or Alaska inside passage (May - September).  Alaska cruises start from Vancouver or Seattle.  Most Caribbean cruises start from Miami or Fort Lauderdale.  The Caribbean is broken down into Western, Eastern and Southern for itineraries.

Do I Need Insurance? 

We highly recommend travel insurance for several reasons:

  • Trip Cancellation can save you the cost of your entire vacation if you get sick, a family member becomes ill and you can't travel or something like a volcanic eruption prevents you from reaching your embarkation port.

  • Trip Interruption can save you the expense of flight delays, illness during travel or returning from your vacation early due to an emergency.

  • Extended Medical benefits cover the additional costs of medical treatment and hospitalization.  Physician costs can be extremely costly in foreign countries and aren't typically covered by regular medical insurance plans.

Cruise Lines provide their own insurance but this is restricted to trip cancellation and interruption.

Some cruise lines offer Cancel For Any Reason insurance which is more flexible than commercial policies.  Under CFAR you could cancel simply because you don't feel like going any more.

What's Special About Suites?

Most cruise lines provide additional amenities to guests in suites, such as

  • services of a butler and concierge

  • first-tender priority in tender ports

  • private breakfast in à la carte restaurants

  • priority embarkation and disembarkation

Be careful of the definition of "suite" as some cruise lines use this to refer to the presence of a pullout sofa.

Which cruise lines are owned by other cruise lines?

  • Carnival - owns Princess, Holland America, Costa, Cunard and Seabourn.  Carnival owns over 50% of the world cruise market

  • Royal Caribbean International - owns Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises

  • Apollo Management owns Prestige Cruise Holdings, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and 50% of NCL.

Do cruise lines offer discounts to past passengers?

  • Yes, many cruise lines track past passengers and offer discounts based on the number of voyages taken.  Keep track of your passenger number to help ensure you receive booking discounts.  

Are there different classes of service?

  • Facilities, buffets and entertainment are generally open to all guests regardless of the type of room booked.  On some luxury lines dining and seating areas may be restricted.  Cunard lines promotes 3 passenger classes with separate dining for each.  Celebrity Aqua Class and NCL Suite & Villa accommodation have separate dining for these passengers.

What else can a cruise consultant arrange for your cruise?

  • Airfare, charter flights, package vacations

  • Accommodation pre and post departure.  It's a good idea to arrive a day early for your cruise.  You can see the departure city and also ensure an airline delay doesn't also delay your cruise.

  • Tours of the departure port

  • Transfers to and from the airport

  • Private shore excursions during the cruise

  • Travel and Medical Insurance - Cruise lines offer insurance, but only cover portions of the vacation arranged by them.  If you travel before or after the cruise, on a non cruise itinerary, additional coverage is recommended.

  • Advice on passports and visas

Reasons to Book With A Cruise Consultant

  • Most cruises can be booked and held by travel agents for at least a day, sometimes weeks, until payment and ticketing are required. You can arrange and check other details while an option on the cruise is held for you.

  • Major agencies, like Expedia, can get group discounts and free amenities with the cruise line.

  • If there's a problem with the itinerary, you have an additional familiar contact to assist you.

  • An agent's familiarity with destinations and the industry can be invaluable.  You don't pay anything extra for this service.  Why not take advantage of it?

The Jones Act

Cruise ship passengers may be surprised by the importance of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 on their North American cruising.  The legislation is more commonly known as the Jones Act, after the Senator from Washington who sponsored the bill.  It states that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. The purpose of the law is to support the U.S. Maritime industry.  Since 99% of cruise ships do not meet these conditions, their travel between US ports of embarkation and debarkation is impacted.  For example:

  • Cruises from Seattle to Alaska must stop at a Canadian port en route.  The boom in cruise ship visits to Victoria is a direct result of US legislation intended to help their country.  Cruises starting from Vancouver are not impacted by the legislation, which has increased their traffic as well.

  • Cruise ships repositioning from Seattle to California must stop at a foreign port en route, so they stop in Vancouver on the way.

  • Cruises starting in Hawaii must also visit a foreign port.  Most cruise ships therefore visit Mexico or Vancouver on their Hawaiian Island itineraries.  The Norwegian Cruise Lines Pride of America has met the conditions of the Jones Act and is the only major cruise line to start and end its cruises in Hawaii.