Frequently Asked Questions
Why take a cruise?
You can count on superb dining choices, spacious and comfortable accommodations, non-stop onboard activities, all sorts of fun and adventurous programs at each individual port of call, Broadway caliber nightly entertainment, and the list goes on. And the best part is that a cruise experience is virtually all-inclusive! With cruising steadily receiving the highest customer satisfaction ratings throughout the travel industry, you can count on an experience that will delight you and your group in every aspect of your cruise. In fact, today’s ships leave nothing to chance which is why cruises are the fastest growing vacation and meetings segment in the entire travel industry.
Six Myths of Cruising
Myth #1: Last Minute Means Greater Savings
There was a time when last minute cruises were a good deal. This was a result of supply and demand. Consumers are now more aware of the value of cruise vacations and the demand is at record highs. Individuals who wait until the last minute to book cruise vacations often pay a much higher rate for their cruise fare and have the least selection to choose from for accommodations. Some destinations, like Alaska, are often sold out months to a year in advance. To secure preferred accommodations at the best price—-book early!
Myth #2: Lowest Prices Equal Value
This is simply not true. Price is not the only element to consider when looking at value. With cruising, the lowest price often means the least desirable destinations and the worst accommodations. Many travel companies post lower-priced staterooms to attract customers without regard to how it may affect your cruise experience. Consult your Personal Cruise Expert on how to secure the best value for your vacation.
Myth #3: Shorter Cruises are Cheaper
It’s not unusual for a four day Caribbean cruise to be less expensive than a three day. This is because three-day itineraries usually operate over the weekend and four-days are mid-week. This can mean fewer guests and better prices. The same is true for longer itineraries. Pricing is based on demand. When demand is low, so are the prices.
Myth #4: You Can Book the Best Deals by Doing It Yourself
Doing it yourself is almost a guarantee that you’ll pay too much. You may get lucky and find some deals but without industry knowledge you may not have enough information to compare prices to find out if it is truly the best bang for your buck. Pricing is easy to compare, but the value of each offer isn’t as obvious. Advertised prices aren’t always as “all-inclusive” as they seem. See #5 for more details.
Myth #5: Ticket Price is Everything
The price of your cruise ticket is only one expense to consider. There are government and destination taxes and fees, air fare, transfers, cocktails, pre- or post- night stays, tips and gratuities, wine, optional restaurants and activities, shore excursions and more to factor into the equation. Some cruise lines include some of these elements into their cruise fare, creating a much better value for a seemingly higher fare. Be sure you fully understand all the costs associated with your cruise package and don’t be swayed by shiny offers and deals.
Myth #6: All Cruises are Equal
While a cruise ship may seem to have a fairly standard layout, you’d be surprised at all the differences between cruise lines and their fleet. Some are geared toward a specific age group or interest. Some are considered luxury lines while others may be more family friendly. Your Personal Cruise Expert can assist you in finding the best fit for you.
Choosing a cruise line
There are a number of excellent cruise lines from which to choose from. Each offers a variety of ships and itineraries to cater to a specific market niche or lifestyle. This is why it’s so important to know what you’re looking for in a vacation, what kinds of activities you’ll enjoy, and the types of ship mates you’ll be spending time with.
Professional cruise travel agents from Cruise Holidays ask many questions regarding the type of vacation you’re looking for so they can make relevant recommendations on the cruise line that fits your personal needs. Read through the General Cruise Line Classifications and then review the cruise lines.
General Cruise Line Classifications…
Appeals to the more sophisticated cruiser. Very upscale ships, unique amenities and itineraries. The passenger to staff ratio is low, thus providing more refined personalized service (the staff knows your name). In most cases, all staterooms are situated for ocean views and most have balconies. Dining is top-notch from the table setting to the food and wine. Attire is more country-club during the day and upscale/elegant in the evening. Kids programs are few to none.
An upscale experience that caters to all age groups and interests. Ships are well appointed with a unique blend of itineraries and onboard amenities. Passenger to staff ratio is still low and service is superb. Many ships have at least 80% of the staterooms providing ocean views. Dining is upscale and well presented. Attire is more reserved or casual, with certain dress requirements in the evening. Programs for kids are offered, usually segmented by age.
Caters to first time and repeat cruisers of all age groups and interests. Ships are of very ample size, some are the biggest afloat, with a vast array of activities and amenities. Numerous dining venues are available ranging from upscale to casual. Attire is usually relaxed, although most lines do have designated formal occasions. Programs for kids are extensive and segmented by age.
For those interested in exploring the interiors of a country or countries via river. River ships are smaller than your average cruise ship, allowing a more neighborhood-like atmosphere. All staterooms have a river/shore view and are well appointed. Dining is elegant. Entertainment can be found in conversing with fellow passengers, lectures, or a culturally enriching show. Attire is casual. Most do not have kids programs, but entertainment and excursions are enjoyable for all ages.
What about Pricing and Booking?
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, here’s what you need to know before you book your cruise.
Plenty of deals are available throughout the year offering a range of incentives including reduced rates, airfare discounts, additional onboard credit, or a combination of added-values. However, to secure the itinerary, ship stateroom and any shore excursions you prefer, plan on booking at least four to six months prior to departure.
Last minute deals also available, which are great for those searching for a quick cruise get away. In most cases, last minute deals are what the cruise has left in stateroom availability, which means your choice of accommodations might be limited. At Cruise Holidays we can provide the details of any last minute cruise offers that are of interest to you.
After you’ve booked, we will monitor the booking, make any changes you might request, apply any additional offers and/or savings to optimize your benefits, and notify you when final payment is due.
How will you get to your cruise ship?
One of the most sought-after vacation elements is convenience, and cruise lines have responded by offering easily accessible departure ports. Points of embarkation are available from numerous coastal cities around the world.
Whether you choose to drive, fly or take advantage of your cruise line’s air & cruise package (which could save you money and usually includes transfers to/from the airport and pier) to get to the ships point of departure is up to you or you can ask us to check on airfare for you.
We highly advise to arrive at least a day prior to the cruise departure to avoid any unforeseen delays that might cause you to miss the ships departure. Discuss with us the many pre- or post-cruise options available to give yourself a little more time to discover another city and alleviate the chance of missing the ship’s departure.
How long is your vacation?
Cruise vacations can last a mere three to four days or transport you around the world on a year-long adventure. The choice is up to you.
What’s included and not?
What is usually not included in the fare you see in, say, the newspaper or on the web, are the applicable government taxes and fees, fuel surcharges, port charges and, if applicable, any airline taxes and fees. These extra fees will vary by the cruise/flight destination. We will take the time to explain these charges to you so you will have a firm idea of the cost of your cruise vacation.
Also, onboard extras such as mini-bar, spas, excursions, internet, casino gaming, drinks/liquor (on some cruise lines), laundry service, and babysitting, are not included in the cruise fare.
What are the cancellation penalties?
Cancellation penalties vary by cruise line. At Cruise Holidays we will discuss the cruise line’s cancellation policies with you at the time of booking. Of course, you can always ask us for this information at any time.
We are here to help you find a great cruise for a great value at anytime!
PASSPORTS, HEALTH REQUIREMENTS, VISAS, CRUISE LINE CHECK-IN REQUIREMENTS
What about passports and visas, or health requirements?
Canadian Traveler Information
Passport & Visa
Have a valid Canadian passport for all trips outside Canada. A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document, and it proves that you have a right to return to Canada. Some countries do not require a passport for entry but do require photographic identification (such as a driver’s license) as well as proof of Canadian citizenship (such as a birth certificate or citizenship card). It is possible that a country might also require a Visa. However, this varies from country to country.
Health Safety Requirements
Be aware of any health safety requirements for foreign travel. In case of local health concerns, rigid health screening procedures or quarantines may be imposed.
Be patient and follow orders of security officials at the pre-board screening checkpoint at all times. Avoid comments about security measures that could be misinterpreted and cause undue problems.
Other Important Links:
Research your destination by consulting:
Preparing & Packing - Some tips
Preparations needed prior to departure include: Cruise pre-registration, required personal identification & travel documents, travel insurance, what to pack and more.
Is a passport or visa required?
Passport and visa requirements will depend on your itinerary. We can advise you of the specific entry requirements.
If you will require a passport; all that’s needed to apply are: two, identical, passport-sized photos; proof of citizenship (birth certificate); and a valid form of identification such as a driver’s license. Visa applications are through the government of the country you’re requesting entrance; the process varies by country. We can guide you on how and where to apply, and the fees.
Please note that we can only advise you as to how to obtain a passport or visa, but it’s your responsibility to apply, purchase and make sure you receive the passport and/or visa prior to your departure.
Also, if you’re traveling to destinations which require a vaccination certificate, it’s your responsibility to get the required vaccinations prior to departure.
Will I need to buy travel insurance?
Most vacations go off without a hitch, but mishaps do occur, and with the right type of travel insurance you’re likely to have more control over the outcome.
Travel insurance offers numerous levels of coverage ranging from simple plans such as insuring an airline ticket, to comprehensive plans which cover you in the event of baggage loss, damage to personal effects, delays, medical, dental, emergency evacuation or assistance, and trip cancellation. At Ocean & River Cruises, we can help you determine what coverage will be suitable for your vacation.
Will I need cash onboard?
Most cruise lines have gone to a cashless system – which is why they obtain your credit card number upon embarkation for you to charge all the “extras” to your onboard account. When it comes to tipping the staff, the practice of automatically charging your onboard account a daily flat service charge is becoming increasingly popular among most cruise lines.
For onshore purchases, using a credit card is the best policy. But for smaller purchases, cash is an easy alternative. Also, travelers’ checks or rechargeable cash cards are a good idea to bring along in case your primary form of cash or credit is lost or stolen.
We will advise you of the tipping policies and need of monetary funds based on the cruise line and itinerary.
How do I pre-register for my cruise?
Your cruise documents will detail how and when you should pre-register for your cruise. If you have questions, contact us at any time!
What type of clothing should I pack for a cruise?
It’s a vacation, so feel free to pack like it. But do be aware of the seasonal temperatures/weather of the destination(s) you’ll be exploring and pack accordingly (i.e. Alaska in the summer will still require a warm jacket). Ask about the voltage requirements on the ship if you plan on bringing electrical, plug-in items.
Also, you will need to adhere to the cruise line’s dress code; some are more formal than others. Many cruise lines maintain the tradition of dressing up for dinner. However, what qualifies as “dressing up” has evolved over time. Many cruise lines now designate some evenings for “casual” dress, some for “informal” dress and some for “formal” dress. What these code words mean varies a bit from one cruise line to another, but in general, here’s what to expect (and pack):
Casual dress means open-necked sport shirts and slacks for men; and sundresses, slacks or capri pants with coordinating tops for women. In general, jeans, shorts and baseball caps are not allowed. On luxury cruise lines, casual may take one more step toward formal, with jackets (but not ties) required for men and women expected to wear dresses or skirts.
Informal (or “smart casual” or “resort casual”) dress means slacks, button-down shirts, ties and jackets for men; dresses, dinner suits or pantsuits for women.
Formal dress means dark suits, dinner jackets or tuxedos for men; evening dresses for women. On luxury cruise lines, it’s not unusual to see women in full-length gowns on formal nights.
Note that some cruise lines require the specified form of evening dress not only in the dining rooms, but everywhere on the ship. If you really want to be flexible with your attire, consider a cruise line that has no dress code.
What is a medical release form, and how do I know if I have to submit one?
To ensure proper treatment in case of an emergency, cruise lines require that all guests with special medical needs submit this information to them prior to travel. Passengers who carry syringes for medical use must also carry a letter from their physicians indicating such.
Can I bring alcohol on the ship?
Cruise lines have a variety of policies regarding how much alcohol you can bring onboard with you. Some do allow you to bring a bottle or two of wine or Champagne, others do not. Ask your travel advisor to check the latest rules on your specific cruise line.
Do I need to bring my own life preserver?
No, life preservers are provided in your cabin. You will be required to attend a lifeboat drill where you will be taught how to use them in case of an emergency.
Do I need to check-in online or pre-register?
Cruise Line Pre-Registration
Due to new government regulations requiring cruise lines to submit final departure manifests at least 60 minutes prior to sailing, guests are requested to complete Online Check-in no later than 3 days prior to their cruise. If you have not completed Online Check-in, you may be required to complete this process at the pier two hours prior to the published sailing time.
Cruise Line Pre-Registration Details
How Luggage Is Handled
Before you depart, fill out and attach the luggage tags that were provided in your cruise documents. At the pier, porters will take your bags and deliver them to your stateroom – the tags note your information and stateroom location.
Boarding The Ship
During embarkation, you’ll first pass through metal detectors and proceed to the check in counter to present your identification and documents for all people in your party. It’s a good idea to keep this paperwork in a folder for safe keeping and easy retrieval. You’ll then receive ID cards, which will also act as your room key. You will also be asked to present a credit card to cover the extra charges (drinks, babysitting, spa treatments, etc) you amass during the cruise.
Once everyone is onboard, a mandatory safety drill will commence.
What To Do If You Miss The Departure
You will need to find a way to meet up with the ship at its next port of arrival. If you purchased travel insurance or chose the cruise line’s air & cruise package, your expenses to fly to meet the ship should be covered.
If you are not covered by either example mentioned above, you will have to cover the expenses to catch up to the ship.
In all cases, you can contact your Ocean & River Cruises travel expert for additional assistance.
How much money should I carry?
Carry just enough money to cover your expenses. Call your bank and let them know you which foreign country you will be using your ATM card. Otherwise, the bank’s theft prevention service may cancel the card thinking it’s been stolen. Also, carry traveler’s checks in the event you don’t have enough local currency to buy something and you can’t use your ATM card. Not all businesses are equipped to take them.
CRUISE HOLIDAYS CALGARY POLICIES
Do you charge a service fee?
Some agencies will quote what seems like a low up front price on your cruise, but will charge a service fee everytime you wish to speak to someone or make any adjustments on your booking once you have paid your deposit. Others offer cruise booking only with no facility to assist with other travel arrangements. Others still will assist with booking personalised options, but will charge additional ‘booking fees’, ‘facilitation fees’, ‘transaction fees’ or ‘processing fees’ every time.
Here at Ocean & River Cruises Travel, we work a little bit differently. We’ve already negotiated special air rates which can often offer significant savings in addition to giving more choice. We also have negotiated rates at over 110,000 hotels worldwide – prepaid in US or Canadian Dollars and with all taxes included to ensure no surprises or foreign exchange issues or fluctuations when you arrive.
Unlike most other travel suppliers who prefer to hide their fees in the fine print, or bury it in mysterious amounts for ‘taxes/fees’, we believe in being transparent with our pricing.
Our cruise quotes are inclusive, and will already include all taxes/fees. When booking one of our exclusive air, hotel and cruise packages, our standard package professional fee of $65/pp will be clearly listed next to your total all-in price. When booking with us, our clients benefit from a whole range of additional services with no subsequent/additional fees. We never charge you to contact a real person for assistance, nor do we charge additional ‘transaction fees’ or ‘booking fees’ for additional services. We understand that plans can change – and unlike other agencies, we won’t charge a cancellation fee if you have to reschedule your plans.
If you’re booking one of our River Cruises or Luxury Cruises, our standard package professional fee is waived, but in some cases for custom arrangements, a cancellation may apply for certain items. Your Ocean & River Travel cruise specialist will confirm any applicable cancellation fees with you at time of booking.
Do you have a price guarantee?
Book any of our Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, or Norwegian Cruise Lines ‘Fly, Stay, Cruise’ bundled rates, and we guarantee to have the best pricing. Find the same cruise, accommodation type, and air-inclusive package available for less, we’ll not only match the price, we’ll also give you $50 shipboard credit per booking. In order to qualify, a written / emailed quote must be provided from a major North American travel agency or directly from the cruise line within 48 hours of booking your Ocean & River Cruises package. Alternatively, and at our sole discretion, Ocean & River Cruises Travel will also verify non-personalized quotes such as website or newspaper/print promotions, and if the advertised promotion is verified by us as being available to book, and offering a lower price for the same package, Ocean & River Cruises Travel will honour the Best Price Guarantee.
Quotes or advertised offers must be like for like. They must be for the same cruise, the same cabin category, and include air on a major scheduled airline for the same dates to/from the same airports. Where a pre-cruise hotel night and/or transfers are included in theOcean & River Cruises Travel package, the quote or advertised offer from another agency or travel supplier must also include these items. Price guarantee applies to total price of the cruise package only. Items such as onboard gifts or credits, or other non-tangible amenities are excluded.
The final ruling on all price guarantees will be made byOcean & River Cruises Travel at our sole discretion. This offer may be withdrawn or modified at the discretion of Ocean & River Cruises Travel.
For River Cruises and Luxury Cruises, we offer competitive bonus amenities on every voyage that add up to great additional value. For a custom proposal, or to request a promotional match of a competitors offer, please contact us.
Ocean & River Cruises Travel - Terms & Conditions of Booking
All bookings are governed by both your cruise line, airline or other supplier regulations. In addition,Ocean & River Cruises Travel standard Terms & Conditions govern all bookings.