FAQs - Planning Your Cruise
What are the benefits of taking a cruise vacation?
There are many benefits to cruising. Some of our favorites include all-inclusive meals, unlimited entertainment options, and traveling from one destination to the next from the comfort of your ship (plus, only having to unpack once). Rather than spending your travel time in a car or on a train, you can be watching Broadway-style shows, eating fine cuisine, swimming in the pool, and sleeping in your private cabin.
I want to take a "traditional" cruise. What do you suggest?
A "traditional" cruise may be one with pre-assigned dining times and table mates, and with formal nights (men wear suits or tuxedos and women wear pantsuits or cocktail dresses).
I want to take a "non-traditional" cruise. What do you suggest?
A "nontraditional" cruise may be one with open dinner seating (eat when you want, where you want, and with whom you want) and casual attire at all times.
Are some ships better than others for children?
While most cruise lines offer supervised activities for children-such as swimming, sports, movies, and games-some ships don't, and some ships have better programs than others. In addition, some programs have minimum age requirements (generally age 2 or 3). Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin can help you select the right ship for you family.
Can I book an adults-only cruise?
If you want to take a cruise without the kids (yours, or anybody else's), you have a few options. Certain ships don't cater to children; while others actually discourage parents from bringing their children along. Though this doesn't guarantee a child-free cruise, it does greatly reduce the number of children onboard.
I'm traveling alone. Will the cruise line help me find a roommate?
Some cruise lines will help solo travelers find roommates of the same gender. Cruise Holidays can help you find these cruises.
Are there nonsmoking cruises?
Although there are no nonsmoking cruise ships, all ships do have designated nonsmoking areas, including most cabins, restaurants (including main dining rooms), and public areas.
There are so many itinerary choices. How do I pick one?
Consider your interests before deciding on a destination. Do you like warm-weather destinations? Consider the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Hawaii, or the South Pacific. Are you interested in history? Think about Europe or the Mediterranean. Also consider how many days the ship spends at sea vs. in port. If you like a lot of activity and variety consider an itinerary with more days in port; if you like spending time on the open ocean, consider an itinerary with more "at sea" days.
What are the different cabin categories?
All cabins are classified as one of four categories: Inside, oceanview, oceanview with balcony, or suite:
Inside cabins are generally the smallest cabins onboard and have no views.
Oceanview cabins have windows or portholes.
Oceanview cabins with balconies have windows and ocean-facing balconies.
Suites have windows and oftentimes balconies; they're generally the largest cabins onboard and offer the most amenities.
What is included in the cruise price?
Generally, the cruise price includes drinks like coffee, tea, and water; standard meals; room service; the use of gymnasium equipment; and most shipboard entertainment.
What is not included in the cruise price?
Generally, the cruise price does not include specialty drinks like sodas, specialty coffees, and alcoholic beverages; meals in alternative restaurants; spa and salon services; exercise classes like yoga and Pilates; casino gaming; organized shore excursions; photographs; medical services; gratuities; and gift shop purchases.
What are port charges?
Port charges are small fees a cruise ship must pay to use a port of call. They include the following:
Are passengers expected to tip?
Gratuity policies vary widely. For example, some cruise lines add the suggested gratuities (roughly $10 per person, per day) automatically to your onboard account on embarkation day. After that, you have the ability to increase or decrease the amount based on individual service by visiting the information desk. Other lines provide envelopes toward the end of the cruise for you to put cash in and distribute to the appropriate waiters and room stewards. And, on many of the luxury lines, gratuities are already included in your cruise fare. Bottom line: Be sure to check your line's policy so that you are aware of what is being charged -- and what is expected.
Can unaccompanied minors cruise?
Unaccompanied minors cannot cruise. Each cabin must have at least one adult as a guest. Some cruise lines require the adult to be at least 21 years old and some cruise lines the adult must be at least 25. Be sure to ask your Personal Cruise Expert.
What's the minimum cruising age?
Most cruise lines ask that children be at least six months old to sail.
What's the onboard drinking age?
Most cruise ships maintain a minimum drinking age of 21 while in international waters or at foreign ports. However, some ships have a minimum drinking age of 18.
Why does it cost so much to book a single-passenger cabin?
Each cruise line bases its cabin rates on double occupancy. When you travel alone, you will pay an extra "single supplement" fee to make up for lost revenue. This supplement will vary by cruise line and by sailing. Often the supplement can be 200% which means you are essentially paying double to have a room by yourself.
Can I book a group?
Yes, we are group experts! We are very knowledgeable in booking group space and can offer suggestions to make your group cruise a success. There may even be perks available to you, as a group leader. It's important to let Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin know you are interested in booking a group.
How far in advance can I book a cruise?
It depends on the cruise line and the particular itinerary. Many cruise lines accept bookings more than a year in advance. Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin will be glad to check availability for any itinerary you are interested in booking early.
Can I book my cruise with a debit card?
Yes, you may use a debit card; however, some debit cards cannot be verified. In this case, you will be required to use a credit card for booking. For your security, some banks impose a daily spending limit on debit cards.
Can I change the spelling of a passenger's name after I book the cruise?
Many cruise lines will not let you change a passenger's name, or even that name's spelling, after you complete your reservation. If they do allow changes, a fee will likely be tacked onto the change. Therefore, please be absolutely certain that all passengers' names are spelled exactly as they appear on their proof of citizenship (passports, or government-issued photo IDs and birth certificates).
Do I have to book cruise line airfare?
You are not required to book cruise line airfare. However, there are several benefits to booking your flights through the cruise line. Some cruise lines offer complimentary roundtrip shuttle service between the airport and the ship. Another benefit is that, if you miss your cruise ship due to flight delays from mechanical problems, the cruise line will make an effort to get you to the next port of call to join the cruise. (The cruise line may not assist you when delays are caused by inclement weather; therefore, we highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance.)
How will I know when my final payment is due?
All payment due dates will be listed in your invoice from Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin.
How do I make my final payment?
Call Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin to make your final payment.
I'm going on a cruise for my honeymoon. Can I travel under my married name?
To make traveling as easy as possible, we suggest that you travel under the name listed on your proof of citizenship (passport, or government-issued photo ID and birth certificate). If you would like to travel under your new name and you haven't yet updated your identification, you MUST bring a copy of your marriage certificate. Otherwise, you will not be allowed to board the ship.
If your proof of citizenship is a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID, and your photo ID reflects your new name, you must bring a copy of your marriage certificate, as the name on your photo ID will not match the name listed on your birth certificate.
I now have a different name than the one on my birth certificate. Will this create a problem?
If the name listed on your birth certificate does not match the name listed on your government-issued photo ID, you must bring any legal documentation, such as a marriage certificate, that explains why the names do not match. The only way you can bypass this step is by using a passport that matches the name under which you booked your cruise.
I have to cancel my cruise. Will I get a refund?
Whether you receive a refund depends on two things: When you cancel the cruise, and if you purchased travel insurance. Cancellation timelines vary by cruise line and actual sailing. To best protect yourself, we highly suggest that you purchase the travel insurance.
Is there such a thing as a "frequent cruiser club?"
Just like each airline has its own "frequent flyer club," each cruise line too has its own "frequent cruiser club." Be sure to let Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin know that you are a previous guest on a cruise line. You may be entitled to a discount or an onboard amenity such as an invitation to the Captain's cocktail party.
Should I purchase the travel insurance?
Whether or not to purchase the travel protection plan is an individual decision. However, we highly recommend that you purchase the plan to protect your vacation investment. If you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason (including injury, sickness, or death for you, a travel companion, or an immediate family member), you'll be protected against losing your entire investment. The travel protection plan also protects you against any emergencies while you are on your cruise.
Can I add a passenger to my cabin at a later date?
You may be able to add another passenger, depending on the cabin's passenger capacity and the point at which you decide to add the passenger; however, there is no guarantee that the person can be added, or that the price would stay the same. If you would like to add another passenger, please call Cruise Holidays of Northwest Austin.
Can I change a passenger in my cabin?
Many cruise lines will not let you change a passenger's name after you complete your reservation. If they do allow changes, a fee will likely be tacked on to the change.
Should I upgrade to an oceanview or balcony cabin?
Different passengers have different cabin preferences. Some passengers book an inside cabin in order to save money, the difference between an inside and an outside or and outside and a balcony cabin can be as little as $100 per person, so the choice to upgrade is not as daunting as it might appear. Also, many new ships now have a large quantity of balcony cabins, making them more affordable than ever before.