Experienced cruisers will confirm cruising is hands down the very best way to see the world: it’s a floating one-stop shop with accommodations, excellent restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and stops at exotic ports with no stress attached.
Are they considering a cruise? We asked John Latimer, VP of SkyMed Travel, SkyMed International’s in-house travel agency—and a veteran cruiser in his own right—to help us with a list of the top 10 cruise questions for new cruisers.
Isn’t cruising expensive?
Not when you see what you get for your money: hotel accommodations, all meals, arrivals, and departures at the ports, room service… Cruises are pretty much all-inclusive, and many include alcohol, Wi-Fi, gratuities, and excursions.
Should I buy my tours onboard or offshore?
My best advice is to talk to your travel advisor. Booking your excursions through the ship is probably the safest way, but there may be other tours they don’t offer that you might want to take. A good travel agent will recommend what’s best for you on many levels (safety, budget, level of adventure) at each of the ports where the ship docks. Also, it’s always a good idea to book in advance, because the suitable tours usually fill up quickly.
How do I get to the departure port?
If we book the air with the cruise line, they will meet and greet you at the airport and whisk you off to the ship. If you book separately, you’ll need a taxi. I always advise arriving at the port city airport the night before and booking a hotel. You never know what delays you may bump into, especially of the weather variety, and you don’t want to miss the boat (literally!)
Is it crowded onboard one of those big ships?
Although the megaships can hold up to 6,000 passengers, the sheer size of the ship will keep you from feeling like you’re in a crowd. Of course, there’s always a place to get away should you want to. Most cruise travelers enjoy mingling and meeting new people over dinner, entertainment, the pool… There’s so much to do!
Is there a limit to the luggage I can take?
Generally no, but I don’t recommend taking much more than you would for a regular land trip. Remember: storage space is limited in your cabin!
Will I get seasick?
Not typically because of the size of the ships and how stable they are. However, if you feel you might stop in to see your doctor before you leave, you can also obtain seasickness pills on board the ship.
What happens if I get sick?
According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), All cruise ships have a medical professional on board who is licensed and trained in minor surgery and emergency care with a minimum of three years of clinical experience. In addition, the infirmary usually has several beds and is set up to treat minor non-emergency illnesses or stabilize passengers facing life-threatening conditions.
Will my health insurance cover me?
Travelers should check the coverage of their health insurance plan, and they should always carry their cards with them. Onboard doctors usually don’t charge for minor things like seasickness pills, but most items from the pharmacy will be more expensive than on-shore. Most travelers may not realize their health insurance plan typically doesn’t travel outside the United States. Should they have a life-threatening or critical emergency, the ship will dock at the closest port, wherever that may be, which is why we recommend travelers carry travel insurance with medical expenses and evacuation coverage such as that offered by SkyMed International. SkyMed has a 24-hour emergency and medical assistance hotline that will expedite the process for your care and eventual return back to your home hospital.
Should I buy travel insurance?
While cruising doesn’t need to be an extraordinary expense, it’s still a considerable amount that you could lose should you need to cancel. A comprehensive travel insurance policy will cover trip cancellation due to any number of reasons, including sickness, injury (of yourself or a traveling companion), delayed flights, and more. In addition, it typically includes coverage for lost luggage and or replacement of lost or stolen travel documents. Make sure you read the fine print of any policy you purchase to make sure it covers your needs.
And the top cruise question asked by travelers
Do I need a passport for my cruise?
Yes, and here’s why: almost every country requires one for entry. Of course, there are exceptions, but it’s not worth the risk. For example, suppose your cruise begins and ends in the same U.S. territory (a “closed-loop” trip); you can enter or depart the country on the cruise with proof of citizenship. For anyone 16 or older, a recognized government-issued photo ID will suffice. Under 16 requires an original or copy of their birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where they were born). However, there may be one or more Caribbean islands on your itinerary that do require a passport to enter—ergo, and you’ll need to take a passport whether it’s a closed-loop trip or not.
Another important consideration: should you take ill aboard the shop and need to be taken to the nearest port for emergency medical attention, you’ll be required to have a passport to leave the country in case of an emergency medical evacuation situation.
Also, contrary to some people saying leave the passport in the safe on board the ship when you go on an excursion, I suggest taking it with you: should the ship leave without your passport, that’s one document you don’t want sailing; into the sunset without you!