FAQ

Cruise Connections CME

What is Cruise Connections CME?

Cruise Connections CME is a fresh approach to CME, one that combines Education, Relaxation and Rejuvenation for your mind, body and spirit. We offer for-credit courses aboard spectacular cruise ships, to beautiful and fascinating destinations.

During your time on board, you’ll participate in general sessions and workshops developed by our Medical Advisory Board. We’ll combine comprehensive programs for developing and managing your practice with information and education to expand life skills like leadership, fitness and nutrition. To enhance your family’s experience, we also offer supplementary programs for your partners and spouses.

 


 

How is the Cruise Connections CME program different from other CME programs?

Traditional CME offers you the medical knowledge you need for your practice. What it doesn’t offer is a holistic approach to enhancing every aspect of the successful medical practice – medical knowledge, physical and emotional health, financial and practice management, and rewarding personal relationships. That’s what we offer, in a spectacular setting that helps physicians and their families make the most of their vacation time.

Our innovative learning environment – aboard a magnificent cruise ship – will keep you happy, healthy and relaxed while you get the best in CME from some of Canada’s finest physicians. With Cruise Connections CME, you’ll gain technical, management and life knowledge to benefit your practice, while enjoying all the benefits of being aboard an elegant luxury cruise ship destined for magnificent ports of call.

Cruise Connections CME is a division of Cruise Connections Canada. Cruise Connections is owned by a family that includes over 20 physicians – people who understand the medical profession, its demanding lifestyle and the unique needs of physicians and their families. That understanding is reflected in every detail of Cruise Connections CME.

 


 

I’m looking for an intellectually challenging and stimulating CME experience. Why should I choose Cruise Connections CME?

We are pleased to offer our Recent Advances Conference Series, developed by our Medical Advisory Board to keep you informed of the most important recent contributions to evidence-based knowledge in many areas, including Obesity, Cardiology, Chronic Diseases Update and Diabetes/Endocrinology. Our speakers have been chosen for their knowledge and leadership skills, and their passion for adult learning.

 


 

What does the Cruise Connections CME class schedule look like?

We’ve designed intellectually rigorous courses with shorter classes that hold your attention, while giving you time to exercise, rest and relax between classes – so that you are well rested and most able to learn.

 


 

How many CME credits can I earn?

For the Tahiti March Conference, you will earn up to 32 CME credits.

 


 

Can I bring my spouse and children?

Absolutely. In fact, with Cruise Connections CME, your spouse travels free and the ships offer a variety of activities for the family.

 


 

How many Cruise Connections CME cruises are you offering this year in conjunction with the OMA?

We will be offering two conferences in 2015 in conjunction with the OMA.  Tahiti – March 15-25, 2015 and Vietnam/Thailand – November 18 – December 2, 2015.


 

Will there be more Cruise Connections CME cruises next year?

Yes. The 2016 sailings will be posted as soon as they are available. Visit our website regularly for updates on next year’s exciting offers.

 


 

Who accredits our CME programs?

All of our programs thus far have been accredited by the Canadian College of Family Physicians (Category Mainpro M1) and those credits are fully reciprocal with the AMA (Category 1).

 

 


 

When will I receive my CME certificate?

Your CME Certificate will be sent out 8 weeks after the return of the departure.

 


 

What do I need to do to book my cruise?

Call and speak to a Cruise Connections CME Coordinator. We have a convenient toll free number: 1-866-628-9283 and are open Monday – Friday. You can also click on the “Register Now” button.

 


 

General Questions About Cruising


 

Can I afford to go on a cruise? Is it good value for my vacation dollar?

Absolutely! There are cruises available to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to ultra luxurious. Cruising is one of the best travel choices for maximum value for your money. Your price includes all meals, your accommodation, most shipboard activities, evening parties and entertainment. Cruising is great value because you pay for most of your holiday before you go. (Your only extra expenses will be drinks, optional shore excursions, tipping and personal services such as spa treatments or salon services.)

 


 

When should I cruise?

Cruises are offered year round, so no matter when you want to go, you are almost guaranteed that there is a cruise to somewhere. Cruises to the Caribbean are available year round. Other destinations are available seasonally. For example: you can only cruise to Alaska between May and September; to Europe between April and November; to Bermuda, between April and October; and the Panama Canal between September and April.

 


 

What about Hurricane Season?

The greatest concentration of hurricane and tropical storm activity tends to be between late August and mid-October. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cruise at this time of year. Some of the best cruising deals are available and you can rest assured that the cruise line and Captain on board would never put you at risk. Cruise ships are safer than land-based Caribbean holidays because they can move away from the storm. Today’s ultra-modern cruise ships are equipped with state-of-the-art weather equipment that keeps the Captain and his crew fully aware of a storm’s position. If there is any risk to the guests, crew, or the ship the Captain can alter the ship’s course and avoid the storm.

 


 

Are there certain times of the year that are more affordable to cruise?

Less expensive cruises are frequently offered between the end of August (when summer vacation is over and people are back to work and school) and the sailing before Christmas. During this time there are great deals to be had like 2-for-1’s, and reduced rates for 3rd and 4th guests. Special deals for senior citizens, regional offers, past guest discounts, or last minute deals are often also offered more frequently during this time than during the Winter, Spring, or Summer months. Cruises during Christmas and New Year’s, Thanksgiving and Spring Break tend to be more expensive as this is a popular time to travel.

 


 

Where can I go on a cruise?

Anywhere you can possibly imagine! Cruises visit practically every destinations accessible by water — the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Bermuda, Europe, Hawaii, the Greek Isles, the Mediterranean, the Orient, Australia, Tahiti, the Galapagos Islands, South America, India, the Panama Canal and more.

 


 

How long are cruises?

As long as you want! Many of the most popular cruises are between 3 and 14 days. However a cruise can vary from three days to three months. Whatever your schedule, we’ll do our best to find the cruise for you.

 


 

How do I know what cruise is best for me if I’ve never cruised before?

You may have to do some homework to answer this question or speak to a Cruise Connections consultant who can help you with your decision. Selecting a cruise depends on many factors – your personality, your likes and dislikes, where you want to go and how much money you want to spend. The best cruise line for you might not be the best line for someone else. There are many cruise lines and ships to choose from, but if you can zero in on one which may be best for you, you can be assured you’ll have a great time and get the most for your vacation dollar.

Some of the things you should consider are:

  • Price – how much do you want to spend?
  • The Ship (its age, size, style of accommodations) – what’s your preference?
  • Itinerary- where do you want to go?
  • Passengers (interests, ages, etc.) – what do you like to do?
  • On board activities and shore excursions – what interests you?

There are also some excellent cruising guides (available at libraries or bookstores) and magazines (Cruise Travel, Porthole). Additionally, each cruise line produces a brochure and most have informative web sites.

 


 

Are there different classes of service?

Today’s cruise ships do not have booking class distinctions and all guests on board can use all of the ship’s facilities. Cruise pricing varies with your stateroom category, which differ primarily on its size and location on the ship. You’ll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else on board regardless of what category you purchase. (The only exception is the Queen Elizabeth 2 where your stateroom category dictates which restaurant you will dine in.)

 


 

What if I get bored and feel confined?

This likely won’t happen. With so much to see and do, this usually isn’t a problem. Cruise ships make great use of on board space, making you feel like there is lots of room for everyone on board. It’ll probably take you a few days just to figure out where everything is! Cruising is great because it gives you the choice to do as much or as little as you please. You can spend time alone lounging on deck enjoying the sun or reading a good book. Or, you can join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests and other organized deck activities. Take in a game of tennis or go for a jog around the deck. Swim, relax in the spa or try your luck in the casino. You can see a feature movie, attend a lecture by renowned experts, or enjoy a game of backgammon or bridge. The activities don’t end there. Shore excursions and tours are a popular way to spend time in port. Or maybe you’d prefer to walk around, shop and explore on your own. The beauty of a cruise is its flexibility – you can do whatever you want.

 


 

Will I get seasick?

Probably not. Many popular cruise destinations (like Alaska, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean) have some of the calmest waters for sailing in the world. Stabilizers on modern ships and advanced weather information also help to ensure a high level of comfort for guests on board. Additionally, the development of preventative medications, have aided in minimizing incidents of motion sickness. If you have concerns, it may be beneficial to speak to your physician and see what he/she recommends.

 


 

What does my cruise fare include?

Your cruise fare includes your accommodations, meals and entertainment on board. Items of a personal nature are not included, such as alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, spa treatments, certain specialty exercise classes, laundry, photographs, casino, ship-to-shore phone, e-mail, Internet, fax communications and shore excursions. Government taxes and fees are also not included.

 


 

What if I don’t want to do any organized activities?

On a cruise, you do what you want to. You can do everything. Or lie back and do absolutely nothing. It’s your vacation. Activities are a great way to meet people and there are so many you can choose from – everything from pool games, to wine tasting, to bingo, to dance lessons, but you never have to participate in any of these programs if you are not interested.

 


 

What kind of evening entertainment is available?

Nighttime is when life aboard a cruise ship really turns on. There’s dancing; live entertainment in nightclubs, discos and lounges; feature films; and parties with all your new friends. Most ships have casinos where you can try your luck at the slots, or maybe play a little blackjack. There are also many special events you’ll want to attend such as the Captain’s Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, the Masquerade Parade, the Late Night Buffet (just for one last bite to tide you over until breakfast). And the night can go on as long as you want. Even until the spectacle of a sunrise at sea. Just be sure to get enough rest for the things you have planned for the next day!

 


 

Do I have to pay for on board entertainment?

No – the cost of entertainment is included in your cruise fare. You are free to attend all the shows and see as many bands as you want. Many popular movies are shown on board and there is no charge for these either.

 


 

What can I do when the ship is docked in port?

So much you’ll have a hard time choosing! You can explore on your own or take a guided tour (referred to as shore excursions). Most cruise lines offer organized shore excursions and tours that you can arrange on board. These are guided outings that take you on everything from tours of ancient ruins and city sightseeing, to snorkeling or diving to shopping. Or you may choose to venture off on your own to see what the port has to offer. Either way, you’re free to do what you like, as long as you are back in time for departure. Many ports offer great duty free shopping where you can pick up some excellent bargains. Perhaps you’d rather spend the day on a local beach; partake in a game of golf; or climb a waterfall or pyramid. The choices are literally endless and your trip will be what you make of it. In short, cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of new destinations and try all the things you’ve dreamed of doing, while never having to pack and unpack!

 


 

If I don’t go on a shore excursion, what else is there to do?

If you don’t want to go on an organized tour, you can always venture off on your own. Many destinations offer their own tours, which can usually be arranged close to the port. You can take a leisurely stroll around the port town or city you are visiting. Sample the local cuisine or shop for great souvenirs. Or you can always stay on the ship. Often on days in port, most people go ashore. This leaves areas like the pool deck quiet with no crowds – perfect for soaking in the sun, or taking a relaxing swim in the pool.

You can also choose to go ashore for a few hours and then return to the ship for the balance of the day. You are free to come and go as you please. Just don’t be late when the ship is set to sail! Organized tours can provide great insight in a short period of time into the destination you are visiting. Local guides with a great deal of knowledge and pride about their town host many of the excursions and you can learn many interesting things from them. Tours are well organized and usually well worth the money you pay for them.

If you are cruising in Europe, and some other parts of the world, organized shore excursions may be the easiest and most efficient means of getting to the area’s attractions. With many destinations, local portside transportation is to the port city only. However, the area of interest may not be in the port city itself but may be a distance away and not as accessible. For example, Rome is located three hours travelling distance from the port city of Civitavecchia.

 


 

Are there age restrictions to go on a cruise?

There are two parts to this question:

1. How old do you have to be to cruise without a guardian?

Most cruise lines have a minimum age requirement of 21 for young people travelling without their parents. If any occupant in the cabin is under 21, then a passenger at least 25 years old must be booked in the cabin with them. This rule applies to married couples as well. The only exception is that children under age 21 may be allowed to have their own cabin as long as the parents are booked in the cabin next door or across the hall. In other cases, the cruise line will require that, for booking purposes, one parent is placed in each cabin and then guests can switch around once on board.

2. What is the minimum age to get on a cruise ship?

Some family-oriented cruise lines, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney, may have minimum age restrictions on their very young guests travelling with their parents. In other words, they require that babies be at least 12 – 16 weeks old to travel and maybe older for longer and exotic itineraries. Even if a child meets the age requirement, some lines require that they be at least 2 – 3 years old to join the children’s activity program. Other lines, such as Princess and Disney, capacity-control the number of children of any given age on every sailing, especially over holidays. And some cruise lines do not accept any guest under age 17. As each cruise line is different, it’s always best to check with your Cruise Connections agent about the policy of the cruise line you are considering.

On board facilities for children and families can vary widely so be sure to investigate this fully. Some cruise lines charge a child’s fare based on the cabin type being purchased. Budget and contemporary cruise lines usually have the most to offer and may have a child’s fare available. The luxury and specialty products may not offer third or fourth occupancy in a cabin or even a reduced fare for extra guests. Once again, check with your Cruise Connections agent for the most accurate rate quotes and the cruise line’s policies.

 


 

Is there a minimum drinking age on board?

You must be at least 21 years old to legally consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages on a cruise ship. You may even be asked to present identification to the bartender, so be sure to have this handy.

 


 

How easy is it to make new friends?

A cruise ship is the perfect environment to meet people because everyone is so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed and comfortable. And you’ll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. Dinner is probably one of the easiest places to make new friends, particularly if you are seated at a large table. You’ll also strike up conversations during cocktails; around the pool; along the promenade rail, or in the gym. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard ship again next year.

 


 

Will there be others with similar interests to me on board?

Most likely! Cruises attract all kinds of people, from every background and different walks of life. Cruise passengers are any age and can be singles, couples, families and friends. You are bound to find several just like you! No matter what you’ve heard to the contrary, there’s no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! Just ask your Cruise Connections agent for advice on the best ship for you based on your preferences and lifestyle.

 


 

I’m looking for a vacation for my family. Is cruising appropriate for children?

Families with children book one third of all cruise vacations. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate. Most cruise lines have specific services and provide supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. Many have specially designed children’s programs that divide kids up into age groups and offer age-appropriate games and sports. Most new cruise ships are built to accommodate children and have dedicated specific public rooms to children’s activities and interests. With all there is for kids to do on board, you can be assured they won’t get bored! The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained – allowing you the peace of mind to relax because you’re on vacation too.

 


 

Are cruises a good choice for single people?

Cruising is ideal for people travelling alone because making new friends is so easy. Most ships have parties just for singles early on in the cruise, so you can start to be involved right away. Some ships also have single stateroom accommodations, as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, a cruise line can even find you a roommate (same sex) to share a double cabin if you ask.

 


 

Would honeymooners enjoy cruising?

Definitely! Cruising has the perfect atmosphere for romance…cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars) and so much more to remember forever. Many cruise lines have sailings that depart on Sunday or Monday making it easy to plan around a Saturday ceremony. Honeymooners may also be treated to welcome champagne and breakfast in bed. (And, speaking of beds, most ships have them in double, queen, or king sizes!) Also, some ships offer special programs for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing your marriage vows in port. These vary by cruise line and ship – ask us for details!

 


 

Isn’t this too good to be true?

The one major complaint heard time and again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it’s hard to find any negatives. With only having to unpack once, and so many great destinations to enjoy, how can you not have fun? The food is fabulous, the entertainment exciting, and there is so much to do that it’s hard to know where to start first! The only job you have is to relax and enjoy your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member on board is dedicated to making your cruise vacation the best vacation of your life (until you top it next year with your next cruise!)

 


 

What if I still have some questions?

There are some excellent guidebooks available on cruising (Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Berlitz, etc.). These should be available at your library or local bookstore. There are also great magazines for the consumer on both cruising and travel in general. Popular cruise magazines include Cruise Travel, Ocean & Cruise News and Porthole. These are available at bookstores and also by subscription and provide lots of great information and reviews you might find interesting and helpful. CLIA – Cruise Line International Association also has some good information about cruising in general on its website – www.cruising.org

 


 

What else do I need to know to ensure I have a great cruise?

If you go into your cruise vacation with a positive attitude you will have a good time. Cruising, and any holiday for that matter, is all about what you make of it. The cruise line provides choices beyond compare with something for everyone. With 100 to 3,000 people on board they work very hard to keep everyone happy. But we all know that you can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Recognize that everything can’t be just the way you want it. Get to know the crew members – dining room staff, cruise director and staff, your cabin steward, etc. It’s their job to ensure you are well taken care of, but it never hurts to makes friends with the people that clean your cabin or bring you dinner. Of course there are people who will never be happy – they are everywhere and seem to make it their job to be unhappy. Just make sure you are having a good time!

 


 

Booking Your Cruise


 

What do I need to do to book my cruise?

Call and speak to a CMEatSEA Coordinator. We have a convenient toll free number: 1-888-523-3732 and are open 7 days a week. Call Cruise Connections! We have a convenient toll free number: 1-800-661-WAVE and are open 7 days a week. You can also click on the “Register Now” button on our Sailing pages.


 

What if I want to extend my cruise vacation?

Through Cruise Connections CME, your CME Coordinator and can arrange pre- or post-cruise land packages at the same time you book your cruise holiday. These are available through the cruise line or our own land arrangements department and may include transfers or a rental car. This is a great way to see more of your embarkation or departure city, as well as rest up, particularly if you are travelling overseas.

 


 

How can I pay for my cruise? What are the deposit and final payment requirements?

We always recommend that you use a credit card to book your trip. It’s convenient, safe, and you get extra protection for your vacation from your credit card company. But if you prefer, we can accept certified cheques or money orders payable to Cruise Connections.

The deposit for Tahiti is $1500 USD and due at the time of booking and the final payment date is November 10, 2014.

 


 

What are the benefits of cancellation insurance?

Without insurance, if you cancel your cruise after final payment, you will suffer penalties and likely lose money. These penalties can be viewed at http://ms.cruise-connections.com/cme091819/.

Things to consider about whether or not to purchase insurance include:

  • Can you afford to lose this money?
  • Do you have a pre-existing medical condition?
  • Is your trip relatively expensive?
  • Are you leaving the country for 10 days or longer?
  • Are you at a point in your life where you are susceptible to accident or illness?
  • Are you booking your own air transportation?
  • Is your own insurance limited to medical expenses in Canada or the U.S.?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to consider insurance. Insurance typically costs about 10% of your total trip cost and usually covers baggage, trip delay, trip interruption, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. The cruise line’s insurance typically doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, but there are other insurance policies available to cover these situations. Ask your agent for a brochure explaining it in more detail. If you have to use insurance, it’s definitely worth the extra dollars.

 


 

What type of Trip Cancellation / Interruption Insurance does Cruise Connections Canada offer?

Through Cruise Connections, CMEatSEA offers a comprehensive and competitive selection of travel insurance programs provided by TravelGuard.

Benefits include:

  • Unlimited emergency and hospital medical care (Canadian residents only)
  • Default (Bankruptcy) coverage for any cruise line or travel provider
  • Comprehensive trip cancellation and interruption coverage
  • Baggage loss and delay

These are just a few of the many benefits contained in this valuable protection. While travel insurance is not obligatory, we strongly recommend this coverage. Remember, you could lose your entire investment and miss your vacation should something unexpected happen.

 


 

Airline Reservations

What’s an air/sea cruise?

If you don’t live near the port of embarkation, the air-sea package is the easiest, most popular and least expensive way to purchase your cruise. A fly/cruise or air/sea cruise vacation package includes either free or much reduced airfare along with your cruise ticket. These money-saving options are available from most major North American cities and include transfers between the airport and ship, as well as baggage handling. The choice of airline, routing and flight times are at the discretion of the cruise line. No changes or deviations are permitted once the tickets have been issued. Airline schedules are generally not available from the cruise line until 30 days prior to sailing. Cruise lines may use space aboard chartered flights or regular scheduled airlines at their discretion.

If you are sailing from Florida and live west of the Rockies, you may have to fly a day prior to your cruise. This is a result of airline schedules and the difference in time zones, which make it difficult to ensure your arrival in time to board the ship. If this is the case, you will generally receive a complimentary overnight at a first class hotel for the night prior to your cruise. The flight schedule and hotel selection is at the cruise line’s discretion. Pack an overnight bag as your luggage may be transferred to the ship ahead of you.

Do I have to buy the cruise line’s airfare or can I book my own flights?

If you can find better airfare rates on your own or have frequent flyer points then you can certainly purchase your airfare separately. However, understand that if you have any flight delays on flights arranged apart from the cruise line, then it will be your responsibility (and cost) to meet the ship in the next port of call if necessary. Be aware that insurance would protect a missed connection or travel delay claim. If you book with the cruise line, transfers to and from the ship will be provided.

If I purchase my own airfare, will the cruise line provide transfers to and from the ship?

f you book your own flights, you are generally also responsible for your transportation between the airport and ship. However, most cruise lines are now offering one way and roundtrip transfers to their cruise-only passengers who book their own airfare. Some lines will offer them on a complimentary basis, but most charge about the same as a taxi ride to and from the ship. These transfers include baggage handling to the ship. Your CMEatSEA coordinator can make arrangements to add your transfers once you give us your confirmed flight schedule and add the cost to your passenger invoice.

Are seat assignments available in advance?

The Cruise Lines and your CMEatSEA Coordinator do not arrange seat selection. Once we receive your air schedule, we will send you a detailed copy of the itinerary, along with the contact numbers for the airlines for you to arrange your seat assignments.

What is an air deviation?

The cruise line will always do its very best to get you to and from your port of embarkation on the most direct and convenient flights out of your airport gateway. However scheduling is at the cruise line’s discretion and can be on any airline on any flight schedule that will affordably get you to your port of embarkation before the ship sails. This means that if you’re from Calgary, and the main carrier, Air Canada, has a flight from Calgary, through Toronto to Miami – this is probably what you will get booked on. However, if the cruise line can’t get affordable space on that flight they could fly you on a US carrier through one or two US cities before reaching Miami.

Some cruise lines offer special custom air programs – Air Deviations – that allow you to request a specific airline and routing for a nominal fee. If you are travelling during a peak holiday period such as Christmas, New Year’s or Spring Break, we highly recommend this option. We also recommend Air Deviations for those passengers travelling with young children or for those people who may have physical or mental challenges. The deadline for these requests is usually 60 – 75 days prior to the sailing date or within three days of your cruise reservation if you booked less than 60 – 75 days prior to the sailing date.

Deviations give you a lot of flexibility. You can arrive early, stay extra days at the end of a cruise, or maybe build in a stopover. You can also fly business class or first class. Advance seat selection may also be available – assuming the airline assigns seat at that time. This alone is worth it at times, especially on long flights.

What if I decline an air deviation and then get flights I don’t like? Can I cancel my cruise

If you choose to cancel your cruise you will be subjected to the penalties imposed by the cruise line. These penalties are outlined in their brochures. Unfortunately, being unhappy with your flight arrangements is not covered under cancellation insurance.

Can I change my flights to arrive earlier or leave later?

Sure, if you purchase an air deviation. This is just another example of the flexibility of an air deviation. You may come in up to 2 weeks prior to your cruise departure or stay up to 2 weeks after your cruise. This depends on your cruise line. These requests must be made in writing prior to your final payment and the cruise line will add an air deviation charge. If you have booked your own flights, or did not book an air deviation, it may not be possible to change your flight arrangements after the fact. Discuss this with your CMEatSEA Coordinator.

Will I get frequent flyer points if I book the cruise line’s air?

If you are a Frequent Flyer member of the airline chosen for your cruise, mileage points may be credited to you. Advise the ticket agent at the check-in counter of your frequent flyer number. Remember, mileage credit is subject to the rules and regulations of the air carrier.

Can I use my frequent flyer points to upgrade to First or Business Class?

This may only be possible if you elect to make your own air arrangements. The cruise lines usually book what they call “bulk rate” tickets. These are fares that are not available to the general public and are sold to the cruise lines at a volume discount. Because these fares are usually lower than public fares, the airlines will generally decline frequent flyer or mileage upgrades, but it never hurts to ask. Check with your airline once you have your flight details. Passengers electing to take advantage of air deviation will have their flights within days of their air deviation requests. Non-deviating passengers will have their flight schedules 29 days prior to travel.

Can I use a frequent flyer ticket for one ticket and buy the other from the cruise line and get the same flights for both?

Yes, this may be possible. Book and confirm the flight you are getting with your frequent flyer points. Advise your CMEatSEA Coordinator of the flight details including flight numbers and times and we will submit an air deviation request for those same flights. Remember, there will be an air deviation charge, but it’s a small price to pay considering the money you’re saving on the free ticket. Our passengers do it all the time.

What if I miss the ship because of a weather related or mechanical delay?

If you booked your airfare with the cruise line, the cruise line should make the arrangements to get you to the ship, even if it means flying you to the next port of call and putting you up in a hotel for a night or two. They may or may not choose to reimburse you for the unused portion of the cruise, depending on what you negotiate upon your return. If you booked your own airfare, then it will be your own responsibility in every respect to get to the next port of call. The cruise line will not reimburse you for any expenses you may incur. Fortunately, insurance bought separately from the cruise line includes travel delay and missed connection features. Read the fine print though; sometimes there are weather related disclaimers. Check with your agent when booking your airfare separately on what your insurance will cover for you.

Shipboard Accommodations

If I don’t plan to spend a lot of time in my stateroom, what is the cheapest cabin I can book?

The most affordable way to get on the ship is to book an “inside guarantee.” The rate is often a little lower than the rate for the lowest category on the ship and you could get a stateroom in any category. You will not receive a cabin number when you make your booking, it will be assigned as late as the day of sailing. You could receive the lowest category on the ship or the highest. However, your best bet to avoid unnecessary disappointment is to expect an inside cabin. The drawback is that you don’t know where you’ll end up; the bonus is you could end up with something better then you expected. It could be the front, back or middle, so if that’s a concern to you, we recommend avoiding this pricing program. Since most cabins on today’s ships only differ by the fact they’re on a different deck and may be slightly different in size, many people don’t mind taking a chance of where they end up, particularly if they are travelling on a budget. Most of our clients who take advantage of this deal are quite satisfied with their accommodations. If you seriously plan to spend little time in your cabin, then you might want to consider this option – it will save you money you can spend elsewhere on your holiday.

Is an ocean-view stateroom worth the extra money?

This is a matter of personal preference. Do you like to look outside every morning and see what it is like outside? Do you savour the idea of sitting out on your own private verandah sipping your morning coffee? Your answers to questions like these will help you decide if you should spend the extra money on an ocean-view stateroom. One of the advantages of having an ocean-view cabin is that the natural light can make the space seem a lot larger. It also gives you some perception of time. In an inside cabin you have no idea what time it is! Some people feel this reason alone is worth the extra cost. If you want to know what the weather is like each day, it’s a lot easier to tell when you have a window in your room. However, many ships have live cameras from the Bridge Deck that show you exactly what it’s doing outside, all you have to do is turn on your TV.

Some people feel that a window isn’t worth the extra expense for the little amount of time you actually spend in the cabin, and would rather spend the money on shore excursions or shopping. The choice is yours. Ocean-view cabins generally cost about $100 more per person for a 7 or 10 night Caribbean cruise and about $200 more per person for a European or Exotic itinerary. Discuss the advantages of both types of staterooms with your CMEatSEA Coordinator. The one itinerary where we highly suggest an ocean-view cabin is Alaska. With daylight hours approaching 20 – 22 hours in the peak season, it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy it from your cabin.

What is the difference between staterooms on the lower decks and those up higher?

On today’s newer ships, there are basically four types of cabins: Inside Cabins – these are cabins without windows; Ocean-view Cabins – basically the same size as inside cabins only they have port holes or picture windows. Deluxe Cabins – about the same size or slightly larger than an ocean-view cabin and may have a private balcony which adds to the overall square footage of the cabin; and Suites – significantly larger than other cabins on the ship and often with a private balcony. You will find the Deluxe Cabins and Suites on the higher decks of a cruise ship, so yes; there is a difference here. However, Standard Inside Cabins or Standard Oceanview Cabins are basically all the same on any deck.

What are my chances of getting upgraded?

It does happen, but not as frequently as people would like to believe. Most upgrades go to passengers who book early and buy the lowest category on the ship in the form of a “Category Guarantee.” A “Category Guarantee” means that when you book your cruise, you are not assigned a cabin number; you are simply guaranteed that category or better. “Guarantees” are a great way to fill the ship with people looking for a good rate who don’t care where their cabin is located. The cruise lines always sell more guarantees in a category than there are cabins in that category. For example, the lowest rate on Celebrity Cruise Line’s Zenith is a category 12, inside cabin. There are approximately 6 category 12 cabins. However, on each sailing Celebrity will sell between 40 and 60 category 12 guarantees. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that 34 people are going to get a free upgrade. Usually these upgrades are given on a first-come-first-serve basis. Most upgrades are often from low inside cabins to higher inside cabins, or low ocean-view cabins to higher ocean-view cabins. Rarely do passengers get upgraded from inside to outside, but it does happen. But don’t book an inside cabin expecting a free upgrade to an ocean-view because you will likely be disappointed. If you are assigned a cabin number when you deposit on your cruise your chances of an upgrade are very small. If you are travelling in a quad, your chances for an upgrade are very small as there are so few quad cabins on board. Cabin assignments on guarantees are usually made between a few weeks and the day of sailing. If you don’t like the cabin they give you there usually isn’t much luck of getting it changed, especially if the sailing is sold out. So, if you’re afraid of being at the front, back, top, bottom or under the dining room, don’t take any chances and book directly into a cabin assignment.

If I think the motion of the ship might affect me, where should I choose a cabin?

While motion sickness shouldn’t be a major concern on today’s ships, you should still know the best way to avoid it if possible. The best location on board to minimize the affect of the ship’s motion is the middle of the ship. Cabins on the lower decks, closer to the bottom of the ship, are less affected by motion than those on higher decks. The higher you are, the greater the potential to feel a left to right rolling motion. Today’s ships are fully stabilized making your cruise comfortable in virtually any location. As a matter of fact, if motion discomfort were such an issue, the premium suites on a ship wouldn’t be at the top and near the front. To make sure you get the best cabin for you, book early. Additionally, motion sickness medications can also help relieve any symptoms you may have.

How many people will fit in my cabin?

Most cruise ship cabins are built to accommodate two passengers. However, there are many on each ship that can accommodate three and four guests quite easily. Carnival, Celebrity, and Disney all have ships that sleep five in one cabin. Royal Caribbean’s newer ships feature family suites. These cabin categories are obviously very popular and sell out quickly, so book early if this is what you are looking for.

On board Dining

What are the dining options?

You won’t believe the varied selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables and desserts, every time you sit down. And there’s virtually no limit on what or how much you can order. Both your wait staff and kitchen staff work unbelievably hard to ensure you are satisfied and happy after every meal. Just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food doesn’t mean you have to come home a few pounds heavier. You can choose low-cal, spa, or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. Additionally the fitness centre isn’t far away – jog, do aerobics, work out in the gym, swim, golf, play tennis, and much more. Burning calories was never so much fun! The best thing about dining on a cruise ship is you never see a price on the menu.

What about meal times?

Like many things on a cruise, there are choices and more choices. During the day, there are many different places to eat – in the formal dining room, on deck in a casual setting, in a pizzeria, at an espresso bar – just to name a few. At night, most ships offer several venues. Some ship’s dining rooms can accommodate all guests at one time, known as single seating. Many ships offer you a choice of several eating times, and others encourage you to come to dinner whenever you like (open seating). More traditional ships have two seatings in their formal dining rooms, which differ only by time: typically 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Frequently, you can choose to dine at night someplace other than the formal dining room, such as in an intimate restaurant that features Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Southwestern cuisine. More and more cruise lines are opening up their informal Lido areas to evening dining, where the dress and dishes are always casual and you may even be able to eat out under the stars. And a large number of ships also offer romantic in-cabin dinners. The choice is yours!

Additionally, most ships have 24-hour room service. Some lines are even letting you order off the dinner menu (during dinner hours) if you prefer to eat in your cabin.

Is it better to eat dinner early or late?

Typically, Early Seating hours for dinner are between 6:00 and 6:30 pm. If you have Late Seating you’ll sit down for dinner between 8:15 and 8:45 pm. Which time is better is a matter of personal preference. Our CMEatSEA Coordinators can review group functions and assist you in deciding what time is best for you.

Some things to consider when trying to decide between Early or Late Seating include:

Early Seating is preferable if:

You don’t like to go to bed on a full stomach.

You generally go to bed between 10 pm and Midnight.

You are taking a very “At Sea” intensive itinerary with multiple days spent on the ship. On these days you do not need to worry about getting back to the ship in time for dinner.

You are an early riser.

Late Seating is preferable if:

You are a night owl, who catches a second wind later in the evening

You don’t want to feel rushed for dinner after a day in port.

It takes you or your spouse a long time to get ready for dinner.

You don’t mind finishing your meal around 10:15 or 10:30 pm.

Other factors to consider include:

Your itinerary

Eastern Caribbean cruisers like Early Seating because of all the days at sea.

Western and Southern Caribbean cruisers like Late Seating because of all the ports.

3 and 4 night cruisers like Late Seating because they party into the night.

European and Exotic Cruisers like Early Seating because they tend to be older passengers who prefer to eat earlier.

Who you are travelling with:

Family Reunion Groups like Early Seating because of the variety of age groups travelling.

Families cruising with small children prefer Early Seating so that they can stick to a set meal and bedtime schedule.

Many of today’s cruise lines including, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess, are now offering alternatives to having dinner in the dining room or room service. For example, Norwegian Cruise Lines now has the Bistro on all of their ships, which is a separate à la Carte restaurant open between 6:30 and 11:00 pm where you can go to dinner anytime you’d like. NCL also offers “Freestyle Dining” where you can dine when, where and with whom you like. Carnival, Princess, and NCL are now using their upper deck breakfast and lunch facilities to offer a buffet version of their dinner menus. These restaurants are more casual allowing you to be more flexible with your mealtime and attire.

Since the Caribbean is still the most popular cruise destination, Late Dining always books first and is often on a wait-list 6 months prior to sailing. (Carnival does not confirm dining arrangements at the time of booking. Your assignment will be made once you board the ship). If you want to confirm a particular seating, we recommend that you book early. You can approach the Maitre’d in the dining room if you are unhappy with your dining arrangements and he or she may be able to make other accommodations for you, but this is not guaranteed.

Is there a dress code for dinner?

Dressing for dinner falls into 3 categories: Formal, Informal (also called semi-formal) and Casual. Since there are many types of outfits women can wear, we won’t comment on this – just dress to compliment the men.

Breakfast & Lunch: no special dress code, even in the dining room. Shorts and tasteful t-shirts are acceptable. No swimsuits or cover-ups. Shoes must be worn.

Dinner: no shorts. Many cruise lines also stipulate no jeans in the dining room in the evening.

Casual: slacks and sport shirt

Informal: suit or sports coat with tie; some ships don’t mention a tie (i.e. Holland America)

Formal: dark suit or tuxedo, or nice sports outfit.

Some newer ships now have alternative dining facilities where you can dress almost any way you want to. On a seven-night cruise they will normally have two formal nights and one or two informal nights. Three and four night cruises have one formal night. If you would really like to go completely causal or informal, look into one of the “sailing ships” (Windstar Cruises or Star Clipper) or one of NCL’s “Freestyle” ships.

I have special dietary needs. Can these be accommodated?

Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, Kosher, or other diet preferences. However, this request must be made in advance, so be sure to advise your CMEatSEA Coordinator of this requirement when you book your cruise. Again, you should speak to the Maitre’d or your waiter once you are on board to make sure your advance request was received.

I prefer to eat in a non-smoking environment. Is this available?

Almost every cruise ship sailing has smoking and non-smoking tables and/or sections in the dining rooms and lounges. In fact, many cruise ship dining rooms are now completely smoke-free, reflecting passenger requests. If you want your dining table in a non-smoking area, advise us when making your booking. In open-seating situations, you can advise your waiter or the Maitre d’ when being seated.

How do we let the dining staff know we are celebrating a special occasion?

You can advise us of your special day when making your booking, and we will be sure to pass this along to the cruise line. Most cruise lines will offer a complimentary cake and a chorus of “Happy Whatever” to help you celebrate the occasion. Your birthday or anniversary can be made more festive with champagne, flowers, canapés, wine or cheese. You can even arrange for a special private party. To be sure all the arrangements are in place, confirm your special event with the dining room Maitre’d.

How do I get a table for two?

The more high-end cruise lines, such as Crystal, Radisson Seven Seas, and Seabourn, offer more tables for two, so asking for one usually isn’t a problem. On the larger ships, there are fewer smaller tables and your request may be more difficult to accommodate. Nevertheless, the newer ships (circa 1995 and later) are being built with more tables for two. We can never confirm a table for two we can only request it. The ship’s Dining Coordinator who works in the cruise line’s corporate office makes table and Dining Assignments. This person makes the assignments 2 weeks prior to sailing and submits the list to the Maitre d’ the week before sailing. We make your request by submitting a letter to the Dining Coordinator 30 days before sailing, but it is your responsibility to remind us to do this for you. Again, we can’t guarantee you’ll get it, but we will make the request. If you get on board and you didn’t get a table for two, see the Maitre’d, as he or she may be able to help you if something is available.

What if I don’t like the other people at my table?

Rarely is this a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, speak with the Maitre’d. He’ll make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions…discretely and politely.

I am not a morning person. Does this mean I can’t get breakfast?

Unless you plan on sleeping right through until lunchtime, you will be able to get breakfast in the casual café. Breakfast and lunch are always available in the buffet or Lido. Breakfast is usually served until 10 a.m. or later. Breakfast and lunch used to be served at two seatings in the dining room, but many ships now have an “open” dining room – which means you can come at any time when they are open (e.g. 12 – 2 for lunch). Most cruise ships also offer 24-hour complimentary room service so you can also choose to have a relaxing breakfast in your stateroom.

How do I handle tipping?

Your cruise taxes and gratuities are included in your registration fees. However, if you wish to reward service over and above the group gratuities, it is a matter of individual preference and the standards vary from cruise line to cruise line. The generally suggested guideline is $3.50 USD each for your cabin steward and dining room waiter, and $2.00 USD for your busboy per person per day. Most cruise lines will offer you a guideline, but how much you tip is completely at your discretion. You can even tip the wine steward, Maitre d’ or other individuals who have provided you with outstanding service. A few cruise lines include tipping in the price. Other shipboard personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion. Gratuities are normally handed out on the last full day of your cruise. The Cruise Director will explain this to you during the disembarkation talk and envelopes will be provided.

Life On board

Do I need to bring passport or visa?

All cruise lines require proof of citizenship and photo identification and will deny boarding to passengers who do not have the proper identification and documentation. If you are a Canadian or U.S. citizen travelling to the Caribbean, Alaska or Mexico, an original birth certificate and photo ID are generally acceptable. However, we strongly recommend you carry your passport. If you are a citizen of another country, please check with our Customer Care Department regarding visa requirements.

Some foreign ports may require a visa but the cruise line will inform you on proper documentation in plenty of time prior to final payment. Depending on where you live, it may take several weeks or months to obtain a passport if you do not already have one. Be sure to investigate what documentation you will require long before your holiday begins. Discuss this with your CMEatSEA Coordinator, and contact the appropriate Consulate for the countries you are visiting if you require more information. For more information regarding visa requirements, contact us at info@cmeatsea.org

What is the appropriate dress code on board the ship?

During the day, dress on board is casual. There are generally two formal nights for seven-day cruises, one formal night for shorter cruises, and three formal nights for ten-day cruises. Some ships feature resort casual nights every evening of your cruise. Some ships offer special theme nights such as Country and Western Night or Caribbean Night. For details, refer to your cruise line brochure or the Daily Activity Newsletter while on board.

On Formal nights you can get as dressed up as you like. Gentlemen, if you have a tuxedo, now is the time to wear it. However, if you do not have one, don’t worry a suit is fine. Ladies, cocktail or evening wear is appropriate. On Informal nights gentlemen will be asked to wear a jacket, and ladies a dress or pantsuit. Collared shirts and slacks for men are acceptable for Casual nights, and women can wear almost anything except shorts or jeans. Most cruise ships have fitness centers on board so you may want to pack your gym clothes if you plan on working out. Good walking shoes are always a must for any cruise, especially if you plan on taking shore excursions that involve a lot of walking.

Don’t forget to pack a good pair of sunglasses; the glare of the sun on the water is tiring to your eyes, your camera and plenty of film and a good book or some magazines if you plan to relax by the pool. And don’t forget the sunscreen if you are travelling to a sunny destination. If you forget something most ships have shops on board with a limited selection of toiletries and personal items.

Do I need to pack formalwear such as a tuxedo?

On some cruises, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. However, you don’t have to go out and buy a tuxedo just for this trip. Some ships offer tuxedo rental services right on board and will deliver it right to your cabin. Ask your CMEatSEA Coordinator for more information. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are completely acceptable.

Are there any cruise ships that are completely smoke-free?

Presently, the only “Smoke Free” cruise ship is Carnival’s Funship Paradise. She sails weekly from Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. When Carnival says that the Paradise is “Smoke Free” they mean “Smoke Free.” All passengers must sign a waiver before boarding that they will not smoke while on board. Violators of this waiver will be removed at the very next port of call and expected to return home at their own expense. Many ships have “Non-smoking” dining rooms and public areas, but only the Paradise is truly “Smoke Free.” Please ask your CMEatSEA Coordinator about your cruise ship’s smoking policy.

Are wheelchairs available or do I have to bring my own?

Wheelchairs are generally available for passengers who are injured after they get on board. Most cruise lines recommend that you bring your own collapsible one if you will need it throughout the cruise. Holland America Line has in the past provided a wheelchair throughout the cruise if one is requested in writing 30 days prior to departure. Check with your CMEatSEA Coordinator when booking regarding your ship’s policy on providing wheelchairs to passengers.

Will my hairdryer or shaver fit in the outlets on board?

Most ships are equipped with 110-volt outlets in the staterooms so this shouldn’t be a problem. Many new ships include hair dryers in the room, however they can be lacking in drying power, so you may want to bring your own.

Where can I keep my valuables?

Almost all cruise ships offer you somewhere to store your valuable, personal belongings. In fact, most new ships have safes right in the cabin. If you would like a safety deposit box, inquire at the Purser’s desk.

Are there medical services on board?

Each ship is equipped with an infirmary staffed by a qualified physician and registered nurse(s). Should you require medical attention during your voyage, the doctor is available to render services at a customary charge. Your RBC Insurance policy will cover these and any other health-care related costs you may encounter during your journey. If you are on medication, please bring an adequate supply and keep them in your carry-on luggage.

How can we stay in touch with the outside?

Most cruise ships have a daily newsletter with news headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores that is delivered to your cabin. Staterooms on many ships are equipped with televisions and periodically will pick up news broadcasts. While many ships now have telephones in passenger cabins, you can also call someone on shore through the ship’s radio operator while at sea. Be aware that direct dialed calls from the ship are extremely expensive, so you may want to wait until you are in port. In addition, many ships have fax capabilities. You can be contacted on board the ship using the satellite services set up by the cruise line. Complete information about this service is found in your cruise documents.

The newer ships are being designed with the high-tech traveller in mind. They have separate computer rooms where you can get on the Internet and send email, and some are even equipping staterooms with data ports so you can connect from the comfort of your cabin.

Can I do my laundry on board, or is there a laundry service?

Most ships offer laundry and dry cleaning services on board for an additional fee. Some ships are also equipped with self-service laundry facilities. Check the ship description in the cruise line’s brochure or consult your CMEatSEA Coordinator.

Can I pay for things on the ship with cash?

Most ships operate on a “cashless” system. Each guest is issued an identity card so you can charge any on board services such as bar beverages, health and beauty services, duty-free purchases etc. to your room account. Remember, the currency on board is US dollars. At the end of your voyage you may settle your account with cash, traveller’s cheque or major credit card. Most ships do not accept personal cheques.

Cash is accepted in the casino and for gratuities to the staff that served you.

Are babysitting services available?

Most mass-market cruise lines that encourage families with children offer babysitting services; however, availability can vary by destination and time of year. Cruise lines with limited facilities for children may not provide a children’s program or sitting services unless a certain number of children are on board. There are some cruise lines that do not cater to children at all and may not offer any services or facilities that cater to children. Talk to your Cruise Connections cruise expert about what policy is in place for the specific cruise you are considering. Most contemporary cruise lines offer baby-sitting in a group-style format in the children’s area. These are conducted by the Youth Counsellors. Toddlers and older children often have playtime before retiring to individual, sheet-covered mats while watching videos with the other kids. Infants are rocked and placed in individual cribs. Some cruise lines offer this for free while others may charge a small fee. Babysitting services are offered during certain evening hours when the children’s program is not in operation, but generally not on the first or the last night of the cruise. Babysitting during daytime hours is usually offered only while at sea, but a few may have more flexible policies. For liability reasons, few cruise lines still offer “In-Room” babysitting services. Those that do, require that you make reservations with the Purser’s desk at least 24 – 48 hours in advance. Female cabin stewards usually do this “In-Room” service on their own free time. The fees are set with the cruise line and typically handled by a cash transaction directly with the In-Room Baby Sitter.

Here are some of the Cruise Line Baby Sitting Policies from 2000 (this information is subject to change and should be used as a guide only)

Royal Caribbean International: 8 am – 2 am $8 USD per hr-2 hr min. for 2 children. $10 USD per hr-2 hr min. for 3 children. Sign up at the Purser’s desk and cash transactions only.

Norwegian Cruise Line: 12 noon – 2 am; $8 USD per hr-2 hr min. Sign up at the Purser’s desk and pay sitter directly.

Carnival Cruise Lines: No In-Room service but Group Sitting in playroom. 10pm-3am; 12 yrs. and younger

Holland America Line: Staff Volunteers $8 USD per hour per child. No specific times – depends on staff member.

Princess Cruises: Group sitting available (may vary by ship – please check your documents) Port days: 9 am – 5 pm. Evenings 10 pm – 1 am. Reservations must be made by 10 am for that day. Group charge: $4 USD per hr per child, ages 2-12. Royal and Pacific offers if there are 15 or more children sailing.

For updated information about a specific cruise line’s baby-sitting program, please ask your CMEatSEA Coordinator.

Is there a minimum drinking age on board?

You must be at least 21 years old to legally consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages on a cruise ship. You may be asked to present identification to the bartender, so be sure to have this handy.

Is there a beauty salon on board?

Most ships offer a salon, and many have full spa facilities available. Renowned companies such as Steiner of London and Mandara Spa manage shipboard spas and offer an extensive array of treatments. These services must be reserved once on board and are at additional expense. Some services may not be available at all times on board so it is recommended that you check with the spa as soon as possible if you are interested in using these facilities.

Can I access the Internet on board?

The newer ships are being designed with the high-tech traveller in mind. Many have separate computer rooms – Internet Cafés, where you can get on the Internet and send email, and some are even equipping staterooms with data ports so you can connect from the comfort of your cabin. Guests have the ability to send and receive e-mail, access Internet sites and, on some cruise lines, transmit a 20-second video postcard to friends and family back home. Guests can either use their own “web-based” e-mail address or obtain a temporary account while on board. If you plan on using email while on vacation you may want to set up an account with “hotmail” to save money and make sending and receiving messages easier. Charges for this internet access vary by cruise line and are normally billed to your shipboard account.

Are there any special on board activities for children?

Most of the major “family-oriented” cruise lines offer extensive on board programs for ages 2 – 17. Some of the newer cruise ships even have special kids-only areas. Some programs are offered year-round while others may only be available on select itineraries or sailing dates.

Children’s programs typically offer a variety of activities for children of all ages with daily activities planned for specific age categories. While onboard facilities are not daycares, they are staffed by experienced and qualified professionals who are trained to provide a safe and fun-filled environment for younger cruisers. If available, baby-sitting services may be arranged on board for an additional fee through the Purser’s Office.

Shore Excursions / Life in Port

What is a shore excursion and what does it include?

A shore excursion is an organized guided tour in a cruise ship’s port of call. They are offered all over the world and virtually anywhere a cruise ship stops. There are shore excursions for almost any age, physical activity level and interest. Whether you’re into water sports like sailing or scuba diving; high adventure activities like white water rafting, hiking or biking; or less strenuous activities like shopping tours, bus tours, museums; or historical sites, you’ll find a shore excursion for almost any interest.

Through Cruise Connections, we have made special arrangements to offer selected shore excursion in the Caribbean and Alaska in advance and at savings over on board prices. These organized events usually include transportation to and from the tour, tour guides (many are local people and great guides), and any admission to the place you are visiting. Some excursions also include meals, drinks and refreshments depending on the tour. Fares for shore excursions are subject to change without notice.

Can I do my own tours?

Sure – the decision is completely up to you. However, there are many benefits to booking a pre-arranged shore excursion. Almost everything is included for one low price – transportation to your tour or activity, admission or entrance fees, and most importantly the services of a well-trained local tour guide. Plus you don’t have the hassle of trying to locate tour operators in ports and making the arrangements yourself. With the cruise line’s tours, you can be assured that you’ll see the most for your money. Finally, you won’t have to wait in long lines at the most popular attractions. When you’re part of an organized tour, your tickets are purchased in advance and you move right to the front of the line, giving you more time to enjoy the sites. By booking a pre-packaged shore excursion through us, you’ll also save time and money.. We’ve done all the thinking for you. You’ll spend less time doing research and more time having fun.

Can I pre-book my shore excursions with CMEatSEA?

Absolutely. Through Cruise Connections, we offer an extensive selection of the most popular Shore Excursions to the Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, Europe and Alaska. Ask your CMEatSEA Coordinator for more information about these destinations, or call our Alaska Experience Planners at 1-866-Shore-Ex.

Are your shore excursions the same ones offered by the cruise lines?

Cruise Connections utilizes many of the same tour operators as the Cruise Lines. In other words, they use the same helicopters, bus companies, and visit the same sites. The biggest differences are that a private representative will meet you on arrival, you can reserve in advance, and you save time and money.

Why should I book tours with CMEatSEA instead of on board?

Since Cruise Connections uses many of the same tour operators as the cruise lines, there are plenty of reasons to pre-book your tours in advance:

Save money – these tours are 10 – 20% lower than you’ll find on ship.

Avoid long lines at the Ship’s Shore Excursion Desk.

All tours are planned and confirmed before you sale. No chance of a sell-out like on board the ship.

Full refund if tour is cancelled for bad weather or the ship misses port.

Order by phone � Ask your CMEatSEA Coordinator, or call our Alaska Experience Planners at 1-866-Shore-Ex.

Can I book the cruise line’s shore excursions in advance?

Most cruise lines now list their shore excursions on their website and many offer the convenience of pre-booking these excursions on-line. Typically you need your cruise reservation number or confirmation number to access this on-line booking service. Payment is then done by credit card and your shore excursions tickets will be delivered to your stateroom. Pre-arranging your excursions means you won’t have to spend your time on board in line, plus you won’t risk having the tour sold-out by the time you get around to making your reservations on the ship.

Can I wait and book my tours when I’m on board the ship?

You can definitely wait, but be aware that there is often a mad rush to book on board and because most tours have limited space, you may not get the times or tours you want. Additionally, the exclusive excursions offered in advance to our clients cannot be reserved on board. These are only available to our special clients and have nothing to do with those offered by the cruise line.

How do I buy shore excursions in other places?

Cruise Connections provides the most popular excursions in the Caribbean , Alaska , and Europe for advance booking. Other destinations and excursions must be reserved directly with the cruise line and cannot be reserved through our exclusive excursion program.

Are the tours really physically demanding?

This really depends on the tour itself. Many European cities are ancient. They have quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets the do not accommodate motorized vehicles. To preserve their beauty some cities and old towns are pedestrian only. Most tours require some degree of walking; however, some excursions require extensive walking. Likewise, grand entryways and sprawling gardens of certain castles and cathedrals make walking and stair-climbing a necessity. Other tours can be very high energy. High adventure white water rafting in Alaska, bike tours, or scuba tours may require you to be in good shape before hand. Many of the cruise lines will indicate the fitness level required along with their description of the excursion.

Whatever your fitness level, we highly recommend comfortable, low-heeled walking shoes. You know your body best and will have to use your own discretion when choosing shore excursions. If you are unsure, speak to your CMEatSEA Coordinator , he or she may be able to procure more detailed information from the cruise line.

What should I wear on a shore excursion?

Some foreign countries may have more conservative ideas about dress than you are accustomed to. Attention is drawn to this matter so as not to offend. Cruise lines suggest when visiting places of worship (cathedrals), you dress conservatively; avoiding shorts or sundresses. Attend the port lectures for guidance. Comfortable walking shoes are a must on ANY shore excursion, as most, if not all, involve walking. When visiting ruins or walking on cobblestone streets, wear rubber-soled shoes. It’s also smart to wear a sun hat and take sunscreen and bottled water with you.

I want to see as much as possible in each port. Can we do more than one excursion?

Wherever possible, departure times are scheduled to permit participation on all of your chosen excursions. The local guides are considered top experts on local history and sights, offering you a chance to fully appreciate and experience their hometowns. The listed excursions are designed and organized in such a way as to maximize your time in each port and yet allow sufficient free time as well. You can do as many or as few as you choose, just be sure to allow yourself enough time in between tours to get back to the ship.

Will tours be cancelled because of bad weather?

Most cruise lines, will provide a full refund for any tour cancelled by the operators due to inclement weather or the ship not reaching port. The same is true for any tours booked through Cruise Connections.

What type of transportation is used for shore excursions?

Standards vary considerably from country to country; however, excursions utilize the best quality transportation possible in each port. Air-conditioned vehicles are not always available. Guest wishing to travel together with friends should leave the ship together, as this will help the tour staff allocate space in the same vehicle.

If I want to get to the “downtown” area, is there transportation available?

Some cruise lines will offer shuttle bus service to the main city centres, particularly if the port is located a 1/2 mile or more away from the closest city. Schedules and days of operation are usually posted in the ship’s bulletin. Taxis are also available if you elect not to take an organized tour. If you do decide to venture off on your own, be sure you are back in time to catch the ship!

How should I tip our Guide/Driver?

Tipping the guide or driver is a personal choice; however, in some countries, these personnel may anticipate that if you were pleased with their services, you will reward them in a monetary way. A commonly accepted guideline is $1 USD per person for a half-day and $2 USD per person for a full day excursion.

If I leave the ship will I miss meals?

Many tours and shore excursions are conveniently timed so that they coincide with the ship’s meal service hours, so you can eat before going ashore. Full day tours may include a meal or snack of some type. However, on some full day tours, or if you take more than one tour in a day, your return on board may not coincide with meal hours. A buffet, snack, or room service is usually available.

Will there be time to do any shopping?

Whenever possible, shopping time is allocated within the framework of the excursions. However, most tours are not designed primarily for shopping and you should not expect this. If you want to go and just shop, you may want to do this on your own.

Where will the tours leave?

When you purchase your Shore Excursions with us, you’ll receive your tour tickets in advance of taking your cruise. There will be instructions on your tickets advising you as to where to meet for each excursion at each port. Similarly, when you purchase your shore excursions with the cruise line, it will be indicated on the ticket or in the Daily Activities program where and when you should meet to catch the tour. Depending on the size of the group you may meet in a lounge or theatre, or on the pier. Tour leaders will often be holding signs so you can be sure you are joining the right group.

Where can I get more information on the ports I’ll be in?

There are many sources of information you can look into. Guidebooks such as Fodor’s and Frommer’s are a great resource, as well is the Internet. Most countries have a Tourism Board and you can request information from them before you arrive. The cruise lines will provide you with some general details on the ports you’ll be visiting, but if you are looking for more in depth information, you will likely have to research this yourself. Ask your CMEatSEA Coordinator if they can recommend any good reading materials. On board the ship, a qualified lecturer will hold informative talks on each port of call before you visit. If you still have questions, many ships have a Port Lecturer that will be glad to answer them. You should also do a little research before you go.