AAA Travel Tips / The 5 Most Common Cruise Questions

The 5 Most Common Cruise Questions

Courtesy of Viking Cruises
By AAA Travel Editors
September 22, 2022
A cruise can be a wonderful way to see the world and relax at the same time. But you might feel a little bit like a ship out of water before taking your first one.
That's because planning to be sea-bound for days or even weeks at a time can raise many questions. What should I pack? What do I need for off-ship excursions? Do I need to bring money on board?
We'll answer these common cruise questions and concerns, so that you can best prepare for your trip of a lifetime.
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1. What is free on the ship?

A cruise ship is like a floating city. Unlike an actual city, however, everything is designed with your enjoyment in mind — and there are many free things to see and do. For example, all cruises will include the cost of your cabin, meals in the main dining room, and entertainment like shows and workshops. You'll also have complimentary access to a roof deck pool on cruises to tropical destinations.
Of course, plenty of things also come with a fee. For example, you might have to pay for souvenirs, specialty restaurants, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and shore excursions. But don't worry, there's still plenty of fun to be had without spending a dime. You can enjoy the pool, take in the ocean views, people-watch on deck, or explore the ship.
Celebrity Cruises/Ryan Wicks

2. Do I have to tip the workers?

While there's no hard and fast rule, you are generally expected to tip the workers on a cruise ship. These workers provide various services, from serving food and drinks to cleaning your room to providing entertainment. They work long hours for relatively little pay, so a tip is a way of showing your appreciation for their hard work.
Of course, how much you tip is up to you, and you may find that some workers are more deserving of a tip than others. Ultimately, whether or not to tip the workers on a cruise ship is up to you, but remember that these workers rely on tips to make ends meet. A small gesture of appreciation can go a long way if you can afford it.

3. What is the dress code on a cruise ship?

Each ship is different, but in general, there are some dress code rules that you should consider before taking your first cruise. For example, while casual attire is acceptable during the day, passengers are expected to dress more formally for dinner. This means no shorts, T-shirts or flip-flops.
In addition, most cruise lines have at least one formal night per voyage, where guests are asked to wear suits, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. Whether you're headed to the buffet or the ballroom, be sure to check the cruise ship dress code and pack accordingly. It's also advisable to review your cruise line's luggage policy in advance so that you know what size and type of bags are allowed.
AAA/Inspector 450

4. Will I need my passport for excursions?

If you're considering booking a cruise ship excursion, you might be wondering if you need to bring your passport. The answer, unfortunately, is, “It depends.” While some cruise ship excursions will not require a passport, others will. It all depends on the country you're visiting and the excursion itself.
For example, if you're taking a tour of a nearby island, you'll likely need to show your passport to get off the ship. However, if you're staying on the mainland, you may not need it.
The U.S. Department of State recommends that all cruise guests have a passport, even if the ship is a “closed-loop.” This is a preemptive measure in case of emergency. Generally, requirements vary by ship and itinerary.
Before you book your excursion, check with your cruise line to see what documentation is required. To play it safe, plan to get your passport before your cruising dates. Ilchanka

5. What isn't allowed on a cruise ship?

While cruising often is seen as a time to relax and forget about rules, there are many regulations passengers are expected to understand and follow. For starters, most cruise ships prohibit passengers from bringing their own alcohol onboard. In addition, some cruise lines have age restrictions, so families with young children may need to look for a specific type of cruise. And, of course, there are always the obvious prohibitions, such as smoking and illegal drugs.
So while a cruise may be the perfect way to relax and escape the everyday grind, it may be necessary to do some legwork before setting sail. For example, muster drills, aka lifeboat drills, offer life-saving information and must occur either in-person or via app within 24 hours of departure.
Read through your cruise's rules and regulations on the company's website before departure. Remember that you are bound to the laws of the flag that the cruise ship flies as well as the laws of any nation that the ship docks in.

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