Should I get a passport before I travel? Yes.
strongly recommends that you always travel with a passport. A valid passport is
the only form of identification accepted by most countries. And it's required by
the US Department of State for reentry into the United States.
travelers must provide proof of citizenship when boarding the ship, even if your
cruise includes only domestic destinations. If your cruise ship stops at any
port outside of the United States, you must have a valid passport. And if you’re
traveling on an international sailing, the countries you visit will also require
proof of citizenship.
For more information on travel requirements,
contact the U.S. embassies of the countries you're visiting. A complete list of
U.S. embassies worldwide can be found at the Department of State Web site.
What travel documents and identification do I
need? Do I need a travel visa?
For most cruises, a passport suffices for
both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens (although non-U.S. citizens may need a travel
visa or green card to gain reentry to the U.S.). Some itineraries, however, may
include countries requiring travel visas (Russia, Brazil, and Panama, among
others). Visit the CIBT
to research travel requirements by country and to purchase a travel
visa online. Be sure to check the requirements for all
countries on your
itinerary.What documents might I need when
traveling with children?
All children, including infants and newborns,
must have their own passport. Some countries may require extra documentation as
well. Country-specific information is available in the Consular Information
pages on the U.S. State
. It also is available from the consulate of the country
being traveled to. Please note that requirements can change at any time; confirm
them close to your departure date.
Special requirements apply when
purchasing passports for minors age 14 and younger. Please refer to the CIBT website
details. The following information is provided as a general guideline
only. Exact documentation requirements will depend on your specific situation
and the country to which you are traveling.
Children's passports and
documentation are necessary to board the ship, and they also are likely to be
requested by immigration officers at ports of call. Even if you have heard
accounts of inconsistency in enforcement of documentation requirements, bring
them anyway; without them, you could incur delays at ports of call and be denied
Generally, a notarized “permission to travel” letter from the
absent parent(s) must be provided. We strongly recommend bringing such a letter
even if it is not an official requirement. The letter should be signed by the
non-traveling parent(s) and should state that he/she gives the child permission
to travel. It also should include: the name of the child and the names of all
people traveling with the child; information about the trip including the dates
of travel, country (or countries) being visited, and the name of the cruise line
and ship; address and phone number of the non-traveling parent(s); and a
notary’s signature and seal.
In some circumstances, legal documents will
be required to clarify custody rights and/or the parental relationship. It’s
especially important that documentation be supplied by travelers with different
last names; same-sex couples; adoptive; or divorced parents. Travelers falling
under any of these categories should provide custody and other supporting
documents. Widowed parents should provide a death certificate. In all cases, you
must bring both your own and the child’s identification. I currently don't have a passport or birth certificate. How
can I get them?
If you are a U.S. citizen and have a birth certificate
with a raised seal, a passport can be purchased online at the CIBT website
, or, if you
wish, through a government agency (see the U.S. Department of
for a list). You should expect to receive your passport within
eight weeks (two weeks if expedited passport requested), although processing
time cannot be guaranteed.
If you are a U.S. citizen and you need a copy
of your birth certificate, contact the city hall located in your town of birth.
If you need a passport and you are not a U.S. citizen, please check with
the appropriate government agencies within your country of citizenship.
Do I need cash onboard the ship?
suggest that you bring some cash. Some cruise lines require that you use cash
for tipping and casino gambling. It's also handy to have in port. Most cruise
ships do have ATMs onboard; however, the ATM service fee may be quite high.
Do I need to bring my own life preserver?
No, life preservers are provided in your cabin. You will be required to
attend a lifeboat drill where you will be taught how to use them in case of an
emergency. Is there a weight limit for how much
luggage I bring?
Not really. When in doubt, contact the cruise line.
What is a medical release form, and how do I know
if I have to submit one?
To ensure proper treatment in case of an
emergency, cruise lines require that all guests with special medical needs
submit this information to them prior to travel. Passengers who carry syringes
for medical use must also carry a letter from their physicians indicating such.
What types of clothing should I pack?
both your destination’s climate and the cruise ship’s dress code in mind when
deciding what clothes to pack. If you’re traveling to Alaska, be sure to bring
protective rain coverings for Alaska’s and Canada’s rainy days. If you’re
traveling to the Caribbean, be sure to bring plenty of cool clothing and
sunscreen for warm days. In addition, if your ship has formal nights, men should
bring a dark suit or tuxedo, and women should bring a pantsuit or cocktail
dress. If you don’t own these items, no worries: Most ships have casual dining
venues to cater to those who aren’t interested in dressing up, and some ships
also have formal wear rental shops.
Getting to the ship
I’m booking airfare on my own. When should I schedule my flights to
arrive and depart?
You should schedule your flight to arrive a minimum
of six hours before your ship is scheduled to set sail, which should give you
enough time to make it to the pier and check in to your cruise.
suggest you schedule your return flight to depart a minimum of six hours after
you're scheduled to arrive in port. That should give you enough time to
disembark the ship, clear customs, and make it to airport check-in. The more
time you give yourself, the better. How do I get
from the airport to the ship?
If you booked cruise line airfare, you may
be met at baggage claim by a cruise line representative who will provide
transportation from the airport to the pier. Please check your travel vouchers
If you booked your own airfare, you will be required to get
yourself from the airport to the pier. When you receive your cruise packet, your
ticket will provide the name of the pier from which your cruise departs. If you
are not familiar with the area from which you are departing, we suggest that you
use our Maps to get the best directions to the port. Most taxi drivers will also
be familiar enough with the area to easily transport you to the pier. Can I park at the pier?
Most ports do have parking
right at the pier. However, like airport parking, it can be a bit pricy.
What happens if my flight is delayed?
your flight is delayed and you booked the cruise line’s airfare, the cruise line
will be made aware of the delay (but you should still call the cruise line to
inform a representative of the delay). If you miss the ship, oftentimes the
cruise line will transport you to the ship’s next port of call.
flight is delayed and you did not book cruise line airfare, please call the
cruise line immediately and let them know of the delay so that they can make
arrangements to get you to the ship.
Are ships wheelchair accessible?
ships offer babysitting services?
Do I need money onboard?
Are there ATMs
Can I purchase toiletries onboard?
Can I call home from the
Is it easy to keep up with the news while onboard?
Can I check my
e-mail from the ship?
Can I exchange money onboard?
Do cabins have
Do I have to purchase the pictures taken by the ship's
Do ships have exercise equipment?
Do ships have
How do I pay for onboard purchases?
Can I use a debit card for
my onboard charge accounts?
I’m sharing a cabin with a friend. Can we each
have our own onboard charge account?
How do I prepare for customs?
are my customs allowances?
How do I purchase shore excursions?
Are there casinos onboard?Dining
Are alcoholic beverages included in the
Are meals included in the price?
Are there multiple entrée choices
at dinner each night?
Do I have to eat dinner at the same time, and with the
same passengers, every night?
Can I change my dining time or tablemates?
If I have late dinner seating, will I miss the evening entertainment?
have special dietary restrictions. Can the ship accommodate my needs?
food available 24 hours a day?
Is room service available?
What are formal nights, and do all cruises have
planned activities at night?
Does the cruise ship have planned activities
during inclement weather?
Can I get a tour of the ship?
How do I find out
about onboard activities?
Am I required to take part in the ship’s
I'd like to celebrate a special occasion. Will the ship
Is the onboard entertainment free?
What are days at sea like?
What do I do on the last night of the cruise?
What services are offered
at the spa?
I’m worried about getting bored on sea days or short port days.
Is this likely?
Will the itinerary change? Etiquette
Are passengers expected to
Does the ship have a dress code?
Are ships wheelchair accessible?
All ships sold on
our site are wheelchair accessible. Do
ships offer babysitting services?
Most ships do offer babysitting
services, either in a group setting, or with a sitter coming directly to your
cabin. To find out whether your ship offers babysitting services, check the
section of the ship’s review. Do I need money onboard?
We suggest that you bring
some cash. Some cruise lines require that you use cash for tipping and casino
gambling. It's also handy to have in port. Most cruise ships do have ATMs
onboard; however, ATM service fees may be quite high. Are there ATMs onboard?
All ships have ATMs
onboard; however, many charge a very high usage fee. If you need cash for tips
or casino gambling, we suggest that you use an ATM at a port of call, or cash a
traveler’s check at the purser’s desk. Can I
purchase toiletries onboard?
Yes, all ships have sundries shops where
you can purchase toiletries. Can I call home
from the ship?
Yes. Most ships have telephones in all cabins. If your
cabin does not have a telephone (which is very rare), the ship’s radio operator
can connect you to a mainland number. Please keep in mind that making a
ship-to-shore telephone call can be quite expensive, and it may be worth the
wait to use a pay phone at the next port stop. Is it easy to keep up with the news while onboard?
Most ships have TVs in all cabins and in some public areas, and daily
newspapers can generally be found around the ship as well. Most ships also have
Internet cafés, where passengers can go online for around 50¢ to $1 per minute.
Can I check my e-mail from the ship?
Most ships have Internet cafés, and some even provide Internet access from
cabins. To find out if your ship has an Internet café or online cabin access,
check the ship’s amenities page. Can I exchange
Some ships do offer money exchange; however, many
passengers wait to exchange money at a shoreside exchange bureau. In addition,
U.S. currency is accepted at many foreign ports of call, particularly in the
Caribbean. Do cabins have personal safes?
Most cabins have personal safes. If your cabin doesn’t have its own safe,
you have the option of storing valuables in the ship’s vault. Check the ship’s
amenities page to see if personal safes are offered in cabins. Do I have to purchase the pictures taken by the ship's
No, the ship's photographers capture memories of your
cruise, but purchasing them are optional. In addition, if you'd rather not have
your photo taken, politely decline and move on. If you would like to purchase a
keepsake photo, they're generally displayed in the ship’s photo gallery. Check
the ship's deck plan to see where the gallery is located. Do ships have exercise equipment?
Most ships have
full-service gyms onboard, as well as outdoor fitness equipment, ranging from
simple running tracks and volleyball courts to rock-climbing walls and tennis
courts. Check the Fitness & Recreation
section of the ship's review
to review what fitness options are offered. Do
ships have elevators?
Yes, most ships do have a large number of
elevators. How do I pay for onboard
Prior to boarding, passengers will set up charge accounts
with their credit cards. All onboard purchases you make, from cocktails to gift
shop items, will be charged to this account. Passengers who don’t hold credit
cards can also deposit cash into their accounts to cover onboard expenses.
Can I use a debit card for my onboard charge
You may use a debit card; however, the ship may apply a daily
spending limit. I’m sharing a cabin with a
friend. Can we each have our own onboard charge account?
passenger can set up his or her own charge account, regardless of whether he or
she is sharing a cabin. How do I prepare for
Customs agents will want to see proof of citizenship (depending
on the sailing, a valid passport, or a government-issued photo ID and birth
certificate with raised seal), a travel visa (if visas are required at any ports
of call), and a customs declaration form (which will be delivered to your cabin
on the last night of the cruise). To research whether a country requires
passports or travel visa, visit the CIBT Web Site.What are my customs allowances?
Each U.S. citizen
is generally allowed to bring $800 worth of duty-free merchandise into the U.S.
without being taxed, with an additional $1,000 being taxed at a reduced flat
rate. Canadian citizens are generally allowed to bring $750 worth of duty-free
merchandise into Canada without being taxed. Each U.S. and Canadian citizen may
only return with a maximum of 40 ounces of wine or liquor and 200 cigarettes.
Non-U.S. and -Canadian citizens should check with their country's
customs agencies for restrictions on duty-free merchandise. How do I purchase shore excursions?
At this time,
you cannot book shore excursions on our site. However, you can book them from
the ship’s shore excursion desk. Many vendors also gather near the ports you'll
be visiting. If you plan to book a day trip (and not a ship-sponsored shore
excursion), we recommend you ask the ship for vendor recommendations, or check a
reliable guide book. Is there shopping
Duty-free shops are located on all ships. On port days, shops
generally open 30 minutes to an hour after the ship leaves port, and stay open
until a set time. On sea days, shops are generally open all day. Are there casinos onboard?
Most ships do have
onboard casinos which are open while the ship is sailing in international waters
(generally 30 minutes to an hour after leaving a port of call). There are four
exceptions: Norwegian Wind,
and Pride of Aloha
, which sail around
Hawaii; and the Disney ships, Disney Magic
® and Disney
Dining Are alcoholic
beverages included in the price?
You will be charged extra for alcoholic
beverages. However, many ships now have drink cards, where you can purchase a
set number of drinks ahead of time, generally resulting in significant cost
savings. Are meals included in the price?
Basic meals are included in the price of your cruise. These include all
meals in the main dining room (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Many ships also
have a “lido” restaurant serving buffet meals, a grill serving lunchtime grilled
fare, and all-day room service; these meals are also included in your cruise
price. The only meals that may not be included in your cruise price are at
“specialty restaurants,” which usually charge a small fee for dining (generally
$10–20). Are there multiple entrée choices at
dinner each night?
Yes. Generally, you’ll be able to choose among three
or four entrée choices, with at least one vegetarian selection. Do I have to eat dinner at the same time, and with the same
passengers, every night?
This really depends on your ship. Most ships
offer two dinner seatings for the main dining room, and your dining time and
table size will be confirmed upon embarkation. However, some cruise lines now
offer "relaxed" dining, where passengers can dine when, and with whom, they
choose. Even if your ship has pre-assigned dining times, you can generally
choose to eat at a casual buffet-style restaurant at no additional charge.
Can I change my dining time or tablemates?
If you are sailing on a ship with pre-assigned dining times and tablemates
and would like to change either, talk to the restaurant’s maître d’, who will do
everything in his or her power to ensure that you have a pleasant dining
experience each night. If I have late dinner
seating, will I miss the evening entertainment?
Shows are generally
performed twice nightly, so no matter what time you eat dinner, you’ll still be
able to catch all of the evening’s entertainment. I have special dietary restrictions. Can the ship
accommodate my needs?
Low-sodium meals, kosher meals, and other
specialty meal plans are offered by ships; however, you should arrange for
special meals in advance.Is food available 24
hours a day?
On most ships, food is available 24 hours a day, either in
an all-night diner, or via free room service. Those ships that don’t offer
24-hour dining generally serve food until the wee hours, and start serving again
early in the morning (generally as early as 5 AM). In addition, many cabins
now have mini refrigerators where you can keep snacks. Is room service available?
Yes, room service is
available on most ships, and is often served 24 hours a day. What are alternative restaurants?
restaurants, or “specialty” restaurants, are in addition to main dining rooms
and “lido” buffet restaurants. Many ships now house alternative restaurants,
with cuisines ranging from Italian to sushi. Many alternative restaurants charge
a small fee for dining, usually $10–20 per person, including tip. What are formal nights, and do all cruises have them?
Formal nights are evenings which the ships suggest you dress up for dinner,
with men wearing dark suits or tuxedos and women wearing cocktail dresses or
pantsuits. Special meals are generally served on formal nights. Many ships do
have formal nights, but generally only one or two for a seven-night cruise. If
you don’t want to dress up on formal nights, you can generally dine at a buffet
restaurant at no extra charge. To find out if a ship has formal nights, check
section of the ship's review.
Activities Are there planned activities at night?
have planned activities; though, generally speaking, the larger the ship, the
more planned activities you’ll find. Evening activities often include casino
gambling, Broadway- and Vegas-style revues, cabaret shows, nightclub
performances, disco dancing, movies, and passenger talent shows. Does the cruise ship have planned activities during
Yes. Each night, you’ll receive a list of planned
activities for the next day, including special activities for sea days with
inclement weather. Can I get a tour of the
Many ships do offer tours on the first day of the cruise. However,
due to security reasons, tours are generally restricted to public areas of the