A cruise is different from other hotel and resort holidays, so it is natural if you may still have questions and concerns. This is especially so for first-time cruisers who are anxious to know what the whole experience entails. Below, you will get a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help answer any concerns or questions you may have about aspects of a cruise holiday. However, if there is any information not included here, you can ask us directly.
Do cruise ships have different class services as seen in flights?
No, all the ships have a single class of service. In some cases, the passengers who are staying in suites will have access to extra amenities and services. Most of the ships have separate restaurants and lounges for those who are booked into the suites.
Should I have a note from a doctor to carry medication?
You do not need to bring any note from your doctor if the medication is still in the original bottle. Nevertheless, if you want to carry syringes, you need to have a doctor’s note. It is advisable that you get in touch with your cruise line or agency before boarding and let them know of your special medical needs.
If you normally take your medications regularly, then it is advisable that you carry them on you. Do not check them with your luggage since there might be a delay in delivering your luggage to your cabin. There are also common medications such as aspirin available for purchase at the ship’s doctor. However, limited prescription drugs are available on board and it is recommended you carry enough with you to last the duration of your trip.
What do ship terms like star board and aft mean?
As you go about booking your cruise, you may encounter some terms and definitions that you are not familiar with. Check out our Glossary to familiarise yourself with cruise related terms.
Starboard: this is the right side of the ship when facing forward
Aft: the back side of the ship
Can I get a cabin located under water?
No, all the cabins for passengers are located above sea level.
Can I smoke on board?
There are designated areas for smoking on all ships. Smoking is normally not allowed in the cabins, main dining areas and specific public areas.
What normally happens during embarkation and disembarkation?
Around four to five hours is normally allowed for embarkation. You will usually be able to choose a general embarkation time. The first thing you do is to “check in” at the pier. Here, you will have to show proof of citizenship and you will need a passport, government issued photo ID or a birth certificate with a raised seal. If you want to set up an on board account, you can also do this during embarkation. After boarding, you can have a snack, explore the ship or unpack in your cabin and relax.
On the last night of your cruise, you can place your luggage at your cabin door outside. You need to ensure that you have all your necessities in a bag that you will carry with you. This is because you will not have access to your bag until you get off the ship. If you do not leave your luggage outside, you will have to carry it off the ship by yourself. Breakfast is served early on the day of disembarkation so make sure you wake up extra early to allow time to eat. Passengers are allotted a time to disembark. Ensure you read the disembarkation information including necessary custom forms that will be left in your cabin on the eve of disembarkation. You will need to go through customs when leaving the ship.
What is the voltage in the electrical outlets?
A good number of the cabins have U.S standard 110-volts outlets. There are also other cabins that have 220-volt outlets which are European standard. Please check with your Cruise Consultant or visit the cruise lines website for specific information.
When do I get the details of my cabin?
When you book a cruise, you will get your cabin assignments. Your travel documents will be sent to you two weeks before your sailing date. If you do not get your cabin assignment by then, you will get one when you check in at the pier.
Where do the crew members sleep?
The crew has a set of cabins below the passengers’ cabins deck.
Are there quiet areas in the ship for relaxing or reading?
Many of the ships have Internet cafes, libraries and card rooms that are quiet. There are also lounges on most of the ships and top deck space which have quiet pockets.
Will there be a TV in my cabin? What other amenities are provided?
Almost all the staterooms have televisions but the channel selections vary. Most of the suites, apart from top suites, do not have a DVD player or a VCR. Most of the staterooms have standard 110-volt electrical AC outlets and some have Europe standard 220 volt plugs. There are hair dryers in some of the staterooms as well. All the grade cabins in most of the cruise lines have a mini-safe. It is advisable to carry a travel alarm along with you during your cruise holiday since most of the cabins do not have alarm clocks. However, you can arrange for wake-up calls.
Are there laundry facilities on the ship?
There are laundry and dry cleaning services on most of the cruise lines. You will get laundry bags in your stateroom where you can place your dirty clothes for collection. There are also some cruise ships with self-service laundry rooms or coin operated washers and dryers. You do not have to worry about detergents since there are also vending machines that allow you to get detergent in small boxes. It is not advisable for passengers to iron in their staterooms due to safety reasons, and there are irons and iron boards in a specified area for self-service.
Can I still keep up with the news while on the ship?
Many ships have television in the cabins and in some of the public areas. Daily newspapers are available on board and a daily cruise bulletin is provided to your cabin detailing on board events and news headlines. Passengers can go online for about a dollar per minute at the Internet cafes on board.
How can I check and send emails on board?
There are Internet cafes on board the cruise ships and some cabins also have Internet access.
Will I need to have money on board?
It is advisable that you carry some cash with you, particularly for tipping or gambling at the on board casinos. You can also use it at the port. There are ATMs on board most of the ships but the charges for ATM service might be high. Most on board items can be charged back to your room if you have pre-registered a credit card.
Are there facilities for changing money onboard?
Cruise lines can cash traveller’s cheques at the purser’s desks. US dollars are accepted in the Caribbean and most other regions. There are exchange services in the front office of the Europe and Asia ships. They might also bring these services on the ship after leaving the dock. You can also check the ports of calls since some have the ATM machines that accept foreign debit cards. If they do not, you can get ATM machines in the nearby towns or villages. It is advisable that you carry a small amount of local currency that may be needed for cabs or items that you buy from small shops or street vendors. Nevertheless, if you have a major credit card, it will be accepted in most places worldwide.
Are there personal safes in the cabins?
Yes, a good number of the cabins have personal safes. However, if your cabin does not have a safe and you want to store your valuables safely, you can keep them in the ship’s vault.
Is it mandatory that I buy the photos taken by the ship’s photographers?
No, the ship’s photographers help you capture memories of your holidays but you can decide whether or not you want to buy them. You can also inform them if you do not want to be photographed. The photos are normally displayed at the ship’s gallery (see your ship’s deck plan).
Will I have access to gym equipment?
A number of the ships have well equipped gyms and outdoor fitness equipment which include running/walking tracks. Some ships also have volley ball and tennis courts as well as rock-climbing walls and Putt Putt Golf.
Are there elevators (lifts) on the ships?
Yes, a majority of the ships have a number of elevators.
How do I pay for items I buy on the ship?
The ship does not accept cash for most items, so before getting on the ship, you will need to set up a charge account using your credit card. Anything you buy on the ship such as drinks or items at the gift shop will be charged to your account. If you do not want to use a credit card, you can deposit cash into your on board account to cover these expenses.
Are debit cards accepted for the on board charge accounts?
Yes, but there may be certain spending limits per day.
Can we have different on board charge accounts even if we are sharing a cabin?
Yes, each passenger has his or her own charge account even if they are sharing a cabin.
How do I pay for shore excursions?
You can make reservations before getting on the ship via the cruise line website or you can book at the ship’s shore excursion desk. There will be vendors on the ports where you go. Your Cruise Consultant can advise on any third party providers that operates in the ports.
Are there shops on the ship?
There are duty-free shops on all the ships. On port days, the shop will open from half to one hour after the ship leaves the port until a certain time. On the days when you are at sea, the shops will be open all day.
Do the ships have casinos?
Many of the ships have casinos which are open when the ship is sailing. They normally open about 30 minutes after the ship leaves the port of call.
Do they include alcoholic beverages in the price?
Many ships charge extra for alcoholic drinks. It is possible to buy drink cards which will cater for a number of drinks and will save you money. There are some luxury lines that also include drinks. Please check with your Cruise Consultant.
Can passengers use wheel chairs on the ships?
Yes, all the major cruise lines have cruise ships that are wheel chair accessible.
Are there babysitting services on the ships?
Yes, most of the ships have babysitting services. The sitter will come directly to your cabin or you can take your child to be cared for in a group. Babysitting services incur a separate charge. The on board kids clubs (where available) are usually open until late evening. This is an alternative to baby sitters if you are not planning a big night.
Can I buy toiletries on the ship?
Yes, there are shops on the ships where you can buy toiletries.
Are meals covered in the cruise price?
Yes, the basic meals are covered in the price. These include the main meals such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also other meals included in your price from the “lido” buffet restaurant, the grill and room service. The only time you have to pay extra is when you eat at the “specialty” restaurants which can charge anything from ten dollars to thirty for a meal.
Are there different entrée options at dinner?
Yes, each night you can choose from among three or four entrées and there is normally also a vegetarian option.
Is it a must for all the passengers to eat dinner at the same time?
This is determined by the cruise ship you are on. There are normally two dinner sitting sessions in the main dining room. You will know about your dining time and table size at the time you embark. You can also get this information before you even set sail or when you arrive at the pier. There are some cruise lines that have “relaxed” dining where passengers can decide what time they want to eat and with whom. For the ships with pre-assigned dining times, you can still decide to eat at a casual buffet style restaurant at no extra cost. If you have any concerns, you can talk to the maître d’ and ask for a different eating time.
Is it mandatory to eat in the main dining room?
It is not a must that you eat in the dining room each night even if you have assigned seating. There are other places where you can eat from such as the pizza parlours, buffet and specialty restaurants. You can also make use of room service and eat from your cabin.
Can I switch tables or dining times?
If your ship has pre-assigned dining times and tablemates and you would like to have different options, you can inform the restaurants maitre d’ who will do all that is possible to make your dining experience a pleasant one.
Is there still evening entertainment during the later dinner seating?
The shows are on twice each night so even if you eat your dinner later, you can still enjoy the evening entertainment.
Does the ship accommodate special diets?
There are special diets offered on the ship such as low-sodium and kosher meals among other specialty meals. You will need to make plans in advance for special meals. Please consult with your Cruise Consultant.
Are there times when there is no food available?
Most of the ships have food available throughout the day and night. This can be at the all-night dinner or through free room service. For the ships that do not have 24 hour dining, food is served from very early in the morning until late into the night. Many cabins also have small refrigerators where you can keep small snacks.
Is there room service?
Yes, most of the ships have 24 hour room service.
Do all cruises have formal nights? What do they entail?
Formal nights are special evenings where passengers on the ship dress up for dinner. The men put on dark suits or tuxedos and women wear cocktail dresses or evening gowns. On formal nights, special meals are served. Most of the ships have formal nights for a few of the nights out of the whole screen. If you do not feel like dressing up for the formal nights, you can still choose to dine at the buffet restaurant and you will not be expected to pay extra.
How to Plan Your Cruise Holiday
Why take a cruise holiday?
There are so many advantages of going on a cruise. Enjoy scrumptious meals, accommodation and on board entertainment included in the one price of your cruise. Plus forget having to unpack and repack your bag and waste time in transit. With cruising you unpack just once and wake up to a new horizon and destination every day. Spend your time enjoying broadway-style shows, eating good food, relaxing by the pool and exploring the new ports of call.
What is a “traditional” cruise?
A “traditional” cruise is one that has pre-assigned times for dining and set table mates. It also has formal nights where men and women are supposed to be dressed up in formal evening wear.
What is a “non-traditional” cruise?
A “non-traditional” cruise is one in which you have an open dinner seating and you can eat at anytime from anywhere and with whom you choose. The attire is casual all the time.
Are there some ships that are suitable for children?
Most of the cruise lines offer supervised activities for children. These activities include swimming, sports, movies and games. There are some ships that do not have these while other have better programs. The programs also have minimum age requirements such as age 2 or 3. You can search Cruise Megastore to select the best ship for your family.
Are there adults-only cruise ships?
There are certain options for people who want to go on cruise ships without kids on board. There are ships that do not have facilities for children on board while there are others that advise parents not to bring their children along. However, this does not mean there will not be any children on the cruise it only means there will be fewer.
Can the cruise line help me find a roommate if I am travelling alone?
There are certain cruise lines that can help people travelling alone to find roommates of the same gender. A Cruise Megastore Cruise Consultant can help you find suitable cruises.
Are there non-smoking cruises?
There are no non-smoking cruises but in each cruise ship there is a designated non-smoking area. This includes the cabins, restaurants and the areas used by public.
How do I choose from the many routes available?
You can use your personal interests to guide you on a destination. For example, if you like a warmer climate, consider the Caribbean, the Bahamas, South Pacific or Hawaii. If you are interested in historical sites, then Europe or the Mediterranean will be better options. You should also think about the amount of days the ship will spend at sea compared to the amount of time it will be at the ports. If you are adventurous, you should go for routes with more port days. If you want to spend a lot of luxury time in the open ocean then you should choose a route with more days at sea.
What are the Cabin categories available?
All the cabins fall in one of these four categories: Inside, ocean view, ocean view with balcony or suite.
Inside cabins are the smallest and have no window or view to the outside.
Ocean view cabins have windows and portholes in some cases, but the windows cannot be opened.
Ocean view cabins with balconies (Balcony Cabins) have a balcony as well as a window. The balcony is separated by a sliding door and is usually open to the elements.
Suites are large cabins that have a lot of amenities and have windows and even balconies in some cases.
What does the cruise price cover?
The cruise price normally covers accommodation, drinks such as coffee, tea and water, standard meals, use of fitness equipment on the ship and entertainment.
What is not covered in the cruise price?
The cruise price usually does not cover any specialty drinks like sodas or alcoholic drinks. It also does not cover meals eaten in alternative restaurants, services at the spa and salon, exercise class such as yoga and Pilates, using the casino, shore excursions, photography, treatment, tips and anything purchased in the gift shop on the ship.
What are the charges at the port?
Port charges are fees paid by a ship in order to use a port of call. These include:
- Taxes and fees levied by the government and other agencies.
- Charges and taxes levied by the government and other bodies.
- The charges for entering and exiting a port
- Charges for docking at a port and removing waste.
Am I expected to leave tips?
There are different gratuity policies. There are some cruises that charge the gratuity directly to your onboard account each day after you embark. You can decide to raise or lower the set amount based on the service you have received, by going to the information desk. There are also certain cruise lines that give envelopes at the end of your cruise and you can put in cash which will be distributed to the waiters and room stewards concerned. In a number of the luxury cruise ships, the tips have already been calculated into your cruise price. It is advisable that you check the policy on the cruise ship so that you know how much you are expected to pay.
Are unaccompanied minors allowed on the cruise ships?
No, if minors are unaccompanied, they will not be allowed to cruise. All the cabins must have at least one adult as a guest. Some cruise lines even have age restrictions on the adult age such as 21 while others want them to be at least 25. Please consult your Cruise Megastore Consultant for specific information.
What is the lowest age allowed on the cruise ship?
The minimum age allowed to cruise in most ships is six months old.
What is the drinking age limit for people on the ship?
The minimum drinking age on many cruise ships is 21 in international waters and at foreign ports. Nevertheless, there are some ships that have the minimum age for drinking as 18 years.
Why is the cost of booking a single-passenger cabin higher?
Occupancy rates are generally based on two or more people sharing a cabin, so if you travel alone, you will have to pay extra to make up for the ‘lost revenue’. However, the extra amount you pay will vary by cruise line.
Are there cruise packages for groups?
Yes, Cruise Megastore can help you book group space and help make your group cruise holiday a success. Depending on the group size you may even be given a free or heavily discounted cabin. Ask your Cruise Megastore Consultant for the best deal on a group package.
How early should I book a cruise?
This depends on the cruise line and the destinations you intend to visit. There are cruise lines that allow you to book, in excess of a year in advance. Early Bird discounts and add-ons (such as on board credit, free upgrades etc) tend to be available the earlier you book. If you are interested in a particular cruise, check with your Cruise Megastore Consultant what early booking promotions (if any) are available.
Can I use my debit card to book a cruise?
Yes, you can use your debit cards but some are not verified. So if that is the case, you will need to use a credit card. There are certain banks that impose spending limits on your debit cards for security reasons.
Is it possible to change the spelling of passenger’s names after booking the cruise.
You are not allowed to change passenger’s name or even the spelling after you have completed the changes. If you have to do so, you may be required to pay a fee. It is essential that you double check all names and ensure they are spelled exactly as they are on your official documents.
Is it mandatory to book the cruise line airfare?
No, it is not necessary to book the cruise line airfare. Nevertheless, there are certain benefits you enjoy when you book your flights through the cruise line. There are cruise lines that offer complimentary transfer services to and from the ship. If you are on a cruise line flight that has been delayed, then the cruise ship will make arrangements for you to join the ship at the next port. It is advisable that you purchase travel insurance since the cruise lines may not be able to help if the delay is beyond their control.
How do I know when I am supposed to pay the final installment?
The due dates for all payments are listed on your Cruise Megastore invoice.
How do I pay the final installment?
You can call Cruise Megastore on 1300 657 948 for more information on how to make this payment.
Can I travel under my married name if I am going on a honeymoon cruise?
It is suggested that you travel under the names listed in your official documents that you will use as proof of citizenship such as passports or birth certificates. If you have to travel under your married name, you should carry a copy of the marriage certificate otherwise you may not be allowed to board the ship.
If your government ID reflects your new name but your birth certificate does not, then you will still need to have a copy of the marriage certificate since the two documents will be displaying different names.
Do I get a refund if I cancel my cruise?
There are two things that determine whether you will get a refund or not: The time you cancel the cruise for those who have travel insurance. The allowed timeline for making cancellation depends on the cruise line and the cruise holiday itself. It is best to have travel insurance so that your investment is protected should you decide to cancel your cruise.
Are there “frequent cruiser clubs”?
Yes, cruise lines have their own frequent cruiser clubs just like the airlines. If you have been on a cruise line before, you should mention this to Cruise Megastore. You might get a discount or get perks such as invitations to the captain’s cocktail party.
Do I need to buy travel insurance?
We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance for the duration of your holiday. This will ensure your investment is protected if you need to cancel your cruise holiday due to injury, sickness or the death of a companion. The travel insurance should also protect you in the event of emergencies when you are on the cruise.
Is it possible to add passengers to a cabin later on?
This depends on the cabin’s passenger limit and the time you choose to add the extra passenger. There is no assurance that the person will be added or that you will be charged the same price. If you want to include another passenger in your cabin, please get in touch with Cruise Megastore.
Can I switch passengers in my cabin?
Many cruise lines do not allow the changing of passenger’s names after you have finished the reservation process. However, where they do allow these changes, you may be charged a fee.
Would you suggest I upgrade to an ocean view or a balcony cabin?
The type of cabin booked most frequently are ocean views or above. Whereas inside cabins are the cheapest some passengers prefer to pay the small amount extra to have a room with natural light.
What to Carry
Do I need to get a passport before cruising?
Passengers have to show proof of citizenship as they board the ship. This is applicable even if the cruise only includes domestic destinations. If your cruise ship is going to ports outside your country, then you will need a valid passport. All the countries you travel to on international sailings require that you show proof of citizenship.
If you need additional information on the travel requirements, visit
- Smart Traveller – 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre +61 2 6261 3305 (outside Australia) or 1300 555 135 (within Australia)
What documents are required when traveling with children?
All children no matter the age should have their own passports. There are some countries that require you to have extra legal documents. The documents required for specific countries are available from the website of your country’s consular. You can also get this information from the consulate of the country where you are travelling to. It is advisable that you confirm all the requirements as you near the departure date in case anything has changed.
Should I carry a life saver?
No, lifesavers are available in your cabin. You will need to attend a lifeboat drill where you will learn how to use the lifesavers in case there is an emergency.
What do you suggest I have in my carry-on bag?
Your checked in baggage could take a few hours to be delivered to your stateroom after embarkation. It is therefore advisable that you pack everything you will need until dinner time. This can include swim suits, cameras, medication as needed, sandals, sunscreen, toiletries and maybe a change of clothes. If you are traveling with a small child, you should carry enough nappies and wipes to last you the day.
What kind of clothes should I carry?
When choosing clothes, you need to consider the climate of the destinations you are headed. For warm areas such as the Caribbean, you will need to pack cool clothing and sunscreen. For the cold areas such as Alaska, you should carry rain jackets and warm clothes. You also need to check if your cruise ship has formal nights where you will be expected to be in dark suits or tuxedo for the men and cocktail dresses or pantsuits for women. However, if you do not have these, you can hire them from the ships or you can decide to go to the casual dining areas of the ship.
Are there dress codes on the ships?
The dress code depends on the ship. Most will suggest that passengers wear “resort casual” clothes during the day such as shorts, tops, shirts and pants. Evening attire except for the formal nights such as slacks or skirts are recommended. In most cases, shorts, jeans and swimwear are not permitted in the main dining rooms as dinner is served. Swim suits are not allowed even in the casual buffet-style restaurants. You can use Cruise Megastore to help you learn the dress codes for each ship.
If your cruise includes destinations such as Alaska or Northern Europe, you should pack enough sweaters and rain coats.
What are medical release forms? Do I have to hand in one?
Cruise lines recommend that all passengers with special medical conditions should submit this information before they start cruising. This will help them get the right treatment in case there is an emergency. Passengers also need to have a letter from their doctor for them to be allowed to have syringes on board.
Am I allowed to bring alcohol on board?
The cruise lines have different policies concerning the amount of alcohol you can carry onto the ship. There are some that allow you to carry one or two bottles of wine or champagne. There are others that forbid carrying alcohol on board entirely. You should confirm with Cruise Megastore whether your cruise line allows passengers to have alcohol on board.
Are the lifeboats on the ship enough for every one?
Yes, each ship has enough lifeboats to carry all the passengers and crew members.
Can there be flu outbreaks on the ship? How do I know if my ship has had one?
Flu outbreaks are rare although in some situations, ships may have a few passengers who experience unease. If you are worried about previous outbreaks on your ship, you should talk to your cruise line.
What will happen if I fall sick?
There are doctors on all the ships who will attend to sick passengers. If there is a medical emergency or a passenger gets injured, there are also airlifts from the ships. In some emergency cases, a ship can make a detour to the nearest port of call for the passenger to get treatment.
Seasickness is one of the light sicknesses experienced by some of the passengers. However, this is not so common on large cruise ships since they have stabilizers so the passengers can’t feel the movement. If you feel sick, you can consult with the on board doctor or get some seasickness medication over the counter in the sundries shop.
What will happen if we encounter a hurricane or typhoon?
The ships easily change course to avoid storms and such bad weather
Is it possible to make calls home from the ship?
Yes. Many of the ships have phones in the cabins. In the rare event that your cabin does not have a telephone, you can go to the ship’s radio operator to connect you to a mainland number. However, it is wise to remember that making calls from the ship can be quite expensive and if possible, you should wait to use payphones at your next port of call.
Could I suffer from seasickness?
You are more likely to get seasick if you have a problem with motion sickness when travelling in cars or airplanes. The mega-liners are quite stable and you will not even feel the ship moving at all.
It is advisable for those who have a history of motion sickness to book outside cabins, preferably midship. By having a view of the horizon, you can easily get your sense of balance back. It is advisable to ask for an outside cabin mid ship and preferably in the lower decks where extreme motion is not easily felt.
What do I need if I get seasick?
The common drugs for sea sickness are Dramamine, Dramamine II and even Bonine. These are essentially anti-histamines that you can buy over the counter in many pharmacies. Most people get drowsy after taking anti-histamines especially Dramamine. Dramamine II and Bonine do not have the drowsy effect but some people might still go to sleep for some hours after using them.. You can bring your own seasickness medicine or purchase some on board your ship at the sick bay or at the Purser’s desk.
There is also another alternative, the “Patch” which you wear behind your ear. The “patch” releases small amounts of medication and it is absorbed into your skin and into the blood. The patch should be applied about four hours before sailing and will be effective for up to three days. However, you need to get a prescription from your doctor to wear the patch. When you are wearing the patch, you need to watch out for any side effects such as blurry vision, parched mouth and even drowsiness.
These are just some of the questions that get asked about cruise holidays. hopefully we have answered your question. If you need any help please leave a comment below or visit www.cruisemegastore.com.au