Thank you for booking with One Stop Cruise Shop & Vacations. Listed below is some information on what to expect from your upcoming cruise.
Documentation Passports are highly recommended, but not required for cruise travel to the Caribbean if you are leaving and returning from the same US port. A passport is required for air travel outside of the United States. If you do not have a passport then you must have an original or certified copy of your birth certificate and a Government issued picture ID to board the ship for cruises leaving and returning from the same US port only. If an emergency should arise and you need to fly back to the US instead of arriving by ship, you will need a passport. These documents will be needed at check-in. You will also need your boarding pass, which you will have printed from the cruise line’s website when you filled out your immigration information.
Embarkation & Check-In Boarding usually begins around noon. You must arrive at the pier at least an hour and a half prior to sailing time. If you are driving to the pier, drop off your luggage before you park the car. Porters will take your luggage and place it aboard the ship, where it will be delivered to your cabin. These porters do not work for the cruise line. Always tip the porters directly, at least $1.00 per bag (if you’d like your bags again!). Inside the terminal at the check in desk, you will also be asked for your boarding pass (printed from the computer before you leave home) passport or birth certificate & driver’s license. You will also need credit card for your onboard charges such as carbonated and alcoholic beverages, pictures, souvenirs and shore excursions. If you don’t have a credit card, you will need to visit the information desk aboard the ship to leave cash, which will be applied to your purchases. You will receive a cruise card which will be your ID to get on and off the ship and also serves as your cabin key. Your dining time and table number will be noted on your card, unless you have chosen open seating. If there is an error on the dining time, proceed to the Maître’d upon boarding the ship. Most ships have dining room personnel stationed in a specified lounge to assist with problems and special requests. A welcome buffet will be awaiting you on the Lido deck. Let the eating begin!
Lifeboat Drill Before the ship sets sail, every passenger is required to attend the Muster Drill—also known as the lifeboat drill. An announcement will be made over the loud speaker instructing you to go to your muster station. This is required by the Coast Guard. This drill is designed to show everyone what to do in the unlikely event you have to abandon ship.
On Board Activities Each day you will have a "Ship Newsletter" delivered to your cabin. This will detail the times and places for all of the ship’s activities. It will also tell you what time each of the dining areas, bars and pools open and close. I really suggest you read through this carefully so you don’t miss a thing! You may even want to bring a highlighter. There is always something going on! The crew organizes various activities throughout the cruise. They host talent contests, trivia games, bingo, art auctions, karaoke, gambling tournaments, swimming pool games and a variety of other activities. Every evening, there is a show in the lounge. There are also several lounges offering different types of music such as disco, piano sing-a-longs and easy listening. There is a spa, a fitness center and a jogging track. If you enjoy spa services, try to make you on the first day, as the most popular treatments and times fill up fast. You may also make your appointment ahead of time on the cruise line’s website when you do your online check in. There are usually several swimming pools and hot tubs. Some ships have movie theaters, rock climbing walls, and art galleries. For those who want more relaxing activities, the ships have a library where you can check out books and games. For a fee, you can log on to the internet. Don’t forget about the casino—maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones
Dining You have several choices for dining on board. In the main dining room, if you choose a designated dining time—either approximately 6 or 8 pm, you will be assigned to the same table each evening, with the same waiter and tablemates. You may also choose open seating, which allows you to eat at anytime between 5:30 and 9:00 pm. You can choose from several entrees. Order as much as you’d like. This is the time to try new dishes. Depending on the length of your cruise, there are both formal dress nights and casual dress nights. Your daily newsletter will tell you the type of dining dress code recommended each evening. Most cruise lines require that you don’t wear shorts (for dinner), bathing suits, tank tops or t-shirts when eating in the main dining room. If you want a more casual dining atmosphere, there are buffets, pizzerias, and sandwiches/grill available in different areas of the ship. You can also order complimentary room service 24 hours a day. Some ships have specialty restaurants which serve a limited number of guests where meals are cooked as ordered. These restaurants charge an extra fee and fill up fast. You can make a reservation ahead of time on the cruise line’s website. Many cruise lines offer soda fountain packages. Instead of purchasing a soft drink at $2.00 a can, you can purchase a package that entitles you to unlimited beverages. The cost is approximately $7 per day based on the length of your cruise. This package may be purchased ahead of time online or once you board the ship.
Alcoholic beverages are additional. The tip is automatically added to your check. Many cruise lines allow you to carry on (don’t pack it) 1 bottle of wine or champagne when you first board the ship. If you tend to drink quite a bit, your bar bill can really add up. Contact me for advice. Alcoholic beverage packages may also be purchased.
Shore Excursions in Ports There are several ways to purchase shore excursions. Cruise lines offer a large variety of shore activities. You can book excursions ahead of time on line from your cruise line’s website or wait until you board the ship. Book early, as they do sometimes sell out. I will also give you information on several independent companies that you can book through. You may also purchase excursions at the port through local tour companies. Sometimes this is less expensive. Another option is to find a taxi on shore and have them take you where you want to go. The taxis are always at the end of the dock. You can bargain with the drivers on price, but make sure you agree on a price before you get in the cab. ALWAYS know what time your ship departs.
So that you can thank those who have made your cruise vacation better than you could have imagined, tips will be automatically added to your onboard account. You also have the option of paying the tips when you make your final payment. The charge is approximately $13 per person per day and is split amongst the dining staff and your cabin steward.
Debarkation On the last night of the cruise, you will need to prepare for disembarking the next morning. You will be given forms to fill out for customs and immigration. Most cruise lines offer two options for getting your luggage off the ship. You may either take it with you, which is easy enough on a short cruise, or put it outside your cabin door the night before by a specified time. You will pick it up in the terminal after getting off the ship. Don't forget to keep clothes and toiletries out for the next morning. On the morning of debarkation, everyone will be told where to wait (usually a main area) until customs and immigration officials clear the ship. In order to facilitate an orderly debarkation, passengers may be called to leave the ship at various times—usually by colored or numbered luggage tags assigned the day before. If you have an early flight scheduled, be sure to let the front desk know in advance. You will be permitted to disembark earlier than your assigned time.