Eric Parter - Dream Vacations
FAQs : General Questions
Yes! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best travel value for your money. Your fare includes all meals, your cabin, onboard daytime activities, nighttime parties and entertainment. So for once, you'll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. (Your only extra expenses will be drinks, optional shore excursions, spa services and gratuities.)
As long or short as you want. There are cruise lines that offer itineraries from three days to three months. Whatever your schedule, we'll do our best to find the cruise for you.
Anytime is the best time to take a cruise, but it also depends on where you'd like to go. The Caribbean is fantastic year round; however, some of the more exotic destinations are seasonal. For example, you can only cruise to Alaska between May and September; to Europe between April and November; to Bermuda, between April and October; the Panama Canal, between September and April. So you see, no matter what time of year it is, it's a perfect time to cruise.
If we could only predict the future. Officially, the National Hurricane Service states that hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends November 30th. That's 6 months of the year. However, history has shown us the the greatest concentration of hurricane and tropical storm activity tends to be between late August and mid-October. Since we've been in business, we've only seen one sailing date was cancelled due to hurricane activity.
Does this mean you shouldn't cruise during September? Not at all. Some of your best rates are during this period and your Captain would never jeopardize your safety. Cruise ships are certainly safer than land-locked Caribbean Islands during a hurricane. With speeds of 20 - 22 knots, cruise ships can outrun a 14 knot hurricane. Today's ships are equipped with state of the art weather equipment that keeps the Captain and his crew fully aware of a storm's position and if he feels that there is any danger to his passengers, crew, or his vessel he can simply "move" this floating resort to safer waters.
If you are looking for the very, least expensive time to take a cruise, then consider sailing between the end of August and the sailing before Christmas, but not over Christmas or Thanksgiving. Most families have children that are back to school, folks begin saving vacation time for holiday travel, and everyone's saving money for the holiday season. Considering all of these factors, expect to cruise prices that are better than 2-for-1 with reduced rates for 3rd and 4th passengers. A 7 night cruise that normally sells for $899 per person in the summer could be $499 pp during this period with the 3rd and 4th sailing for $99. That's a potential average of $300 pp for a one week cruise.
If you're looking for a senior citizen rate, a regional promotion, a past passenger promotion, or a last minute deal, you'll likely find it during this period. Not the Winter, Spring, or Summer.
Where do you want to go? Cruises visit practically any destination accessible by water -- the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, Bermuda, Europe, Hawaii, the Greek Isles, the Orient, Australia, Tahiti, the Galapagos Islands, South America, India, the Panama Canal and more. If you can name it, we can probably get you there by ship.
Far from it. Ships range from under 200 feet to over 1,000 feet. You can sail with anywhere from fewer than 100 fellow passengers to over 2,600. Experience atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, classically simple to ultra-deluxe. You can even choose between traditional propeller-driven craft, sail-assisted cruise ships, or even a paddle-wheel river boat.
This is a common question, and the answer is - it depends. It's like asking what is the best car? The best cruise line for you might not be the best line for someone else because everyone has different priorities, interests, etc.
This may be bad news - but you'll probably have to do a little homework. You'll be spending quite a bit of money so it will be worth it. The good news is that you probably will enjoy the cruise on any line - they all do a good job. But if you can zero in on one which may be best for you, you may even have a better time.
Some of the things you need to consider are:
Hardly. Being at sea gives you a feeling of freedom few places can offer. There's plenty of room. And it'll probably take you two or three days just to discover what's onboard. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring new and exciting ports of call. Cruise ships are like floating resorts with all the things fine resorts have to offer. You can be by yourself and lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing view. Or, you can join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests and other organized deck activities. Perhaps you can practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or shoot some baskets. You can go for a swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym. You can see a feature movie, attend a lecture by renowned experts, play backgammon or bridge. And that's just when you're onboard!
Not really. The most popular cruise areas boast some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, advance availability of accurate weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.
So much you'll have a hard time choosing! You can go off on your own. Or take a guided tour. You can search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids, a bicycle down the side of a 10,000 foot volcano, or ride a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. See the birthplace of civilization or listen to steel drum bands. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a water-skiing boat. If there's still time (and you aren't ready to rest yet), enjoy a folkloric show. Play golf or tennis. Eat native foods. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world's best beaches. Catch a record marlin. Sail, snorkel, or go scuba diving. Go to a nightclub or glittering casino. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs. In short, a cruise is the easiest way to see new places and do all the things you dream of. Cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of destinations that you may want to return to for another vacation...and you never have to pack and unpack the destinations come to you!
Well, then don't - although if everybody felt that way I think they would run out of transportation real fast. You can do what you want in port. You will either tender (small boat to shore) or dock. It depends on the port and how many ships are there. But if you tender it will usually be done efficiently.
You can take tours arranged by the ship, take your own tours (rent a car, cab, etc.), just walk into town, or stay on the ship. You can have lunch on the ship - you can always come back, even with tender, they run all the time. If it's an all-day tour, and they will usually include lunch. The half-day tours are timed to get you back for lunch (or leave after lunch).
They will review all the tours for you on the ship and you should go if you're interested. Even if you want to do it on your own, you may pick up some ideas.
In the Caribbean and Alaska you certainly don't have to take tours - but many people do and are quite happy with them.
If you are cruising in Europe and some other parts of the world it may be different. Unless you just want to go into the city. They usually run shuttle buses which will take you 'downtown'. But this is only to the port city. For example, the port for Paris might be Le Havre. If you want to get to Paris, you're on your own. Sometimes you're close to a train station - all depends.
Ship tours are usually well organized and usually well worth the money. We know sometimes you can do it cheaper on your own, but remember that you are also paying for a guide, admissions, etc. Not to mention peace of mind - the ship won't leave until all the tours are back. If you go on your own you may have to build in extra time to be sure you won't miss the ship.If you're highly independent we're sure you can always do things on your own. But for the rest of us - the tours are just fine. And if you're worried about waiting for stragglers, this rarely happens in our experience, especially if you are on a cruise in Europe, Asia, etc. Experienced cruisers know how to behave. And if they don't they are brought in line very quickly - believe me!
On a cruise, you do what you want to. You can do everything. Or lie back and do absolutely nothing. It's your vacation.
32% of cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines make a special point of providing supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, they'll love a family cruise. You'll find the kids adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won't have to wonder what they're up to every minute. The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate.
At night, 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 even have casinos. There are also many special events like 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 sunrise at sea.
Most of the onboard entertainment is already included in the price of your cruise. However, there are some new premium entertainment options on certain ships that may have an extra charge.
A cruise ship is a great place to make new friends, because everyone's so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed. And you'll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. At dinner. At cocktails. Around the pool. Or along the promenade rail. And don't be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard ship again next year.
No matter what you've heard to the contrary, there's no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises...of all ages...from all walks of life...singles, couples and families. Passengers can vary from ship to ship and cruise to cruise. Just ask your agent for advice on the best ship for you, based on your tastes and lifestyle.
Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone, because it's so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties just for singles early on, so you can start to be involved right away. Most ships also have single cabins as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, a cruise line will even find you a roommate to share a double if you ask them.
Without a doubt. Cruising offers an atmosphere that's just right 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. Most lines provide special services from welcome champagne to 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. Contact us today, and we'll help make that dream honeymoon a reality.
A good source might be your library - they may have guidebooks on cruising (Fodor's, Frommer's, Berlitz, etc.). Of course, you can also buy these right from our website.
There are magazines for the consumer. The most popular one is Cruise Travel. It comes out every other month and costs about $12/year. If you want to get just one, this is the one we would recommend.Two others are Ocean Cruise News and Porthole. They are for the more serious cruisers. Ocean Cruise News is more like a newsletter (16 pages). No advertising, $28/year. Porthole has changed, unfortunately, and is now more of an industry magazine. (They may not agree with this assessment!). $20/year.
The one major complaint we hear over and over again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it's hard to find any negatives. After all, you don't have to run to make plane connections to get from one port to the next. You don't have the hassles of making dinner or nightclub reservations. You don't have the bother of packing and unpacking as you move from place to place. You don't get unexpected, expensive surprises at restaurants or nightclubs. You have a wealth of options for shopping, adventure, sightseeing, exploring, entertaining and sports activities. All you have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member onboard is dedicated to making your cruise vacation the best vacation of your life (until you top it next year with your next cruise!)
This is really a two part question:
1. How old do you have to be to cruise without a guardian?
Most cruise lines have a minimum requirement of 21 years of age for young people traveling 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's 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 have to be at least 12 - 16 weeks old to travel and maybe older for longer and exotic itineraries. Even if a child meets the age restriction, some lines require that they are 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, such as Renaissance, do not accept any guest under age 17. As each cruise line is different, it is always best to check with your cruise counselor about the policy of the cruise line you are considering.Facilities for children and families can vary widely. Budget and Contemporary cruise lines usually have the most to offer and may even have a child.s fare based on age. Some cruise lines charge the children's fare based on the cabin type being purchased, while 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 counselor for the most accurate rate quotes and the cruise line's policies.
You must be at least 21 years old to legally consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages on a Cruise Ship.
Eric ParterColumbia, SC
A CruiseOne Company