Cruising Tips

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - Tips from your Vacation Specialists

Thank you for booking your vacation through TravelPerks Dream Vacations. We truly appreciate and value your business.  Please take a few moments to read this important fact sheet.  If you have not been to your cruise line / tour company website to read their tips and important information, we suggest you do so now.  Be sure to check the travel date shown on your TravelPerks Dream Vacations invoice against the cruise line online check-in to confirm that our invoice corresponds to the itinerary you purchased.

U.S. Department of State Traveler's Checklist A trip requires careful planning. CLICK HERE for a list of some important steps to take before traveling outside the United States.

  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – Enroll for free at to receive travel and security updates about your destination, and to help someone reach you in an emergency. Groups or organizations can create an account and upload a spreadsheet with contact details for multiple travelers.

Cancellation/Interruption Protection TravelPerks Dream Vacations has negotiated a very comprehensive and competitive Trip Cancellation/Interruption protection program that is available exclusively to our valued customers.  We highly recommend this protection.  While not required, we do recommend that you download a copy of your policy and bring it with you on your trip – that way you’ll have all the details and phone numbers you need while traveling.

Document Requirement  Please visit our FAQs page (Under Cruising FAQs) to review Documents Required For All Passengers.  It contains very important information to which you must adhere.  It is the passengers’ sole responsibly to have all needed documents to travel.

Mandatory Pre-Registration  The cruise lines, resorts, other vacation suppliers, and government require you to pre-register information with them prior to your travel.  This may be done by online at the appropriate vendor’s company website.  We highly recommend doing this AT LEAST 14 days prior to travel and as far in advance as possible.

Your Ticket Packet  Most cruise lines and resorts have moved to electronic boarding passes that you will print yourself from their website.  We will send you an email with information on how to do this.  If you need any help with this, your Dream Vacations specialist will be happy to assist. With the move to electronic tickets, most travel companies no longer supply luggage tags.  If you can print these online with your boarding pass, we suggest you do so. If not, when you arrive at the pier, ask the porter to look up your name on the ship’s manifest and give you luggage tags to ensure delivery to your stateroom.  Some luxury / river cruise companies and most tour companies still provide paper documents.  These usually arrive 14 to 21 days before travel and we will send them to you as soon as they arrive in our office.

Luggage & Packing  The cruise line allows you to bring as much luggage as you like.  However, the airlines have limitations, so check with them prior to departure.  Tour companies tend to follow the airline limits.  Keep in mind it will have to be stored in your stateroom during your cruise.  Once you board the ship, your luggage will be brought to your stateroom (this normally takes a few hours).

We suggest you take a carry-on bag where you can store your travel documents, valuables, jewelry, medications, important toiletries, and a change of clothes.  Do not pack these items in your checked luggage.

Luggage is also collected the night before departing a cruise, which is why carry-on bags are very important.  You will want to keep toiletries and something to wear the next day, along with your valuables and medications in your carry on.

Things To Bring

  • Bring a good pair of sunglasses; the glare of the sun on the water is tiring to your eyes.
  • Suntan lotion with sunscreen is a must!  The sun is very hot in the Bahamas, Mexico & Caribbean, even in the winter.
  • There will be many activities onboard that will occupy as much of your time as you like.  If you’d prefer to relax, you’ll want to bring along some magazines, books and/or small craft work.  There will be a small library on-board most ships.
  • Bring very comfortable walking shoes for walking around the ship and ports.
  • Pack a camera and extra film or memory.  Of course, today, this is your phone for most of us.
  • Bring chargers for all your electronics.

What To Wear Onboard a Cruise  Please see your cruise line's website, ticket package, or cruise line brochure for information on their style of dress.  Daytime attire is "resort casual" with shorts and jeans appropriate.  In general terms, there are three main designations for dinner attire in the main restaurants.

  • FORMAL: For gentlemen, a tuxedo (2-5% of men) or dark suit is appropriate. For women, a long or short cocktail dress or dressy pantsuit.
  • INFORMAL: Gentlemen will be asked to wear a collared shirt and long pants (not jeans). For women a dress or pantsuit is appropriate.
  • CASUAL: For gentlemen, an open shirt and long pants are appropriate. For women, casual dresses, or pants are appropriate. No shorts, and on some cruise lines, no jeans are allowed in the dining room for dinner.

Some ships offer special theme nights such as Western, Toga or Caribbean Night.  The lounges tend to be a bit chilly, so ladies—it’s a good idea to bring a shawl or a light jacket.

Pre- & Post-Cruises Hotels  Many hotels near the pier or airports have park and cruise (fly) programs, or maybe you would like to add a couple of extra days to your vacation.  Be sure to ask your TravelPerks Vacation Specialist to help book your hotels.

Parking At The Pier  Pier information is online at the cruise line website.  Most ports have near-by parking.

Porters  At the airport and the pier, porters are available for your convenience, however their tips are not included in the price of your cruise package.  The recommended tip is $1.00 per bag ($2 in NYC).

Security Card & Onboard Charge Card  At the time of check-in, you will be given a security card which serves as your stateroom key and on-board charge account card.  This card will be needed, along with photo identification, anytime you leave or return to the ship on port calls.

Cruise Line Onboard Credit Account  Most ships have a no-cash policy during the cruise.  During the embarkation check-in process, you will need to set up an onboard credit account.  Typically, this is done with a credit card but you may also use Traveler’s Checks or cash.  Most ships do not accept personal checks.

Your method of payment will be required just prior to boarding, if not done online during your pre-cruise paperwork.  You can then easily charge all your drinks and other services to your stateroom and pay at the end of the cruise.  On most cruises you can check your balance any time using your room’s television.

Stateroom  Your stateroom is designed to be "ship-shape" and efficient.  Be sure to make use of the "DO NOT DISTURB" and "MAKE UP ROOM" signs that are in your stateroom to enable your stateroom steward to best serve your needs.  Your steward can also provide you with extra towels, pillows or blankets upon request, and can convert twin beds to a queen bed where applicable.

Meals  All standard meals are included in the price of your cruise or resort package.  The ship/resort will offer several choices for breakfast which may include early-risers coffee and Danish, a buffet, and a full breakfast served in the dining room.  In addition, you may have the option of having continental or full breakfast served in your stateroom.  There are usually several choices for lunch and dinner: buffet; lighter fare on deck; and a full menu selection served to you in the dining room.

Some companies offer sushi, 24 hour pizza, ice cream parlors, espresso and so much more.  Most ships also offer a light or "Spa" menu for people desiring lower calorie food.  If you have special dietary needs, please see the Maitre d’ and they will do their best to help you.  We recommend your TravelPerks agent know at least 30 days prior to your departure.  Soda and alcoholic beverages are not usually not included in the price of your cruise, except at an all-inclusive resort.

If you are celebrating a special event (anniversary, birthday, etc.) please be sure to let us know.  We will notify the cruise line and most will provide you with a complimentary cake.  Be sure to reconfirm this request directly with the Maitre d’.  If you forgot to tell us, don’t worry - just give the Maitre d’ one day’s notice to comply with your wishes.

Dining Requests  We will notify the cruise line of your dining requests, and the status of this request appears on your invoice.  Even confirmed requests are not guaranteed.  If for any reason you are not pleased with either the time, table assignment, or your tablemates, please see the Maitre d’ once you’re onboard, and request a change.  They will do everything possible to accommodate your wishes.  If you have selected "traditional" dining, your restaurant and table number will be waiting for you on a card in your stateroom or on your room key.

Room Service  Most ships offer free room service with a limited menu 24 hours a day.  Some cruise lines have moved to service fees in the middle of the night, and Norwegian has a standard room service feel at all times, except for coffee and continental breakfast in the mornings.  See "Tipping" below.

Tipping  Tipping is a personal matter and the proper way to compensate the staff for the excellent service you receive.  Most ship staff work primarily for tips, and earn them many times over.  Tips are generally $11 to $18 a day per person, and are added to your on-board account automatically.

Some cruise lines allow for pre-paying your tips, and some even require it depending on your meal plan choices.   If you haven’t pre-paid your tips, and would like to do so, please ask your Vacation Specialist if this is available for your vacation.

While at your discretion, we do recommend tipping room service $1.00 per person being served.  Tips for bar items are included in your charge.  Spa and other personal services may have the tip automatically included.  Where it isn’t, tipping is appropriate at normal levels for similar services in the US.

Daily Information Sheet  The cruise line will provide you with a daily information sheet that will be placed in your stateroom each evening.  This lists all the activities that will take place the following day, as well as information about the day’s port.

Shore Excursions  Shore excursions are the highlight of the cruise for many people.  Whether it's action/adventure, sightseeing, relaxation & pampering, or a happy combination, excursions give you a great chance to broaden your experience.  Most cruise lines now allow you to book shore excursions in advance online.

In addition to the ship’s excursions, there are independent companies who also offer wonderful tours.  Most of our clients find these alternate providers a fantastic option, and your Dream Vacations agency will send information on several options.  If you want help booking your excursions through these alternate sources, please ask us for assistance.  The cruise lines do not allow us to assist you with their excursions.

While You Are In Port  When you are in port the ship is always available for meals and limited activities.  However, the casino and shops will not be open.  Think of the ship as your floating hotel.

Docking / Tendering  Some ships do not dock at some ports; rather they anchor in the harbor.  Tenders are used to transfer passengers to and from the port and ship.  If you have a mobility issue, this may be an inconvenience for you.

Children’s Programs  Most of the cruise lines offer children and teen’s programs.  If available, baby-sitting services may be arranged onboard for a fee.  Check your cruise line website for details.

Disembarkation of Your Cruise  When the ship arrives back in port on the last day of your cruise it normally requires one to two hours for the Customs Officials to clear the ship after it docks.  Keep in mind that there are many guests leaving the ship at the same time.  You may be required to go through Customs prior to disembarking the ship.  There should be plenty of time for you to do this, no need to disrupt your breakfast.

Relax on deck, in one of the lounges, or in your cabin if allowed by the cruise line.  To expedite an orderly debarkation, you will have been given color-coded luggage tags and announcements will be made calling those colors when you can leave the ship.  Those with early flights usually have priority.  Our best advice: Relax, and enjoy the final morning of your cruise.

Late Return Flights  If you have a late return flight, consider spending time outside of the airport.  Many cruise lines offer tours of your disembarkation city or consider renting a car at the airport or pier and doing a little independent sight-seeing or shopping.

Contacting Someone Onboard  Please see your cruise line’s or tour operators website for information on how you can be reached while traveling.  Also be sure to leave our TravelPerks Dream Vacations office number with your emergency contacts.

Past Passenger Programs  Loyalty programs are important to the cruise lines and most tour operators.  These programs offer you amenities on future cruises.  We suggest you enroll in these programs while on the ship or notify your Dream Vacations Specialist upon your return so that you can be enrolled prior to your next cruise.  Once you have your membership number, please provide it to us so that we can find the best deals for you in the future.

Future Cruises Booked Onboard  While onboard your cruise, you may be offered the opportunity to book another cruise on the same ship or with the same line at attractive rates.  This is usually the very best deal possible.  If you decide to re-book, please remind the cruise line employee that you have booked with TravelPerks Dream Vacations and would like your agent to be notified.  Please notify us of your new reservation upon your return home as well.  We will reconfirm your reservation with the cruise line to ensure you have been quoted the absolutely best rate available, as well as provide you a special bonus.

Disclaimer:  The statements contained on this page pertain to most cruise lines and tour companies, however, variances will occur.  Please check the tour providers’ website for you particular vacation.  TravelPerks Dream Vacations is not responsible for any errors herein.

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