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 STEP.state.gov 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 - TravelPerksDream 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 so that youíll 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 passengerís sole responsibly to have all the needed documents to travel.
Mandatory Pre-Registration - The cruise lines, resorts, other vacation suppliers, and the government require you to pre-register information with them before your travel. This may be done online at the appropriate supplierís company website. We highly recommend doing this AT LEAST 14 days before 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 TravelPerks Dream Vacations vacation 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 provide you luggage tags to ensure delivery of your bags to your stateroom. The porter will also have tape/staplers to assist with those you may have printed. Some luxury/river cruise companies and most tour companies still provide paper documents. These usually arrive 14 to 21 days before travel and either come direct from the company or we will send them to you as soon as they arrive in our offices.
Luggage & Packing - The cruise line allows you to bring as much luggage as you like. However, the airlines have limitations, so check with them before departure. Tour companies tend to allow portage for just one large bag per person. Keep in mind luggage will have to be stored in your stateroom during your cruise (usually under the bed). 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. Remember to not to pack your room key in your checked bag prior to disembarking the ship as you will need it to get off the ship.
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 youíd prefer to relax, youíll want to bring along reading material 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/memory cards. 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 Hot White, Western, or Caribbean Night. The lounges tend to be a bit chilly, so itís 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 a dollar or two per bag (more 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 onboard charge account card. This card will be needed, along with photo identification, any time 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 or cash. Most ships do not accept personal checks.
Your method of payment will be required just before boarding, if not done online during your pre-cruise check-in. You can then easily charge any 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 roomís television or on an app which we recommend you download before arriving.
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. Also, you may have the option of having continental or full breakfast served in your stateroom although there may be a charge for room service. 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 or healthy food. If you have special dietary needs, please see the restaurant manager and they will do their best to help you. We recommend you let your TravelPerks agent know at least 30 days before your departure. Soda and alcoholic beverages are not usually included in the price of your cruise but are 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 hotel manager. If you forgot to tell us, donít worry - just give the hotel managerís one dayís 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 restaurant manager once youíre on board, 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 always has a standard room service fee, 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 $15 to $20 a day per person and are added to your onboard account automatically.
Some cruise lines allow for pre-paying your tips, and some even require it depending on your meal plan choices. If you havenít pre-paid your tips and would like to do so, either review your cruise planner or ask your Vacation Specialist if this is available for your vacation.
While at your discretion, we do recommend tipping for room service at $1 to $2 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 isnít, 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 days in 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 shipís 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 TravelPerks agency will send information on several options along with promo codes for discounts. 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.
Childrenís Programs - Most of the cruise lines offer children and teens programs. If available, babysitting 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 or tour operator 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 absolute 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 providerís website for your vacation. TravelPerks Dream Vacations is not responsible for any errors herein.