They’re more and more popular with younger holidaymakers, the style of ships and itineraries are more varied than ever, and with the celebrity chef restaurants and signature spas on sleek new ships these days, if you haven’t been tempted to try a cruise, you might be, soon!
So if you’ve been mulling over the idea of putting your timeshare points towards a cruise (perhaps to celebrate a special anniversary, or just to enjoy a completely different holiday) P&O Cruises answers some of the most frequently asked questions about cruising.
Q: What’s the tipping etiquette?
A: As it’s your silver-service waiters and cabin steward who will look after you personally every day of your holiday, the following suggestions are for these crew members specifically. However, you may, of course wish to tip others too.
As a guide P&O suggests £1.50 per passenger per day for your cabin steward, and £1.60 for the silver-service waiters. If you choose Club Dining you may wish to leave your tip in the envelopes provided and hand it to your waiter on the last night of the cruise.For Freedom Dining, P&O will add £1.60 pp/pd to your on board account as with Freedom Dining you will be served by different waiters.
Q: What is the Dress Code?
A: On some ships, during a typical two-week cruise there are usually four semi-formal evenings. Ladies typically wear tailored trousers, smart separates or a stylish dress, while men are in a smart shirt and jacket and trousers – such a blazer or sports jacket – or a suit and tie if they prefer.
Smart Casual dress code is found on all of P&O’s ships – for a two-week cruise on Oceana or Ventura, there would be about ten Smart Casual evenings, on other ships, six.
Stylish resort or leisure wear is idea – casual separates, or open-neck polo shirts and casual trousers for women. But not shorts, trainers, football shirts or tracksuits. Smart dark denim is also OK.
Q: Will I need travel insurance?
A: Yes you will need it, whichever itinerary you choose. P&O, for example, has a relationship with Preferential Insurance Services, Ltd who offer comprehensive travel cover. Quotes and full terms are available from www.insuretocruise.com/p&ocruises.html. You can also choose a different insurer. Remember to tell them about any pre-existing medical conditions.
Q: What about children’s clubs? Can children stay on board while parents go ashore?
A: P&O’s Children’s Club, called “The Reef”, is an area of the ship dedicated to children and teenagers with separate clubs for different age groups: 2-4s, 5-8s, 9-12s and 13-17s (out of peak season the groups change to 2-8s and 9-17s).
If parents go ashore to explore the day’s destination, children need to go with them.
Q: How do I decide which stateroom to book?
A: Night oils will probably prefer to be close to the decks with the theatre and bars, while families or those who prefer an early night might want a stateroom away from this deck and perhaps near The Reef children’s and teens’ area. Late sleepers would be better away from the gym and children’s clubs which are usually lively in the mornings. If you can’t walk long distances, or prefer not to, opt for a room close to the lifts.
Q: How do we get to the ship?
A: If you choose one of the crusies from Southampton, there are several ways to reach the ship.
Coach travel by Eavesway Travel from various locations across the UK is one, or you could drive and use the car parking service offered by Cruise and Passenger Services. Southampton Central train station is close to the cruise terminals and Southampton Airport is just outside of town but right next to the main train line and one stop away from Southampton Central Station.
Q: How long do the ships stay at each port of call?
A: The time varies from port to port and cruise to cruise but it’s usually a full day, which means between 7-10 hours approximately, arriving between 7-10am and departing between 4-6.30pm. This is timed for all the planned shore excursions to be able to operate, as well as enabling passengers to have ample time to explore the port on their own if they’d rather do that.
P&O will always let everyone know what time you need to be back on board but if you are concerned about getting back in time, it’s a good idea to book an organised shore excursion as the ship will not leave until all these have returned. For more details see www.pocruises.co.uk.
Q: What happens if I am unwell?
A: Each ship has a Medical Centre on board, supported by fully-qualified doctors. P&O’s medical centres are the first facilities in the industry to be accredited by the United Kingdom Health Quality Services, certified to ISO9001:2000. If you become ill during a cruise and your condition is so serious that you need to get to shore, P&O will place you in care of their port agents and a member of P&O’s team ashore will keep in contact with you and provide support if required.
Q: How do I pay for purchases on board?
A: P&O ships operate a cash-free system on board with everything priced in Pounds Sterling. When you check in, you will be given a Cruise Card which works as your ID for getting on and off the ship, as well as also being your charge card on board. When you order anything on board you’ll be asked for your Cruise Card, used like a credit card, so you’ll be signing for all your purchases and receive a bill at the end of the cruise.
Your Cruise Card can be linked to a credit or Visa debit card when you check in, to automatically charge your account at the end of the cruise, unless you prefer to pay by other means. You can change your method of payment while you’re on board but you will still be asked to register a credit card on embarkation.
For a full list of extensive cruise FAQs, please see www.pocruises.co.uk/faq
Michelin Stars Come Out for Gala Night: www.gotimeshare.org/News/Cruise-news
Queen to launch her namesake:www.gotimeshare.org/News/Cruise-news
Twiggy Gives Seabourn’s Latest Cruise Ship a Sendoff: www.gotimeshare.org/News/Cruise-news