8 FAQs to check before taking your first Cruise Holiday

Did you know you can often use your timeshare points towards a once-in-a-lifetime break like a cruise for two?

If you’ve booked a floating holiday soon and have never been on a cruise ship before, here are eight of the most frequently asked questions to help take the guesswork out of it all so you can relax and enjoy your cruise to the max.

Q: Should I tip?

A: As a guide P&O for example suggests about £1.50 per passenger per day for your cabin steward, and a little more for the silver-service waiters.

Q: What is the Dress Code for dinner?

A: There are so many types of cruises, to suit different lifestyles, that no cruise is really the same these days.  But as a rough guide, 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 would go for a smart shirt and jacket and trousers like a relaxed blazer or sports jacket – or a suit and tie if it’s more of a special celebration.

Stylish resort or leisure wear is ideal – 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 insurance and make sure the conditions cover a cruise holiday and any eventualities connected with that type of vacation.

Q: What about children’s clubs? Can children stay on board while parents go ashore?

A: P&O for example run a 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).

However cruise like P&O require that when parents go ashore to explore the day’s destination, children need to go with them.

Q: How do we get to the ship?

A: You will receive full details when you book.  For example if you choose one of the cruises 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 seewww.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: Check with your cruise line.  Again, as an example, 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.

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