JoCoCruise/Cruise Ship Basics

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Cruise Ship Basics

Being on a cruise ship is often a new experience for first time Sea Monkeys. This section will address questions like "will I get seasick", "how much will it *really* cost", and "what the heck is a towel monkey and should I be scared of them?"

RTFM where the F stands for FUN! Highly recommended reading:

Review the instructional information provided by the cruise line. These materials will answer most of the basic cruise-related inquiries.

For example, Royal Caribbean (RCI) offers a variety of resources, such as: FAQ section on their website, FAQ pdf, What To Know Before You Go section.

Also, Holland America Line (HAL) offers a "Know Before You Go" PDF, and also a "Cruise FAQ" section on their site.

These documents may include (but not limited to) information regarding:

  • Identification Requirements
  • Emergency Phone Numbers
  • Guests Under 21
  • Immunization
  • Customs Information
  • Alcoholic Beverages Brought Onboard
  • Baggage Policies & Packing Advice
  • Clothing (with evening dress and electrical appliance guidelines)
  • Gift Packages
  • Dining
  • Boarding Procedures
  • Activities Onboard
  • Excursions
  • Services Onboard (includes laundry information, prohibition of irons in cabins)
  • Shipboard Meals
  • Medical Facilities
  • Passenger Safety Briefing
  • Smoking Policy
  • Communications at Sea
  • Shipboard Account
  • Currency Exchange
  • Hotel Service Charge
  • Disembarkation Procedures

The Official JoCo Cruise website also features a detailed FAQ.

What to expect before the cruise

  • [From The Home Office] Pre-cruise, we encourage you to visit the JCC Discussion Forums, where people may already self-organizing various activities and events, including dance lessons, an a cappella group, coordinating shore excursions, Rock Band sessions in individual cabins, and much, much more. So if you’re interested in joining in, or starting an unofficial group/event of your own, dive on in and join the discussions. BONUS: everyone there is super-friendly!
  • Consider Travel / Trip Insurance - Price it out on sites that represent several insurance companies. These include InsureMyTrip, SquareMouth, and QuoteWright. Some of the bigger companies include TravelGuard and CSA.
  • Arrive to the Port city one day early. (Get there the day before)
  • Embarkation procedure (See RTFunM above)
  • Call your credit card companies and inform them of your itinerary.
  • If you are staying at a hotel with a cruise terminal shuttle, be sure to inquire about their policies when you arrive at the hotel, as there may be a reservation system in place.
  • Consider reading guidebooks! There are various titles on cruising in general and about destination ports. Don't forget your local library, too.

What to expect on the ship

Food (where to find it, what is free, what costs extra)

(On HAL) a daily newsletter is provided by the cruise line, which lists tons of dining information, including restaurants and hours. Also listed may be special events, such as daily Tea services, Happy Hour specials, Chocolate Extravaganza, Poolside BBQ and more. There is also 24-hour room service. The choices may not be limited to just the two pages of menu items listed in the cabin "booklet." Guests are able to order anything that is currently being prepared in the main dining room. You could order (non-perishable) snacks throughout the day, but keep them for late-night after-party munchies.

Main Dining Room Dress Code (See RTFM above)

Starting with JoCo Cruise 2017 and the we-have-the-whole-boat full-ship charter, the dress code has effectively become, "as long as you have on clothes and shoes." Official policy does not allow full-face masks in any public areas on board.

Formal nights vs normal nights, formal is defined by cruise line, not JCCC staff. Please note that participation in formal dress is optional, and choices either way are to be respected. This seems to be a hot-button conversation topic among cruisers in general, so caution is recommended.

General experience: Shorts and printed t-shirts are generally not permitted. Please note that the dress code only applies when dining in the Main Dining Room or specialty restaurants. Evening meals are available in additional locations.

The Agony And Ecstasy Of “Formal Night”: An Ontological Investigation Into The Phenomenon Of Dressing Up At Sea

A relevant forum posting from the Home Office.

How to pay for stuff (drink cards vs room key):

  • Room key: With your room key, you will be able to use your onboard account for all shipboard purchases, including beverages. All charges will be listed on your onboard statement.
  • Value (aka drink or beverage) cards: There are also "value" cards available for purchasing only beverages. For example, a "soda card" may cost $25, but the card is worth $50 value. "Beverage cards" (for non- and alcoholic drinks) may cost $45, and worth $50 ($90 for $100, etc). Any unused portion will be credited back to your account, minus the original discount. If these cards are purchased before boarding, they are often pre-printed with your name, and will be delivered to you on embarkation day. Cards may be purchased onboard, but may not have your name printed on them. One advantage in using these cards is that they only appear on your onboard statement once, as opposed to multiple entries for various transactions. This may make it easier to track your purchases.

Will I get sea sick

  • Motion sickness and/or nausea remedies: over-the-counter medications, prescription medication patches, candied gingerroot, ginger pills, ginger gum, acupressure wrist bands. YMMV.
  • Personal hygiene recommendations

Mandatory Muster/Lifeboat drill

Do not skip this! (See RTFM above)

Booking Extras:

(See RTFM above)

  • [According to The Home Office and HAL]: In general, all passengers may use their HAL booking numbers begin booking shore excursions, spa appointments, and so forth starting 6 months prior to sailing.
  • Excursions
  • Speciality dining reservations
  • Spa and salon reservations
  • Indulgence packages, beverage cards, etc.

Internet Access

(See RTFM above) On HAL, pricey Internet Packages are available for purchase. It is reported that access is painfully slow.

Smoking Policies

(See RTFM above)

Shipboard Account

It is recommended that passengers review their shipboard account towards the end of the cruise. Documents can be obtained by request at the Front Office.

What to expect after the cruise

  • putting out luggage night before
  • give some wiggle room between cruise arrival and departing flight; Royal Carribean's site lists 12:30 as the earliest to book from Orlando
  • Disembarkation typically takes place between 7:00 am and 10:00 am.
  • Allow time to gather luggage and go through US Customs.
  • hanging out with other sea monkeys in airport
  • land legs / dock rock / swaying is normal, do not be alarmed.
  • Check your credit card statements. If you have unexpected charges, email onboardaccounts (AT) hollandamerica (DOT) com with the following information:
    • HAL booking number
    • Ship name
    • Sail date
    • Room number
    • Your name

Links

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