Answers to general cruising questions and to some particular to Norwegian Cruise Lines, If there are additional questions you think should be included, please e-mail them to Bob@Highseaslegaled.com
TERMINOLOGY FOR LAND LUBBERS:
Forward / Bow – Front of Ship
Aft / Stern – Rear of Ship
Amidships – Somewhere in the middle of the ship
Starboard Side – the right side of the ship when facing forward
Port Side – the left side of the ship when facing forward
Heavy Seas – wheeeee!
Knots – a reference to the ship’s speed – note that “per hour” is implied, therefore “15 Knots per hour” is redundant.
Nautical Mile – approximately 1.15 miles (therefore 10 Knots equates to about 11.5 miles per hour)
Tendering - For ports of call where we cannot pull directly up to a dock you will get to the destination via a Tender Boat – a small vessel which will ferry the passengers to and from the ship.
Embarkation – The beginning of the cruise
1. What is included in my cruise fare?
In general, all on-board food and meals (except cover charges in specialty restaurants), on-board entertainment, use of the recreation facilities (except spa services), and some beverages.
2. Do I need cash on board?
Cash is generally not used on-board except for gaming in the Casino.
At most ports of call you will be able to use cash, traveler’s checks, credit cards, and debit cards.
3. What beverages are included in the cruise fare? What are the soft drink options?
Coffee, Tea (iced and hot), milk, and some juices are available at no extra charge pretty much all the time. Additional juice choices may be offered at meal times.
The cruise line offers a length of cruise soda program as well as length of cruise alcohol packages, and a variety of wine packages which may be purchased upon embarkation.
Soda, beer, wine, mixed drinks are available for purchase at various venues on the ship.
4. What time do we eat?
As the cruise gets closer we will establish a "dinning time" for the main dining room for our group, at which time we will request that all of us be seated at the same table or adjacent tables. However, you are free to request a different dinner seating is you choose.
In addition to the main dining room (which is included in your cruise fare) there are several specialty restaurants which charge an additional fee. These are purely optional.
There are also a variety of casual or quick service dining areas and cafe's, most of which would be included in the cruise fare.
Finally, room service is available 24 hours a day, again typically at no additional charge.
The NCL site can give you more detail on dining options and venues.
5. How does Tipping work?
Standard tipping is approximately $12-$14 per day per person (NCL's site has information on the suggested breakdown between stateroom attendants and, wait staff). Tips can be given out in cash on the last night of the cruise or are sometimes simply added to your final stateroom bill at the end of the cruise. We will provide more information on NCL's standard practices as the cruise gets closer.
Typically the tips are automatically added to your bill each day. Therefore, if you wish to pay them in cash, or if you feel that your tips should be higher or lower than the automatic tips, you MUST raise this issue with the cashier’s office BEFORE the end of the cruise.
Anytime you order a beverage on-board, or purchase spa services, or any other personal service type item, a gratuity of 15-18% is added to the stateroom charge automatically. You may increase this auto-gratuity, but are not required or expected too.
6. What time should my return flight be?
Most cruise lines recommend that your return flight be no earlier than 2:00 PM. However, based on past experience, cruise ships tend to get into port in sufficient time to catch a noon flight, but no earlier. An early afternoon flight (1:30-3:30) will probably allow you the most stress free final day.
Also, if you take NCL's post cruise ground transportation, there may be “no earlier than” flight time which they will tell you.
7. What about ground transportation?
NCL offers pre and post cruise ground transportation which can be purchased through them. You must make your airline reservations prior to buying the ground transportation, as flight info will be required at the time of purchase (airfare does not have to be purchased through NCL to purchase the ground transportation). In order to used NCL's post cruise ground transport there are cut-off (“no earlier than”) flight times – please check with NCL or Alice for more details.
Taxis and private transport is available between the Port and Airport as well.
8. When can I get on-board?
Typically you can get on-board about 11:00-12:00. The cruise sails at 4:00 PM so the "all aboard" time is probably about 3:00. Please consult your cruise contract to be sure.
9. When will my luggage be delivered to my Stateroom?
Luggage is checked in with the porters when you arrive at the dock and will be delivered to your stateroom sometime before the end of the first (embarkation) day. It is a good idea to have a carry-on with swim suits, toiletries and maybe a change of clothes in case there are delays in getting your luggage delivered to your stateroom.
10. What can I do once on-board on embarkation day?
The pools and recreational facilities (except casino) will typically be open for business on embarkation day prior to departure. Normally there will be a “Sail Away Party” on the Pool Deck about the same time we pull away from the dock.
There should be a daily schedule / newsletter in your stateroom upon arrival which will list all the day’s activities. If there in not one in your stateroom on arrival, make sure to get one from the front desk.
Speaking of the daily schedule/newsletter, it will normally be delivered to your stateroom when they turn down your stateroom for the night. If you don’t get one make sure to go to the front desk – they are invaluable for knowing what’s going on the next day and specific information on the next day’s Port of Call.
EAT! In addition, the pool side grill will probably be open, as will one of the main restaurants. There will also be food served at the Sail Away Party.
Explore – we like to spend a little time on embarkation day checking out our stateroom and walking the public areas to get a feel of what’s where.
SAFETY DRILL! There is a MANDATORY safety drill generally about 30 minutes to an hour before leaving Port – listen for the inter-com announcements. Coast Guard regulations mandate that all passengers participate. They will FIND you if you don't come!
11. Can I stay in touch with the office while I’m on-board?
Do you really want to? The ship has an internet café area and will offer a variety of time packages. In addition the ship has wireless access areas where you can use a wireless laptop or tablet, provided you have an internet package.
Cell phone service might be available on-board and in the ports of call, but extreme roaming charges may apply. In addition, ship to shore phone service is available, but again, is rather expensive.
Face it – you’re on vacation – you can’t be reached – they’ll have to figure it out for themselves!
12. Can I bring my own beverages on-board?
No (and Yes) . Beverages may not be brought on-board at embarkation. Alcohol purchased in port (duty free you know) is held by the Purser’s Office and delivered to your stateroom the last night of the cruise. All beverages for consumption on-board must be purchase on-board.
The exception - you are allowed to bring bottles of wine on-board but will be charges a corkage fee per bottle. You will pay this when you arrive at the port.
Having said all that - it is our understanding that NCL will not confiscate a reasonable amount of soda or bottled water carried on-board.
13. Where can I get info on the Ship and the Deck Plans?
You can get detailed deck plans at the www.NCL.com
14. If I’m late getting back to the ship while in a Port they’ll wait for me, right?
Not a chance!
All passengers are required to be on-board at least 1 hour prior to leaving port.
You are responsible for getting back to the ship at the required time. If you are not on-board when the ship sails, you’re out of luck and will have to make your own travel arrangements to the next port to catch up with the ship. Make sure you have your Gold Card!
For this reason it’s vital that you always keep your watch on SHIP’S TIME (which will be published in the daily schedule and is available on the in room televisions). All schedules, docking, and sailing times are based on Ship’s Time.
The ONLY exception to this rule is that passengers who are on a shore excursion booked through Norwegian will be waited on IF the shore excursion itself is running late.
Passengers booking shore excursions directly through a local vendor DO NOT receive this accommodation.
If the Port of Call is one requiring Tendering from and to the Ship, make sure you know when the last Tender will run!
REMEMBER! The people on the balconies will be watching for the last minute people running down the dock to catch the ship and will be laughing at you!!!!