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10 Questions You Forgot to Ask Your Cruise Consultant

27 March 2019

Updated: April 2024

We’re all a little forgetful at times, especially when going on holiday and the excitement starts to take over. On top of forgetting to pack the essentials – a nightmare that can end up with us spending double, or even triple, on the same items abroad – sometimes we simply forget to ask some of those important questions before it’s too late. If this sounds a little too familiar, don’t panic! We’ve put together this handy list of ten common questions to remind you of what you should be asking your cruise consultant when booking your next cruise holiday.

So, if you’re planning on taking advantage of the latest cruise deals or looking forward to an upcoming cruise holiday, keep reading to find out more about ten questions you (maybe) forgot to ask your cruise consultant – and why it’s important to ask them.

What’s included in the fare? Are drinks included?

With so many cruise lines branding themselves as ‘all-inclusive’ options, it’s important to understand what this actually means for you – as this might not include certain amenities available.

So, it’s always a good idea to ask ahead of boarding so you’re not met with a surprising bill at the end of a great holiday. Some cruise lines are known for their all-inclusive packages as standard, such as Marella Cruises, and some are known to offer all-inclusive benefits at an additional cost to the base fare – such as Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and MSC Cruises.

These additional all-inclusive packages can include select drinks packages, onboard spending limits, and more. Of course, there are other options out there, but these are some of the most popular ones at the moment. If you have an all-inclusive cruise booked with one of these cruise lines, it’s likely that you’ll find most or all drinks included.

A woman sat at the bar on a Celebrity Cruises ship
At the bar on Celebrity Cruises

We have a selection of drinks packages blogs showcasing and explaining the variety of onboard drinks packages available, from our essential P&O Cruises' drinks packages guide to our guide to Celebrity Cruises drinks packages – all of which are home to key information like prices, inclusions, and more. So, if you opt for one of these, be sure to check for any limitations; these can be a pain, especially if you’re travelling in a family group and you want to drink on your own terms, or if you prefer a particular beverage.

What should I book in advance?

Depending on the cruise you choose, there might be certain things that you just won’t be able to book onboard – this can include things like childcare and shore excursions. And, with every cruise line having their own rules when it comes to this sort of thing, it’s worth checking and finding out beforehand.

Save yourself the hassle of pushing through a crowd to guarantee yourself a seat at that one specialty restaurant you’ve got your eye on, or joining a long – and stressful – queue for spa treatment. In particular, booking yourself onto any shore excursions you fancy ahead of time can be very important. If you do book yourself onto one of the available shore excursions, you’ll be in the care of the cruise line – who will shepherd you to and from your cruise ship with complete security.

Venturing off on your own can be a fun adventure, but if you miss departure from the port you’re stopping at, it’ll be your responsibility to get yourself to the next port for pick-up – stress everyone wants to avoid.

People playing basketball on a sports court on a cruise ship
Playing basketball on a sports court

Cruise lines often have online methods to book before you board; for example, guests can book certain services using Carnival Cruise Lines’ ‘manage’ tab on their website homepage. Here, all you need to do is create an account to arrange gifts in your cabin, drinks packages, and transfers. This can usually be done right up to one week before the sail date, but you can always check with your cruise consultant if you’re unsure.

Will I always be dining with strangers?

It’s about time we leave this myth in the past, although you can certainly dine with strangers if you want to! With most cruise lines, the choice is yours – more often than not, you can eat wherever you want, whenever you want, and with whoever you want. Saying this, though, there are some cruise lines that still use allocated seating and specific dining times. If this is the case, remember that you can request a change if you’re not happy with your given arrangements.

People drinking in a restaurant on a Cunard ship
Drinks with friends with Cunard

It really depends on how you want to cruise and how you want to enjoy your dining experience; some people still enjoy the traditional seating atmosphere, but casual dining suits some people better. One thing worth keeping in mind is that quite a few specialty restaurants will require pre-booking once on board. So, once you’ve found one you like, make sure you’re booking yourself a table once you’re settled in.

Will I get fewer opportunities being a single traveller?

It might feel a little like this if you’re just starting to look into solo cruising, but many cruise lines actually offer packages specifically tailored to suit single travellers.

For example, Norwegian Cruise Line has a special single traveller package which offers you a studio cabin, and access to a colourful lounge for solo cruisers to meet and mingle with one another. Nowadays, solo travellers don’t need to worry about missing out on anything a cruise holiday has to offer, with cruise lines often hosting activities such as dances, workshops, and other ways to socialise with others. To make sure you’re getting the best out of your solo cruise, make sure you speak to your cruise consultant for more information about the specifics of what will be available on your cruise.

If something happens to me, will I get medical attention?

Yes, you have nothing to worry about! Every cruise ship has a qualified doctor or nurse on board, meaning guests don’t need to worry about not being attended to should they need any medical attention during the cruise – day or night. To ease your mind even more, special ‘cruise’ insurance is a mandatory extra to any insurance policy you take out when cruising – something that will give you even more peace of mind if you fall ill while cruising. This insurance also covers you in any number of other events, such as if you miss port due to changing weather.

Most cruise ships are fitted with some medical equipment in case of an emergency, but the equipment and facilities available do vary from ship to ship. So, it’s important to ask your cruise consultant for more information on the level of service available if you have any specific concerns.

I’m not used to tipping, do I have to?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what cruise line you’re travelling with, as gratuities and ‘tips’ are usually prepaid before going on a cruise. That being said, this isn’t always the case – sometimes there are promotions in which gratuities are included in the package, and sometimes they’re added on afterwards. But, each cruise line has a clear policy when it comes to tipping, which you can find out more about through your cruise consultant if you’re not sure where to look.

A couple dining in a seafood restaurant with Princess Cruises
Dining with Princess Cruises

If you don’t want an automatic cruise gratuity applied, you might be able to amend this; however, this is wholly dependent on which cruise line you’re travelling with, so be sure to mention this to your cruise consultant if you want to avoid this – and any unexpected financial surprises it might bring.

When gratuities are not included – for instance, with many river cruises – you will find an envelope slipped under your cabin door to enable you to tip as you wish, anonymously. When this is the case, the cruise line will usually suggest an amount – this can vary from anything between $10 to $20 per passenger, per day, which will be divided out among the crew. So, for example, this would work out at around $105 each for a one week cruise, if the recommended amount was $15 per passenger, per day. You can, of course, tip personally at your own discretion if you wish.

How much luggage can I bring with me? Can it include my own food and drink?

One good thing about cruising is the fact that you can actually take as much luggage as you want! If you’re worried about what to wear on a cruise, you won’t need to worry about over-packing – provided you have enough bags and suitcases, of course! It’s worth noting, though, that a few cruise lines do have some limits – but, you can check this with your cruise consultant – and, if you’re on a fly-cruise holiday, your airline will have a fixed luggage allowance.

A couple enjoying drinks on sun loungers with Princess Cruises
Drinks on the deck with Princess Cruises

When it comes to bringing your own food and drink, however, each cruise line has its own policy. With some cruise lines, guests are allowed to bring their own alcohol with them. However, there are strict cruise lines who don’t even allow you to bring a simple fruit juice or a bottle of water. It all ultimately depends on the cruise line you’re travelling with, so this is another important question to ask your cruise consultant during the booking process.

Will I have access to the internet?

Staying connected on a cruise is important to a lot of guests, and we totally get it! Not only is it a great way to share your experience and communicate with your friends and family back at home, but it’s also useful if you want to keep up-to-date on the latest news or find out information about any of the places you might be visiting during your cruise holiday. Thankfully, almost all cruise lines offer some sort of internet package, however the charges you face and the quality of the connection itself will vary depending on the cruise line you’re travelling with.

So, it’s best to double check with your cruise consultant if you want to pick up an internet package for your cruise. You shouldn’t expect to be lounging around watching your favourite TV shows online, though, as only a handful of cruise lines actually offer packages that allow the use of streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus.

Is it going to be busy all the time?

Right now, the largest cruise ship in the world is Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas – a behemoth with a capacity of 7,600, 18 passenger decks, and the largest waterpark at sea among the available entertainment. You might think all of this makes the Icon of the Seas a busy cruise ship to be on, but even the largest cruise ships out there have plenty of open space for everyone to enjoy. In fact, some cruisers describe larger cruise ships as a ‘city on water’ – and you might not see the same face twice your entire cruise holiday.

A man and a woman having cocktails on a Disney Cruise Line ship
Having cocktails with Disney Cruise Line

This isn’t to say the main attractions on your cruise ship – like Icon of the Seas’ waterpark – won’t get a little busy at times, but there are ways to get around that if you’re looking to avoid crowds. For instance, if you wanted to try things like a rock-climbing wall or a surf simulator, it might be a good idea to try visiting these attractions in the early morning or on cooler days.

Can I get an upgrade while onboard, and should I accept it?

Before embarkation, some cruise lines – such as P&O Cruises – might offer a complimentary upgrade if there are higher-level cabins available and currently unbooked. Guests are able to put themselves forward to be considered, but this must be done during booking. If an upgrade hasn’t been offered before you embark, however, guests on the waiting list could still be contacted when onboard.

One thing to consider, though, is that you will be relinquishing the specific cabin you’ve chosen during booking. If you’ve chosen one based on location, the upgraded cabin may be in a location you were hoping to avoid. So, it’s always worth considering the pros and cons of a decision like this, as tempting as it sounds during booking.

A man in a jacuzzi on a Celebrity Cruises ship with a woman sat besides him in a gown
In the jacuzzi with Celebrity Cruises

If there are any questions we forgot to ask, check our FAQs to find out more about questions you may want to ask before you cruise and anything else you possibly haven’t come across yet. Or, if all you have left to do is pack your bags, make sure you read our hints and tips about the five worst mistakes you can make; don’t worry, it’s easily done!

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If you're just left asking when you can hop on a cruise after all of those questions, be sure to check out our best cruise deals right here, with options for all budgets and destinations across the globe! Whether you're looking for an all-inclusive, a cruise around the world, or anything else, we've got you covered.

Or, if you want to read a little more about cruise holidays, cruise ships, and more, you can find some of our other cruise blogs below:

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