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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions. If you don’t see your question, be sure to contact us using the form to the right or you can call (636) 272-7245.

General Questions

WHY SHOULD I USE A TRAVEL AGENT TO BOOK A VACATION?

A travel agent takes all of the hassles out of planning a trip and handles virtually all aspects of your travel, at absolutely no cost to you. In addition, the combined experience of the travel consultants and the years of feedback from our thousands of clients provide you a valuable resource when planning an important trip.

In recent years, the top travel and cruise companies have also empowered and trained the travel agent industry to be even more effective and efficient facilitators.

DOES IT COST MONEY TO GET A QUOTE?

No, there is no fee for our vacation planning services as the travel companies we use recognize our value and compensate us from what you would have paid even without our planning. For complicated itineraries that require custom crafting or significant involvement of our international on-location partners, we do request an intent-to-travel deposit to begin the process. This deposit is then applied to your reservations we make on your behalf.

HOW LONG ARE CRUISES?

As long or short as you want. The Cruise Planner offers itineraries from two days to over one hundred days.

WHERE CAN I GO?

Wherever you’d like to go! Cruises visit practically any destination accessible by water. Ocean cruises offer bigger boats with more amenities and fewer stops while river cruises carry fewer passengers so you get more personalized service, more frequent cultural stops and spectacular, ever-changing views! Both have amazing benefits.

IS CRUISING AFFORDABLE AND A GOOD VACATION VALUE?

Yes! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best travel value for your money. Your fare includes your cabin, all meals, onboard activities, parties and entertainment. Your only extra expenses will be, gratuities, drinks, optional shore excursions, and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.

DO CRUISE LINES WELCOME FAMILIES WITH KIDS?

Nearly one-third of cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines make a special point of providing supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your child enjoys swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, he/she will love a family cruise. You’ll find the kids adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won’t have to wonder what they’re up to every minute. The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I NEED TO CANCEL MY CRUISE?

Call us right away. If it’s after normal business hours, please contact the next involved travel supplier (airline, hotel, tour operator, cruise line) to cancel any reservations you will not be able to use.

We strongly recommend trip cancellation/interruption insurance to protect your investment. We can provide you with the criteria and penalties for cancellations.

If you purchased travel insurance, please contact the insurance company’s 24-hour line to start the cancellation process and ensure your maximum refund.

DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Travel insurance is available and recommended to protect your travel investment. Many trips, such as tours and cruises, involve non-refundable funds paid months in advance. Travel insurance protects you from losing your investment.

Cruise Booking & Prep

WHERE CAN I GO?

Wherever you’d like to go! Cruises visit practically any destination accessible by water. Ocean cruises offer bigger boats with more amenities and fewer stops while river cruises carry fewer passengers so you get more personalized service, more frequent cultural stops and spectacular, ever-changing views! Both have amazing benefits.

HOW DO I PAY FOR MY CRUISE?

Your cruise will usually be broken down into two payments, a small deposit of between $100.00 and $500.00 per person is due to confirm a booking depending on the length of the cruise, the balance is due approximately 75 days before you sail. The Cruise Planner accepts almost all major credit cards.  Any bookings made within 60 days of sailing must be paid for in full at time of booking.

WHEN WILL I RECEIVE MY TICKETS?

The cruise line will send your tickets to our office approximately 15 days before you sail, this gives us time to ensure your documents are accurate and complete. We will then notify you to arrange for delivery of your tickets. We will normally send your tickets two or three-day priority mail and you will have to sign for them. We then recommend you contact us upon receipt so that we may review them with you over the phone. If you book on short notice you can pick up your airline tickets at the airport and can pick up your cruise tickets at the pier prior to boarding the ship.  We will discuss the process in a great deal with you, in regards to last minute bookings.

WHAT IS AN AIR/SEA PACKAGE?

An Air/Sea package includes your cruise ticket, an airline ticket and ground transportation needed to get you to the port. When using this package, the cruise line will, at their discretion, fly you on either a scheduled airline or a charter flight. Ground transportation is then provided to take you to your ship.

WHAT AIRLINE WILL I FLY ON IF I PURCHASE AN AIR/SEA PACKAGE?

Cruise lines block space with the major airlines such as Delta, Continental, and, USAir depending on where you are flying from. Your Cruise Planner Representative will advise you of your airline and seat assignments when your tickets arrive in our office.

CAN I GET FREQUENT FLIER MILES WHEN USING AN AIR/SEA PACKAGE?

Frequent flier members may inform the gate agent when checking in for the flight of their frequent flier number and you will be credited with the mileage.

CAN I BOOK ON SHORT NOTICE?

Even the most popular cruises sometimes have space available because of late cancellations. But, to get exactly the ship, cabin, and sailing date you want, you should plan and book early. Most cruise lines also offer early booking discounts for customers who plan ahead.

WHAT ABOUT PASSENGERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?

The cruise lines welcome passengers with special needs and work hard to assist them throughout their trip. It is essential that the cruise lines know well in advance if you have any special medical, physical or other requirements that need to be addressed. Most modern cruise ships have a number of cabins specially designed to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs or in need of TTY communications. Service animals are permitted on board if prior arrangements have been made. The Cruise Planner Representatives can help answer any specific questions concerning your needs.

CAN I EXTEND MY CRUISE VACATION?

We can arrange pre-or post-cruise land packages at the same time you book you cruise.

What To Expect

WHAT WILL MY CABIN BE LIKE?

Cabins on most cruise lines are smaller than they appear in the movies or on TV shows. They are designed for efficiency and to encourage you to use the much larger public facilities on board the ship. If you requested an “outside” or “ocean view” cabin, you will have a porthole or picture window, depending on your ship design. Some outside cabins will also have a small balcony. If you requested an “inside” cabin you will not have a porthole, window, or balcony. Most cabins have twin beds which can be converted to a queen size. Your cabin steward is there to make your stay comfortable; whether to change the bed configuration to suit your desires, or to bring you extra towels, pillows, or blankets if needed. Many of the newer ships have safes in the rooms, and TVs that show current movies, give casino instructions, and general cruise information.

IS THERE A CHARGE FOR ENTERTAINMENT?

That depends entirely on you, the cost of your cruise includes everything except alcohol and sodas, shore excursions, tips and personal items such as souvenirs, massages, and hair styling. When you board your ship you will be asked to activate your account, this is like running a tab during your cruise and all expenses will be charged to your room, at the end of the cruise the credit card you used to activate your account will be billed for the amount you charged while on the ship. We can advise you on which cruise lines differ from this policy and answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding this type of payment arrangement.

IS IT EASY TO MEET PEOPLE?

A cruise ship is a great place to make new friends because everyone’s so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed and you’ll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard another ship next year.

CAN SINGLES HAVE FUN ON A CRUISE?

Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone, because it’s so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have singles parties early on to give you the opportunity to meet your shipmates. Most ships also have single cabins as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, the cruise line will even find you a roommate to share a double if you ask them.

ARE THERE SMOKING AREAS?

Virtually all ships have smoking and non-smoking tables and/or sections in the lounges and dining rooms. In fact, many dining rooms are now smoke-free, reflecting passenger requests. If you wish to be seated in a non-smoking area, just let The Cruise Planner Representative know. In open seating situations, you can advise your waiter or the Restaurant Manager.

CAN WE STAY IN TOUCH WITH THE OUTSIDE?

Quite easily. Most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores, some even deliver the Wall Street Journal to your room. Staterooms on many ships are even equipped with televisions so you can tune in to CNN or ESPN. While many ships now have telephones in passenger cabins, you can also call someone through the ship’s radio operator while at sea, and you can phone home from most ports. In addition, many ships are equipped with fax capabilities.

IS THERE WI-FI?

In theory, detoxing from the Internet sounds good, but it can be difficult these days. Most ships now have branded apps that allow cruisers to chat with each other onboard and superfast high-bandwidth Wi-Fi that makes communicating at sea much easier than it used to be.

But Internet speeds can vary significantly by line and ship, depending on location, available bandwidth and other factors. Most cruise lines don’t offer speeds that can support streaming services like Netflix or Spotify. However, a few cruise lines are offering relatively affordable high-speed services that support video and music streaming.

Internet charges also vary by cruise line. You can be charged by the minute or by bandwidth, pay for daily or voyage-long packages, or choose from tiered usage packages priced based on the types of sites and online services (sending emails, streaming shows) passengers use. If this is a priority for you, please let us know.

CAN I USE MY CELL PHONE?

CALLS

Technically, you can make calls, but it’s not always possible, depending on where your ship is at any given moment. Often when you do have one, it’s coming through an at-sea provider and is considered a roaming charge by your cell carrier. Rates are typically exceptionally high, so we recommend you contact your cell phone provider prior to your trip to get pricing for roaming fees.

Some cruise lines offer calling packages, so be sure to ask us about this.

When you’re in port or even on many river cruises, your cell signal will typically switch to a carrier from the country or island you’re visiting. Roaming charges in these areas vary. Many carriers also offer discounted international packages, so check with your specific provider for details.

 

TEXTING

It’s possible to send and receive text messages at sea, as long as you have a signal through your ship’s roaming network. (Just make sure you turn off data roaming in your settings.) Texting costs a lot less than a voice call — usually in line with standard, international “pay as you go” rates. Most major carriers charge to send a message or deduct messages from your monthly allotment. Many carriers also offer discounted international packages, so check with your specific provider for details. On the flip side, you have no control over incoming text messages, so if you receive any while you are using your phone via the ship’s signal, you will be charged.

 

DATA USAGE

Smartphone data use onboard can be ridiculously expensive, especially because it tends to add up quickly. Always remember to put your phone in airplane mode or turn off data roaming before you head out to sea. Like calling and texting, many carriers offer discounted international packages,

WILL I GET BORED?

Doubtful. For ocean cruises, being at sea gives you a feeling of freedom few places can offer. There’s plenty of room. It will probably take you a few days just to discover what’s onboard. With both ocean and river cruises, you get the added adventure of exploring new and exciting ports of call. Cruise ships are like floating resorts with all the things fine resorts have to offer. You can be by yourself and lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing view, you can join in exercise classes, dance classes, sports contests and other organized deck activities. Perhaps you would like to practice your tennis stroke or golf swing or shoot some baskets. You can go for a swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym. You can see a feature movie, attend a lecture by renowned experts, play backgammon or bridge. It is amazing how much you can do on a cruise.

WILL I GET SEASICK?

It’s highly unlikely. The most popular cruise areas boast some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition to the large size of today’s passenger liners, stabilizers, advance availability of accurate weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have eliminated most cases of motion sickness. If in doubt you may want to check with your physician prior to sailing.

IS THERE A DOCTOR ONBOARD?

Virtually every cruise ship has a fully-equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency.

IT ALL SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IS IT?

The one major complaint we hear over and over again is that cruises end too soon! Beyond that, it’s hard to find any negatives. After all, you don’t have to run to make plane connections to get from one port to the next, you don’t have the hassles of making dinner or nightclub reservations, you don’t have the bother of packing and unpacking as you move from place to place, you don’t get unexpected, expensive surprises at restaurants or nightclubs, you have a wealth of options for shopping, adventure, sightseeing, exploring, entertaining and sports activities, all you have to worry about is relaxing and enjoying your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member onboard is dedicated to making your cruise the best trip of your life (until you top it with your next cruise!)

What To Pack

WHAT SHOULD I PACK?

Pack like you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or ashore. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. Attire is dictated by occasion, the Captain’s Cocktail Party for example, you’ll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown. Some ships have theme nights such as Country and Western night, or a Roman Toga party, so you could dress accordingly if you desire. Shorts are not allowed in most main dining rooms during the dinner meal. We can provide you with information about your ship’s dress code.

DO I NEED A PASSPORT?

Since both ocean and river cruises can visit the ports of many different countries, proof of United States citizenship is required not only to allow you to visit these countries but also to allow you to re-enter the United States. On most cruises, a birth certificate with raised seal, or a valid passport is required. If you will be traveling to countries requiring visas, the cruise line will send you the required forms. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please be sure you are bringing the correct documentation for all the countries you will be visiting. Due to security at the airport photo identification must be shown to board the plane. Check for additional requirements with The Cruise Planner or the Cruise Lines.

WILL I NEED A TUXEDO?

On some cruises, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. If you do want to dress up, many ships offer tuxedo rental services. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine.

CAN I USE MY HAIR DRYER OR SHAVER?

Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms but do check with us to be sure.

Cruise Amenities

ARE THERE LAUNDRY SERVICES ABOARD?

Yes. Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and a great many provide dry-cleaning services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services. Some ships also have self-service launderettes.

IS THERE A DOCTOR ONBOARD?

Virtually every cruise ship has a fully-equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency.

ARE THERE NON-SMOKING AREAS?

Virtually all ships have smoking and non-smoking tables and/or sections in the lounges and dining rooms. In fact, many dining rooms are now smoke-free, reflecting passenger requests. If you wish to be seated in a non-smoking area, just let The Cruise Planner Representative know. In open seating situations, you can advise your waiter or the Restaurant Manager.

Cruise Dining

WHAT TYPE OF DINING EXPERIENCE CAN I EXPECT?

Your dining preference can be requested at the time of deposit. This request is not guaranteed; if you are unhappy with your seating assignment, you can see the Restaurant Manager and he/she will do his/her best to accommodate you. Meal times vary on different cruise lines. Almost all meals, including 24-hour room service, are included in the price of your cruise. Depending on the ship you can find up to 8 meals and snacks per day plus room service so you (or your kids) will never be hungry on a cruise ship.

River cruise ships often have one main restaurant, and breakfast and lunch are often buffet-only (or buffet mainly, with a few items to be ordered a la carte) with a served evening meal. An increasing number of river ships have intimate secondary venues — some vessels up to four — offering alternative menus and private dining. A handful of lines now provide room service, previously a rarity. To make up for having only one big dining room, ships get creative, spreading casual breakfast and lunch offerings on the bar in the lounge or setting up BBQs out on deck. Plus, the small passenger count and daily port calls mean the venues are better able to bring in fresh ingredients like fish and produce or offer regional specialties at mealtime.

CAN I GET A SPECIAL DIET?

Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, Kosher, or other dietary preferences. However, this request must be made in advance so be sure to advise your us of this requirement when you book your cruise.

WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE MY TABLE MATES?

This is rarely a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, speak with the Restaurant Manager. He will make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions.

WHAT ABOUT TIPPING?

Tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is to plan for about $3.00 per person per day for your room steward and dining room waiter and about $2.50 per person per day for your busboy. Other shipboard personnel can be tipped for special services at your discretion. Some cruise lines do not require, accept, or encourage tipping. Ask The Cruise Planner Representatives about this matter when you book your cruise.

WHAT'S THERE TO DO AT NIGHT?

At night, a cruise ship really comes alive. There’s dancing; live entertainment in nightclubs, discos and lounges; feature films; and parties with all your new friends. Most ships even have casinos. There are also many special events like the Captain’s cocktail party, passenger talent night, the Las Vegas-style show, magic acts, and the late-night buffet.

IS THERE A CHARGE FOR ENTERTAINMENT?

On all cruises, the entertainment is included. There’s no cover, no minimum, no charge for admission.

On river cruises, the entertainment may be more low-key. There are no splashy production shows on the river. You may find a resident pianist or small ensemble on most ships, folk dancers, singers or other local troupes brought onboard for a quick evening show. During the day you can expect educational seminars and maybe the odd cooking demo, wine tasting or quiz. With river cruising the passing scenery and destinations visited are the main star of the show.

IS THERE A CHARGE FOR ENTERTAINMENT?

That depends entirely on you, the cost of your cruise includes everything except alcohol and sodas, shore excursions, tips and personal items such as souvenirs, massages, and hair styling. When you board your ship you will be asked to activate your account, this is like running a tab during your cruise and all expenses will be charged to your room, at the end of the cruise the credit card you used to activate your account will be billed for the amount you charged while on the ship. We can advise you on which cruise lines differ from this policy and answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding this type of payment arrangement.

WILL I NEED A TUXEDO?

On some cruises, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. If you do want to dress up, many ships offer tuxedo rental services. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine.

ARE THERE NON-SMOKING AREAS?

Virtually all ships have smoking and non-smoking tables and/or sections in the lounges and dining rooms. In fact, many dining rooms are now smoke-free, reflecting passenger requests. If you wish to be seated in a non-smoking area, just let The Cruise Planner Representative know. In open seating situations, you can advise your waiter or the Restaurant Manager.

Cruise Activities

WHAT'S THERE TO DO IN PORT?

So much you’ll have a hard time choosing! You can go off on your own, take a guided tour, search ancient ruins , hunt for shopping bargains, ride a raft over river rapids, a bicycle down the side of a volcano, or ride a horse across miles of hills and beaches, climb a waterfall or pyramid, see the birthplace of civilization or listen to steel drum bands, follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a water skiing boat, if there’s still time, enjoy a show, play golf or tennis, eat native foods, learn how to windsurf, swim at some of the world’s best beaches, catch a record marlin, sail, snorkel, or go scuba diving, go to a nightclub or casino, take a cable car to the top of a mountain, or explore dark catacombs. In short, a cruise is the easiest way to see new places and do all the things you ever dreamed of. Cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of destinations and you never have to pack and unpack.

The hallmark of the river cruise shore excursion is the walking tour, the kind where you follow a guide with a lollipop sign or umbrella as she rattles off details of a quaint city’s history and culture, followed by limited free time for shopping or a quick drink in a local cafe. In addition to the traditional walking and motor coach tours to castles and other places of interest, river cruise lines have introduced options for active travelers, such as guided bicycle rides, hikes, golf, kayaking and even running tours, along with activities including cooking and art classes, music recitals and trips to the ballet or opera.

DO I HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ACTIVITIES?

On a cruise, you do what you want to. You can do everything, or lie back and do absolutely nothing. It’s your vacation.

DO CRUISE LINES WELCOME FAMILIES WITH KIDS?

Nearly one-third of cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Most cruise lines make a special point of providing supervised activities for youngsters, especially during school holidays. If your child enjoys swimming, sports, games, movies, and the adventure of new places, he/she will love a family cruise. You’ll find the kids adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won’t have to wonder what they’re up to every minute. The cruise staff will help keep them busy and entertained. Best of all, children generally travel at a substantially reduced rate.

WHAT'S THERE TO DO AT NIGHT?

At night, a cruise ship really comes alive. There’s dancing; live entertainment in nightclubs, discos and lounges; feature films; and parties with all your new friends. Most ships even have casinos. There are also many special events like the Captain’s cocktail party, passenger talent night, the Las Vegas-style show, magic acts, and the late-night buffet.

IS THERE A CHARGE FOR ENTERTAINMENT?

On all cruises, the entertainment is included. There’s no cover, no minimum, no charge for admission.

On river cruises, the entertainment may be more low-key. There are no splashy production shows on the river. You may find a resident pianist or small ensemble on most ships, folk dancers, singers or other local troupes brought onboard for a quick evening show. During the day you can expect educational seminars and maybe the odd cooking demo, wine tasting or quiz. With river cruising the passing scenery and destinations visited are the main star of the show.

People

IS IT EASY TO MEET PEOPLE?

A cruise ship is a great place to make new friends because everyone’s so friendly. The atmosphere is cordial, relaxed and you’ll have all kinds of things in common to talk about. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making arrangements to meet them aboard another ship next year.

WILL THERE BE PEOPLE LIKE ME?

All kinds of people take cruises. Passengers can vary from ship to ship and cruise to cruise. Just ask The Cruise Planner Representatives for advice on the best ship for you, based on your tastes and lifestyle. There are over 30 cruise lines and over 130 ships for us to choose from, we are sure we can find the right one for you.

CAN SINGLES HAVE FUN ON A CRUISE?

Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone, because it’s so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have singles parties early on to give you the opportunity to meet your shipmates. Most ships also have single cabins as well as single rates for double staterooms. In many cases, the cruise line will even find you a roommate to share a double if you ask them.

IS CRUISING RIGHT FOR HONEYMOONERS?

Without a doubt, cruising offers an atmosphere that’s just right for romance. Cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away under the stars, and so much more to remember forever. Most cruise lines provide special services such as Sunday or Monday departures, congratulatory champagne, cabin decorations or breakfast in bed. Some ships perform a marriage ceremony or will renew your marriage vows in port.

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