Did You Know?
We get a lot of questions about our pricing and amenities. They both depend on whether or not we have group space on a sailing and are allowed to "discount." Hopefully this will clear up some of those questions.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
As a travel agency, we can hold space in a number of categories on a sailing. We cannot hold actual cabins, just a certain number of cabins in a category.
The prices are locked in at the time we create the group. If there is a current promotion that offers lower fares than our group rates, we book at the lower rate. We always get you the best price we can!
DO WE HAVE GROUP SPACE ON EVERY SAILING?
No. Agencies are limited to a certain number of sailings on each ship every month, so we don’t always have group space available. We do, however, grab up the maximum number of groups an agency is allowed. We get the maximum number of groups offered to agencies since we are a "top producing" agency with most of the cruise lines.
WHAT ARE THEY AND WHERE DO THEY COME FROM???
When we create a group on a sailing, we are given points. The number of points can vary by date, holidays, number of days, etc. We have a choice as to what to do with these points. We can turn them into money for us in additional commission (which we NEVER do) or there is a set list of “gifts” we can purchase for our guests with those points. The very first thing we look for is Shipboard Credit, of course!! Everyone loves to receive extra money! Unfortunately, we don’t always get enough points on a sailing to be able to do that. (The amount of shipboard credit we can offer depends on how many points we received and the number of days of the cruise.) Sometimes we get shipboard credit as well as another item like wine or canapes etc...
Once amenities are assigned to a sailing they can’t be changed, and all our customers on that sailing receive the same thing. It’s hard to please everyone. There are only so many other things we can choose from. You may end up getting canapes, mugs, ice cream, tote bags, photo vouchers or chocolate-covered strawberries that you’ve already received so many times before you’ll scream if you see another one. We apologize! But we do the best we can with what we are given. We wish we could always offer huge amounts of shipboard credit to you all!
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
We look for the lowest rates we can obtain and offer a discount on top of that (at our own expense) in order to give you our best, competitive prices. How are we able to discount your fares off the lowest cruise lines’ fares? We still use Kim’s tried and true formula to determine how much of our commission to discount back to you. That doesn’t leave us any wiggle room, but we will always try to meet the price of our competitors. (Basically it boils down to we give back to you every dime over and above our set flat fee as a discount and amenities. There is no more to give or we’d be paying for some of your cruises.!)
Do I need travel insurance?
Kims Kruises HIGHLY recommends purchasing travel insurance. It is one of those evil necessities that you will be glad to have should anything happen. Travel insurance can be purchased through the cruise line or through Travel Guard prior to final payment with Kims Kruises. The price will vary depending on the cost and length of your cruise. It is strongly suggested that you purchase travel insurance. Once you are within the final payment period, the cruise lines will impose strict cancellation penalties as outlined in their brochures. These penalties will not be waived even for medical reasons. Please contact Kims Kruises for further details.
What should I pack?
First and foremost, dress for comfort. Daily life aboard a ship and in ports of call is laid back and casual. You are encouraged to wear whatever makes you feel most comfortable: sportswear, shorts, slacks, sundresses and so on. Warmer temperatures call for clothing made of lightweight, breathable fabrics. For cooler temperatures we suggest casual clothes that can be layered easily. On some days you may need a raincoat and waterproof hat or umbrella. Gloves are a good idea as well. Footwear should include comfortable walking shoes for visits ashore and sandals or rubber-soled shoes for strolling on deck. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. There are three types of "evenings" on board - casual, smart casual and formal. On casual nights, sport shirts and slacks are suggested for men; sundresses or pants for women. On smart casual nights, dresses and pantsuits for women; jackets and ties for men. For formal nights, women should wear cocktail dresses; men should wear suits and ties or tuxedos (optional). But don't buy a tuxedo just for the trip. If you do want to dress to the nines, many ships offer tuxedo rental services. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine for the dressiest occasions. Generally, three- and four-night cruises consist of one formal night and two or three casual nights. Seven-night cruises include two formal nights, one smart casual night and four casual nights. Ten, 11 and 12-night cruises consist of two formal nights, three smart casual; all other nights are casual. 14 & 15 night cruises usually have three formal nights, four semi-formal nights and the remainder are casual. Again, these are guidelines and your evenings attire is left up to your discretion. In addition, most cruise lines offer alternative casual dining for anyone who may prefer not to dine in the main restaurant.
Should I reconfirm my airline reservations?
Since arrival and departure times are subject to last-minute changes by the airlines, we recommend that you call your airline(s) 24 hours before your initial flight departure to verify all the flight numbers, departure and arrival times shown on your ticket. (Reconfirm international flights 72 hours prior to your departure from home.) Plan to be at the airline counter at least 1-1/2 hours before flight time for domestic flights and 2-1/2 hours before flight time for international flights.
Is parking available at the pier?
Parking available at most of the piers, for a minimal fee (usually about $10/day). At some piers only cash is accepted.
How do transfers work?
Most cruise lines include transfers between the airport and the pier on embarkation/disembarkation day if you have purchased an air/sea package directly with them. Passengers providing their own air must get their own transportation to/from the pier. Prepaid transfers can be purchased separately from most cruise lines. Flight information must be provided to the cruise line with final payment if separate transfers have been purchased.
What are the boarding procedures?
Generally, you will be allowed to board two or three hours before the ship sails. Keep in mind that you must be on the ship at least one hour before departure, and the gangway will be pulled thirty minutes before sailing. Upon completion of check-in, you will receive a guest identification card. This card will serve as your identification on-board. It will also serve as your identification for security procedures when embarking and disembarking the ship and when making purchases on board. As you walk up the gangway, a member of the cruise staff will welcome you aboard. Your luggage will be delivered to your cabin shortly after it arrives at the ship. You carry nothing but your hand luggage. Once you are on board you are free to explore the ship. Refreshments are available during embarkation and most cruise lines offer a nice buffet lunch (depending on the departure time).
What is the visitor policy?
For security reasons most cruise lines have implemented a "no visitor" policy aboard their vessels.
During Your Cruise
Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms. Many ships even feature hair-dryers in your cabin.
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. Staterooms on many ships are even equipped with televisions. While most ships now have telephones in passenger cabins, you can also call someone on shore through the ship's radio operator while at sea. And, you can make phone calls from most ports. In addition, many ships have fax capabilities and internet access.
What about tipping?
Cruise lines automatically add gratuities to each person's onboard account each day and will be $11 per person or more. Upon request, these can be added to your booking and paid for with your final payment. Additional tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is to plan for about $2.50 to $3.00 per person per day each for your room steward and dining room waiter, and about half that amount for your busboy. (A few cruise lines include tipping in the price and will so inform you.) Gratuities are customarily given on the last evening of your cruise. On many cruise lines it is now possible to prepay the above gratuities. Other personnel such as bar waiters, bellboys and deck stewards may be tipped as service is rendered. On most cruise lines a 15% gratuity is automatically added to your on board account for beverage purchases which you may adjust according to services rendered.
Are there laundry services aboard?
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. Most ships also have self-service launderettes.
Can we celebrate a "special" day?
All cruise lines will make your "special" day special. Most will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus of Happy Whatever to honor the occasion.
Are there medical services onboard?
Virtually every cruise ship (except for some smaller vessels operating in coastal waters) has a fully-equipped medical facility and staff to handle almost any emergency. Your prescription medication should be kept close at hand in your purse or carry-on bag rather than in your checked luggage. Be sure to bring a sufficient supply of medication and transport it in the original container. It is also a good idea to carry a written list of your medications in case they are lost. The list should include the name of the drug, dosage, and times taken.
Will I have a shipboard account?
Most cruise lines have set up a “cashless” system designed to make your life on board as simple as possible. You simply sign a receipt for each of your on-board purchases and then settle your shipboard account at the end of the cruise. Cash, VISA, American Express, MasterCard, Discover, and personal or traveler's checks are accepted as payment on most cruise lines.
What is the shipboard check cashing policy?
Most cruise lines will cash traveler's checks. Personal checks cannot be cashed and cash cannot be drawn from your shipboard account.
Do the cruise lines offer shore excursions?
All cruise lines offer extensive shore excursion programs designed to enhance your cruise experience. Shore excursions will help you make the most of your time in port and provide you with the best transportation and guide services available. For certain destinations, such as Europe, tours can be pre-requested by completing the form found in the shore excursion brochure sent to you 4-6 weeks prior to departure. On other cruises you can book your tours through the shore excursion office once you are on-board.
Can I afford a cruise?
If you can afford to take a hotel-based vacation, you can afford to take a cruise vacation. There are cruises available at all price ranges - from budget to luxury - and all represent perhaps the best value for your vacation dollar.
What do I get for my money?
Your cruise price includes your cabin, all meals (including the midnight buffet!), entertainment, parties and, of course, all transportation between all the ports on your itinerary. On most ships, alcoholic beverages and optional shore excursions are not included in the basic price.
Will I feel bored or confined on board?
Never! Think of a cruise ship as a floating resort on par with any Las Vegas megahotel. On-board activities begin at dawn and go into the wee hours of the night. The scenery is constantly changing, and every port is filled with new and exciting opportunities for exploration.
What can I do on a ship?
That depends on the ship, but generally the larger ships will have the most activities. You may wish to lounge on deck by the pool with a good book, sign up for exercise or cooking classes, swim, play bingo or bridge, gamble in the casino, take in a Broadway-style floor show or a magician's act, enter a talent show or a putting contest, take a dance class, get a massage or attend a lecture.
Is airfare included in my cruise price?
No, but cruise lines have programs where you can check out what flights they offer, including airlines, prices and schedules. You can book it yourself at the click of a button!
What's a shore excursion?
That's a term that refers to anything you do off the ship, in port. At every stop, you'll have the option of exploring the area on your own or as part of a group with a planned itinerary. You might hike a tropical rain forest in the Caribbean, fish for king salmon in Alaska, tour Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, or take a sightseeing tour.
Are all cruise ships the same?
Absolutely not. They range from yacht-like vessels with 100 passengers to towering megaships with huge atriums, "neighborhoods," fun activities and a maximum capacity of over 3,000 people.
Is a cruise suitable for families with kids?
Not just suitable, they're perfect! Large cruise ships are now designed with kids-only facilities, counselors, daytime activities and nighttime baby-sitting. Children of all ages are welcome on most ships. Your cruise counselor can advise you of the dwindling number of ships that are not kid-friendly.
Are cruises suitable for single travelers?
Cruising is very popular with single travelers, and cruise lines go out of their way to make it easy for singles to meet and mingle with other passengers. Some cruise ships offer single cabins, and most offer a single supplement rate for double staterooms. You'll never have to feel alone on a cruise... unless that's what you're looking for!
Are cruises really that popular?
You better believe it! More than ten million people will cruise in the next year, and cruising routinely earns the highest ratings in customer satisfaction among all vacation categories. Once you try it, you'll be hooked.
What is a Day at Sea?
A Day at Sea is a full day spent sailing between two ports. Most cruises include one or more Days at Sea.
Are there any age requirements?
Families with Children
Most cruise lines welcome children to travel on their ships, though infants and pregnant women are subject to some restrictions. Families booking more than one cabin may be subject to minimum age requirements for kids staying in a separate cabin.
Guests Under 25 Years of Age
All cruise lines require that at least one person in each cabin meets a minimum age requirement. The information that follows was provided by the cruise lines at the time of this writing, is subject to change, and should be verified with your Kims Kruises cruise counselor prior to booking.
The lowest minimum age requirement for any cruise line is 18. The following cruise lines require that at least one person in each cabin is 18 or older: American West Steamboat Company, Cruise West, Cunard, Oceania, Orient Lines, P&O Cruises, Peter Deilmann, Regent (Radisson) Seven Seas Cruises, SeaDream, Star Clippers, Uniworld and Windjammer.
The following cruise lines require that either 1) All passengers in a cabin must be 18 or older, or 2) If anyone in the cabin is younger than 18 years old, someone in the cabin must be 21 or older: Clipper, Disney Cruise Line, GAP Adventures, Princess Cruises, Silversea and Viking River Cruises.
The following cruise lines require that at least one person in each cabin is 21 or older: Celebrity, Costa (25 for March and April sailings), Crystal Cruises, Delta Queen Steamboat Company, Discovery World Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Seabourn Cruise Line.
The following cruise lines require that either 1) All passengers in a cabin must be 21 or older, or 2) If anyone in the cabin is younger than 21 years old, someone in the cabin must be 25 or older: Carnival, Holland America and Windstar Cruises.
One exception to these age requirements is made for underage married couples, who as long as they are both 18 are allowed to board unaccompanied. These couples may be asked to show proof of their marriage.
Your age on the date of sailing is generally considered your age for the length of the cruise.
Consumption of Alcohol
Once you've left port, the minimum age for the consumption of alcohol varies by cruise line.
GAP Adventures, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas allow all passengers 18 and older to consume any type of alcoholic beverage they choose.
The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on all Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships is 21. However, on cruises departing from European and South American countries, where the legal drinking age is typically lower than 21, a parent who is sailing with his or her son(s) and/or daughter(s) who is between the ages of 18 to 20, may sign a waiver allowing the 18 to 20 year old to consume alcoholic beverages.
Carnival, Clipper, Costa, Cruise West, Crystal, Cunard, Delta Queen, Discovery World Cruises, Disney, Great American River Journeys, Holland America, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Orient, Peter Deilmann, Princess, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea, Star Clippers, Uniworld, Viking River Cruises, Windjammer and Windstar require passengers to be at least 21 to consume any type of alcohol.
Gambling, a popular form of entertainment on cruise ships, also has age restrictions which differ between cruise lines. Carnival, Holland America, Oceania, Orient, Regent Seven Seas and SeaDream require passengers to be 18 or older to play in the shipboard casinos. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean require passengers to be 18 or older to play in casinos, except for Alaska cruises (passengers must be 21 or older). Crystal, Cunard, Discovery World Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Princess, Seabourn, Silversea and Windstar restrict the casinos to travelers 21 and older. Costa requires those gambling in the casinos to be 25 or older.
If you plan to fly to your port of embarkation, you must decide whether to arrange airline tickets on your own or use the AIR/SEA program offered by the cruise line. Here are the main considerations to help you with your decision.
Should I buy air through the cruise line or on my own?
Advantages of Arranging Your Own Airline Tickets
The main advantages of securing your own airline tickets are that you will be able to select the airline you fly and you will have some control over the timing and routing of your flights. You may wish to fly a particular airline to use frequent flyer rewards, or to earn frequent flier miles, or because that carrier has nonstop service to your port city. If you arrange your own airline tickets you will have more control over these variables.
Sometimes unexpected things occur that affect travel plans. Flight delays or cancellations, changes in cruise ship arrival or departure times, and cancellation of sailings altogether, are some of the things that can force you to rebook at a later time or date or seek a refund for your airline tickets.
Do cruise lines offer Military discounts?
From time to time, one or more cruise lines will offer special discounts on select sailings to Kims Kruises customers who are members of the military. Military personnel must present proper documentation at the time of booking to qualify for the special rates. At the current time, the following military discounts are available:
Carnival sometimes offers military discounts to Kims Kruises customers who are active, reserve or retired members, or veterans of the U.S. military. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID, retired military ID or discharge papers and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
Celebrity sometimes offers military discounts to active, reserve and retired members of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID at the time of booking.
Costa sometimes offers military discounts to customers who are active, reserve or retired members, or veterans of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID, retired military ID or discharge papers and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
Disney sometimes offers military discounts to active members of the U.S. military. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
Holland America sometimes offers military discounts to active members of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
MSC Cruises sometimes offers military discounts to active and retired members of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
Norwegian sometimes offers military discounts to active and retired members of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
Orient Lines offers military discounts to active and retired members of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID and a driver's license, at the time of booking.
Princess offers military onboard credit ON ALL SAILINGS to members of the U.S. military who are active, reserve, or have served for 20+ years. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID at the time of booking. Amount of onboard credit depends on the number of days of the cruise.
Royal Caribbean sometimes offers military discounts to active, reserve and retired members of the U.S. military and the Canadian Forces. Qualifying military personnel must present a photocopy of current military ID at the time of booking.
How much and who on your cruise should be tipped? When and how should tips be given?
The whole custom can be the source of considerable anxiety.
Generally, you should plan to tip your room steward $3.00 to $3.50 per person, per day, and plan an equal amount for your dining room waiter, and half of that for the busboy.
On most ships, tip the maitre d' or dining room captain only if you ask for special favors or table-side service; $5 to $10 is normal. Bartenders and wine stewards are tipped 10 to 15 percent, but many cruise lines will automatically add this gratuity to your bar or beverage bill. Check the bill to see how it is handled. Also, tips for special services such as salon & spa treatments and room service are left to the discretion of the guest, depending on services rendered.
Individual ship profiles found under the "Ships & Ratings" heading above will provide precise guidelines for tipping on any ship. Guidelines will be repeated onboard, probably by your ship's cruise director. Gratuities are placed in envelopes from your cabin's stationery supply. Generally, passengers on cruises of 10 days or less will tip at the end of the cruise. On longer voyages, tipping weekly may be the norm.
As part of a new trend that seems likely to grow, Carnival, Costa, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess and Cunard now charge gratuities to your account automatically. Norwegian, for example, charges $10 per day, per guest, to cover service in the various dining rooms and your room steward. If you feel this amount needs to be adjusted, whether increased or decreased, arrangements can be made onboard the ship, generally at the end of your cruise.
A few lines do not encourage tipping, including Regent (Radisson) Seven Seas, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club and Silversea. Crew members are reportedly higher paid and not tip dependent. Many passengers tip anyway for outstanding service or special favors.
Tips on Tipping
$3.00 to $3.50 per person per day
$3.00 to $3.50 per person per day
$1.50 to $2.00 per person per day
Bartender, wine and deck stewards
10-15% of the bill
$5.00 to $10.00 tip for each special service
Do you need a passport to go on a cruise?
That depends on where you are going. If your boat only stops at US ports, then no passport is necessary. If you are cruising outside of the Western Hemisphere, you definitely need a passport.
However, as of June 1, 2009, if you are cruising from the US to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean, US Citizens are required to present one of the following documents to re-enter the country:
- A US passport book
- A US passport card (Note: Unlike the US passport book, the US passport card is not valid for air travel)
- A NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST card
- An enhanced driver’s license (only available in certain states)
There are a few exceptions for cruises in the Western Hemisphere:
US citizens on a closed-loop cruise, one that begins and ends at the same US port, can use a driver’s license or government-issued ID card and a birth certificate, certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship.
- Children under the age of 16 traveling by land or sea can use their birth certificates, as can children under the age of 19 if they are under adult supervision and are traveling with an organization such as a school group, church group, volunteer organization or sports team.
However, most cruise lines strongly recommend that all guests travel with a valid US passport during their cruises for a couple of important reasons:
- If you have a medical, family, personal or business emergency and need to fly back to the U.S. before your cruise ends a passport is required or you could experience significant delays and complications. See Why You Should Consider Getting a Passport for a Closed-Loop Cruise
- If you need to fly to meet your ship at the next available port should you miss your scheduled embarkation in a U.S. port or if you miss a ship’s departure from a port of call.
- Some ports may have their own entry requirements. Talk to your cruise line to confirm the documents you need for your cruise.