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Chapter 12: The basics of cruising.


Cruises come in all shapes, sizes, locations, and prices, so there is a cruise to fit everyone's idea of a dream vacation. It is the travel professional's responsibility to remember that a cruise is not a one-size-fits-all type of product, and a client's vacation can be ruined by selecting an inappropriate cruise line or ship. By understanding the various terms and programs associated with cruising, travel professionals are better able to explain the details to their clients, thus making the overall experience less stressful and more enjoyable.


At the conclusion of this chapter, you should be able to:

* identify some of the more popular cruise lines

* identify some of the more popular world cruise areas, typical ports of call, points of embarkation, cruise lengths, and cruise lines operating in each area.

* define most of the terms associated with the cruise industry.

* explain many of the features and facilities on cruise ships.

* explain the most common tipping policies for cruising.









deck plan






gross registered tonnage (GRT)


inside cabin



outside cabin



port of call



shore excursion

space ratio

special programs






theme cruises



In the early days of cruising, the thing to do was to sail from Southampton in England to New York in "the Colonies." Anyone who was anyone insisted on a port cabin (room on the ship's left side) on the westbound voyage. On the return trip, a starboard cabin (room on the ship's right side) was mandatory. In this way, these elite cruise passengers enjoyed a warm southern exposure in both directions. The importance of "port out, starboard home" added a new word to the English language--posh, and it meant luxurious.

These early cruisers were the beautiful people of their time. They would faint dead away were they to see how far cruising has come. Today, everyone cruises; young and old, famous and unknown, the idle rich and the blue-collar worker. The cruise industry is booming!

In addition to the many cruise ships currently plying the world's waters, several cruise lines have announced plans to build new ships over the next few years, adding to their fleets. Cruise line executives and travel industry experts believe that the number of cruise passengers should increase 15 to 20 percent in the next five years. Travel counselors certainly hope this is true because most travel counselors love to sell cruises more than any other travel product.


One of the most important reasons travel counselors enjoy selling cruises is that this type of vacation has an exceptionally high rate of satisfaction. Cruise passengers who say that they would not cruise again are few and far between. In fact, many clients sail once or twice a year, year after year.

As with purchasing tours, prepayment is an advantage, although it may not be an obvious one to the client. Prepayment helps the client see the overall vacation cost more clearly than if features are paid for individually throughout the trip. Determining whether a cruise fits within a client's travel budget is easy because so many of the features are included.

Prepayment also helps the client estimate the overall expenditure when the ship sails from or stops at international ports. Once a cruise is paid for, the price does not change due to foreign currency fluctuations.

The fact that many of the cruise features are included means that this type of vacation has value. The typical cruise includes accommodations, meals, and a wide variety of entertainment and activities. Cruises around North America usually offer airfare add-ons from various U.S. and Canadian cities, whereas cruises to other areas may include airfare from major gateway cities. When airfare is included or added to the cruise cost, transfers from the airport to the pier may also be included. This can save the client $20 to $100 or more.

The service each passenger enjoys on a cruise is an unmistakable benefit. Many cruise ships have crew to passenger ratios of 1:1 or 1:2. Ratios like these usually result in exemplary service and a high degree of personal attention. Perhaps the best part of the service is that most crew members obviously enjoy what they do and are very eager to be of assistance.

Few vacations suit what is called the vertical traveler as well as the horizontal traveler-except, that is, for cruising. Vertical travelers enjoy a variety of activities and sightseeing, and cruising offers many opportunities for both pursuits. Horizontal travelers like nothing better than to relax by the pool with a good book and a cool beverage. On a cruise, the horizontal traveler can relax all day long if he wishes.

Like selling tours, selling cruises affords the travel agency two very important benefits. Selling a cruise is time efficient, unlike selling trip components separately. Think about how much time it might take to sell five or six components individually compared to selling one product that includes everything. Obviously, spending less time on each sale means that more sales can be made each day.

Selling cruises can be very profitable for the travel agency, certainly more so than selling a trip consisting of air, car, and hotel. Travel counselors agree that selling cruises is perhaps the best way to maximize agency earnings. All cruise lines pay a 10 percent commission for the cruise, airfare, and trip protection. However, many travel agencies, either because of their sales volume or consortia affiliation, earn additional commission percentage points on the cruise. It is not uncommon for the override to amount to 2 to 5 percent or more.

Any type of travel product that has so many important benefits is also likely to have some potential disadvantages, and cruising is no exception. Most cruises include some days spent at sea and a different port of call on the alternate days. Some clients want to spend a week on the beach or visit all of the local museums and attractions. A cruise provides too little time in port for this type of client.

The typical time for storms in the Caribbean is June through October. However, we all know that the weather does not always behave in a typical fashion. During bad weather, where can the passengers go while at sea? The answer is the ship's public rooms and their cabins. Cabins on many cruise ships are very small, much smaller than a typical hotel room. Being forced to remain inside during bad weather can make the cabins seem even smaller and some passengers may find that confinement a problem.

Seasickness can be a problem for some clients, and this condition can be exacerbated during stormy weather. Besides over-the-counter medication, such as Dramamine, some cruise passengers have obtained relief from the spice ginger taken in capsule form or mixed with tea. Another type of prevention is the acupressure bracelet. Of course, the travel counselor should suggest that the concerned client seek the advice of his personal physician before the trip.

If all of these precautions fail and the passenger becomes ill, he can call the ship's doctor. All major cruise ships have a physician onboard and a trip to the infirmary for an injection may turn a vacation disaster into a voyage to remember.


Many excellent cruise references are available to travel counselors. The type used most often is the cruise brochure itself, published by each individual cruise line. Much information can be gained from the brochure, including itineraries, prices, onboard photos, diagrams of ships, payment procedures, tips on cruising, and so on.

What if the travel counselor wants to see a sample menu or a map of the port area? Perhaps the counselor wants information about facilities for physically challenged passengers, children's programs, or sales policies. Fortunately, there is a reference source for this information and much, much more.

Many travel agencies are members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and receive the CLIA Manual each year. According to a recent poll, 97 percent of all cruises sold by travel counselors are for cruise lines that are members of CLIA, and as such, are included in the CLIA Manual.

The CLIA Manual is arranged alphabetically by member cruise line. Each line can include sales policies and staff, ship's profiles, sample menus, wine and beverage lists, sample daily activity sheet, deck plans, passenger services, reservation and payment procedures, and so on. All of this provides the travel counselor with much needed information, and several areas of the CLIA Manual can be used as excellent sales tools. Consider giving a prospective cruise client a copy of the ship's profile, sample menu, activity sheet, and wine and beverage list. Most clients appreciate this added service and enjoy reading over these pages.

After each cruise line's section are maps of many of the world's major ports, a destination index, and cruise line comparison charts showing available facilities for physically challenged passengers, honeymoon programs, children's programs, active adults programs, single travelers policies, credit card acceptance, shipboard shopping, and special cuisines. You can easily see why many travel agencies feel that membership in CLIA pays for itself from the manual alone.

Another excellent reference source for travel counselors is the Official Cruise Guide. This book is published annually by Travel Weekly (Cahners) and includes a vast array of information including listings by cruise line, destination, ship, ports of call, and port of departure. There are special sections dealing with theme cruises, special programs, and ferry schedules. In addition to the printed version, the Official Cruise Guide can be accessed on the Internet via the Travel Weekly Web site.

The Internet has become a valuable source for cruise information, particularly the Web sites for the major cruise lines. Within the Cruise Ship Center Web site is an alphabetical listing of cruise lines that includes each line's Web site link and e-mail address. As always, travel counselors should be cautious of unofficial Web sites and those sponsored by individuals.

Important Industry Web Sites

Online Cruise Reference Sources

Cruise Lines International Association:

Cruise Ship Center:

Official Cruise Guide: http://www.twcrossroads/directories/actindex.html


Fortunately for travel counselors and cruise clients alike, there is a cruise line, ship, and itinerary to fit everyone's idea of a dream vacation. Each cruise line tends to focus on one type of ship: small yacht-like vessels, tall-masted sailing schooners, riverboats, or the mega ships that are comparable to floating resorts. For the most part, each cruise line can be categorized by price: budget, moderate, deluxe, and ultra-deluxe. Perhaps the most important job a travel counselor has when working with prospective cruise clients is to match the clients with the line, ship, and itinerary.

The following is a list of the cruise lines that you may come in contact with frequently throughout your career. This list is not intended to represent all cruise lines.

American Cruise Lines: <>

American Hawaii Cruises: <>

Carnival Cruise Line: <>

Celebrity Cruise Line: <> (Owned by Royal Caribbean International)

Clipper Cruise Line: <>

Costa Cruise Line: <>

Crystal Cruises: <>

Cunard Line, Ltd.: <> (Owned by Carnival Cruise Line)

Delta Queen Steamboat Company: <>

Disney Cruise Line: <>

First European Cruises: <>

Holland America Line: <> (Owned by Carnival Cruise Line)

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL): <> (owned by Star Cruises)

P & O Cruises: <>

Princess Cruise Line: <> (Owned by P & O Cruises)

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises: <>

Renaissance Cruise Line: <>

Royal Caribbean International (RCL or RCCL): <>

Royal Olympic Cruises: <>

Seabourn Cruise Line: <> (Owned by Carnival Cruise Line)

Silversea Cruise Line: <>

Star Cruises: <>

United States Cruise Line: <>

Windjammer Cruises: <>

Windstar Cruises: <> (Owned by Carnival Cruise Line)


The travel industry has divided the world into "cruise areas." If you were to mention any specific cruise area to an experienced travel counselor, certain cruise lines would come to mind. Although several cruise lines offer sailings throughout the world, many cruise lines concentrate on one or two specific areas. When a client says that he is interested in a cruise, the travel counselor should qualify the specific area in which he is interested.

Before looking at the areas of cruising, you should know some additional terms. Each cruise area contains certain port cities that are used as the point of embarkation. The point of embarkation is the port where the passengers get on, or embark the ship to begin their cruise. Each cruise in a specific area offers ports of call; port cities where passengers may leave the ship for sightseeing, shopping, and so on. The port city where the cruise terminates is called the point of debarkation. The point of debarkation may or may not be the same port city as the point of embarkation. Passengers get off, or debark or disembark the ship at this port and begin the trip to their home city.

Let's examine the cruise areas, points of embarkation, ports of call, typical cruise lengths, and some of the cruise lines that offer cruises in each area.

1. Africa

Point of embarkation: any major port.

Cruise length: 3 to 24 days; 7- to 10-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: Costa, Crystal, Cunard, P & O, Princess, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Tenerife, Canary Islands; Mombassa, Kenya; Casablanca, Tangier, Morocco; Cape Town, Durban, South

Africa; and Dakar, Senegal.

2. Alaska

Point of embarkation: Vancouver, BC, Canada; San Francisco, CA; Seward, AK.

Cruise length: 3 to 14 days; 7-day cruises are the most popular.

Cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

Ports of call: Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway, AK; cruising through College Fjord, Glacier Bay, Inside Passage, and

Misty Fjords, AK.

3. Antarctica

Point of embarkation: Ushuaia, Argentina.

Cruise length: 8 to 18 days.

Cruise lines: Clipper and Radisson Seven Seas.

Ports of call: Deception Island, Drake Passage, and Paradise Bay.

4. Asia--North

Point of embarkation: any major port.

Cruise length: 3 to 14 days.

Cruise lines: Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Radisson Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Chongqing, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China; Kagoshima, Osaka, Kobe, Tokyo, Japan; Taipei, Taiwan;

and Seoul, Pusan, Inch' On, South Korea.

5. Asia--South

Point of embarkation: any major port.

Cruise length: 3 to 14 days; 7- to 10-day cruises are the most popular.

Cruise lines: Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, P & O, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Bali, Komodo, Jakarta, Semarang, Indonesia; Bangkok, Phuket, Thailand; Da Nang, Haiphong, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Penang, Port Kelang, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.

6. Australia and New Zealand

Point of embarkation: Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.

Cruise length: 4 to 20 days; 10- to 14-day cruises are the most popular.

Cruise lines: Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, P & O, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Australia; and Auckland, Bay of Islands,

Christchurch, Napier, Tauranga, Wellington, New Zealand.

7. Bahamas and Western Caribbean

Point of embarkation: Miami, Tampa, Port Canaveral (Cocoa), Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale), FL; and New Orleans, LA.

Cruise length: Bahamas only, 3 to 5 days; Western Caribbean, 7 to 14 days, 7-day cruises are the most popular.

Cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, and Windjammer. Ports of call: Castaway Cay, Cococay, Eleuthera, Freeport, Great Stirrup Cay, Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Bahamas; George Town, Cayman Islands; Labadee, Haiti; Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

8. Bermuda

Point of embarkation: Boston, MA; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and Baltimore, MD.

Cruise length: 7 days

Cruise lines: Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: King's Wharf, Hamilton, St. George's, Bermuda.

9. Canada and Eastern U.S. Seaboard

Point of embarkation: any major port.

Cruise length: 4 to 15 days; 7- to 10-day cruises are the most popular.

Cruise lines: Celebrity, Clipper, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, and


Ports of call: Campobello, St. Andrews, St. John, NB; Cape Harrison, Corner Brook, St. Johns, NF; Charlottetown, PE; Gaspe, PQ; Halifax, Sydney, NS, Canada; Alexandria, Norfolk, VA; Annapolis, MD; Bar Harbor, ME; Boston, MA; Charleston, SC; Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Miami, Port Canaveral, Tampa, FL; New York City, NY; Newport, RI; Philadelphia, PA; Savannah, GA.

10. Canada and U.S. West Coast

Point of embarkation: Seattle, WA; Los Angeles, San Francisco, CA; and Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Cruise length: 3 to 8 days.

Cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Clipper, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess, Royal

Caribbean, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Prince Rupert, Princess Louisa, Vancouver, Victoria, BC, Canada; Seattle, WA; and Catalina Island, Los

Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, CA.

11. Caribbean--Eastern

Point of embarkation: Miami, Tampa, Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale), Port Canaveral (Cocoa), FL.

Cruise length: 4 to 14 days; 7-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Clipper, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, First European, Holland America, P & O, Princess, Norwegian, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Windjammer, and Windstar.

Ports of call: Anguilla; Antigua; Guadeloupe; St. Kitts; Dominica; Puerto Rico; St. Croix,

St. John, St. Thomas, USVI; St. Martin/St. Maarten; and Tortola, Virgin Gorda, BVI.

12. Caribbean--Southern

Point of embarkation: Miami, FL; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Bridgetown, Barbados.

Cruise length: 7 to 14 days; 7-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: same cruise lines as Caribbean--Eastern.

Ports of call: Aruba, Barbados, St. Vincent, Bonaire, Grenada, St. Lucia, Curacao, Martinique, and Trinidad.

13. Europe--Atlantic Coast

Point of embarkation: Lisbon, Portugal.

Cruise length: 7 to 15 days.

Cruise lines: Celebrity, Clipper, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, First European, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess,

Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Olympic, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Cadiz, La Coruna, Seville, Vigo, Spain; Cherbourg, Le Havre, St. Malo, France; Madeira Islands, Lisbon,

Azore Islands, Portimao, Portugal; and Zeebrugge, Belgium.

14. Europe--Northern and Scandinavia

Point of embarkation: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden.

Cruise length: 5 to 15 days.

Cruise lines: Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O,

Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Royal Olympic, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Alesund, Bergen, Flam, Geiranger, Gudvangen, Hammerfest, Hellesylt, Honningsvag, Molde, Oslo, Stavanger, Trondheim, Norway; Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Torshavn, Denmark; Gdansk, Gdynia, Poland; Goteborg, Halsingborg, Stockholm, Sweden; Hamburg, Keil, Rostock, Warnemunde, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Riga, Latvia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Tallinn, Estonia.

15. Great Britain and Ireland

Point of embarkation: Southampton, Dover, England and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Cruise length: 6 to 14 days; 6-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: Clipper, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal

Caribbean, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Cobh, Cork, Dublin, Waterford, Ireland; Dover, Falmouth, Fowey, Harwich, Newcastle, Southampton, London, England, UK; Edinburgh, Greenock, Invergordon, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Rosyth, Scotland, UK; Fishguard, Holyhead, Wales, UK; and Londonderry, Northern Ireland, UK.

16. Hawaii

Point of embarkation: Honolulu, HI and Los Angeles, CA.

Cruise length: 4 to 16 days; 7-day cruises from Honolulu are the most popular.

Cruise lines: American Hawaii, Carnival, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess, Royal Caribbean,

Silversea, and United States Line.

Ports of call: Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; Honolulu, Oahu; Kauai; and Lahaina, Maui.

17. Mediterranean--Eastern

Point of embarkation: Piraeus (Athens), Greece and Istanbul, Turkey

Cruise length: 7 to 20 days; 7- to 10-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: Celebrity, Clipper, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, First European, Holland America, P & O, Princess, Radisson

Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Royal Olympic, Seabourn, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Alexandria, Egypt; Antalya, Bodrum, Canakkale, Dikili, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Turkey; Corfu, Corinth Canal, Crete, Delos, Hydra, Mykonos, Patmos, Athens (Piraeus), Rhodes, Santorini (also known as Thira), Greece; Odessa, Yalta, Ukraine; and Cyprus.

18. Mediterranean--Western

Point of embarkation: Venice, Civitavecchia (Rome), Genoa, Italy; and Barcelona, Spain.

Cruise length: 7 to 20 days; 7- to 10-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: same as Mediterranean--Eastern.

Ports of call: Barcelona, Ibiza, Malaga, Palma, Spain; Corsica Island, Cannes, Marseille, Nice, St. Tropez, Villefranche, France; Sardinia Island, Capri, Civitavecchia (Rome), Genoa, Livorno, Messina, Naples, Portofino, Sorrento, Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Valletta, Malta; and Tunis, Tunisia.

19. Mexico

Point of embarkation: For Western Mexico: Los Angeles, San Diego, CA; and Acapulco, Mexico. For Eastern Mexico: Miami,

Tampa, FL; and New Orleans, LA.

Cruise length: 3 to 14 days; 7-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: same as Caribbean--Eastern.

Ports of call: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, Huatulco, Ixtapa, Manzanillo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatenjo,

Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

20. Nowhere

Point of embarkation: New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and New Orleans, LA.

Cruise length: 2 or 3 days.

Cruise lines: varies.

Ports of call: none.

21. Panama Canal and Central America

Point of embarkation: Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale), Miami, FL; Acapulco, Mexico; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Cruise length: 7 to 23 days; 10- to 12-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Clipper, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess, Radisson

Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Royal Olympic, Seabourn, Silversea, and Windstar.

Ports of call: Balboa, Colon, Isla de Coiba, Panama City, San Blas Island, Panama; Belize City, Belize; Cano Island, Golfo Dulce, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Puerto Cortes, Roatan, Honduras; and Puerto Quetzal, Santo Tomas, Guatemala.

22. River Cruising

North American rivers: Ohio, Mississippi, Cumberland, Tennessee--Delta Queen Steamboat Company; Columbia--Clipper; St. Lawrence--Clipper, Cunard, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, and Silversea.

European rivers: Garonne, Loire, Seine, Saone, Rhone in France; Rhine, Main, Elbe in Germany; Volga in Russia; Danube

in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

South American rivers: Orinoco in Venezuela; Amazon in Brazil.

African rivers: Nile in Egypt.

Asian rivers: Yangtze and Pearl in the People's Republic of China.

23. South America

Point of embarkation: any major port.

Cruise length: 3 to 30 days; 7- to 14-day cruises are the most common.

Cruise lines: Carnival, Celebrity, Clipper, Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, Norwegian, P & O, Princess, Radisson

Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, and Winstar.

Ports of call: Arica, Cape Horn, Coquimbo, Iquique, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, Santiago, Valparaiso, Chile; Belem, Boca do Valeria, Florianopolis, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brazil; Galapagos Islands, Manta, Quito, Ecuador; Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn, Ushuaia, Argentina; Callao, Peru; Caracas (La Guaira), Porlamar, Venezuela; Cartagena, Colombia; Devil's Island, French Guiana; and Montevideo, Uruguay.

24. South Pacific

Point of embarkation: Papeete, Tahiti.

Cruise length: 2 to 7 days.

Cruise lines: Crystal, Cunard, Holland America, P & O, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, and Silversea.

Ports of call: Western Samoa; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Bora Bora, Moorea, French Polynesia; Papeete, Tahiti; Fiji;

and Noumea, New Caledonia.

25. Transatlantic

Point of embarkation: New York City, NY; Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale), Miami, FL; and Southampton, England, UK.

Cruise length: 6 to 25 days; 6-day sailings are the most common.

Cruise lines: several cruise lines offer occasional transatlantic crossings. Cunard Line's QE2 is the only ship that

has routine crossings from spring through early fall.

Ports of call: none.

26. World Cruises

Cunard, Holland America, and P & O offer world cruises annually. These cruises can be purchased in full or in segments. Embarkation can be any major port and ports of call are offered on all continents. World cruises are from 60 to 130 days long.

The process of boarding
a ship.

port of call

A city or island where a
cruise ship stops and
passengers may go ashore.


The process of leaving
a ship.


Cruise ships come in all sizes, from vessels that carry 50 passengers to ones that carry 3,400 or more. Regardless of size, the terms used to identify areas of the ship, policies, and procedures are the same. The body or frame of the ship is called the hull and when looking at most ships head on, the hull is in the shape of the letter V. The bottom of the hull is the keel. Walls between primary sections of the ship are called bulkheads, just like on aircraft. On ships, especially older ones, bulkheads can create a short obstruction on the floor that must be stepped over. The portion of a ship that is below water is measured in feet and is called the ship's draft. Also below the water line on most ships are devices called stabilizers. These retractable devices are used to help reduce or eliminate the side-to-side motion of the ship, called roll.

Some ships, in fact many of today's larger vessels, have a draft that is too deep to allow mooring at the pier. In this situation, the ship drops anchor a short distance from the pier and uses a smaller vessel, called a tender, to transport passengers to shore. Tenders are usually fully enclosed and carry 60 to 100 passengers on each trip between the ship and shore. This process of reaching shore is called tendering, and travel counselors should explain this process, especially to first-time cruisers.

All ships are measured based on enclosed, revenue-producing space. This measurement is called gross registered tonnage (GRT). Today's cruise ships range from 1,000 to 150,000 GRT. By dividing a ship's GRT by the passenger capacity, space ratio is calculated. Theoretically, the higher the space ratio, the more spacious the ship, including the passenger cabins. Space ratios range from the low 20s to the high 60s. Many counselor reference sources list both the ship's GRT and space ratio.

Unfortunately for new travel counselors, not much onboard a cruise ship is identified by a common name. Each floor or level on a ship is called a deck, and the diagram of each deck is the deck plan. The front of the ship is the bow and areas of the ship toward the bow are said to be forward. The back of a cruise ship is called the stern and areas near the stern are said to be aft. Even the left and right sides of the ship have special names; left is port, right is starboard. It is very common for a cruise line reservationist to ask the travel counselor if the client prefers a cabin fore (short for forward) or aft and to mention either the port or starboard side.

Experienced cruisers and travel counselors know that the answer to that question in most cases is neither. The reason is that the fore and aft sections of the ship experience more front-to-back motion, called pitch. Unfortunately, stabilizers do little to eliminate pitch and in rough seas, passengers accommodated in the fore and aft sections of the ship are aware of the weather conditions.

Most cruisers agree that the most stable accommodations are located midships; that is, toward the middle of the ship front-to-back. The laws of physics tell us that locations close to the center of gravity provide the most stability. On a ship, this means on a lower deck and midships. Travel counselors should be mindful of this when working with clients who express concern about the ship's motion.

Passenger accommodations on a cruise ship are called cabins or staterooms. Beds in passenger cabins are called berths and berths arranged in bunk-bed fashion are called upper/lower. Just to complicate things, the location at the pier where the ship is moored is also called a berth. Cabins that do not have a window, which is called a porthole if it is round, are said to be inside cabins, while those with windows are called outside cabins. As you might imagine, outside cabins are usually more expensive than inside cabins, and cabins with upper/lower berths are less expensive than those with a bed or beds on the floor.

When passengers board a cruise ship, they use a walkway that links the ship to the pier and enter the ship through a doorway in the bulwark or side of the ship near the main deck. Both the walkway and the doorway are referred to as the gangway. Once onboard, passengers usually find themselves in the main lobby, known as the purser's lobby. The purser's lobby is where most business onboard is transacted, such as purchasing sightseeing trips ashore, called shore excursions, settling accounts at the end of the cruise, and so on.

Shore excursions are rarely included in the cost of the cruise. Cruises beyond North America may allow passengers to reserve and purchase shore excursions in advance, making them commissionable to the travel agency. Unfortunately, most cruises around North America do not offer this convenience and shore excursions are booked and paid for on a first-come, first-served basis onboard the ship.

The ships navigational and command center is called the bridge. Some cruises offer tours of the bridge to passengers. A bridge tour is a real eye-opener of sophisticated technology. Another type of tour offered onboard some cruises is of the kitchen, known as the galley. When you think about the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of meals prepared every day on a cruise, it is easy to see why the galley must be the epitome of efficiency.

Every cruise ship is listed for legal and tax purposes in a specific country, known as the ship's registry. A ship's registry may not be in the same country as the home of the cruise line, and in fact, the countries are usually different. Ships that do not leave U.S. waters must be registered in the United States, and as such, are subject to U.S. laws, tax structures, and minimum wage considerations. Ships that leave or do not enter U.S. waters can be registered under any country, but the Bahamas, Panama, and Liberia are popular countries for ship registry.

Many cruise lines offer special programs for honeymooners, single travelers, children, and passengers with special dietary requirements. Some cruises offer a host program for unescorted women, while others provide fitness and spa programs. It is interesting to note that the more upscale the cruise line, the less likely it is to encourage travel with children.

Theme cruises have become very popular and are offered by a variety of cruise lines. Music lovers may favor a cruise that has a big band, 50s and 60s, classical, or country theme. There are cruises focused around gourmet food and fine wine. Other types of theme cruises include sports, nature, history, art, and so on.

The outer shell of a cruise
ship body.


The lowest portion of a
ship's hull.


The depth of a ship's hull,
measured in feet and inches,
that is below the water line.


Devices on a ship that
reduce or eliminate roll.


The side-to-side motion of a


A small vessel, usually
accommodating 100 people,
that takes cruise passengers
to shore while the ship is at

gross registered tonnage

A measurement of space on
a ship equal to 100 cubic
feet of enclosed, revenue-producing

space ratio

An indicator of the
spaciousness of a cruise
ship; calculated by dividing
the GRT by the passenger


A floor or level on a ship.

deck plan

The diagram or floor plan of
a ship that indicates cabins,
public rooms, elevators, and
so on.


The front of a ship.


At or near the front of a ship.


The rear of a ship.


At or near the back of a ship.


1. The left side of a ship or
other vehicle when facing
forward. 2. A harbor and
docking area for ships.


The right side of a ship or
vehicle when facing


1. The distance between the
rows of seats on an aircraft.
2. The side-to-side motion
of a ship.


The center portion of a ship,
front to back.


1. A room on a ship. 2. A
section, such as first,
business, and coach, on a


A passenger's room on a
cruise ship.

1. A bed on a ship. 2. The
location at the port where a
ship is moored.


Bunk beds on a cruise ship.

inside cabin

A passenger's room onboard
ship that does not have a
window or porthole.

outside cabin

A passenger's room on a
ship that has a window or


The walkway leading up to
a ship's entrance and the
entrance itself.

shore excursion

Optional excursions and
sightseeing trips at various
ports of call offered for sale
onboard cruises.


The navigational and
command center of a ship.


The kitchen on an aircraft
or ship.


The listing of a ship with a
specific country for tax


There are many aspects of the cruise experience that are quite different from every other mode of transportation and type of holiday. Without firsthand cruise experience or training in these differences, the travel counselor is hard pressed to accurately represent and sell cruises. Most potential cruise clients have many questions about what to expect from a cruise and the travel professional must be prepared to answer these questions.

Bars and Lounges

Are there bars onboard ship? When are they open? What is the minimum drinking age? Almost all cruise ships have one or more bars and lounges. In many cases, each one offers a different atmosphere; for example, a quiet piano bar, a dance club, a British pub, and so on. Most ships are not allowed by the country being visited to open the bars while the ship is in port.

The minimum drinking age is usually at the captain's discretion, however, 21 is typical. It is interesting to note that some countries do not have a minimum drinking age, and ships registered or traveling exclusively in those countries may not have a minimum drinking age either.

Alcoholic beverages on all cruises, except the most deluxe, are not included in the cost of the cruise. Most ships have extensive wine lists and offer all mixed drinks as well as domestic and imported beers and ales. Prices for alcoholic beverages onboard ship are similar to prices found in more upscale restaurants and bars. Tips for the bartender or waiter are appropriate on most cruises at the time of service or a standard tip may be automatically included in the bill.


Almost all cruise ships have a casino, although they can be very small, especially on older ships. Casinos onboard cruise ships usually offer slot machines and table games such as blackjack, roulette, and craps. Most cruise ships are not allowed by the country being visited to open the casino while the ship is in port. The minimum age for gambling onboard ship is at the captain's discretion, however, 21 is common.
Web Activity

1. Access Carnival Cruise Line's Web site and complete a comparison of
the passenger capacity of each ship in the fleet.

2. Access Royal Caribbean International's Web site and complete a
comparison of the casino size on each ship.

3. Access Cunard Line Ltd.'s Web site and complete a comparison of each
of the four dining rooms onboard the QE2.


This is another subject rarely questioned by potential cruise clients but is very important to their enjoyment of the cruise. The United States is one of a handful of countries that use 110 volt; most of the world uses 220 volt. The difference in voltage is enough to rapidly burn up a hair dryer, razor, clothes steamer, curling iron, or other appliance. All of the cruise ships operating in and around North America are wired for 110 volt and possibly 220 volt as well. However, ships stationed in other areas of the world may be wired for 220 volt only and U.S. passengers must use a current converter.

To make matters worse, the plug configuration on many receptacles throughout the world is different from the standard two-prong style used in the United States. So, in addition to a current converter, passengers may also need plug adaptors. Current converters and plug adaptors can be purchased individually or in a set at any major retail outlet that handles luggage and other travel products. These items can also be obtained from Magellan's by mail order or through their Web site at <> or from Orvis at <>.


When it comes to activities and entertainment onboard a cruise ship, diversity is the word. During the daytime hours, a variety of activities are offered and passengers may participate in any or all of them. Skeet shooting, driving golf balls, gambling (while at sea), and bingo, for example, are available for an extra charge. Royal Caribbean International's ship, Voyager of the Seas, offers a rock-climbing wall, golf course, and in-line skating track. Special activities such as these may be included in the price of a cruise. All of this is in addition to swimming pools, jogging tracks, and classes and discussions on various topics that are free.

Many cruise ships have a cinema that shows different films throughout the cruise. In the evening, stage performances are offered. These may be a full Broadway production, Las Vegas style revue, or comedy show. In one or more lounges, passengers enjoy a variety of music, from soft piano to country to rock. Most ships have a dance club that features all of the lights, bells, whistles, and hot music found at popular clubs ashore. All of these entertainment options are included in the cost of the cruise.

With all of this activity, how do passengers stay abreast of what is going on? Each morning, or during the previous night, a daily newsletter is slipped under each cabin door. This newsletter lists all activities of the day, as well as other types of information such as suggested dress for the evening meal, shore excursions, distance traveled, and the history of the next port of call.

More and more travelers see cruising as a perfect family vacation. But, what can the kids do for fun? Many cruise lines cater to families by providing child counselors and scheduled activities for children of different age groups at no extra charge. Special opportunities for children include escorted shore excursions, video games, a teen center or playroom, parties, movies, and menus. Cruise lines that cater to families may also offer reduced fares for children, babysitting service (for a fee), cribs, and quad or family cabins. It is important to note that some cruise lines offer these services and amenities only during the summer months, while other lines offer them year round.

The newer cruise ships are not to be left behind and are joining the technological revolution. It is common to find a computer center onboard where passengers can take a complimentary class or play the latest computer game. Some computer rooms have Internet access and passengers can check their e-mail while at sea. Depending on the ship, there may be an additional fee for Internet and e-mail use.


Have you ever considered that some cruises may not use U.S. dollars (USD) as the unit of currency onboard? Many potential cruise clients haven't either! Cruises that take place outside North America may use the currency of the country of registry, or the currency of the country of embarkation. For example, a cruise on the Rhine River in Germany may use the euro, shown with the symbol [euro]. A cruise around the British Isles may use the pound sterling, symbol [pounds sterling], as the ship's unit of currency.

Some cruise ships are cashless; that is, everything purchased onboard is charged to the passenger's account. At the end of the cruise, the account is settled at the purser's desk, either in accepted currency or by credit card. Some cruise lines, especially the smaller ones, may not accept credit cards or perhaps they accept only a specific kind.

As with any type of travel, it is advisable to leave valuables at home. If your client insists on taking the family jewels on his cruise, advise him to make use of a safe deposit box. On some ships, each cabin has a safe for the passengers' use at no extra cost. Other ships offer safe deposit boxes at the purser's desk, again at no extra charge. It is important to note that access to safe deposit boxes at the purser's desk is limited to the times the desk is open.

Understanding how and in what currency purchases are handled is very important so that the client can plan appropriately.

Food, Food, and More Food

For some cruise passengers, dining is one of the primary attractions of a cruise. You can look at any cruise brochure and see sumptuous delicacies pictured on almost every page. On many cruises there are six or more opportunities to eat during the day: breakfast, mid-morning snack, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and midnight buffet, all included in the cruise fare.

Most of the larger cruise ships offer the main meals at two seatings, early and late, although some ships have instituted four times for each meal. Toward the back of each cruise brochure, you may find a schedule of early and late dining times. For example,
Breakfast in port   6:45 A.M.   8:00 A.M.
Breakfast at sea    7:45 A.M.   9:00 A.M.
Luncheon            Noon        1:30 P.M.
Dinner              6:00 P.M.   8:00 P.M.

Both dining times have advantages and disadvantages. Early diners may not feel they can linger over coffee because passengers dining late are due to arrive. Passengers having breakfast late may feel rushed because of a scheduled shore excursion. Unfortunately, dining times cannot be combined; it's either an early or a late seating for the entire cruise.

Before making a cruise booking, travel counselors should discuss the pros and cons of the two meal seatings and learn which the client prefers. When making a cruise reservation by phone, the reservationist asks for a time preference. Clients may also specify their preference as to table size; a table for four, six, or eight. However, dining time and table size cannot be guaranteed and this should be made clear to the client. The cruise line assigns the dining time and table size, which may be indicated on the client's cruise documents, or be indicated at boarding.

Some cruise lines, particularly the more upscale ones, offer single, open seating. This dining program affords the passengers complete freedom to dine when they want (within specified hours) and to sit where and with whom they want. Single, open seating is by far the best type of meal program, but unfortunately, not many cruise lines can use this style because of passenger numbers.

Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) has a unique dining setup. There are four dining rooms onboard and each is linked to a particular cabin price range. In other words, the more expensive the cabin, the more upscale the dining room. Utilizing four dining rooms is a clever way to eliminate the need for two meal seatings; all dining rooms on QE2 are single seating.

On most ships, passengers have other options for breakfast and lunch. Usually these meals are served buffet style near the pool or in a lounge. Room service is available on most ships and generally, there is no extra charge. During meal times, soft drinks, coffee, and tea are included in the cruise fare. At other times of the day, there is a charge for soft drinks and tea on most ships. On more upscale cruise lines, certain wines may be complimentary with dinner, but on most ships, alcoholic beverages are at an additional cost.

The mention of the midnight buffet conjures up images of food too beautifully prepared to eat and those marvelous ice sculptures. Even if the passenger couldn't eat another bite, he should at least see the midnight buffet. Some passengers go to the midnight buffet just to take photographs of the incredible array of edibles, and then find that perhaps they are a bit hungry after all. As an added note, the average weight gain on a seven-day cruise is 10 pounds.

On a typical seven-day cruise, there are usually two formal dinners: the Captain's Gala, usually the second night, and the Farewell Dinner on the last night. For these evenings, men should wear dark suits, although some men will wear tuxedos. Ladies should wear cocktail dresses; however, some women prefer to wear floor-length gowns. The other nights are considered casual, but swimwear, shorts, jeans, and T-shirts are never appropriate for dinner.

Many ships today offer a variety of dining options in addition to the primary dining room. These include intimate dining areas, casual dining facilities, and ethnic food venues. A few cruise lines offer completely flexible dining in which the passenger may dine in any of the ship's facilities. A few ships now offer a pay-as-you-dine program, thereby giving cruise passengers greater choice.

Hair Salons

Most cruise ships have hair salons for both men and women. Cruise passengers can make an appointment by calling the salon from the phone in their cabin, or by contacting their cabin steward. The cost is very similar to the prices at salons in major cities. A tip of 15 to 20 percent is usually given to the hair stylist at the time of service.


Laundry and dry cleaning services are available on almost all ships simply by contacting the cabin steward. The cabin steward picks up the laundry and returns it to the passengers' cabin. A tip to the cabin steward is not usually given at this time. Laundry and dry cleaning prices are comparable to those in any U.S. or Canadian city. Some ships have a launderette that passengers may use and depending on the ship, use of the launderette may be complimentary or coin operated.


Many cruise ships, especially those sailing on longer voyages, offer a library. Books and videos are available to the passengers at no cost; however, a tip of a dollar or two to the attendant when returning the item is common.

Medical Services

All cruise ships are equipped with an infirmary, staffed by at least one physician. Although the medical staff may not be equipped to perform an appendectomy, they are able to handle most emergencies from seasickness to a broken leg. The average cost of a visit to the ship's doctor is between $50 and $75. Any medication or special treatments may be in addition to the office call.

Phone, Fax, and E-mail

Many passengers, especially those on extended cruises, may be concerned about communication with home or office while at sea. Each cruise line can provide passengers with an at-sea address, a phone number, the fax procedures, and in some cases, an e-mail address. Telephones are standard in many cruise ship cabins; however, a ship-to-shore call can be expensive: $15.00 or more per minute. Sending a fax from the ship is more expensive than on land because all phone connections are via communication satellite links. Many ships have computer centers with Internet access for passenger use and e-mail may be complimentary.

Religious Services

Most cruises of a week in length or longer offer some type of worship service. Depending on the cruise area and country of registry, the service may be nondenominational Christian, Catholic, Jewish, or a service of any other major religion.

Ship's Shops

Duty-free (import tax-free) shopping can be enjoyed on many cruise ships. As a rule, these shops offer everything from aspirin to diamond jewelry. Everyday necessities are often higher priced than the same item is at the local store. Luxury items, especially imported items, tend to be lower priced than the same item is in the United States or Canada. Many cruise passengers shop for French perfumes, Austrian crystal, Swiss chocolate, Irish lace, and other international treasures without ever leaving the ship.

Many ships also offer a rental outlet, primarily for formalwear. Rental costs are similar to those found in any U.S. or Canadian city. Some passengers may want to wear tuxedos or long gowns but do not want the expense of buying these items. The rental outlet onboard ship is the perfect solution.

All of the larger ships have a photo shop and photographer. Passengers may find that their picture is taken as they board, as they shake hands with the captain before the Captain's Gala, and at varying times throughout the cruise. These photos are displayed in the photo shop and are available for purchase. The photo shop also sells a variety of film and other photographic supplies.

Sauna and Massage

Cruise passengers can enjoy a massage by simply calling to make an appointment. The cost for massage is comparable to the price paid at home, and a 15 to 20 percent tip is common. On some cruise ships an appointment is required to use the sauna and there may be an additional charge for this as well.


Of all the questions asked by first-time cruise clients, inquiries about tipping procedures may be the most frequently asked. Generally, tipping falls into three categories, depending on the cruise ship.

Ultra-deluxe cruise lines, such as Silversea and Seabourn, have a strict no-tipping policy. Passengers may be skeptical and feel that the cruise staff will accept tips anyway, but this is not the case. Any cruise line that has a no-tipping policy means just what it says; tips are not accepted.

Some upscale cruise lines, such as Cunard and Holland America, include tips in the cruise fare or have a "tipping not required" policy. Passengers on these lines may tip if they wish, but they should not feel obligated to do so. Fortunately, each cruise brochure and cruise line Web site usually discusses the topic of tipping.

All ships of Greek registry are required by law to pool all tips and divide them equally between the staff. On these ships, tips for the cabin steward, waiter, and assistant waiter are placed in an envelope (provided by the cruise ship) at the end of the cruise. The envelopes are either left behind in the cabin on debarkation or they are turned in at the purser's desk.

Most cruise lines accept, and in some cases blatantly encourage, tipping. Generally tips are handled in a three-step process.

1. Envelopes are provided, either at the purser's desk or they are slipped under each cabin door prior to the morning of the last day of the cruise.

2. The tip for the waiter and assistant waiter are combined, placed in an envelope, and given to the waiter after dinner on the last night of the cruise. Typical amounts suggested by many cruise lines are $3.50 per passenger per day for the waiter and $2.00 per passenger per day for the assistant waiter.

3. The tip for the cabin steward is placed in an envelope and left in the cabin at the end of the cruise. The typical amount suggested by many cruise lines is $3.50 per passenger per day.

Most seven-day cruises follow these three steps; however, tips may be prepaid on some cruise lines. Longer cruises may have more than one tipping occasion, usually after each week of the cruise.

As you have already learned, tips to other cruise staff takes place at the time of service. These cruise staff include hair stylist, library attendant, sommelier, masseuse, bartender, bar waiter, headwaiter, and maitre d'.
special program

Discounts offered by cruise
lines for a variety of

theme cruise

A type of cruise that focuses
on a particular topic,
activity, type of music, and
so on.

What Would You Do?

Your clients, Clarence and Keesha Phillips, are
interested in cruising the South Pacific. They want a
smaller vessel (no mega ships for them) but they are
concerned that a smaller ship will be more subject
to motion.

1. In what way might the size of the ship affect the
amount of motion felt by the passengers?

2. What shipboard facilities and equipment should you
point out to your clients?

3. What is the best recommendation you can make to
clients who are concerned about motion sickness?
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Title Annotation:SECTION IV: Selling the Cruise Experience
Publication:A Guide to Becoming a Travel Professional
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Previous Article:Chapter 11: Tours of the world.
Next Article:Chapter 13: Cruise pricing and selling.

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