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  #1  
Old January 7th, 2010, 11:23 AM
oleoleole oleoleole is offline
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Default Cruising for Dummies!!!

Hello folks,

I dont mean to sound like a complete novice when it comes to cruising, but as it happens i really am!!! my fiance and I are looking at a panama canal cruise on the Sea Princess in Feb 2011 for our honeymoon.

As we have never been before I have a few questions, which i always think are better answered by the people who regularly enjoy cruises..who better!! Sorry if these are real rookie questions but here goes....

1) I understand not all food is inclusive of the price, in terms of eating on the ship what is the all inclusive selection like?
2) How much is alcohol priced at e.g how much for a pint of beer/ glass of wine?
3) When going onshore is there a cost to visit each destination or does the cruise line provide transport?

I think thats every thing for the minute, hope some of you can help me!!
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  #2  
Old January 7th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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paul929207 paul929207 is offline
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1. Ships now have specialty restaurants where there is a charge. Eating in the Main Dining Room is included in the cost of the cruise.

3. The cruise ship will get you to the port. It will either dock and you walk off or it will anchor and they will supply tenders to get you to the port.
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  #3  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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Toto2Kansas Toto2Kansas is offline
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As for the extra cost for those places/ports you visit, that is up to you. The ship will take you to the port, either at a dock or to the dock in one of the tenders (lifeboats). Once you get on shore, you are on your own to explore or book a tour through the ship ($$$) or independently for things that interest you. These tours range greatly in price. But you do not have to book tours if you want to just go out on your own and explore. So, visiting these destinations can be very inexpensive to expensive, depending on what you wish to do. Happy Honeymoon, and Congratulations!
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  #4  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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Aqua's Mom Aqua's Mom is offline
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Hi and welcome to cruising. It should be a wonderful honeymoon for both of you.

All meals are included in the cruise. You can do extra cost meals and snacks, but you are able to eat well 24 hours a day with no extra charge. Water, tea, coffee, and lemonade are no charge. Bar items (including soda) are very similar in charge to a nice restaurant.

The ship gets you to land at each port and that's it. Look at the posts for the ports you will be visiting and you'll get some idea of tours and costs. To get off the ship and walk around won't cost you anything. Usually you have to allow something for transportation to the places you want to see - even to walk. Tours cost extra, either through the ship or through independent operators.

The biggest charge people get surprised by is the tipping. See the Princess website for the amount of auto-tipping that will be added to your bill. It is very fair considering the hotel and restaurant service you get during the cruise.

You can generally spend as little or as much as you desire (outside of the tipping - that's a must). We have done a little of each depending on our finances at the time, but have always had a great time.

Congratulations and enjoy!
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  #5  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:05 PM
acetray acetray is offline
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welcome to cruising it is the most adicting form of travel I have encountered so far. in answer to your questions

1. Almost all food is included and it is 24 hours a day in some places on the ship. there is a buffet that is open at all times as well as a pizza shop and a few other places around the ship that serve food at no extra charge. The parts that are not included are the coffee shop and the specialty dinning. the main dinning room were you will be eating dinner on at night is also incuded in the price and the few is excelent.
2.Alcohol veries depending on the quality you are buying and when you purchase it. I would say a beer would be 3-5 dollors and the wine would be around the same depending on what type you buy there is probalbly more expensive thent that. some specilty drinks can be near $10 if they include the speclity cups.
3. The Cruise does not provide Free trainsportion once you get the port. They will provide shore excursens for an extra cost. This is listed on the web page if you want to see what is offered and what the cost is for each of them. you can also just grab a taxi and go. Just make sure you are back before the ship leaves :

hope that helps
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  #6  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:10 PM
caribill caribill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oleoleole View Post
Hello folks,

I dont mean to sound like a complete novice when it comes to cruising, but as it happens i really am!!! my fiance and I are looking at a panama canal cruise on the Sea Princess in Feb 2011 for our honeymoon.

As we have never been before I have a few questions, which i always think are better answered by the people who regularly enjoy cruises..who better!! Sorry if these are real rookie questions but here goes....

1) I understand not all food is inclusive of the price, in terms of eating on the ship what is the all inclusive selection like? There is a great variety of food available with no additional charge. The menus in the dining rooms will charge daily for lunch and dinner and at breakfast there will be a constant menu with two changing options. The buffets will also have a great variety of food. The hamburger grill and the pizzaria also have no charge. An example of dinner menu foods can be seen at post number 34 in the thread at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1113861 Extra cost food will be at the specialty restaurants (a steakhouse (name is different on some ships) and Sabatini's). Basic room service is at no cost with a limited menu, but there is extra cost for party platters and a $3.00 charge for pizza cabin delivery to discourage waste. Although milk, juice (at breakfast), basic coffee and tea are included, there is extra cost for soda, hot chocolate, specialty coffees, and juice (not at breakfast).
2) How much is alcohol priced at e.g how much for a pint of beer/ glass of wine?
3) When going onshore is there a cost to visit each destination or does the cruise line provide transport? If you do not choose to book (at extra cost) the ship's shore excursions or similar excursions by privvate organizations, then you can explore most destinations on your own (Russia is an exception). Princess does not provide any local transportation for this. In some cases (example: Oslo, Norway) you are docked right downtown. In many others, the port or a local tourist organization will provide bus transportation at a charge around $5 each way per person. In the remaining ports, a taxi may be the only option to get to town.

In some ports, personal security could be an issue if you strike out on your own, so do some research first.

If you check the ports of call section of Cruise Critic, you will find helpful information on the ports you will be visiting.

You should also locate your Cruise Critic roll call for the cruise so you can "meet" others on your cruise and possibly plan excursions with some of them.

Since this is your first cruise, I would seriously consider Princess shore excursions if you are wanting to explore an area. Although some consider these excursions to cost more than they should, they are almost always "very good to excellent" tours and there is the guarantee that the ship will wait for you if the tour returns late, a guarantee that does not exist if you are out on your own.

On the other hand, if you will be in warm weather ports and just want to go to a beach, the taxi option is best.

I think thats every thing for the minute, hope some of you can help me!!
Have a great cruise and Honeymoon.

Last edited by caribill; January 7th, 2010 at 12:12 PM.
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  #7  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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Murrah Miss Murrah Miss is offline
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You should be able to do a search for "beer and wine menus" on the ship you're interested in. Also, you can bring wine on board Princess ships, but not beer.
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  #8  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:23 PM
can786 can786 is offline
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Just to clarify Caribill's response, there is a typo in the answer to #1 where it is stated that "the dining room menus for lunch and dinner will CHARGE daily". It should read CHANGE daily as there is no charge for any food in the main dining rooms.
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  #9  
Old January 7th, 2010, 12:38 PM
caribill caribill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by can786@aol.com View Post
Just to clarify Caribill's response, there is a typo in the answer to #1 where it is stated that "the dining room menus for lunch and dinner will CHARGE daily". It should read CHANGE daily as there is no charge for any food in the main dining rooms.
Opps. Thanks for catching that. My brain and my fingers do not connect.

Change daily. Change daily. Change daily.
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  #10  
Old January 7th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caribill View Post
Opps. Thanks for catching that. My brain and my fingers do not connect.

Change daily. Change daily. Change daily.
And I was not fast enough.
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  #11  
Old January 7th, 2010, 01:43 PM
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Katie333 Katie333 is offline
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Panama Canal will be lovely for a honeymoon! We enjoyed our trip there very much.

The only thing I would add to the responses already here is that you'll want to be careful of booking any private tours when you are in port for less than 4 hours. Depending on the type of transit you are doing, there may be a very short stop in Cristobal.

Otherwise we booked all our tours privately and particularly enjoyed the tour we did in Puerto Limon.
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  #12  
Old January 7th, 2010, 01:57 PM
oleoleole oleoleole is offline
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wow thanks alot guys, youve got me really excited!! the ports of call look amazing too!!!
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  #13  
Old January 7th, 2010, 06:02 PM
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Depending on the ports you will be visiting, you may be able to take local buses to tour like the locals.
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  #14  
Old January 7th, 2010, 07:19 PM
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On the ports, Cruis Critic has a ports of call area where you can read about tours and how to get around the various ports for the Panama Canal.
There is also a Roll Call section where you can speak with people on your cruise in advance and they can help answer questions.
You will have a wonderful time. And congrats on getting married.
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  #15  
Old January 7th, 2010, 11:49 PM
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The other specialty restaurant is a steakhouse called The Stirling. When we cruised on the Sea Princess last year we ate there twice. The food and service were excellent.
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  #16  
Old January 8th, 2010, 12:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oleoleole View Post
Hello folks,

I dont mean to sound like a complete novice when it comes to cruising, but as it happens i really am!!! my fiance and I are looking at a panama canal cruise on the Sea Princess in Feb 2011 for our honeymoon.

As we have never been before I have a few questions, which i always think are better answered by the people who regularly enjoy cruises..who better!! Sorry if these are real rookie questions but here goes....

1) I understand not all food is inclusive of the price, in terms of eating on the ship what is the all inclusive selection like?

Just adding: when you book your cruise, your TA should ask if you want traditional dining (you have the same table and waitstaff, as well as tablemates, at the same time each night for dinner) or anytime dining (flexible in that you go to one of the dining rooms that are for anytime at the time you want to eat...if there's an available table, you are seated; else you wait). Both plans have the same menus. Each night, you get a choice of four to five entrees (including a vegetarian and heart healthy types), appetizers, salads/soups, desserts. Any beverage other than water/coffee/tea you can order for a charge. That'll be the only thing you could pay for at dinner.

Breakfast and lunch in the dining rooms are open seating.

You can also eat at anytime in the buffet (Horizon Court on many of the ships). You can have dinner in a specialty restaurant such as Sabitinis, but those have a cover charge. Also if you want the Ultimate Balcony Dinner brought to your cabin (has a charge). Room service doesn't have a charge, but isn't a full menu (basically sandwiches, salads, etc) unless you are in a full suite. Many people will tip their server when getting room service.

There's a grill (chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs) and a pizzeria by the pool -- those are open during the daytime til about 6pm. Some ships have an indoors pizzeria, but not sure about the Sea Princess.


2) How much is alcohol priced at e.g how much for a pint of beer/ glass of wine?
3) When going onshore is there a cost to visit each destination or does the cruise line provide transport?

There's two ways a ship will be at each port: docking right at the pier or anchoring away from the pier, which means you will use a tender (a small boat) to get to the pier. Once you are at the pier, you can go off on your own (some ports you can walk into, some you will need to hire a taxi), rent a car or other vehicle, go on a paid excursion either booked through Princess, or book an excursion either ahead of time or at the pier.

Just remember that if you don't get back to the ship ontime, you may get left behind. If you are on a Princess-booked excursion, and the vehicle breaks down or gets caught in traffic, the driver will contact Princess and in most cases, the ship will wait for you (that happened to us on an Alaskan excursion, and the ship waited). Also, if you pre-book an independent excursion, make sure you have a contact number, just in case the ship can't make that port (happens once in a while). Also check to make sure you won't get charged even if the ship doesn't make it to the port.

I believe there are a port or two on the Panama cruise that requires you to take a ship-sponsored tour if you want to leave the ship -- for safety reasons. I suggest you go on the Panama Canal board here on CC to get all the details.

And of course, if you want to stay on the ship in any port, you can. There will be some people who will be repeating the itinerary because they love a ship, but plan to stay onboard the whole time.

I think thats every thing for the minute, hope some of you can help me!!

Congrats on your wedding and hopefully you'll want to celebrate many of your anniversaries on future cruises.
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  #17  
Old January 8th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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Depending on the ports of call, you may find that Princess docks at a commercial dock with absolutely NOTHING within walking distance. In fact, at some of them you aren't even allowed to get out and walk around. Princess usually provides some kind of transportation to the nearest tourist area but it does cost.

As for Princess tours being $$$$ compared to dock-side sign-up tours, I finally figured out why I don't mind paying it. I consider the extra expense as "insurance" that the ship won't leave without me.
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Last edited by gooch47; January 8th, 2010 at 11:10 AM.
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