Also, you may opt for a hamburger of hot dog served by the pool. Pizza and ice cream are served usually 24 hours per day. Late night buffets and dessert extravaganza are included. If you have specific dietary needs, you can request special meals such as: diabetic, kosher, low fat, etc. It is best to try to arrange special meals before you sail. Free drinks include: coffee, milk, tea, lemonade, juice and non-bottled water.
The only time you will pay for a meal is if you choose an alternate dining restaurant, which is usually $20.00 to $25.00 per person service fee for the excellent food and service you receive. Also, if you choose to have a 4 course meal delivered to your cabin and served to you on your balcony this will cost you around $100.00. It is worth the expense because you have the same dining room quality of food but the added feature of enjoying the sea views.
Each night on a cruise you will have entertainment. It ranges from Las Vegas style shows to comedians, vocalists, illusionists, variety acts or your own fellow cruisers entertaining you. Most shows are after dinner. If you have early dining the shows will start around 8:30pm. If you have late dining the shows will start around 10:30pm. You may opt to spend your time and money in the casino. The casino is open until 2:00am on sea days. If lady luck isn't with you, you may want to have a drink and dance in one of the many lounges on the ship. There are several different lounges and each offer a different style of music for you to enjoy. Some ship offer movies. There are actual movie theatres on some cruise ships or some of the new Princess Cruise ships have "movies under the stars." These ships offer a 300 square foot LED screen on the pool deck where you enjoy the movie outside by the pool area. You must make reservations to attend "movies under the stars." Popcorn and other refreshments are served to you while you enjoy the show.
If you are into staying fit there is a free fitness center for you offering exercise and weight training equipment, spinning, yoga and pilates. You may use the Jacuzzi, hot tub, sauna and steam room. Most ships have basketball and volleyball courts. Some ships offer golf simulators and golf swing analysis. You can take an early morning walk or run around the deck. You may also earn points and prizes by participating in several of the organized fitness sessions.
If you have children, the ships offer children's programs for ages 2 or 3 - 17. Each group is separated and has age appropriate activities for your child. The larger ships offer inline skating, 18 hole miniature golf, ice skating rink, video arcade, separate teen disco and pool area for children and teens. Late evening pizza and pajama parties are offered for the younger children to give parents alone time. You may also arrange babysitting on a first come first served basis.
Just think of your cabin as a hotel room. You have all the amenities that most hotel rooms offer including, phone, television and private bathroom. You never share a bathroom with another cabin on a cruise!
What's not included in the price of your cruise?
If it comes in a can, bottle or from the bar you will pay extra. Soda cards are available on some cruise lines. This offers you unlimited soda at a very substantial discount. Rates will vary by cruise line. Beer, wine and cocktails are also extra. You can figure the cost to be about the same as your favorite local bar. Some cruise line charge for expresso drinks.
If you want the ultimate in relaxation have a treatment at the spa. The prices run about the same as you would pay at your favorite land location. They offer massage therapy, hydrotherapy pool, facials, body wraps, manicures, pedicures, etc. The salon also offers hair cuts, color, highlights and other treatments to help you look and feel your best.
Shore excursions are extra and optional. Some options are swimming with the dolphins, feeding the stingrays, parasailing, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, scuba diving, snorkeling or taking a catamaran tour. The prices usually start at $35.00 per person and go up from there depending on the shore excursion. If you don't want to take a shore excursion you may want to walk around at the different ports and shop. Before you go do some investigating on items you may want to purchase to make sure you are aware of pricing. It is very difficult to exchange or return an item once your ship leaves port.
The going rate for tipping is $10.00 per passenger per day. This is charged to your shipboard account and billed to you at the end of your cruise. The money is divided between your cabin steward, waiter and bus boy. You may opt to give additional tips if you feel the service you received warrants it. If you don't feel your service was excellent, you may go to the purser's desk and have the charge removed from your shipboard account.
Overall, cruising is an excellent value for your dollar. Cruise lines strive to better the experience for their passengers. They value you and want your return business. New, bigger and better ships are appearing each year. Each one has something different and exciting to offer. The future of cruising is very exciting. I hope you will opt to try a cruise and have our expert staff guide you into selecting the right cruise line and ship for you.