USPPYOU NEVER KNOW!  You never know what may happen to you or a loved one in a foreign land.  It could be something that requires you to immediately fly back to your homeland, and in an emergency situation, the last thing you need is a hassle getting through those customs gates at the airport.

Many cruise lines (especially for U.S. Citizens on cruises that begin and end in the U.S.) offer an additional option (other than a passport) for boarding the ship.  The most common is an original (with raised seal) birth certificate (with your legal photo I.D.).  Cruise lines can do this because they have deals with destinations’ governing port authorities allowing them (to allow cruisers) to use legal photo I.D.’s with the Sail & Sign cruise I.D. cards, for us to exit and enter the port of call entrances. This is a nice option in a pinch, and would keep you from missing your cruise in the first place.  But…

…you’ve sailed on your cruise, you are in a foreign land, and an emergency requires you to fly home immediately, even with several days remaining on your cruise.  This is where it will become extremely difficult to enter back into your home country without your passport.  Be sure to play it safe, and think beyond the cruise, even with the gracious options provided by the cruise lines.

For many, some of the most memorable Cruise Experiences are memories of our favorite on-board performers.  I love it all, but what does it for me…comedians!

DID YOU KNOW…you can call the cruise lines (or ask your travel agent to do so) to find out schedules of some of your favorite performers?  In addition, many of them, thanks to the internet, have YouTube channels!  Furthermore, if you were to Google some of your favorites, you may find their personal websites, or the websites of their talent agents.  In many cases, their sailing schedules can be found there.  In fact, this is how I tracked down a personal favorite of mine, The “Godfather of Comedy”, Eddie Capone!

Here is a short clip of one of Eddie Capone’s most recent performances!  Keep in mind, some of it may be offensive and it does contain some profanity:

shp_br_lov-state_sch_379You can enhance your Cruise Experience and save money by choosing your stateroom wisely.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Do you truly need a larger stateroom, spending the extra bucks for a mini-suite or larger?  Think about how often you spend time in your stateroom, and how you spend that time?
  2. Along the same lines, how often do you use the balcony? Is it necessary to spend the extra money on the balcony when considering the amount of time you spend out there?
  3. If size is important, a travel agent can help.  He/she should know the average stateroom sizes for each cruise line, and ship.
  4. If Hurricane Season doesn’t faze you much, you can find better deals on Caribbean Cruises in late August to mid-October, which is the peak of the Caribbean Hurricane Season.  This might be your opportunity to get that mini-suite at balcony stateroom prices.
  5. Booking a Guarantee (a category level without knowing your stateroom number until the cruise gets closer) will save you money.  It is also quite possible that you get bumped up to a higher category level.
  6. If you are a frequent cruiser on a particular line (and sister lines of a parent company), perks tend to include upgrades to higher stateroom categories.  Be sure to look into this!

Don’t get me wrong…a suite is sweet!  However, I certainly do not cruise to spend much time in my stateroom.  And, when I am in the stateroom, its size isn’t an issue, since I’m either on the bed, in the lav and/or paying attention to my beautiful wife!  The money saved on the proper stateroom can be used for other amenities on board, as well as for shore excursions and shopping.  And, maybe…just maybe…a drink or two (or three)!!

Contributor, Tore Berger

Contributor, Tore Berger

Why is it so that we have to decide our restaurant seating, before going on a cruise?  The answer is logical and obvious; logistics and planning.

Some cruise companies have a freestyle concept, where one can decide where to eat, and what, that actual day. Perfect a lot of us say, but also with a flip side, you have to book a table for every meal. The concept of fixed seating everyday gives you a fixed table, the same waiter, and some variety of food options.

Nice when it comes to planning, fun when it comes to getting to know your wait staff, and relaxing when you know there is no line, waiting to be seated, or disappointments for not getting a table.

A combination of these would be perfect you might say. The thing is, it would probably be more confusing than guest friendly. Most cruise ships today have a lot to choose from when it comes to foods and concepts. If it’s a fixed seating concept or a 100% freestyle system, use the ships restaurants and dinning facilities.

Cover charge or fee? Take the cost, it is most probably worth it. The head chef has the logistics in mind before starting a cruise. The menus have to be ready, the galley staff has to know, and the guests have to know what to come to. But if the ship is out of Veal, Fois grais, Oysters or something else the last day, I guarantee they have a nice alternative for you.

“Bon appétit” to Your next cruise, with or without fixed seating!

-Tore Berger