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February 15, 2008
Ten Tips For Cruise Ships

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Jim Rink (313) 336-1513


Sailing the seven seas is more affordable now than ever before. AAA offers ten tips to make your time aboard as safe and pleasant as possible.

BEFORE YOU GO

  • Consult a certified travel agent. Many travel agencies have Certified Cruise Counsellors on staff, accredited by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). They can help you to determine which cruise lines and itineraries will best suit your needs. Expect to answer some key questions, such as:

    - What is your main objective when cruising?
    - Where do you want to go? For how long?
    - How important are offshore excursions?
    - What age group(s) do you prefer?
    - Do you want a family cruise with children?
    - Do you prefer a diverse mix of people?
    - Do you prefer relaxation or entertaining and educational programs?
    - Do you prefer formal or informal dining?
     
  • Consult the Internet. CLIA provides a comprehensive listing of the major cruise lines, complete with a summary of key attributes and links to each cruise line’s website. Visit www.cruising.org/CruiseLines/.
     
  • Choose your ship carefully. Consider one that docks in a U.S. port to ensure your vessel meets strict US Coast Guard standards. Consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site for your ship's most recent Vessel Sanitation Report.
     
  • Investigate your health care coverage. Will your insurance apply in a foreign port? Consider trip insurance and a personal protection policy. If you cancel your trip, lose your luggage or need medical assistance, supplemental coverage could be invaluable.
     
  • Get travel documents in ship-shape condition. Order passports, visas and proof of citizenship papers in advance of your cruise. Complete cruise documents prior to ship boarding. Consider applying for International Drivers License identification, whether or not you drive.
     
  • Consult your physician. Address concerns you may have about seasickness or climate-related conditions. Request a letter detailing pertinent medical information, including medications and copies of your prescriptions. For medicines containing a narcotic, include a written justification. Ask that medication lists include names of generic equivalents.
     
  • Duplicate travel documents. Photocopy your passport, cruise information, traveler’s cheques, medical information, itinerary, and emergency contact addresses and phone numbers with country codes. Carry one copy in a suitcase and leave a duplicate with a family member or friend.

    AS YOU TRAVEL
     
  • Alert staff to special needs. Ask whether arrangements can be made for special meals or equipment. Wheelchair travelers should inquire about limits to onboard access and in-port excursions, and whether cabin door widths and sills will allow entry.
     
  • Practice onboard safety. Make sure your room has enough life jackets. Pay attention to the lifeboat drills and crew instructions. Study alternate routes from your cabin to the nearest lifeboats. Use handrails to navigate slippery decks. Smokers should dispose of cigarettes properly to prevent fire onboard.
     
  • Be realistic about physical limitations. Sudden changes in climate and diet can affect your health. Use sun block and wear a hat in tropical ports of call. Dress warmly in colder climes.
     
  • Be alert. Lock your cabin door. Make use of a cabin safe or safety deposit box. Leave expensive equipment and jewelry at home. Consider a disposable camera and inexpensive watch. Avoid gold or gold-tone jewelry. Wear a money belt or necklace purse. Whenever possible, travel with a group.
     
  • Obey the law. The rights we have in the United States do not apply outside our waters. At sea, cruise ships are subject to international maritime law. On land, laws in your port of call apply. Don't take chances. When in doubt, consult cruise staff.


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