Passport Regulations and Requirements
Preparing and Packing
Check-in and Boarding
Life Aboard a Ship
Going Home
Airport and Flight Status


Passport Regulations and Requirements

Air Travel
Implemented on January 23, 2007, ALL PERSONS traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.

Land and Sea Travel
The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security's website.

JANUARY 31, 2008

U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. DHS also proposes to begin alternative procedures for U.S. and Canadian children at that time.

Still to Come
At a later date, to be determined, the departments will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have either a U.S. passport; a U.S. passport card; a trusted traveler card such as NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI; a valid Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or a valid U.S. Military identification card when traveling on official orders. Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.

U.S. Passports and Other Documents
U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries. The Passport Card: U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for this new, limited-use, wallet-size passport card beginning February 1, 2008. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008. When available it will only be valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.

Other Accepted Travel Documents: SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST and the U.S. Coast Guard Mariner Document. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty traveling on orders are exempt from the passport requirement. DHS has more information on these travel documents. This information may be seen at

About Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), requiring all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on February 22 its intent to propose, as part of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), significant flexibility regarding travel documents required for U.S. and Canadian children as part of WHTI requirements for U.S. land and sea border entry in 2008.

The goal of the initiative is to strengthen U.S. border security while facilitating entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.

Document Requirements
Different situations require different documents. Please become familiar with the specific document requirements for the country(s) you are visiting. More information on these documents can be found here:

To expedite the embarkation process, every cruise line requires booked passengers to pre-register prior to the sailing date. It is recommended that all passengers pre-register as soon as possible after they have paid their final payment. This can be done by accessing the cruise line's Web site. Please note that in some cases the cruise line may not release tickets if this information has not been supplied.

Preparing and Packing

Preparations needed prior to departure include: cruise pre-registration, required personal identification & travel documents, travel insurance, what to pack and more.

Is a passport or visa required?
Passport and visa requirements will depend on your itinerary. We can advise you of the specific entry requirements.

If you will require a passport; all that's needed to apply are: two, identical, passport-sized photos; proof of citizenship (birth certificate); and a valid form of identification such as a driver's license. Visa applications are through the government of the country you're requesting entrance; the process varies by country. We can guide you on how and where to apply, and the fees.
Please note that we can only advise you as to how to obtain a passport or visa, but it's your responsibility to apply, purchase and make sure you receive the passport and/or visa prior to your departure.

Also, if you're traveling to destinations which require a vaccination certificate, it's your responsibility to get the required vaccinations prior to departure.

Will I need to buy travel insurance?
Most vacations go off without a hitch, but mishaps do occur, and with the right type of travel insurance you're likely to have more control over the outcome.

Travel insurance offers numerous levels of coverage ranging from simple plans such as insuring an airline ticket, to comprehensive plans which cover you in the event of baggage loss, damage to personal effects, delays, medical, dental, emergency evacuation or assistance, and trip cancellation. At Cruise Holidays we can help you determine what coverage will be suitable for your vacation.

Will I need cash onboard?
Most cruise lines have gone to a cashless system - which is why they obtain your credit card number upon embarkation for you to charge all the "extras" to your onboard account. When it comes to tipping the staff, the practice of automatically charging your onboard account a daily flat service charge is becoming increasingly popular among most cruise lines.
For onshore purchases, using a credit card is the best policy. But for smaller purchases, cash is an easy alternative. Also, travelers' checks or rechargeable cash cards are a good idea to bring along in case your primary form of cash or credit is lost or stolen.

We will advise you of the tipping policies and need of monetary funds based on the cruise line and itinerary.

How do I pre-register for my cruise?
Your cruise documents will detail how and when you should pre-register for your cruise. If you have questions, contact us at any time!

What type of clothing should I pack for a cruise?
It's a vacation, so feel free to pack like it. But do be aware of the seasonal temperatures/weather of the destination(s) you'll be exploring and pack accordingly (i.e. Alaska in the summer will still require a warm jacket). Ask about the voltage requirements on the ship if you plan on bringing electrical, plug-in items.

Also, you will need to adhere to the cruise line's dress code; some are more formal than others. Many cruise lines maintain the tradition of dressing up for dinner. However, what qualifies as "dressing up" has evolved over time. Many cruise lines now designate some evenings for "casual" dress, some for "informal" dress and some for "formal" dress. What these code words mean varies a bit from one cruise line to another, but in general, here's what to expect (and pack):

  • Casual dress means open-necked sport shirts and slacks for men; and sundresses, slacks or capri pants with coordinating tops for women. In general, jeans, shorts and baseball caps are not allowed. On luxury cruise lines, casual may take one more step toward formal, with jackets (but not ties) required for men and women expected to wear dresses or skirts.
  • Informal (or "smart casual" or "resort casual") dress means slacks, button-down shirts, ties and jackets for men; dresses, dinner suits or pantsuits for women.
  • Formal dress means dark suits, dinner jackets or tuxedos for men; evening dresses for women. On luxury cruise lines, it's not unusual to see women in full-length gowns on formal nights.

Note that some cruise lines require the specified form of evening dress not only in the dining rooms, but everywhere on the ship. If you really want to be flexible with your attire, consider a cruise line that has no dress code.

Check-in and Boarding

Cruise Line Pre-Registration

Due to new government regulations requiring cruise lines to submit final departure manifests at least 60 minutes prior to sailing, guests are requested to complete Online Check-in no later than 3 days prior to their cruise. If you have not completed Online Check-in, you may be required to complete this process at the pier two hours prior to the published sailing time.

Luxury Cruise Lines
Appeals to the more sophisticated cruiser - with upscale to luxury ships and unique amenities and itineraries.

Premium Cruise Lines
Appeals to almost everyone; families, singles, couples. Any age group - upscale ships with upscale luxury amenities.

Contemporary Cruise Lines
Appeals to everyone; families, singles, couples. Any age group, basic amenities.

Specialty Cruise Lines
Appeals to everyone; families, singles, couples. Any age group, basic amenities.


How Luggage Is Handled

Before you depart, fill out and attach the luggage tags that were provided in your cruise documents. At the pier, porters will take your bags and deliver them to your stateroom - the tags note your information and stateroom location.

Boarding The Ship
During embarkation, you'll first pass through metal detectors and proceed to the check in counter to present your identification and documents for all people in your party. It's a good idea to keep this paperwork in a folder for safe keeping and easy retrieval. You'll then receive ID cards, which will also act as your room key. You will also be asked to present a credit card to cover the extra charges (drinks, babysitting, spa treatments, etc) you amass during the cruise.

Once everyone is onboard, a mandatory safety drill will commence.

What To Do If You Miss The Departure
You will need to find a way to meet up with the ship at its next port of arrival. If you purchased travel insurance or chose the cruise line's air & cruise package, your expenses to fly to meet the ship should be covered.

If you are not covered by either example mentioned above, you will have to cover the expenses to catch up to the ship.
In all cases, you can contact your Cruise Holidays travel expert for additional assistance.

Life Aboard A Ship

Typical Activities and Things to Do
Onboard the ship you will have a broad range of activities and amenities. Depending on the ship, you can: Take in guest lecturers or enrichment classes. Enjoy time with your significant other while the young ones play in the supervised kid's area, and the older children can congregate in the ships teen center for some fun all their own. Then there's the dining venues, swimming pools, movie theaters, ice skating rinks, and health and spa facilities, that will delight any age group.

Adding to the appeal is the safety a cruise vacation offers. Couples or families can break off to do their own thing without a worry. Crew members are always watching out for their guests' enjoyment and safety.

As you're enjoying all the ship has to offer, you're being transported to your next destination where the cruise line offers a myriad of shore excursions for you to get the most out of your stay.

Tipping policies vary by cruise line, so it's best to know what to expect before you depart. The following is an introduction to tipping while on a cruise.

Since cruising is international, from the staff to the passengers, the practice of automatically charging your onboard account a daily flat service charge is becoming increasingly popular among cruise lines. This practice alleviates any potential angst for people not accustomed to tipping and is a simple means for the crew (who often heavily rely on tips) to receive a living wage for their services. Charges range from $10 to $13 per day/passenger and in some cases you can adjust the automatic service charge should the service not meet your expectations. You'll find this policy while onboard Windstar Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Cunard.

Other cruise lines believe tipping, while customary, is an individual decision that should be left up to each guest. These cruise lines conveniently offer suggested daily amounts which are either a flat per day amount which can range from $2 to $10, or per person/day amount based on the service rendered ranging from $.75 to $6. Viking River Cruises suggests per day amounts based on the location (China or Europe) of the river cruise where as Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International suggest per person/day amounts.

While on the cruise, a breakdown of the suggested amounts for each service is often announced by the cruise director and/or can be found within the printed daily itinerary.

Finally, for those who'd like to just step aboard and not worry about tipping at all, Regent Seven Seas, The Yachts of Seabourn, and Silversea Cruises all have a strict no tipping policy.

You should note that many cruise lines also automatically include a 15% gratuity on bar drinks or wine purchases. This added gratuity is separate from the cruise line's tipping policy.

*Tipping policies are subject to change so be sure to ask your Cruise Holidays travel expert for the latest tipping policies on any cruise line.

Going Home

Enjoyed your experience? Then book your next cruise onboard. Most major cruise lines offer significant savings and additional perks for those who book their next cruise onboard. In many cases, you don't even need to choose a particular sailing on-the-spot; a minimal deposit will do the trick to secure your place on a future cruise. So, if you're having fun and foresee yourself sailing again with the cruise line, it's to your advantage to visit the onboard cruise consultant and start making plans for your next cruise.

Onboard cruise consultants (found on most lines/ships, although the exact title may vary) are a good resource to help you plan your next cruise in addition to your Cruise Holidays travel agent. Since you're already aboard the ship and have had the opportunity to recognize your needs and preferences, you can be guided toward a sailing and ship tailored to better accommodate you on your next cruise.

Perks and incentives vary by cruise line, and in some cases, by sailing and stateroom, but you'll most likely be offered the lowest available pricing, a reduced deposit, and onboard credits. Many lines offer additional savings - parlaying past passenger and/or early booking savings - to the already lowest price. Also, since you're booking directly with the cruise line, the cruise consultant can tap into any current promotions to further enhance your booking, if applicable.

As a common practice, cruise lines will price-protect your onboard booking. Therefore, should a lower price come available prior to final payment, your booking will be honored with the lower price.

Here's the additional bonus. Once you've made your booking, you can transfer it to your Cruise Holidays travel agent. We can then offer you the personal service of monitoring the booking, making any changes you might request, applying any additional offers and/or savings to optimize your benefits, and notifying you when final payment is due.

Porters will retrieve your luggage and transport it off the ship for you to obtain shipside.

Closing Your Onboard Account
Any charges (bar drinks, spa services, babysitting.etc) you made to your shipboard account and any tips your cruise line levies will be charged to the credit card you presented at the time of boarding. There are other options to pay these charges, but many cruise lines have gone to a cashless system where charging the credit card is easier for both the cruise line and passenger.

Disembarkation is a process of getting hundreds or thousands of people off the ship in a safe and expedient manner. You will be assigned a disembarkation time based on your need to get off the ship (i.e. impending flight home) or on your status in your cruise line's loyalty program. Those with physical needs will have priority. Also, you may have to clear customs if the ship traveled outside your country's waters. Remember, the cruise line staff is trying to process numerous passengers off the ship, so patience is key.

Airport and flight status updates