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Your Guide to Cruising

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The Best Value in Travel

With included amenities like meals, activities, and room service, cruises can be much more cost-effective than land-based vacations. Plus, you can visit multiple destinations without extra transportation costs—and only unpack once!

Included in Rate*:

  • Onboard accommodations
  • Standard meals
  • Most non-alcoholic drinks (including coffee & tea)
  • Room service
  • Onboard activities (waterslides, rock-climbing & more)
  • Entertainment (onboard stage shows, comedy acts & more)
  • Children's activities & clubs
  • Fitness center

Not Included:

  • Specialty coffees, sodas & alcoholic beverages*
  • Meals in alternative restaurants
  • Organized shore excursions
  • Spa or salon services
  • Special exercise classes
  • Casino gaming
  • Gratuities

*Inclusions vary by cruise line.

Onboard Activities & Entertainment

Swimming Pools, Waterslides & More

Hit the pool with exciting water activities for kids and adults. If you're looking to relax, don't worry—some areas are reserved exclusively for adults.

Shows & Live Music

The larger cruise lines feature nightly Broadway-style musical revues, comedy shows, or magic acts. Live music is also featured throughout the ship.

Spa & Fitness

Relax and rejuvenate with a full-service spa & fitness center. (Remember, there is a charge for spa treatments and special fitness classes.)

Movies

Take a load off at the theater! Select cruise lines offer indoor or outdoor screenings, and you can always enjoy a movie in your cabin.

Casino Fun

Once a ship hits international waters, try your luck at poker, blackjack, roulette, and more!

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Cruise Dining

Food is plentiful onboard. There's a grill on the pool deck, while pastries, pizza, or other goodies are available for snacking all day. Standard onboard meals are included in the price of the cruise; however, some alternative and specialty restaurants have an extra charge.

Main Dining Room

Savor a great meal in a more formal setting, with specified dinner times at designated tables. Or, many lines offer the opportunity to dine when and with whom you choose.

Alternative & Specialty Restaurants

From tasty Asian fusion to steakhouses to Italian, you'll find excellent cuisine anywhere from $5–$75 per person. Specialty restaurants can also offer a luxury setting with exceptional service, and are great for celebrating special occasions.

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Youth Programs

From pool parties to rock climbing, there's fun for all ages!

  • Programs for designated age groups (most have programs for ages 2–17)
  • Tween and teen activities (such as Xbox gaming, Wii tournaments, pizza parties & sports)
  • Kids' pools on select ships
  • Fun for the whole family (basketball tournaments, karaoke, and more)
  • Themed activities (scavenger hunts, game shows, and character experiences on cruise lines such as Disney and Norwegian)
Babysitting

Most ships do offer babysitting services (for an additional fee), either in a group setting or privately, with a sitter in your cabin.

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Cruise Destinations

From sandy Caribbean beaches, to majestic fjords in Alaska, there's a cruise destination to suit every taste. Enjoy the view from the ship, and—once in port—take a closer look with special tours and activities from our Shore Excursions Group.

Alaska

See whales, bald eagles, and seals right off the deck! Add gorgeous glacier fields and a fascinating culture and history, and you've got a truly unique Alaska cruise experience. If you want to extend your visit, look for land tours (pre- or post-sailing) available through our cruise specialists at 1-888-249-3978. These fascinating tours let you get an in-depth look at treasures like Denali National Park.

Alaska's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

Alaska cruise info
Bahamas

This popular weekend cruise destination allows you to relax on beautiful beaches, enjoy consistently warm weather, and snorkel in one of the world's largest barrier reefs.

Bahamas' Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

*Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are considered high peak.

Bahamas cruise info
Bermuda

An enchanting island famous for its pink-sand beaches and vibrant coral reefs, Bermuda has plenty to see and do. Play a round at a renowned golf course, take in the colorfully painted houses, or explore the stunning underground pools of the crystal caves.

Bermuda's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

Bermuda cruise info
Canada/New England

Does colonial history, a romantic coastline, seaside villages, and beautiful fall foliage sound like your kind of vacation? Try a cruise to the northeastern U.S. and Canada.

Canada/New England's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

Canada/New England cruise info
Caribbean

Enjoy crystal-clear water and pristine beaches year-round. A variety of cruise lines and itineraries (from 3-night to 7-night sailings or longer), fun water sports, and world-class diving and snorkeling make the Caribbean a great option for first-timers and seasoned cruisers alike.

Caribbean's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

*Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are considered high peak.

Caribbean cruise info
East/West Mediterranean

From Athens to Venice, take in rich culture and traditions, the finest local cuisine, centuries-old monuments and architecture, and world-renowned art and museums.

East/West Mediterranean's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

*Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are considered high peak.

East/West Mediterranean cruise info
Hawaii

Travelers of all ages will be charmed by Hawaii's beautiful golf courses, world-renowned beaches, and friendly, easy-going attitude. Plus, a Hawaii cruise is a convenient and cost-efficient way to visit all the islands in one trip!

Hawaii's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

*Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are considered high peak.

Hawaii cruise info
Mexico

Warm weather, great beaches, fantastic cuisine, and a rich cultural heritage make Mexico an enticing escape from the daily grind. Explore ports such as the Baja peninsula's Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and more.

Mexico's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

*Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holidays are considered high peak.

Mexico cruise info
Northern Europe

Majestic fjords and lakes are only the beginning. From London to Copenhagen and beyond, a European cruise allows you to explore multiple countries in one itinerary—a great way to experience each country's historical landmarks, cuisine, and more.

Northern Europe's Peak Sailing Season

High Season

Shoulder Season

Low Season

No Sailings

Northern Europe cruise info

When to Sail

Check out the following graph for more information on each destination’s high, shoulder, and low seasons.

High Season

Higher rates typically occur during peak cruising times, such as holidays or the summer months, when the destination’s weather is most ideal. In high season, be sure to book early due to the limited number of cabins.

Shoulder Season

Shoulder season is when weather conditions and pricing fall between high season and low season. Fares during this season are still very affordable, as it’s before high tourist season normally begins.

Low Season

Fares often drop during low season, which is either early or late in the cruise season, such as May or September in Alaska or Europe. Many choose to take a chance on unpredictable weather for a more affordable vacation and fewer crowds.

*Please note: Holidays draw crowds, even in low seasons.

when to sail info

Alaska: High season is July–Aug; shoulder is June; low is April, May, and Sept; no sailings Oct–Mar.

Bermuda: High season is June–Aug; shoulder is April–May; low is Sept–Oct; no sailings Nov–Mar.

Canada/New England: High season is Sept–Oct; shoulder is July–Aug; low is May and June; no sailings Nov–April.

Caribbean: High seasons are mid Jan–April and June–Aug; shoulder is May; low is Sept–mid Jan.

Hawaii: High season is Nov–April; shoulder is May–Aug; low is Sept and Oct.

Mexico: High season is mid Oct–April, and Dec; shoulder is May; low is June–early Oct.

East/West Mediterranean: High season is June–Aug; shoulder seasons are Sep–mid Nov and April–May; low is mid Nov–Mar.

Northern Europe: High season is mid June–Aug; shoulder is Sep and beg. of June; low is April–May; no sailings Oct–Mar.

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Destination by Season

Not sure what time of year is best for a cruise? Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

Fall

If you enjoy fall foliage, consider a September or October cruise to the east coasts of the U.S. and Canada. This is also a great time to sail to Europe, when you can beat the crowds and enjoy more moderate temperatures than the summer months. You'll also find less expensive sailings this time of year. (Note that early fall is hurricane season in the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Mexico; however, cruise lines can easily change course to avoid a storm.)

Winter

Exchange cold weather for some sun! Winter is a popular time to cruise to the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Spring

Spring-break cruises abound in the Bahamas and Mexico. In addition, spring is a great time to visit the Mediterranean. For Alaska, try late spring—an affordable time to go, as it's right before high season when prices go up.

Summer

Alaska attracts a high concentration of travelers in the summer months, but it's also a popular time to enjoy Europe's sights. And don't forget the kids! With school out for the summer, this is a convenient time to get the whole family together, especially in kid-friendly beach destinations like the Caribbean or the Bahamas.

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How to Save

With meals, entertainment, and lodging already included, cruises are an excellent way to travel on a budget. Here are some extra tips to help you save when you sail.

Wave Season

No matter when you plan to sail, consider making your cruise booking between January and March, when cruise lines offer some of their best deals of the year.

Repositioning Cruises

Another great way to save is when a ship is in process of relocating between seasons. You can cruise for less and enjoy more days at sea. Note that any airfare purchased won't be roundtrip, as you will be flying into one destination and out of another.

Low Season

If you're willing to chance unpredictable weather, consider cruising when rates drop and you can easily score the sailing date and cabin of your choice.

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Booking Your Cruise

  • 1. How do I know which cabin to book?
  • 2. What is a Guaranteed Cabin?

Changing or Cancelling Your Cruise

  • 1. What if I need to cancel my cruise?
  • 2. Should I purchase Cruise Travel Protection?
  • 3. Can I add a passenger to my cruise ship cabin at a later date?
  • 4. Can I change the spelling of a passenger's name after I book the cruise?

Payment/Receipt

  • 1. Can I make a cruise deposit and pay the rest later?
  • 2. When is my final payment due?
  • 3. My payment card wasn't accepted when I tried to book my cruise. Why?
  • 4. My credit card statement shows one charge from the cruise line and one charge from Expedia. Why?

Registration and Documents

  • 1. How do I register for my cruise?
  • 2. How far in advance can I book a cruise?

Life Onboard

  • 1. What should I pack?
  • 2. How much should I tip?
  • 3. How can I communicate with family and friends while I'm at sea?
  • 4. Is laundry available onboard?
  • 5. What is the smoking policy?
  • 6. What is the drinking age onboard?
  • 7. How do I book shore excursions?
  • 8. What is the embarkation and disembarkation process?

First-Time Cruise Tips

Best Time to Book a Cruise: Wave Season (January–March) is when you'll score the year's top deals, including free perks (like upgrades & onboard credits) and discounted fares.

Avoid the Queasy Stomach: Sensitive to motion sickness? Choose a cabin on a lower deck, mid-ship.

Arrive Early at the Cruise Port: Plan to arrive at least 2 hours before your ship's departure time. If possible, fly to your embarkation city the night before in case of flight delays.

Get Onboard Spa Specials: If you're a spa seeker, look for specials on days the ship is in port. You can save up to 25%—a great way to kick-start a vacation!

Ask for a Wakeup Call: Most cabins don't have alarm clocks, so plan to bring your own, or request a phone wakeup call.

Celebrate Special Occasions: Celebrating a birthday or anniversary onboard? Preorder flowers, cakes, champagne, and more on your cruise line's website.

Check the Daily Onboard Schedule: The ship newsletter is delivered nightly to your cabin. Here, you'll find the next day's entertainment schedule, special events, dinner themes and attire, and other helpful tips.

Pose for Pictures: If you don't like lugging your camera around, don't worry! A professional photographer will be onboard to capture special moments, and the photos will be available for purchase at the end of your cruise.

Before You Leave

From booking your shore excursions to packing your bags, there's a lot to remember when preparing to leave for your cruise. Refer to this information to ensure a smooth departure. Things to Do Cruise Packing List Don't Forget:

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Getting to Your Ship

Upon arrival at the pier, you'll proceed through the embarkation process, making your way through customs and cruise ship check-in. Arriving at the Pier Embarkation Don't Forget:

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Onboard Health & Safety

Although many may not think about it when planning a trip, basic ship safety is an important part of a successful cruise vacation. Please take a moment to look over our cruise safety information for helpful tips on what to expect. What to Know Health and Wellness Don't Forget:

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Shore Excursions

Venture to awesome sights far from the pier, skip the hassle of planning your own onshore activities, and learn more about an area from a local guide. Here are some great excursion tips to get you started. How to Book a Shore Excursion Cruise Excursion Tips Don't Forget:

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Disembarkation & Returning Home

Concluding your cruise vacation begins with the disembarkation process: the act of getting off the cruise ship. The following tips will help you prepare for the last day of your cruise. Before Disembarkation Begins Disembarkation Tips Don't Forget:

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