Hey guys, I thought i'd write something that everyone especially our new cruisers could use to answer some of their questions before they ask them in the forum. This also provides a 1 stop shop for many first timer questions.
1. What do these signs mean “X, RCCL, RCI, CCL, PCL, DCL, HAL, NCL��??
~ These are common representatives for the major cruise lines. X for Celebrity, RCCL for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, RCI for Royal Caribbean Interntational, CCL for Carnival Cruise Lines, PCL for Princess Cruise Lines, DCL for Disney Cruise Line, HAL for Holland America Line, and NCL for Norwegian Cruise Line.
2. What are these Teen Clubs I hear about like Fuel, Cub O2, Optix, The Loft and The Stack?
~ These are special nightclubs onboard select ships that are designed just for teenagers. On some lines like Carnival for instance the clubs are open only to teens ages 15-17, ad on other lines they separate teens into 2 age groups, usually 12-14 and 15-17. Club O2 is the name of Carnival’s teen club program and is implemented on every ship and most ships have a specially designated club, others, a meeting place. Club O2 is on all Carnival ships EXCEPT Holiday class vessels, which currently include the Holiday and Celebration. These ships do not have dedicated teen facilities.
Fuel and Optix are the names for the teen nightclubs/discos onboard Royal Caribbean’s ships and vary in size from ship to ship and class to class. Most RCI ships also feature a separate teen facility called “The Living Room��? which is a cool venue for just hanging, reading magazines, watching music videos, or just chilling with your newly acquired. The Loft is Holland America’s version of the teen club and is very similar to those of other lines. The Stack is Disney’s rendition of the teen club and is contained in 1 of the 2 smokestacks on Disney’s classic, but retro style ocean liners. All of these clubs are staffed with cool, friendly and usually young directors who are there to organize activities such as scavenger hunts, hot tub parties, excursions and all kinds of fun. These directors usually also double as a DJ when the lights go low and the dancing begins! The Disney Wonder does NOT feature the stack, they have a smaller teen center called Common Grounds.
3. What should I wear?
~ Its always good to be yourself, and wear whatever represents you best! Don’t go out and buy a new wardrobe just for the cruise, because, chances are what you are wearing now is just coming out as a hot fashion statement where some of your new friends live! So you’ll be ahead of the game! Formal nights vary by ship. Some ships such as Royal Caribbean but especially Princess, HAL and Norwegian require upscale attire for formal night. This could include, but is not limited to a tie and jacket to a tuxedo for guys and a cocktail dress to a formal gown for ladies. Some other ships like Carnival, take a more relaxed approach to their formal evenings. On these ships a collared shirt and slacks or khakis is acceptable for guys and casual resort wear for the girls. During the day people wear everything. If you are on a Caribbean itinerary, pack shorts and short-sleeved shirts because it is going to be warm in the Caribbean pretty much year round. I would always, however, pack at least 1 sweatshirt or light jacket in case of rain or other inclement weather.
4. Will I meet other people my age?
~ OF COURSE! Your on a cruise with usually 1-3 thousand other people! There is always a decent amount of teens from every age bracket onboard every ship from all major cruise lines. The high times in the year, as I stated before is during the summer when, on some large ships, there may be as many as 500 or more teens. The fall and winter are usually the slower times except for holidays. And spring break is of course way up there on the cruise time list.
5. What are these islands: Castaway Cay, Coco Cay, Labadee, and Half Moon Cay I cant find them on a map?
~ These are all special, private owned islands that are reserved exclusively for use by passengers of your ship, based on the cruise line you are traveling. Castaway Cay (Pronounced Key), Bahamas is owned by Disney Cruise Lines, Coco Cay, Bahamas and Labadee Hispaňola, are owned by Royal Caribbean and Half Moon Cay is owned by Holland America Line, a line owned by Carnival Cruise lines, therefore Carnival and HAL ships are granted access to this island. Nearly all islands provide a complimentary barbeque lunch and staff less than 100 full time island-dwelling employees. Most islands also must provide a reverse osmosis plant to provide fresh water and a generator for electricity. These are usually the highlight of the trip as they offer the beauty of the Caribbean without the hassles of other mainland islands, ridden with outside tourists.
6. What is a tender and do I have to pay for it?
~ Occasionally ships do not have the luxury of docking right on the mainland either due to the ship’s size or shallow dock waters. When this occurs, the ship must anchor off of the mainland and guests must use “tenders��? or small boats capable of handling 100-500 passengers to bring them to shore. The tenders are provided by, checked and cleared for safety and reliability by your cruise line. The tendering service is complimentary whenever required.
7. What is a sail and sign or fun-pass?
~ Many ships now use an electronic card system to allow passengers ease of mind onboard their vacations. These cards are issued at the pier and are usually used as a cabin key, charge card, and boarding pass. Some common names for these cards include Seapass (RCI), Funpass or the newly instated Sail & Sign (CCL), and the “Key To The World��? onboard Disney Cruise Lines. When you are issued this card, It usually is checked several times before you board the ship and also has a picture ID added sometime either before or soon after boarding. When you are issued this card ALWAYS KEEP IT WITH YOU! It is essential to being allowed to board and disembark the ship.
~ Food is a very important part of every cruise and after you cruise once you will see what I mean. Many ships have a main dining room and several alternative resturants such as The Windjammer, Johnny Rockets, Jade, Portofino, and Chop’s Grille on Royal Caribbean, and Paolo on Disney Cruise Line. The main dining room usually serves upscale 5 Star cuisines nightly with a wide array of choices and an ever-changing menu. There are occasional formal nights on every ship when more formal attire is required. The standard for dinner is Resort Casual, slacks or at least jeans for guys with a collared polo or gold shirt, and for ladies a cocktail dress and anything below that except shorts. The specialty resturants such as Chops, Portofino or Paolo usually require a coat and tie and offer an extended menu for a nominal fee per person. In general the food in these restaurants tends to be a step up even from the formal/main dining rooms. The Windjammer, Windows on the Seas, Seaview Café, and Beach Blanket Buffet are all examples of another dining option on every ship. These all are casual restaurants that have no dress code other than that no swimwear is allowed in the evening. They serve a wide variety of casual foods such as burgers, deli selections, hot sides and deserts. Finally there are specialty options on some ships such as Johnny Rockets at Sea, Jade, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Sorrento’s Pizza. All of these offer unique menus with their own twist.
9. So its after dinner and I don’t want to go to the teen club, can I get into the adult club?
~ Typically, No. The adult clubs are generally monitored heavily by security and although it might be possible to slip by, its just not worth the risk and embarrassment. Also many ships now have your age either on the outside of your boarding card or imprinted in the barcode so that when scanned by security at the club entrance, your age is revealed and you are not allowed access. Also, Usually you wont find anything in the adult clubs that you wouldn’t find in the teen clubs. The adult clubs are just filled with parents dancing the same way as we teens do… icky!
10. Can I drink on the ship? What is the drinking age?
~ Many ships do not allow teens to drink onboard even with their parents consent. New maritime laws have also changed the drinking policies on many ships. Right now the standard for all Carnival or Carnival Owned Ships is that the drinking age shall remain 21. Royal Caribbean used to allow guests 18-20 to have beer and wine but have since revised their policies as part of the GVP (see 11). The drinking age now for all RCI and RCI owned ships is 21 for ships sailing from US ports and 21 from non US ports. This will be updated should anything change.
11. What is the Guest Vacation Policy? Is There a Curfew?
~ The Guest Vacation Policy is a new program developed by Royal Caribbean International and enacted in mid 2005 to provide guests onboard their ships an enjoyable and safe experience. The policy is stated during the boat drill* (see 13) and is upheld well. It consists of but is not limited to: No horseplay, foul language or fighting, simulated or real. No smoking in public areas not designated for smoking including all public lounges and restaurants unless otherwise noted. Do Not Throw any items overboard. Do not smoke in guest staterooms. There is a curfew that applies all teen passengers age 17 and under, that after 1:00am they must be in a cabin, accompanied by a parent or guardian or in a designated Adventure Ocean activity. This policy can be extended or retracted at any time by the ships master.
13. What is the boat drill? Do I have to go?
~ The boat drill is a mandatory drill for all passengers and crew that occurs approximately 30-45 minutes prior to sailing. This drill is required by national maritime law and is conducted in accordance with the United States Coast Guard. All passengers must attend! Just go as if you don’t you will hold everyone else up while they search for you. When you hear the signal which usually consists of 7 short blasts followed by 1 long blast over the ships horn, whistle and internal alarm bell system, go directly to your stateroom, gather your lifejackets and any essential medication and proceede directly to the muster station assigned to you as designated on your stateroom door and lifejacket. There will be green signs in the hallways directing you to your muster station. In the event of a loss of power, low level lighting will be activated guiding you to your muster station. When you arrive, put on your life jacket which is equipped with a whistle and a saltwater-activated light, and wair for further instructions from your muster station’s safety team.
*Complied by Ryan, our own personal cruising encyclopedia*
NCL Dawn 6/21/06 Bermuda
10/30/08 X Constellation Caribbean
Costa Fortuna 3/08 Eastern Caribbean
Costa Magica 2/07 Western Caribbean
HAL Noordam 11/06 Eastern Caribbean
X Zenith 6/06 Bermuda
HAL Zuiderdam 5/05 Western Caribbean
HAL Maasdam 6/04 Canada/New England
CCL Triumph 12/03 Western Caribbean
CCL Victory 11/02 Eastern Caribbean
Well, take what applies to you and hopefully it'll help make your cruise enjoyable. Many first time teen cruisers are general first timers and have generalized questions about cruising in general as well as about teen related factors.
Ryan- The Cruise Encyclopedia
Oasis of the Seas
Allure of the Seas
Freedom of the Seas
Mariner of the Seas
Navigator of the Seas
Grandeur of the Seas
Enchantment of the Seas
Monarch of the Seas
Voyager of the Seas
Sovereign of the Seas
Cunard Queen Mary 2
Cruise Total as of March 2012: 100 Cruises