Before You Sail
Q: What should I pack?
A: Planning what to wear on your cruise holiday is easy. You should keep in mind three types of clothing: casual shipboard attire or day wear; conservative resort wear for sightseeing or shopping; and evening wear.
The number of smart casual and formal nights on any cruise will vary by cruise line and duration.
As a guide on a standard 7 night cruise there are 5 smart casual and 2 formal nights. There will generally be a maximum of 3 formal nights on cruises of longer duration. Please note, for cruises of less than four nights and more casual cruises such as Thomson Cruises and NCL Cruise Lines, there may be no formal nights. Please view the relevant online check-in information on your chosen cruise for more details.
Here are a few general tips: We recommend low-heeled, comfortable shoes for walking around the ship during the day; pack a couple of swimsuits so you’ll always have a dry one; ashore you will need comfortable walking shoes, as well as a hat and sunscreen. When visiting museums, mosques, temples and churches it is appropriate (and in many cases mandatory) to dress conservatively. Women should wear trousers or skirts that cover the knees, sleeveless tops and shorts are not permitted. If your cruise takes you to Alaska or Northern Europe we suggest you also pack a jacket and a couple of sweaters.
For evening wear allow for:
• Smart casual and above – skirt or trousers complemented by a sweater or blouse for women; or trousers with polo shirt or sweater for men. Men’s shirts must have a collar and sleeves (short sleeves are fine).
• Formal – cocktail dress, evening gown or trouser suit for women; tuxedo, dark suit or dinner jacket with dark trousers for men.
Please note: T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops, baseball caps and pool wear are not generally allowed in the main restaurants or speciality restaurants at any time. Shorts and flip flops are not generally allowed in the evening hours.
Prevailing dress codes during all evening hours are ‘smart casual and above’. Formal evenings are provided for the enjoyment of guests and to retain the traditional elegance of formal cruise ship dining. Suitable alternatives, such as casual dining, sushi café, pizza/pasta and in-room dining, are provided to guests who choose not to participate in formal dining activities. Formal evening dress code standards will be enforced in main dining rooms and speciality restaurants on all formal evenings. Smart casual and above dress code standards will generally be enforced in the main dining and speciality restaurants during all other evening hours.
Cruises encompass a variety of continents and destinations and therefore the weather in each region will vary. Some of the destinations visited are tropical and may experience heavy rainfall or strong winds (sometimes hurricane force) at certain times of the year. BLT cannot accept liability for adverse weather conditions or for any resultant change to your itinerary during the cruise holiday.
Travelling whilst pregnant or with infants and children?
Special arrangements may need to be made in the third trimester of pregnancy. As a guide most cruise lines will allow infants onboard, however there are age restrictions from one cruise line to another, normally starting from 6 months of age. Other cruise lines allow infants only if there are less than 3 days at sea between each port. Older children are categorised and each cruise will cap the number of children in each age bracket. Most cruise lines age brackets are 2-6, 7-10, 11-14 and 15-17. Once the limit has been reached, they will close bookings for the relevant age bracket. Please note that some cruise lines don’t have adequate child facilities or even kids clubs and there are a small number of cruise lines that don’t take children at all!
Travel connecting to your Cruise?
Cruises generally depart in the afternoon or evening. We always recommend to catch the earliest flight that you can on the day to meet your ship on time. For more peace of mind arrive where the cruise is departing from on at least the day before. As we all know, any flight can be delayed.
In the event that you are late, the ship will cruise without you, in which case you may not be covered by your insurance. The same will apply on your return, as a cruise may be delayed by weather. Most ships arrive back into port in the early morning and we recommend an afternoon or evening flight on that day for our domestic cruises but if overseas consider adding at least one extra night and explore your city of arrival before boarding your flight back home.
Do I require a Passport?
All international cruises require each passenger to hold a valid passport. Passengers travelling on most Australian coastal cruises, where the ship does NOT leave Australian waters, do not require passports. Some countries require you to have at least 6 months validity left on your passport after you have arrived back in Australia and if you do not have this you may be denied boarding.
Visas may be required in some countries you are travelling to. In certain circumstances the cruise line will issue one when you arrive, this is however not the norm. Many countries require that you have visas issued prior to your departure and the cruise line may deny you boarding if you cannot produce one, even if you do not intend to get off the ship at a specific country.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance is highly recommended for all international travel. Travel Insurance covers cancellation, delay and lost luggage, medical costs while travelling, and, whilst it is comforting to know that there is a Doctor onboard just about every cruise ship – with a surgery equipped to deal with even minor emergencies – medical treatment comes at what can be a considerable cost with no medicare rebate! Anything can happen on any holiday and emergencies can put you out of pocket in no time and depending on the cruise, there are a variety of options to choose from.
Vaccinations and Medications?
Your local GP or travel doctor is the best starting point to obtain advice as to what specific vaccinations you may need to obtain before you travel, based on where you are going and for what duration. We would always recommend that you also take sufficient supplies of any medications you may require whilst you are away, along with a copy of the prescription for any prescribed medications that you are travelling with.
Q: What advice does the Australian Government give about travel?
A: The website SMARTRAVELLER.GOV.AU provides important travel advice about most destinations around the world. Please ensure that you visit
WWW.SMARTRAVELLER.GOV.AU prior to your departure for the most up to date travel information.
Q: What do Guest Relations staff do?
A: The Guest Relations Desk on a cruise ship operates as your source of general information and enquiry as well as customs and immigration.
Cruise Tickets & Bag Tags
Q: How do I get my cruise tickets and bag tags?
A: Cruise Lines now use electronic tickets for the majority of their guests. Please see your relevant cruise line website for full details.
Embarkation & Disembarkation
Q: How do I check-in for boarding the ship?
A: In order to expedite the boarding process, we recommend that you complete the Online Check-in wherever available for your cruise line. By completing the Online Check-in and printing out your Embarkation Pass, this will help speed up the check-in process at the cruise terminal.
Where Online Check-in is unavailable, you will receive cruise documents for embarkation. Please complete any forms necessary before your arrival at the cruise terminal.
In the cruise terminal, simply present your cruise documents at the check-in desk. Once all the necessary forms have been completed, you will receive your embarkation and on-board account card. You will then be permitted to board the ship. The card is your identification for re-embarking the ship in the various ports of call, possibly the key to your stateroom and also your Charge Card for all your on-board purchases.
Q: When can I board the ship?
A: Boarding time varies by itinerary and cruise line. Please check your cruise ticket booklet or online check-in facility for the boarding time relevant to your cruise. It is your responsibility to arrive on time if you have booked a cabin only with no flights or transfers, unless you are transferring to the ship via cruise line or BLT organised transport. If you are not on board at least 90 minutes before the ship’s scheduled sailing time, most cruise lines shall at that time be entitled to treat your non arrival as a cancellation by you and as such 100% cancellation charges will be payable and no refund will be made.
Please note: that, for security reasons, you will not be permitted to bring visitors on board any ship in any port. We shall not be required to refund any portion of the cruise fare paid by any guest who fails for any reason to be on-board the vessel or transport by the embarkation cut-off time applicable to the specific cruise or the boarding cut-off time applicable at any port of call or destination or point of departure as the case may be, and shall not be responsible for lodging, meals, transportation or other expenses incurred by the guest as a result thereof. Embarkation cut-off times for cruises are available on the applicable cruise line website itinerary. Boarding cut-off times for any port of call, destination or point of departure are as announced on the applicable cruise.
Q: Can I change my stateroom after arrival on board?
A: Subject to availability, you may upgrade to a higher category stateroom after you have checked in. The upgrades, if available, are done and paid for at the time directly with the cruise line and not with BLT.
Q: What do I need to do on the last night of the cruise?
A: If you are on a standard cruise line package pack your bags and place them outside your stateroom door by midnight. Your stateroom attendant will normally provide you with luggage tags for each piece of luggage. Please clearly write your name, home address and, where applicable, flight details on each tag. Carry fragile, important and valuable items with you. We recommend that you bring an overnight bag with you for your last night on board. If travelling on a package please enquire at the Guest Relations desk if you require assistance removing your luggage from the ship.
Q: How should I prepare for disembarkation?
A: The cruise line will give instructions about disembarkation and clearing customs and immigration towards the end of the cruise. BLT has no control over the length of time it may take for immigration and customs clearance.
Q: What hotel arrangements are made for me prior to my boarding and after I disembark from the ship?
A: If your booking with us is cruise-only ie you have booked a cabin with no flight, transfer or other extras, no arrangements will be made for you. If your booking with us is a standard cruise line fly/cruise package and your outward flight is scheduled for the day of sailing, no hotel arrangements will be made and you will be transferred by coach to the ship. If your booking with us is a standard cruise line fly/cruise package and your outward flight is scheduled to arrive the day prior to the cruise (generally transatlantic flights), you will be provided with a hotel room at a hotel of our choice (subject to change). You will be transferred to the ship the following day. On disembarkation, if your booking with us is on a cruise-only basis, you will proceed through Customs and Immigration, collect your luggage and continue with your independently made onward arrangements. If your booking is on a fly/cruise basis, a transfer to the airport will also be provided, where this has been requested and arranged by your Travel Manager at the time of booking.
Q: What is a standard fly/cruise package?
A: For US departing cruises and long haul destinations, a standard fly/cruise package is where we fly you on the day prior to your cruise, provide overnight accommodation selected by us and provide transfers if booked and arranged. For European destinations, a standard fly/cruise package is where we fly you on the same date as your cruise departure date and transfer you from the arrival airport directly to the port of departure of your cruise where said transfers have been booked and arranged.
A non-standard fly/cruise package is any other air and cruise arrangement organised by us for you.
Q: When should I schedule my flight home?
A: If we are not arranging flights for you, please ensure you allow sufficient time both prior to embarkation and following disembarkation.
Staterooms & Suites
Q: What about stateroom sizes? What about staterooms that can accommodate three or four guests?
A: Please bear in mind that staterooms, by nature, cannot be compared in size to hotel rooms you may find on shore. Should you wish to know the dimensions of any stateroom, this information can be obtained from your reservation agent at the time of booking or via the cruise line website for the most up to date information. BLT cannot be held liable for any inaccuracies or errors regarding cabin size as we are reliant upon brochures and websites. Unfortunately errors can occur whilst using these medium.
Cruise ships have a limited number of three and four berth (bed) staterooms. These staterooms are popular with families, or adults travelling in groups of three or four. Three and four berth staterooms will be made up of a combination of lower berths, upper berths, sofa beds or rollaway beds. Please also note that on bigger ships, cruise lines can accommodate four plus guests. Please check with your reservation agent or through the relevant cruise line website at the time of booking should you wish to clarify the configuration of any stateroom.
Please note: Fully occupied staterooms may not be able to accommodate a baby cot. Please note that children under the age of 6 years are not generally permitted to occupy upper berths within any stateroom. Please also note that due to the height of the upper berths, these berths are generally not suitable for the elderly and we strongly recommend that alternative staterooms are booked. If in any doubt please check with your reservation agent.
Q: What about electrical equipment and carriage of items that may be perceived as dangerous?
A: The on-board voltage can vary by cruise ship, please visit the FAQ section of the relevant cruise line website for up to date information. Please take any necessary adapters (North American and European plug sockets are available). Please contact your airline directly to ascertain the up to date position for the carriage of electrical and other dangerous items. This may vary by airline.
Q: Do cruise ships have internet connectivity?
A: Some cruise ships are now fully wireless, whilst other older ships have wired internet connectivity. Generally there will be a charge for internet access
Q: What about laundry?
A: Either self-service or standard Laundry service and dry cleaning services are available on board most cruise ships. Prices vary by garment type.
Q: How do I pay for on-board purchases?
A: All items purchased on board ships operate on a ‘cashless’ system. Simply validate your On-board account with an acceptable credit card at the cruise check-in desk. Then you can sign all on-board purchases to your account. At the end of your cruise you will receive a completely itemised statement. Guests who settle their On-board account with a credit card issued in a currency other than U.S. Dollars will be charged in the same local currency that the credit card is issued in. For example, a credit card issued in Australia will be charged in AUD. Please note this transaction may be subject to a fee from your credit card company.
The transaction value of your spending on board the ship plus the exchange rate to be applied will appear on your itemised statement. Cruise lines will carry out the currency conversion at the commercial daily rate of exchange provided by a reputable foreign exchange dealer and a currency conversion charge will also apply. Please note that a currency conversion charge is usually made by credit card companies, but it should not be necessary for your credit card company to charge such a fee when your transaction value has already been converted to your local currency by us. Should you wish to opt out of this system and therefore have your credit card charged in U.S. Dollars (with your credit card company applying the rate of exchange and currency conversion charge), please inform your cruise check-in agent at the pier when embarking!
On-board accounts may also usually be settled in cash. Check which currency is accepted on board your cruise before travelling. Ashore, most credit cards are accepted. In addition you should ensure that you have a small denomination of local currency for incidental expenditure ashore. Please note: many cruise lines do not accept Debit cards as a payment method.
Whilst you are on-board your daily spend will be authorised at the close of business each day. Your card provider, as part of their standard procedures, may retain these authorisations for up to 28days which are outside of the control of BLT or the cruise line. For this reason, you may wish to set up a cash only account or register a credit card rather than a debit card at the start of your sailing. You may also wish to contact your bank at the end of your cruise to assist with any outstanding authorisations. Final settlement of your account will take place at the end of your cruise. If you are travelling on consecutive cruises your bill will be settled at the end of each cruise.
Q: What are on-board tips/service charges?
A: On many cruise lines a tip or service charge, for your convenience, will be automatically added to your on-board account on a daily basis. This is to reward the staff for their hard work aboard the cruise and removes the need to tip individually.
A standard service charge of 15% is automatically added to the price of drinks from the cocktail lounges, bars and beauty treatments.
* Please note that tips/service charges may be shared with other staff members depending on the particular service requirement.
Please note that the tips/service charges can either be prepaid or will be automatically added to your on-board account. The tips/service charges are usually discretionary and therefore the amounts can be adjusted when on-board. If you choose to pre pay tips/service charges, where this option is available these will be calculated at the time of booking in AU dollars.
Please note: that some of our cruise holidays call exclusively upon EU ports of call and for such cruises VAT (value added tax) will be charged on certain on-board goods and services. Such VAT is charged on goods and services at the point of sale. Non-EU residents may be able to reclaim VAT paid on physical goods when they depart from the EU, normally at the departure airport.
Children & Families
Q: What facilities do cruise lines have for families?
A: Children’s facilities and entertainment are available on board most cruise ships. Please ask your reservations agent to check if programmes will be available on your chosen sailing. Programme hours may vary by cruise line/ship/itinerary. Programmes are generally available for 3-17 year olds. For children under 3 please ask your reservation agent for more details. Please note: Cruise lines provide a medical centre on board which is staffed by a fully qualified doctor; however please note that the doctors are not paediatricians. Guests must therefore bring on-board an adequate supply of specific medications they need for all members of their family.
We respectfully ask parents not to allow their children to play uncontrolled on deck, in lounges or on dance floors, especially during the evening. Children are not allowed in Casinos. Please note: The number of children present on ships increases during school holiday periods. Cots are available for infants and these should be requested at the time of making a reservation. However, please note that these will limit the floor space available in your stateroom. Baby-sitting and child minding (for a nominal fee) can usually be arranged provided cruise staff are available to provide this service. Please note that facilities and activities are limited for babies under the age of three.
The usual minimum age for infants to sail is six (6) months, as of the date of sailing and twelve (12) months, as of the date of sailing for Transatlantic, Transpacific, Hawaii, selected South American cruises and other selected cruises. For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has 3 or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise.
The health and safety of guests is our number one priority. As such, in consideration of the limitations of the shipboard medical facility, equipment and staff, cruise lines cannot accept waivers, releases or requests for exceptions to this policy.
Dining & Drinks
Q: When and where can I dine on board?
A: For most ships, there are two seatings for meals in the main dining room. If you have a preference, you should make this known at the time of booking. Please note that dining times and seating requests cannot be guaranteed and are on a request basis. Dining requests are subject to availability, however cruise lines will do all that they can to accommodate requests for guests with specific medical issues.
The usual times for evening meals in the main dining room are as follows:
Early Seating – 18:00
Late Seating – 20:30
Please note that dining times may vary by cruise line and itinerary (usually later on European sailings).
In addition to ‘traditional dining’ (an assigned table in your main dining room at the same dining time each evening of your cruise), many cruise lines also now offering a flexible dining option. This allows you the opportunity to make dinner reservations for your desired dining time on a daily basis. You can also choose not to make reservations, and come to dinner at any point during the evening, however we strongly encourage reservations to ensure the best service and to avoid any potential wait times. You can also generally reserve your dining times in advance of your cruise through your cruise line website’s ‘Before Your Cruise’ section.
If you wish to be more flexible, breakfast and lunch are also generally served in alternative locations. Please check your cruise line Daily Programme for times and locations. A Room Service menu will also usually be available. Food on board is included in the cost of your cruise price, however a cover charge will apply for Speciality Restaurants
Reservations are required for Speciality Restaurants and are on a first come first served basis and taken daily on board your cruise. You can also book speciality dining reservations before you sail with many cruise lines, please visit your specific cruise line website for further details.
Q: Do ships have Room Service?
A: Yes. Room service is usually complimentary, although we would advise that you refer to your chosen cruise line website for specific details. You may wish to offer a gratuity to room service staff. Sometimes a room service cover charge is applied after midnight for any orders placed.
Q: What about alcoholic drinks?
A: The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on US Cruises ships is twenty-one (21). However on International cruises departing from ports in Europe and South America where the legal drinking age is typically lower than 21, a parent or legal guardian who is sailing with his or her son(s) and/or daughter(s) who is between the ages of 18 to 20, may be able to sign a waiver allowing the 18 to 20 year old to consume alcoholic beverages. The 18 to 20 year old guest must agree to comply with the cruise line policies, including among other things, agreeing to not provide alcoholic beverages to any other person, regardless of age. Please note that within the territorial waters of some countries on your itinerary, on-board shops may be closed or alternatively restrictions may be imposed on some items available for purchase. Please note: Due to Spanish regulations, cruise lines are not permitted to sell alcohol or cigarettes from the duty free shops on board selected sailings that depart from Barcelona. Restrictions apply and this policy is subject to change without notice. This policy also applies on some short sailing’s departing from the UK.
Please note: When in U.S. ports the drinking age is 21 years of age and older. An individual’s age on the date of sailing determines his or her status for the entire cruise holiday.
Q: Can beverage packages be purchased prior to my cruise?
A: You can generally choose to purchase from a selection of beverage packages for many cruise lines prior to your sail date. Some cruise lines, such as Celebrity Cruises, may provide an All Inclusive drinks package, whereas other cruise lines offer drinks packages with meals etc. Due to the differing options available we would recommend asking your reservation agent at the time of booking.
On-board Medical Facilities
Q: What happens if I am ill on board my cruise?
A: Most ships have a hospital wing or clinic onboard, staffed by qualified doctors and nurses and provide medical services for a fee. These fees can be large, as they mostly base their charging on the US system. Comprehensive travel insurance will usually cover these costs if they are incurred. Medivacs to the nearest land based hospital would be organised if treatment was not possible onboard.
Q: What is the smoking policy aboard cruise ships?
A: From the beginning of 2012 smoking is prohibited in staterooms and most public areas aboard many cruise ships. Designated smoking areas vary by ship but are generally located outdoors on one side of the vessel, in designated areas of the ships’ bars and lounges, and on some cruise lines private balconies (except those aboard Oasis and Allure of the Seas that face inward, toward the ships’ open-air Boardwalk and Central Park neighbourhoods). Pipe and cigar smoking is permitted only in cigar lounges (on ships that have them) or in another designated area (on ships that don’t).
Smoking policy is subject to change and we would advise that, if this is an important consideration, you should check with your reservation agent at time of booking. BLT cannot be held responsible for changes to smoking policy, which are outside our control. Changes may also be introduced where countries on an itinerary enforce their local smoking regulations.
Q: Are there gambling facilities on board?
A: There is usually a fully equipped Casino on-board all cruise ships. You can play popular games such as blackjack or roulette, as well as slot machines. You should consult your Reservation agent for more details. Please note that the Casino is closed whenever a ship is in port. Guests under the age of 18 are not permitted in the Casino at any time.
Q: How do I find out about and book shore excursions?
A: Shore excursions are organised by the cruise line and you will find a ‘tour desk’ on your ship where you can make bookings. Many cruise lines even allow you to book their land excursions before you even leave home. If you do wait until you board, book early on in the cruise to avoid missing out on the popular excursions that run as small groups.
You can always organise your own independent excursions and you may save a few dollars doing so, but generally the risk you run outweighs the saving you make. Cruise line organised tours use reputable operators and guides with pre-planned itineraries that make the most of your time ashore. The cruise line will also ensure that your ship does not leave without you.
Contacting the Ship
Q: Can I be contacted?
A: Friends and family can reach guests on most cruise ships either directly by telephone or email, or by shipboard fax. There will generally be a charge for telephone facilities. Alternatively, friends and family can e-mail you providing you have an Internet e-mail account. Please note that mobile phones with international capability may not work whilst a ship is at sea.
Q: What about Consecutive Cruises?
A: Consecutive cruises are cruises taken one after the other, sometimes called a back to back cruise. For example, a Western Caribbean cruise immediately followed by an Eastern Caribbean cruise. Please note that there may be duplication of on-board programmes, menus and entertainment. Please also note that due to the preparation of the ship between sailings, some shipboard facilities may not be available on changeover day. On the changeover day, it will usually be necessary for you to disembark the ship in order to comply with customs and immigration. It is also generally necessary for all back-to-back guests to re-register their On-board account card on changeover day for the new sailing. Please enquire at the hotel desk if this is necessary during the first portion of your cruise. If you have booked the same stateroom for each sailing, it may be possible to leave your luggage within your stateroom. If you have booked different staterooms for each sailing, you will need to pack your luggage at the end of the first sailing and it will be stored for you until your new stateroom is ready for occupancy.
Q: What transfer arrangements will be made at each of port of call to take me to the nearest city?
A: The transfer arrangements vary at each port of call. In some ports of call, there is a complimentary shuttle available. In other ports of call, a tender will be provided, therefore there is no need for a shuttle service. In some ports, of call, a shuttle can be provided for a charge. For a list of all transfer arrangements, this information will be provided on-board the ships.