First-Time Cruisers

First-time cruisers

Imagine being pampered at a luxurious resort and waking up each morning to a brand new, stunning view of the world. That's just what it's like on a cruise. Well-appointed ships boast all the amenities you'd expect from a land-based vacation and more, including many choices of restaurants and live entertainment.

What's included in your cruise?

When you dream about the perfect vacation, what comes to mind? Breathtaking scenery? Exotic, far-away lands? Maybe a little rest and relaxation with a day at a therapeutic spa, or a cocktail on a balcony as you bask in the romantic glow of the setting sun? Whatever your idea is, a cruise takes care of everything to make your dream vacation a reality.

No need to worry about making hotel reservations or searching for the right restaurant - cruise ships are filled with everything you need for an all-inclusive vacation.

Your cruise fare includes
  • Stateroom accommodations including bed, bathroom, shower and TV
  • Personalized service
  • Gourmet dining
  • Las Vegas-style Casinos and Broadway-style shows
  • Onboard activities (fresh water pools, deck parties)
  • Educational and entertaining Kids Programs
  • Gym with exercise classes
  • Library and card room
  • Nightclub
  • Unpack once, visit many destinations
Additional add-on options
  • Full service spa & massage therapy
  • Beauty salon
  • Boutiques & shopping
  • Art auctions/galleries
  • Shore excursions
  • Fitness trainers
  • Full day babysitting service
  • Bar drinks
  • Sports including golf, basketball and rock climbing!

With so much to see and do, it's no wonder that more and more people are discovering the great value of a cruise vacation.

What to do?

Onboard Experience

Each day can be a different adventure aboard a cruise ship, where luxury and service combine to create the perfect place to play. Whether you're on the putting green, in the casino or taking a dip in the pool, you're bound to find fun around every corner. Kids programs are available on many ships to keep the younger guests entertained as well. At night, enjoy fine dining, live music and dancing, and dazzling stage shows.

Shore Excursions

Cruises offer countless onboard activities which are just the begining of a cruise vacation. In fact, some of the most exciting moments of your vacation await onshore at each destination. At each destination, you can leave the ship and join a guided excursion on land that immerses you in the native culture of the various ports. Go wildlife viewing, hike a glacier or cycle through the countryside. If bargain hunting is your sport, there's no shortage of markets offering a variety of unique items.


Enjoy the best of both worlds with a Cruisetour. Available on selected cruise lines, these add a multi-city land adventure to the beginning or end of your cruise. Stay a week in a five star resort class lodge in the majestic Alaskan wilderness, savor a slice of European culture in an exquisite London hotel or explore the Great Wall of China. Whichever you choose, you'll be treating yourself to an unforgettable vacation on both land and sea.

Cruise dictionary

To help you make the most of your experience onboard, we've compiled a list of terms and definitions that are commonly used on the ship and during your cruise.

Dining terms

Personal Choice Dining: Many cruises are beginning to offer dining programs where you have the option to choose between eating at a regular fixed time each night (Traditional Dining) or eating when, where and with whom you wish each night (Anytime Dining). Many other options are available including 24-hour buffet restaurants, a full selection of alternative restaurants, poolside lunches and snacks, patisseries, and 24-hour room service.

Traditional Dining: The main dining room option enabling passengers to dine at a set time each evening, at an assigned table.

Anytime Dining: Restaurant-style main dining room option, in which passengers can dine whenever and with whomever they choose.

Alternative Restaurants: In addition to the main dining rooms, there are smaller restaurants to satisfy every craving. Whether it's in a French Bistro, an Italian Trattoria, a hearty Steakhouse, or a tasty Sushi Bar, most ships can satisfy your every dining desire.

Port lingo

Port-of-Call (Port): A city or destination where the ship stops, usually for a full day, to give passengers an opportunity to disembark and visit the area's attractions.

Shore Excursion: Organized tours designed to make sightseeing easy and convenient for passengers during their time in port. Examples include Glacier Hiking, Horseback Riding, Snorkeling and many other exciting adventures.

Tendering: When the ship cannot pull up directly to the dock, passengers are shuttled to shore via smaller tender boats.

Embark: To board the ship.

Disembark: To leave the ship.

Sea Day vs. Port Day: During a sea day, the ship is sailing to its next destination, giving passengers a relaxing day to enjoy all of the amenities of the ship. Port days offer the opportunity to go ashore and explore the highlights of the ports-of-call.

Cruise preparation terms

Pre-Cruise Docs: Documents sent to booked passengers about 60 days or more in advance of their voyage. These documents include shore excursion information, as well as necessary paperwork required before the passenger can board the ship.

Passage Contract: The legal contract between the Cruiseline and the passenger.

Inoculation/Immunization: Medical precautions that may be required, based on where the cruise is going. Passengers are advised to check with their doctors regarding any health requirements of the ports they will be visiting.

Travel Care: Travel protection plans are available, featuring medical insurance, as well as "cancel for any reason" vacation coverage.

PIF (Passenger Immigration Form): These must be filled out before passengers are allowed to board the ship, and include such things as passport, emergency contact and credit card information.

Government Fees and Taxes: Extra charges required by the government that are not included in the cruise fare.

Ship and destination terms

Cabin Category: A rating of each stateroom based on size and location.

Fleet: A group of ships under the same ownership.

Starboard Side : A nautical term for the right side of the ship, facing forward.

Fore: A nautical term meaning toward the front or bow of the ship.

Port: A nautical term for the left side of the ship, facing forward.

Aft: A nautical term meaning toward the rear or stern of the ship.

Deck: The levels or floors of the ship.

Stateroom: A passenger's cabin or hotel room.

Berth: The sleeping capacity of a stateroom. Most cabins feature two berths, but some are available with third or fourth berths.

Trade: The general destination in which the ship is sailing (for example, Alaska, Europe and Mexico are all trades).

Onboard crew terms

Cruise Director: The head of the ship's entertainment department, the Cruise Director oversees all passenger activities, and can be found hosting many of them.

Passenger Services Director: The head of the hotel department, the Passenger Services Director (formerly known as a purser) is responsible for all passenger operations, including accommodations, public rooms and dining services. This job is similar to a general manager of a landside hotel.

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