Travel FAQs
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Marla Archer

Last Update: July 2009





01. Does the price you quote include all port charges and taxes? 

02. Is there a charge for the dance classes that are offered on the cruise? 

03. Is there something added into the price of the cruise for the SSQQ people that is not included in the price listed on the Cruise line’s website?
No, SSQQ does not add a surcharge  Our original group prices are always significantly below the prevailing rate.  You must sign up in a timely manner to take advantage of these reduced prices.

04. What is the Prevailing Rate?
The "Prevailing Rate" is the price the cruise line quotes on a daily basis.  This price is fluid. I have actually seen it change twice in the same day. 

We are given a discounted group rate with a time limit to sell these cabins.  Unfortunately, after we pass the deadline, our group discount disappears.  At this point, the price for all cabins becomes the daily "Prevailing Rate".

05. I want a cabin to myself.  I looked online and the rate for a balcony room $979 but you show a rate of $1942? What am I missing, why are the rates so far off? 
The rate you are looking at
is for a double occupancy without taxes.  Single occupancy rates are typically double MINUS taxes for the second passenger.  There is no surcharge added to the SSQQ price.  I am simply passing on the daily rate quote from XXX.

06. Is there availability of a quad room and is it possible for a second couple to pay the deposit next week? 
Both triple and quad cabins are limited. 
All persons sharing a triple or quad cabin must be named and deposited at the time of reservation.  The cruise line will not hold a triple or quad without full deposit.

I know I am late, but can I still get the original group price? 

Every cruise is different.  Please check our website for pricing. Once we are past final payment date, pricing will ALWAYS be at the
prevailing rate(Note: The "Prevailing Rate" is the price the cruise line quotes on a daily basis.  This price is fluid. I have actually seen it change twice in the same day 

08. Do you believe the prevailing prices for the inside cabin will remain the same for the next week?  
The prevailing rate is subject to constant change.  It may even change hourly.  I have no way of know when prices will increase.

09. I just found out that I get air miles credit on my Continental OnePass account for the cruise we just made if the cruise was booked "on-line".  Do you know whether I can get this, since this booking was done on a group-basis? 
Sorry, but the only "air miles" credit you can receive are those linked to the credit card you paid with.  Hopefully, all the benefits of cruising with the group offset the air miles perk offered by on-line booking

10. Besides airfare and other costs associated with getting to the cruise ship, can you detail for us what additional costs there are for the trip?  
Included in the cruise ticket price is the entertainment, most meals (main dining, buffet dining, room service), your accommodations, and activities including the amazing fitness center.  You are expected to tip your cruise staff, but you can purchase tips in advance so you don't have to worry about it during your cruise.

Here is the traditional breakdown for tips:

Stateroom attendant:

$3.50 USD

a day per guest

Dining Room Waiter:

$3.50 USD

a day per guest

Assistant Waiter:

$2.00 USD

a day per guest


$.75 USD

a day per guest

Alcohol and soda are extra, as well as specialty dining venues, casinos, shopping, and shore excursions. 

11. Can I add on the additional gratuities and pay for that ahead of time? 

Does the price stated on the registration from include air? Is it a complete package?  Cruise, Air and ground transportation??? 
No, we sell only the cruise fare unless you purchase air from the cruise line.

13. What does double occupancy mean? Do I cut the price quoted in half?   
No, you may not cut that rate in half.  A double occupancy rate means that there are two people sharing a cabin.  Our rates are always quoted double occupancy per person.  Each person must pay the per person price.

14. I have been receiving all kinds of info XXX as a past cruiser for double upgrades.  If I signed up for an oceanside room, could I get a balcony for that rate? 
When you see "double upgrades", it is referring to upgrades within the same category.   There are 6 different levels within each category.  There would never be an upgrade from an oceanview to a balcony

15. I see that there is a special promo going on right now.  How long does this promo last? 
The promo may be withdrawn at any time.  If you are interested, please get me your registration form ASAP.  If there is a rate that is lower than the established group rate, you should book immediately. The rates are subject to constant change.

16. I heard that there was a special Senior Promotion for people 55 and older.  I am 53, can I get the promo price? 
Sorry, no.  The cruise lines are very strict.  You identification must show that you are 55 or older.

17. Does SSQQ Travel happen to give teacher discounts
Sorry, No.

18. If I book thru AmEx, there are coupons available.  May I still get the AmEx coupon discount applied to my booking? 
Sorry, but no

19. I have a discover card with a bunch of points on it and one of the options is a $120 dollars off an Oceanview room. Would I be able to use this? 
You may use the discover card to pay for the cruise.   You may not use points to pay for the cruise through me.  Typically, our group rate is substantially below any other rate available.  Hopefully, our lower group rate and trip benefits is enough to offset using your points. 

20. Do you know if American Express Reward points can be used to purchase the Cruise Line’s Airfare?

21. I am unable to pay until I received my tax return.  Will there still be some cabins left at the lower rate? 
I have no way to predict that

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01. What name do I put on the registration form? 
Your Legal name-- The name must match the passport exactly.  Middle names are not necessary.

02. What are the passport requirements? 
Please click into the following link regarding any issues pertaining to passports:

What are the immigration procedures, particularly for someone who's not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card)? 
Please see cruise line’s website for specifics.

04. Do you have to have my date of birth? 
Yes.  This is a requirement to get you onboard the ship.  I promise not to share the information.

05. May I give you my registration info over the phone? 
Email or fax is the best means.  All information must be accurate.  Written format provides documentation should any issues come up later in the process.

06. Where can I find my booking number? 
Your booking number can be found on the cover of your Cruise Packet.

Ship: XXXX

Sailing: XXX XX, XXXX

Booking:  here is where your unique number is located

your cabin location

07. What happens if I forget my cruise booklet or forget to pick it up at the studio?   Can I still get on board?
Yes, you can still get on board.  However, if you forget your passport, you better turn around and go home and get it.

These days, no one goes anywhere without legal documentation. 

08. Do I need to send my registration form or putting my name down would be enough? 
I will need a completed registration form including credit card and expiration date.

09. Can I request e-docs? 
request paper documents for everyone.  If you do select e-docs and you are sharing a cabin, please be aware that now your roommate will not receive paper documents.  He or she will have to use e-docs as well.

Here is an example of what happens with e-docs.

-----Original Message-----
From: Marla
Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 3:38 PM
Subject: Documents for SSQQ 2009 Conquest Cruise


After reviewing all the hard documents that I received from Carnival, it appears that I do not have cruise documents for the four of you.

I phoned Carnival inquiring as to why and was informed that one of the passengers within each of the reservations has requested e-docs. As explained in a previous group email, once Carnival receives an online e-doc request from a passenger, the hard document will not be generated.

To the roommate of the passenger who requested the e-documentation-- I am sorry, but I will not have a packet for you either. You will have to request e-documentation as well. Carnival will not issue you a hard document. They are firm on this policy.

If you don't know how to request the e-docs, here is what to do:

1. Go to
2. Then look in the drop down box for My Cruise. 
3. Select My Documents.
4. You will see a page that asks for your booking number/last name/ship/sail date after you enter the information, a page will come up that says My Documents and your names below. 
5. Click on View.
6. This will pull your e-docs up, then hit print.  You will need to do this for your luggage tags and cruise contract.

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01. Why should I book as part of your group versus booking on my own? 

Unless you book directly through me, you can't participate in any of our activities during the cruise.  That said, there are many good reasons to join us.  Here is a list of past perks provided by SSQQ as our way of thanking people for becoming members of our group in addition to receiving the low group discounted rate:

1. SSQQ pre-Cruise meeting
2. Free Admission to the SSQQ Saturday Party prior to departure the following day.
3. Private cocktail party
4. Free dance lessons
5. Champagne party
6. Chocolates delivered to cabin
7. Group dining
8. On board credits
9. Upgrades
10. Organizing Group photo (and posting it on the Internet)
11. Rick's Cruise Writeup
12. SSQQ Cruise After-Party

02. If we decide to book independently through our own travel agent, can we still participate in SSQQ activities - or are they simply ship-sponsored dances which SSQQ dancers will attend? 
Unless you book directly through me, you can't participate in any of our activities during the cruise.  If you choose to book independently through another agent, you are on your own.  Of course this is your prerogative.  Please ask yourself this question, would you have been interested in this cruise without the SSQQ Group being on the ship?  Please see the following link for further explanation:  BOOKING THRU SSQQ

03. We have inquired of our travel agent about booking the cruise, and have found a very good price to be available directly through them. I assume that's OK with you.  If so, that leads to the next question, which is how we relate ourselves to the SSQQ group. Does Carnival care or need to know in advance that we are associated? 
You must book through SSQQ to be part of the group. 
Please read this link: BOOKING THRU SSQQ  and THE PARTY CRASHERS  

04. Just to let you know – myself, my husband, my sister’s family, and my mom and dad are currently making arrangements to go on this cruise.  We felt we needed to make the arrangements separately, since my mother wanted confirmation that all of our cabins would be adjacent.  Anyway, I’m excited to know we will see some familiar faces, and maybe we can join your group for some of the activities. 
I would be most appreciative if you would rethink your booking arrangements.  I am able to secure whatever cabin locations you wish; I hope you haven't already booked the cruise. Please read this link: BOOKING THRU SSQQ  and THE PARTY CRASHERS  

05. How much time do we have to register? 
Every sailing is different, but my rough guess is if the ship isn't sold out, 72 hours is the narrowest window imaginable. Of course the cost will be at the prevailing rate.  To be guaranteed a spot at dinner with us, 30 days.

06. How much is the deposit and when do I have to pay?

There is a $250 per person deposit required.  If you reserve a single occupancy, you must pay $500.  The deposit must be paid to the cruise line by the date stated on the registration form.

07. Is the credit card billed directly from the cruise line? 

08. I want to pay my sister’s deposit (and mine) with my credit card.  Will that be ok to do?  Should she register with her credit card?  (She will be paying the balance with her card).
Of course you may pay for you sister's deposit.  All I need is a registration form with your sister's and your info including credit card with expiration date and let me know what type of cabin you prefer.  When it is time for final payment, I will charge the balance of her fare to her credit card.  It's very easy to accomplish.

09. What is the best time of day to get ahold of you by phone
Since this is a part-time job for me, I do not keep regular hours.  I find it easiest to use email since I can use links to direct you to places on the SSQQ web site where you find your answers.

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01. Can you waive my cancellation fee that is stated on the registration form? 
Sorry, but no.  This is a time intensive job for me that requires a tremendous amount of attention to detail.  I am entitled be paid for my services. 

02. I had the mistaken idea that if I waited to purchase air, I could find a bargain well under the RCCL quote.  After all, the fares last summer were nowhere near as high as they are for this summer.  XXX and I agree that we are just not willing to pay $XXXX or more for airfares and therefore wish to withdraw from this cruise.   We checked the SSQQ website and see that we should expect no return of our deposit, if we are reading the registration page correctly.  We also see that we are in the $250 penalty stage.  Will you please waive the cancellation penalty? 
Sorry, but no.  

03. I need to cancel.   Is it possible to "change" the room into someone else's name for your usual "switch" fee? 
Sorry, but no.  One of the names on the reservation must be on the original booking.

04. I had to cancel from the trip.  When can I expect my deposit refunded from the cruise line? 
If you are prior to a penalty stage, you should receive your refund within 10 working days.

05. XXX will not be going on the cruise, and I need to decide whether or not to go on my own or cancel.  Please let me know my options at your earliest convenience

1.  Because you signed up with XXX, you are responsible for the entire cabin.  You will be responsible for paying the single occupancy rate. 

2.  You can find a roommate to fill XXX’'s spot.  (There is a $50 name change fee from the cruise line)
We will advertise the opening on the SSQQ website, but you will be ultimately responsible for the cabin. 3.  3.  You may cancel and pay all applicable cancellation penalties. 

06. I have to cancel.  Can I get my refund on a different credit card? 
Sorry, no.  The cruise lines require that the original credit card must be issued the refund.

07. If XXX and I are unable to go, may my elder daughter and husband still go at the lower rate? 
Sorry, no.  There must be one original passenger left in the booking.

08. What is the payment schedule and when does the cancellation fee go into effect? 
Please refer to the trip's registration form for that information.

09. What are the cancellation policies for the ssqq cruise? What is the time frame to cancel and be fully refunded? How would I go about canceling and getting my money back? 
Please refer to the trip's registration form for dates and fees.

10. I know I am way past the deadline, but can you hold me a cabin until I am ready to commit?
I am unable to hold a cabin without a full deposit.   Prior to the first deposit deadline, the cabins are allocated by whoever sends me their registration information including credit card first.   If you are after the deposit deadline, you must pay the prevailing rate.  The prevailing rate quoted is only good for the day it is given.

11. I would like to join your cruise, but am not ready to commit.  Don’t want to pay that cancellation fee.  Can you still add me, but not charge me the deposit yet?  I want to make sure I get the cheap rate.  
Sorry, but no.  The cruise lines require the deposit to confirm a space. 

12. We want the last cabin but I can’t get a hold of XXX to pay for it. I filled out the registration sheet with my credit card but can you just charge $200 on it to hold the room until tomorrow because XXX is going to pay for it with his credit card? 
Carnival won't let me hold a cabin unless a have the entire deposit amount of $500.

13. Can you give me an extension on the final payment date? 
Sorry, but noThe final payment date is set by the cruise line.  I have no control over it.

You will need to figure out a way to secure the funds by the date stated on the registration form.   If a credit card is denied and full payment isn’t applied by final payment date, you will risk losing not only your spot, but also you will forfeit your $250 deposit and the cruise line may cancel your reservation

14. I just found out that my job is forcing me to work during the cruise date, so I emailed you to cancel.  Why was I billed an extra amount for my roommate?
If you have a roommate that is not canceling, whether or not we arranged that roommate for you, the single supplement for your roommate will be added to your cancellation charges.

The responsibility for any extra charges to your roommate falls to the person who cancels. 

Once you cancel, the cruise company now categorizes your roommate as a SINGLE OCCUPANCY. 

As an example, a man actually did cancel from the 2009 trip six days before sailing.  His roommate had paid $515.  The single occupancy rate was $984.  Carnival Cruise Line now expected to be paid an additional $469.  Yes, this is a stiff penalty, but It isn't fair to hold the former roommate accountable and it isn't fair to expect the travel agent to pick up the difference either. 

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01. I was wondering how does the process work if you have to match up to stay in a room?  
I do it by age first.   If there are a lot of people to match up, I then try to match by type of dancing the person is interested in.

02. Can I reserve a cabin to myself? 
Yes, of course.  You will have to pay a $500 deposit to secure a cabin and then be responsible for paying a single occupancy rate.  It is usually double less the taxes.

03. I have a cabin reserved as a single occupancy; it is possible to add someone (of my choice) to my cabin? 

Yes.  You will now have to pay the double occupancy per person rate.  I must have the additional person's completed registration info to change the reservation.

04. Can you hold a cabin for me and I will let you know later who my roommate is? 
If you choose to book an entire cabin, I will need the name of the second passenger by the final payment date.  You will also have to pay a $500 deposit.  I can only "match" up roommates until first deposit.   You will be responsible for paying the single occupancy rate should there be a change in your plans.  

Can you find me a roommate? 
If you register within our initial deposit guidelines, there is a very good chance that we can secure you a roommate.  After our first cutoff, you have three choices.

  1. Pay the single occupancy rate
  2. Find your own roommate
  3. Go on a Wait List

06. How do you go about matching up people? 
If you register prior to the first deposit, I use the following guidelines:
First by cabin choice, Second by age, Third by type of dancer

07. Are we guaranteed the roommate that we put on the registration form? We want an inner room, is there any left?
If you sign up by the first deposit date and provide a full credit card deposit, I can secure your space.  Re, the roommate--yes, you will be guaranteed the roommate requested on your registration form.  (providing of course that that person agrees and also provides a full deposit before the deadline.

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01. If I purchase the air through the cruise line, will I get ground transportation to and from the ship too? 

02. Make sure that you sign me up for transfers.  
I will need detailed flight information to get the transfers secured.

03. I purchased air transportation through the cruise line.  When will I get my flight info? 
60 days out.

04. Would you please let us know which flight you are taking?  We don’t know when to leave in order to get there a day early so we can look around xxx.  And, are you spending the night in xxx before the cruise?  If so, where?  Do you know anything about the hotels there?
I am able to book the cruise for you, but remember, I am not responsible for your air transportation, ground transportation to and from the cruise line, or your hotel stay unless you book it all through the cruise line.  I would recommend researching the following websites:, or  They have been very helpful to me. 

. Can you book our airfare for us?
The only airfare that I get involved with is air booked through the cruise lines.  This includes ground transportation from and to airport to port.  Travel must be for the day of embarkation and debarkation.

06. Can you give me a sense of when fares are likely to be best (now, 15 days out from the travel date, standby and etc.)?  I get a little claustrophobic, so what kind of “equipment” would be best for me to look for when booking a trans-oceanic flight?  Once I flew an airbus from Seattle with zero leg room; my knee touching the seat back in front of me, and I had to stand much of the trip to feel comfortable. 
There is no getting around feeling "claustrophobic" on a long flight when you are flying coach.  The best way around it is to get an aisle seat.  Please remember that this is a part time job for me. 

07. Do you know if one airline is better than the others in terms of space?
No, sorry.

08. Do you have a recommendation on which airline?  XXX is concerned that we won't be able to get to the hotel Saturday and won't be able to get to the cruise ship Sunday because we don't speak the language.  Can you reassure him that we won't be stranded somewhere?  Does the hotel have a transport from the airport?   We will probably stay at the zzz, yyy, or ooo.  Do you know anything about any of them? 
No, sorry.

I have enough air miles to cover my plane ticket.  The only draw back is getting there a day early and leaving on Tuesday, which means a hotel room.  I am wondering if that would offset some of the costs for staying over?  Can you give me some idea of hotel charges and taxi fares?
No, sorry.

10. I understand that you can purchase transportation from the ship to the airport after you get on the ship. 
Yes, you may purchase ground transfers if your flight is for the day of embarkation and debarkation.

11. How do I get from the airport to the ship?  Will there be a ship’s courtesy coach, will there be a city bus, or will I need to get a taxi? 
The most economical way would probably be to share a taxi.  We will have a pre-cruise meeting where you can meet the fellow travelers and find someone who wants to share or you may purchase ground transfers if you flight is for the day of embarkation and debarkation.

what time should we make our return flight for?  I don’t know what time the ship docks or how long it takes to get from the ship to the airport. 
The cruise line provides guidelines.  I have this information posted on our trip website.

13. How can I get a travel buddy to carpool and/or share hotel room? 
You can check the list of who is going on the cruise information page of our website.  I'm sure you have the email of at least 5 people on the group, contact them and ask. Our group is very friendly and always willing to share expenses when possible.  Last resort – send me an email request and I will forward to the group.

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01. Can I sit with my friends at dinner?
Yes, of course.  Please make a note on your registration form.

02. Would you please assign me to XXX’S dinner table for the duration of the cruise? 
can assign you for the first and last night, but we usually ignore any assigned seating during the cruise.

To make the waiters happy, we sit at our assigned seats the first and last night of the trip, but then sit anywhere we wish within the group during the middle days of the trip

03. How about the Dinner Seating arrangements/time? 
We always sit together as a group for dinner.  You have an assigned seat on the first night, but are free to sit where you wish on the remaining evenings. 

We typically have the second seating.  However, there are always a few people who strongly prefer the "Other" Seating time.  I can arrange this easily if you let me know ahead of time.

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01. Is there a pre-trip meeting? 
, there is a pre-cruise meeting.  We go over all details.  It is usually 2 weeks prior to a Caribbean sailing and 3 weeks prior to a destination sailing.  In addition, I send group emails providing any needed information pertaining to the cruise.

02. When do we get the tickets, etc? 
Cruise documents are handed out at the pre-cruise meeting.

03. Do I have to attend the pre-cruise meeting?
No, especially if you are a veteran of a previous trip.  For those of you who are tenured SSQQ Cruisers, you may simply pick up your documents at the studio any evening except Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday after the meeting.  However, if this is your first trip with our group, we encourage you to join us.  This is a great opportunity to ask any question you wish.  Just remember No Sympathy will be extended to those who miss in regards to anything but the most essential questions

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01. Is there a way to purchase "trip" insurance in case we had to cancel for any reason? 
Yes, through our insurance provider, Access America.  Please email for a quote.  In addition, we have a page on Travel Insurance you can look at.  This article gives examples from our previous trips where Travel Insurance came in very handy.

02. I just found out I have jury duty on XXX.  Would the trip insurance cover this? 
Yes, jury duty is covered if purchased through our provider, Access America.  Better yet, why don't you simply reschedule to a time that will accommodate you?  The court allows you to do this.

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01. XXX has the cruise on our sailing date listed at $999 for a balcony room. Do you know why are your rate is so much higher? 
There are several different categories of balcony cabins.  The rate of $999 is for a BI.  There are only four category BI cabins on the ship.  It looks like it may be a case of false advertising because there was only one cabin available. The rate of $999 is for cruise only.  You need to add another $63 in taxes.  Total is $1062.  The cabin and balcony in this particular cabin will be smaller. 

02. Do I have to select from only the cabins that you are offering? 
I can get you included in the group in any type of cabin you prefer.  Just tell me what category you would like.  The rate will be at the prevailing rate. (this is the price that is being advertised daily) 

03. Can I get a specific cabin
Yes, you may always select a location within the category you request.  (Mishap, Forward, Aft, or near elevator)  Please be aware that once a cabin # is assigned, you have given up any chance for an upgrade.

04. Can I get a cabin next to my buddy? 
Yes, of course.  However once a cabin is assigned, you relinquish any chance of receiving an upgrade.

05. Can you put our cabin as close to XXX and YYY as possible?
I will forward your request to XXX and YYY and if they agree, I will do what I can to make sure you are close to them.

06. Is there a safe in the cabin?

07. Is there an iron in the cabin?
No. Irons are considered fire hazards and are prohibited. You need to send your clothes out to be pressed.

08. What items are not allowed onboard the cruise ship?
Weapons, illegal drugs, and other items that could interfere with the safe operation of the ship or the safe and secure environment of our guests and crew are prohibited.

The following are examples of items that are
prohibited and not allowed onboard. These and other similar items will be confiscated upon being found.

Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
Sharp Objects, including knives and scissors.  (Note: Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed.)
Illegal Drugs & Substances
Candles & Incense
Coffee Makers, Irons, & Hot Plates
Baseball Bats, Hockey Sticks, Cricket Bats, Bows & Arrows
Skateboards & Surfboards
Martial Arts Gear
Self-Defense Gear, including handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks.
Flammable Liquids and Explosives, including lighter fluid and fireworks.
HAM Radios
Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint.
Personal Alcohol

08. What is the square footage of the cabins? 
Most cabins are about the size of a college dorm room.  They do contain a private bathroom with shower.
 For specific dimensions, please go to the cruise line's website. 

09. What size beds are in the rooms?
Two twins that can convert into a queen.

10. What kind of electrical power will be on the ship. Will it be compatible with US power or the European power? 
Electrical Voltage is North American standard -- 110 volts AC.

On our trips to Europe, the hotels furnished adapters on request.  The cruise ships, however, all used the standard 110 volts.

11. I want to share an Inside Cabin with my boyfriend - I was looking at the photos on cruise line’s website, and their pictures of the Inside Cabin showed 2 single beds.  Is it possible to have one bigger bed (full/queen/king) in an Inside Cabin instead of two single beds?  
The two individual beds can be pushed together to make one queen size bed.

12. Will you please let the cruise line know that the beds should be together and not split apart? 
Re, the beds-- should the beds not be arranged the way you like upon arrival, all you need to do is speak with your cabin attendant.  The beds can be arranged as singles or a queen.  I will request that the beds be placed together.  However, if they are not, just talk to your attendant on the first day.  He will correct by nightly turndown.

13. We would like a nice balcony cabin. Can you tell me the difference?  
The higher and more mid-ship the cabin is located, the more expensive the cabin becomes.  I can get you onboard in whatever category cabin you wish.

14.I did a check on my reservation and it states "Stateroom: Deck Eight,Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom #XXXX" and not a balcony as per registration request. Can you please let me know what is going on? 
Royal Caribbean's refers to its category E1/2/3 Balcony staterooms as deluxe oceanviews.  The cabin does have a balcony.  The next category up is a suite.

For example, here is a direct paste from RCCL's website on E1/2/3 Balcony staterooms:

Balcony Cabins

   Superior Oceanview Stateroom
Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), private balcony, sitting area and a private bathroom. (206 sq. ft., balcony 42 sq. ft.)

   Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom
Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), private balcony, sitting area with sofa, and a private bathroom. Rates vary from deck to deck. (184 sq. ft., balcony 46 sq. ft.) . 

15. Can you please tell me what the balcony cabin looks like?  Is there a sliding door that will let us go outside? 
Please go to the cruise line’s website.  Click on the ships.  Then select the specific ship. Then go to deck plans.  You will be able to see cabin specifics there.

Every balcony cabin we have seen had a sliding door to the outside balcony.

16. How do I get a Cabin Upgrade?

If you wish to be 'assured' of a better cabin, you will need to pay for it. 

It is true we usually receive several free upgrades for every trip, but we can't depend on them.  I am the one who decides which passengers get these special upgrades. I assign this perk based on two criterion: earliest passengers booked and passengers who have traveled with us on several previous cruises.  Free Upgrades are one of the many rewards for traveling with the group.

However, if you "ask" for a free upgrade, I have bad news.
I have a firm rule:  Those who ask for Free Upgrades automatically go to the end of the line. 

17. If we purchase an oceanview cabin would it be possible to get an upgrade on a later date to a balcony cabin? 
The ability to upgrade to a balcony would be based on the ship's availability at the time of your request.  You would have to pay the prevailing rate for the balcony.
There are no "free" upgrades from an oceanview to a balcony cabin.

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01. Are the dance classes included in the cruise price? 
Yes. We generally have three sessions on the Caribbean Dance Cruise. 

However there aren't dance classes on the Destination cruises.  We have discovered that the passengers want to spend all of their leisure time in port seeing the sights, not on the ship taking a dance class.  There seems to be enough dance venues onboard the ship in the evenings to satisfy our group needs.  Most of us are too pooped from the day to stay up much past midnight”

02. How many dance workshops are scheduled? 
We have three for the Western Caribbean Sailings.

03. Are there beginner dancers that join you for the cruises, or are they all seasoned veterans? 
We have all levels of dancers.  The cruise is a great way to meet new people.  I might add the moment someone decides to sign up for the dance cruise, they typically take some of our group classes as a way to prepare.

04. I just signed up for your dance cruise.  Are there any classes I should take before the trip? 
Everyone on our trips is surprised by the amount of Ballroom Dancing.  In addition to the two Formal Dances, there is always a Ballroom Combo in the Atrium that plays ballroom music. 

Swing Dancing is the most valuable.  In particular, Foxtrot, Waltz and Cha Cha come in pretty handy as well.

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01. Are there any medical facilities or such a thing as a ship's doctor? How would a medical emergency be handled? 
True medical emergencies are very rare on cruise trips, but the ship is still required to have a well-trained doctor on board.

So far, we have been pretty fortunate.  One man had a battle with kidney stones.  Another woman caught a 24-hour virus.  The worst problem so far was a bout with pneumonia.  Fortunately he had travel insurance, so he was able to dodge a stiff bill.

Should you require medical attention while on board, the infirmary staff is available 24 hours.  The medical staff is from the fields of Emergency Medicine and/or Family Practice.  The physicians are independent contractors and, as such, are entitled to render services at a customary charge.  The charge for their services will be applied to your onboard account. 

02. How can someone reach me in case of an emergency? 
They may contact you via the Maritime Telecommunications Network Shore-to-Ship telephone service at 1-877-225-7447

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01. Could you please call or Email me with information on apparel, etc. How many formal nights etc?

02. I have lots of girl questions on clothing, packing and weather.  
I will cover all those topics in my group emails and at the cruise meeting.

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I am a past cruiser on xxx; do I still get my perks? 

Yes, please provide your past guest number on the cruise registration.

02. I have been on several XXX Cruises in the past, but not for several years.  Is there a time limit for the 'past cruisers'
Please call the cruise line’s toll free number and a representative will check your history.

03. What about past cruiser discounts

It is the passenger’s responsibility to secure the coupon and then give it to me.  After I have the coupon in hand, I will apply any applicable discount.
  Please be sure to thoroughly read the fine print.  Cruise coupons are specific to ships and sail dates.  Some cannot be applied to groups.  Coupons must be applied prior to final payment.

04. Did I see a communication regarding a party on the cruise for previous cruisers only?  How do they determine if you have been on XXX Cruise line before?I mean, they didn't tattoo me with a XXX Cruise mark.  I went several years ago on the XXX. 
Yes.  There is a party on board the ship for previous Carnival Cruise Line Guests as well as RCCL and Norwegian.  Basically every cruise line has this feature.  Please call the following XXX Past Cruiser Line directly. They will confirm your status and provide you with your past guest number.

05. I am recently divorced and have gone back to using my maiden name.  I registered using my maiden name and now I just realized that my past guest status was in my married name.  Will you contact the cruise line and have them change my name on my past guest status so I will get all my benefits? 
It is the passenger's responsibility to contact the cruise line's past guest department directly when there is a change of name or address.

Carnival:  You will need to phone the Past Guest Department at 1 800 929-6400 and let them know about your name change, so you will receive your past guest benefits. Or you may email a CCL representative .

Be sure to include your past guest number. If you do not know your past guest number enter your date of birth and zip code.The system will only match you if your last name, date of birth and telephone number match Carnival's past guest database EXACTLY due to security reasons.

Royal Caribbean: You can e-mail the Crown & Anchor Society at
Or you can call the Crown & Anchor Society at 800-526-9723.

Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 AM-11 PM and Saturday through Sunday 10 AM-8 PM EST


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01. How much cash should I bring?  I don’t have a clue what is reasonable per person. Is it $150/day or $20/day?

I can't give you a specific dollar amount because the amount is totally an individual matter based upon personal preferences. 

Are you planning on gambling while onboard the ship? How many beers/margaritas are you planning on drinking while you are on shore?  Will you be using taxis while in port?  What about all those "street vendors" who are selling T-shirts, beach towels, etc.? Are you going to want to get a massage on the beach in port?

You can use your Sail and Sign card for all purchases made on the ship including shore excursions offered through the ship.

Use your own judgment.  Will a couple hundred dollars be enough?  Only you can be the judge of that. . .

02. Can I receive a cash advance on my credit card ?

Guest may use a debit or credit card, while on board, to obtain a cash advance. Global Cash Access (GCA) provides guests with cash advance services by using the guest’s credit card or debit card, provided that the guest has an available limit.For this service, GCA charges 5.5% of the value of the cash advance requested or a flat fee of $5.50 if the amount requested is $100 or less. There could be additional fees charged to the guest's account by the credit card issuer.  Both the Guest Services Desk and the Casino offer this service.

03. Can I get cash on the ship? 

Yes, there is an ATM machine.  However, the supply of money may be depleted prior to the end of the cruise.

04. Can I cash checks on board?

Guests may use their personal checks on board to acquire a cash advance. Global Cash Access (GCA) provides this service by debiting the guest's checking account, using the account number on the check. Limits are determined by the monies currently available in the guest's checking account that the check is drawn on. Just like a debit card transaction, the money is immediately debited from the guest's account.

For this service, GCA charges 5.5% of the value of the cash advance requested or a flat fee of $5.50 if the amount requested is $100 or less. As part of this transaction, a new GCA check is generated for the transaction amount and the guest is requested to endorse it over to CCL in order to receive the cash. The guest's personal check is returned to them after the bank account number is obtained from the bottom of the check. 

Both the Guest Services Desk and the Casino offer this service

05. Can returning guests get a discount?

Hi Marla, I definitely want to go again. I had so much fun last year.  Please add my name to the list. Currently, I've no roommate though I'm inviting a few friends to join me. My birthday is close to this trip, so this cruise would be a great present to myself and great way of celebrating.

By the way, since I am a past guest, is this the correct rate for me or would the rate be lower?

Sorry, the price isn't any lower due to your past guest status.  The cruise lines set the policy; I have no choice but to follow their lead.

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01. I have not taken a lesson at SSQQ for a long time.  Do I have to be a member now to be able to go on the cruise? 
Cruise is open to all.

02. Is there a maximum total of people who can go on the cruise?? 
The thing to remember is that almost all cruise trips sell out.  The good news is that as long as there is space on the ship, I can continue to add people to the group.  The bad news is the only space available is usually the expensive cabins (for obvious reasons - price - they are the last to go).  For certain, you will have to pay the "Prevailing Rate" which is always higher than the original group discount. 

03. Can we bring a bottle back with us from any of the ports of call? 
Yes, you may bring back wine.  It will be stored as you get back on board the ship until you are ready to debark.

04. Is there shopping on the boat for anything we might forget? 
Yes, there are several different types of shops on board the ship.  Please refer to the cruise line’s website for specifics.

If you are a first-time cruiser, rest assured that practically whatever you forget can be purchased on board or at the first port of call. 

05. Where can I get luggage tags? 
The tags will be included with your cruise documents.  You may get additional at the pier if necessary when you prepare to board the ship.  When you are packing to leave the ship, you can get extra tags at the Purser's Desk.

06. How do I get to the cruise ship in Galveston?
Go see our Map to Galveston

07. What does PAX mean? 

08. How can I get reserved parking at EZ Cruise in Galveston? 
The EZ Cruise Parking Private Lot is located at 2727 Santa Fe Place @ 26th 

Covered Parking is available and buses can handle your luggage.  Credit cards accepted.  Parking is $55/7 days drive up or $50/7 days if booked online at

Sorry, you will need to handle your own parking reservations.

09. What is a Tender?
Some harbors are not deep enough for the massive cruise ships.  The ships have to put down anchor offshore.  Consequently they have to use smaller boats to ferry you to shore.  These boats are known as "tenders".  It is always important to be sure you know what time you are expected to be at the dock to catch the final tender of the day.

10. Is the ship docked to a pier you can walk out on or do you have to take a small boat from the ship to the shore? 
Please refer to the ship itinerary for each port.  If it states TENDERED you will be using a small boat to go to shore, otherwise you will be walking ashore.

11. During the cruise, what will I need with me to get back on the ship? 
At the pier, you will receive a SeaPass /Sail & Sign card once you're all checked in. That card is one of the most important things you'll have onboard - besides your camera and sunscreen. The card works as:

Your room key
Your boarding pass at all ports of call
Specialty Restaurants

Be sure to keep it with you at all times!

12. Do I need to pack my hair dryer?

A hair dryer is provided in the bathroom or at the desk/vanity in the stateroom.

13. Is there a curfew?
No, not on board the ship.  However there is always a deadline to get back to the ship if you are onshore.

14. Will my cell phone work in Europe? 
It depends on your cell phone plan. Call your provider and ask them.  They should know.

15. Will we get a list of everyone's room number? 
Yes, it will be in a group email sent following final payments.

16. Do you know of anything the ship does for birthdays or can do?  If I bring balloons, do they have helium or can I bring a small disposable tank of that? 
Royal Caribbean offers Birthday, Anniversary and Special Occasion Cakes for a nominal fee of $7.95 USD.

There are two types of cakes available: chocolate sponge cake with chocolate butter cream or vanilla sponge cake with vanilla butter cream, both are decorated with flowers on the left side of the cake. These cakes are 6" round and serve 2-10 people. The name will be written on the cake with a candle placed on top. A minimum of 6 hours advance notice is required. All cakes that are ordered by 12 noon will be served that evening in the main dining room.

The cake will be charged to your Seapass card or credit card upon request at time of ordering the cake onboard the ship.

If you don't want to purchase a whole cake, just tell the Main Dining Room waiter about the special occasion and who it's for. The waiters will sing a birthday song - with a slice of cake (based on the daily cake offerings for that evening) and a candle prior to serving you the dinner dessert, free of charge.

Sorry, but no you can't bring helium on board the ship, nor does Royal Caribbean have the capability to provide helium for your request.

17. Is there any type of special celebration for anniversaries? 
Yes.  If you don't want to purchase a whole cake, just tell the Main Dining Room waiter about the special occasion and who it's for. The waiters will sing a birthday/anniversary song - with a slice of cake (based on the daily cake offerings for that evening) and a candle prior to serving you the dinner dessert, free of charge.

Refer to the cruise line’s website for additional info.

18. Will the ship furnish a significant dance band (5 or more piece) for the Formal Night Dancing
Typically there is a live band for all Formal Night parties.  Sometimes it is an actual orchestra, sometimes it is a trio.  I don’t know the specifics as to what band is playing on the ship.  Please contact the cruise line directly

19. It appears at though a lot more women are going on this cruise.  That makes it less fun for me.  Do you think you could put an M or F on the list of who is going by their name so I can decide if I wish to go? 
This would not be appropriate.

20. XXX
and I have decided to be roommates.  As we are new in our relationship, we would like to keep this matter private as long as possible. Can we expect your discretion until we become more public with it. 
Of course I will maintain your privacy.

21. What will happen if there is a hurricane?
Hurricanes are a real problem for our summer dance cruises.  Since the Hurricane Season encompasses the months of June through November, the presence of these powerful storms remains a real threatSo far, out of our nine summer cruises, five have been directly affected by Hurricanes. 

Fortunately, in four of these situations, our ship simply skipped a scheduled port and went somewhere else.  No big deal.  However on our ill-fated 2005 "Rita Rhapsody" Trip we ran into major Hurricane-related headaches.  You might want to read the story for more insight.

Due to the unpredictable nature of hurricanes it may not be possible to give information about itinerary changes in advance of the sailing. The cruise line's main priority is the safety of it's guests and crew, as well as the vessel. It is rare for a cancellation to occur due to an impending hurricane. In some instances an itinerary deviation is implemented to avoid a storm. Hurricanes have been known to change their course drastically at the last minute. Guests that have any questions should contact the cruise line's Reservations department the day prior to sailing, as that is when we will have definitive information. They will always make decisions that assure the cruise experience will be a great one and that all on board are totally safe.

Travel OutlookHurricanes, tropical weather won't dampen cruises

Thurs., August 9, 2001 6:00 p.m. ET

Written by Lucas J. Mire,

It's one of Mother Nature's cruel jokes that summer vacation time coincides with hurricane season. Each year, the millions of vacationers who take to beachfront or island destinations could find themselves in danger if a tropical storm or hurricane develops.

Even if the storms aren't particularly deadly - - the recent soaker Tropical Storm Barry, for instance - - they still can unleash rains that could put a damper on the perfect summer getaway. At worst, mandatory evacuations could truncate the tranquility of your beach getaway.

Not so if you're on a cruise ship, say industry executives.

"Fortunately or unfortunately, our captains and all of us have lived through plenty of hurricane seasons, and we do think ahead for contingencies, of where to go if a storm developed," said Roger Blum, cruise director for Carnival Cruises.

That's good news for cruisers because experts at The Weather Channel say the worst of tropical season is still on the horizon.

Cruises are made for fun in the sun. 

"Although we've had two tropical storms already, the entire peak of the hurricane season is yet to come," said Stu Ostro, a senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "And that includes the peak in typical cruise routes to and from the Caribbean islands."

Ostro said that tropical storms Allison and Barry were typical early-season storms, and set the stage for the predicted above-average 2001 hurricane season.

"Allison and Barry formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which is typical of early season storms," he said. "But now we're getting to the time of year where hurricanes that are borne in the Atlantic sweep across the Caribbean."

Pete Donohue and his wife Dana showed up for their honeymoon cruise and were told they were sailing to different islands because of a hurricane brewing in the Caribbean. The news didn't ruffle their plans, or enjoyment of the trip.

"They said, 'here's your new itinerary,'" said Donohue, whose cruise was rerouted from the eastern Caribbean to the western Caribbean. "And, you know what? I couldn't have cared less."

Captains use radars in conjunction with other tools to monitor the weather. 

Blum says Donohue's reaction is typical.

"Very few people are upset, but some are disappointed. The reality sets in that there's nothing they can do about it," he said. "The vast majority of people appreciate that we have the flexibility to stay out the away of the storm and still give them a good vacation."

"I was originally looking forward to going to St. Thomas, but what are you going to do?" asked Donohue.

Blum says Carnival takes the unpredictable nature of tropical weather into account when setting up back-up routes for cruises.

"We already plan ahead, but it's difficult to plan too much in advance because each storm is different," explained Blum. "It's difficult to figure out, so we take each storm and situation individually."

"I never saw rain during the day and it was never even rough. You would have never known there was a hurricane," remembered Donohue.

Even if the ship would have run across a hurricane, Blum says Carnivals' ships are more than able to handle the brutalities of tropical weather.

 If showers do show up, passengers can take advantage of indoor activities. 

"In the Carnival fleet, the ships are big enough to withstand hurricane conditions, but we will do everything possible to avoid it," said Blum. "It isn't just the safety, it just wouldn't be comfortable. Kathy Lee wouldn't be out on the deck with a piña colada."

Ironically, ships may be able to avoid the big storms, but still can be doused by scattered showers. An on-and-off rainstorm dogged a four-day Caribbean cruise Michael Lappin and several friends took last year.

"The weather was pretty miserable the whole time; not storming, just raining," said Lappin, who made the most of inside entertainment offered on the ship. "It wasn't the cruise ship's fault. You can't control the weather. The staff kept everyone entertained inside."

After all the contingency plans are made and precautions are taken, Blum says there's not much else to be done.

"We just watch The Weather Channel and get out of the way," he said.

22. What's SSQQ’s view on bringing a teenager along?  She's 13 and tends to ignore us completely, even on cruises.  Just does the teen program. 
You may certainly bring your 13 year old daughter along.  Please be aware that there are rarely any other children or teenagers in the group.  She may feel "out of place" if she sticks solely with our group.  The cruise line has a teen program though

23. What’s the weather like in XXX? 
Go to Yahoo or Google and type in “
Ask Weather".  Once you get to their website you just type in the city/country name and it will pull up the current weather but there is an option to pick a month.  You will get the average high/low, humidity and precipitation, etc.  It is an easy way to get all of the advance info for planning all in one place

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