GalaxSea Cruises & Tours of San Diego

Frequently Asked Questions (Cruising 101)

by GalaxSea Cruises' Captain


A cruise is something that many of us consider a dream vacation - that "someday when I'm rich and have lots of time" dream. But cruisers today don't need to wait. Cruising has become a very affordable vacation, with a wide range of choices, and cruising is an excellent value. Everything from the long-weekend getaway to the 7- or 10-day cruise to 12- or 14-night cruises to the ultimate world cruise is available. You can take the kids or get away from them; relax or stay active the whole trip; find a quiet spot or party till the wee hours. Whatever your idea of the ideal cruise, there is a ship to fit your needs. As cruise specialists, we at GalaxSea Cruises of San Diego can help find just the right cruise for you.

There are many questions that we hear from nearly everyone, so we've put together this guide to some of the most frequently asked questions. Cruising is becoming one of the more popular vacation "destinations", and with the huge number of new ships coming into service each year it gets harder for a first-time cruiser to decide which will suit his or her needs best. To begin with, for most major lines, it's not only the line's reputation that you have to think about, but that of the individual ship. This is why it's very important that you find an agent who is knowledgeable about cruising when you plan your vacation. Several lines have ships ranging from the smaller, older "classic" ships to the brand-new mega ships. So within the same line, you will generally find lower prices on the older ships and higher prices on new ships. If the dollar is your bottom line, then consider one of the older ships; the ship may be smaller and not as glamorous, but the quality of service and food should be the same on all ships within a line.

The old adage "you get what you pay for" is generally true of cruise lines and ships as well. Yes, there is a difference between budget, moderate, and deluxe- in the quality of the ship, service, entertainment, and food. If those little things - getting good service the first time you ask, better soundproofing in the cabins, being offered freshly ground pepper for your salad, etc. - are important to you, then don't go for the lowest price. You'll be disappointed (and then you'll yell at your travel agent!) Cruising is the best vacation you can possibly have, if you pick the line and ship that fits you, and only a "very nice" vacation if you don't. It's much harder to find a bad cruise, if there is such a thing, than a bad land vacation - although we can't do anything about the weather and the airline flight home. So let us know when you contact us what's most important to you so we can help you choose the right ship. We'll be happy to explain to you the differences in ships, itineraries, etc., and we'll do our best to be sure that your cruise goes as smoothly as we can possibly make it.

Q: Can I Save Money By Booking Directly with the Cruise Line?
A: No. If you call a cruise line or check out their web sites you will find the currently available specials. However, the cruiseline will not be able to offer you any special group prices we locked in earlier. Nor will it always show all of the promotional rates on it's site. We can always get you any special you may have received in the mail or seen advertised, as long as space is available, and we can often even find you a better rate! We also look for specials that come up after you book and before final payment is due, and get your rates adjusted. A cruise line will not do any of these. With us you also get a Thank You gift and great service for no charge. Compare this to waiting on hold for 20 minutes to get a simple question answered by the cruise line All of our agents have been on multiple cruises; very often agents who work for the cruiselines have not yet cruises..

Q: Who takes a cruise?
A: Just about everyone! Almost all lines have children's programs - most starting at age 3 but there are some for younger children- with great activities for the kids so that parents have time to themselves. (See more about this later). Generally speaking, longer cruises tend to draw an older crowd, with families tending to cruise mostly during summer and school breaks on the shorter 7-night cruises.

Q: Are all ships alike?
A: Absolutely not! Even within the same cruise line, different ships will have different personalities. This is probably the main reason that going through a cruise specialist to book your vacation is so important. Price should not be the sole determining factor when you choose a cruise.

Q: How do I find out what ships and cruiselines are good?
A: Look at the cruiseship rating link on our website for our opinions as well as ratings from other cruise experts. Then give us a call. We will be happy to compare ships and cruiselines for you based on our experiences as well as feedback from our clients, and this also gives us a chance to get a better feel for what your preferences are.


Q: Where do cruise ships go?
A: Just about everywhere. The most popular destinations for first-time cruisers are probably the Caribbean and Alaska because they're close, but you can sail to Europe, the Mediterranean, Canada, Mexico, the Far East. Take a river cruise in Europe, on the St. Lawrence, down the Nile. Cruise to Australia and New Zealand, Africa, Tahiti, through the Norwegian Fjords. Many destinations will have land packages that can be added to your cruise as well.

Q: How long does a cruise last?
A: Cruises will generally be 7-nights for itineraries like the Caribbean, Alaska, or Mexico. Longer cruises to the Panama Canal, Europe, and the Far East tend to be 10- to 14-night itineraries.

Q: How much does a cruise cost?
A: For this, see our different destination pages for the latest specials, and then visit our Cruise Price Estimator for more on how to estimate your total cruise costs.

Q: Should I purchase a cruise over the Internet?
A: We have happy clients from all over the world. We provide great service and expertise, and we are only an email, fax or phone call away from anyone. Most lines have now gone to e-tickets, which makes things very easy, but you'll get confirmations and other information from us. We notify you when final payment is coming up, and check with you before you leave to be sure that everything is the way you want. You can't get much more convenient than this! No traffic and no hassles. For your security we do ask that you call us or fax us your credit card number when you pay for your cruise rather than emailing it.

GalaxSea Cruises of San Diego has been a Top Rated Consumer ValueStar Certified company for four consecutive years. ValueStar conducts a random survey every year of past clients before a company can be Top Rated. We are proud that over 95% of our past clients rated us as having excellent or very good service. We are a registered California Seller of Travel #101227-40.

If you only feel comfortable dealing with your local travel agency, then please use the information on our pages and have a great cruise. Please understand that we do not charge for the information on our home page so our only revenue comes from selling cruises, and this is why we need to focus on clients who will purchase from an agency found over the internet. If you want us to act as a consultant only, we can do so but there will be a minimum $50 fee to help you choose the best cruise so that you can then go to your local agency.

Q: Will I get seasick?
A: If you aren't prone to motion sickness, then you probably won't have a problem. If you are prone to motion sickness, then this is definitely a concern. You might want to consider only the newer ships, which have the most sophisticated stabilization systems. And of course the larger the ship, the less it will move. But there are many aids on the market for this, ranging from the "Sea Bands", which help by pressing on the acupressure point in your wrists, to medications. We do recommend that if you plan on using even over-the-counter medications that you check with your doctor before you buy them.

Q: What about the kids?
A: Cruising is great for families! Cruise lines go all out for the children - scavenger hunts, "mocktail" parties, games, movies, costume parties, etc. Programs are broken down by age group, so that your teens aren't stuck with the younger crowd. Most programs start at age 5, but a couple of lines begin as early as age 2. And some have baby-sitting on board, too. Parents love it because they have time for themselves (often more than expected, because even when there are no activities planned, the kids have made new friends and are off somewhere with them). There are even some lines with specials for single parents travelling with children.

Q: How many can go in one cabin?
A: Cabins will hold up to four people, with a couple of lines having a few cabins which will hold five. Putting more than two passengers in a cabin will bring your price down, but it can feel crowded, especially on ships with smaller cabins.

Q: What if I'm travelling alone?
A: Unfortunately, single travellers get charged extra for having a cabin to themselves. Rates range generally from 125% to 200% of the double-occupancy rate. Some lines do have a "share" program, in which you pay the double-occupancy rate and a roommate of the same sex may be assigned. If no-one is assigned to share a cabin with you, you still get the lower rate. There are often special activities for singles, and some lines have male hosts on board to act as dancing partners.

Q: Will I be bored?
A: Only if you let yourself be! There are activities throughout the day, ranging from the ever-present Bingo to dance lessons, pool games, swimming, aerobics, etc. You really need to let your cruise counselor know what you like to do before you book your cruise. We want you to have the best vacation possible, and we can help you decide which ship best fits what you are looking for, whether that is basketball or bridge or being a pool lizard soaking up the sun.

Q: Do we get to see much of the ports?
A: Most of the time, your ship will be in port for the major part of the day at each port. The cruise lines have chosen a variety of shore excursions from which you may choose, or you can wander each port on your own. Shore excursions range from city tours to horseback riding, golf, snorkeling, walking tours, etc. And, of course, shopping! True, you are not going to be able to get an in-depth look at each port, but a cruise is a great way to get a taste of a new place so that you can decide where you would like to spend more time later on a land vacation.

Q: Which is better, an inside cabin or one with an ocean-view?
A: An inside cabin is one with no window or porthole; an outside, or "ocean-view", has either a porthole or window. Inside cabins are less expensive, and some people really don't mind not having a window. But in my opinion, I think that the $100-$200 more per cabin that it generally costs on an average cruise to move up to an ocean-view cabin is probably the best-spent money of the trip. I always recommend an ocean-view cabin unless budget is the determining factor. If you went to a resort, you wouldn't accept a windowless bedroom; why would you want one on board your resort-at-sea? And if you are prone to either motion-sickness or claustrophobia, I think an ocean-view is a must. (For the ultimate romantic cruise, spend a little more and get an oceanview cabin with a private balcony!)

Q: Is there medical care on board?
A: Yes. All ships have small medical facilities on board with limited "office" hours. A doctor is also available other times in emergencies. Medical service is not included in the price of the cruise, so expect a bill from the doctor. Also, be advised that services while on the cruise may or may not be covered by your regular insurance. On more exotic cruises, language may also be a problem.

Q: What if I'm in a wheelchair?
A: Most ships now offer special cabins for those passengers with a physical disability. These are limited, so book them well in advance. Also, ships vary widely in accommodations in the public areas of the ship, so find out as much as possible before booking. One plus: crew members are usually extremely helpful.

Q: What about tipping?
A: On most ships, tipping is expected. While there are a few with either no-tipping or tipping-not-required polices, most of the time each passenger can expect to tip about $10 to $11 per day. This is split between the cabin steward, waiter, and assistant waiter, and possibly the head waiter or maitre d'. Tipping depends on the service you receive. Tips are usually already added into your bar bill. If you use a porter to help with luggage either before or after the cruise, then $1 per bag is suggested.

Q: Will I gain a lot of weight?
A: Good question. One of the first things people think about when they hear the word cruise is the food. And yes, there are several chances a day to eat! Not just breakfast, lunch, and dinner (several courses, remember), but "early-risers wake-me-up", afternoon tea (or ice cream bar, or taco bar), and the fabulous midnight buffet. There is also room service - 24 hours on some ships. But most lines now also offer lighter, more healthy choices at all meals. And there is always a great selection of salads, fruits, and vegetables. Plus, you can walk, jog, do aerobics, work out on the Nautilus equipment, swim, dance, or sightsee away those extra calories.

Q: What about insurance? Do I really need it?
A: This obviously depends a lot on your circumstances. But in general, I highly recommend trip cancellation/interruption insurance. While it mainly covers you for medical emergencies, a death in the family, or other very limited situations, we too often see something totally unexpected happen at the last minute. Cruise lines are very strict in their penalties; a "letter from the doctor" is not going to get your money back, and I consider insurance a minimal extra expense when balanced against what you could lose. We also have one company that will even cover pre-existing medical conditions if you take the insurance at time of deposit. This is very important if you or anyone in your family already has a serious medical condition. Many cruiselines have policies that let you cancel for any reason and get back a partial "future cruise credit". We go over these choices with you in detail after you make a reservation.

Q: Do I have to dress up? (The "I wear a suit to work and I'm not going to wear one on vacation" question).
A: To me, this is part of the fun of a cruise. I think it's great to get really dressed up a couple of nights and go out to a great restaurant for dinner and a show. Almost every ship has one or two formal nights during the cruise, and another informal night, depending on the length of the cruise. You look great, your companion looks great, and everyone else looks great. Do you need a tux? Not necessarily; a dark business suit will do. And a lot depends on the cruise line you've chosen as to how formal is "formal". But if not having to dress up is of major importance, then make sure you choose a line that is more casual. Most now offer a casual sit-down dining option or have room service delivered to your cabin that night (room service is free except for the tip)

Q: Can I take my hair-dryer?
A: Yes. While the number of plugs is limited, ships use 110-volt outlets. Many ships provide them for you so check with us for your cruise ship.

Q: What about doing laundry on board?
A: All ships have drycleaning and laundry service on board, and some ships have self-service laundries in addition.

How to email us questions or reservations

For questions or reservations you can: fill out our quote request form by clicking on the button below, call us, or email the questions@galaxsea.com. Please include the names of the cruisers, desired departure date, cruise destination, cruise length, what city you will be flying from (if you need air fare), cruise line preferences, your phone number and email address, plus your target budget. See our Cruise Price Estimator for more on how to estimate your total cruise costs. We welcome your feedback.

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Copyright GalaxSea Cruises of San Diego
17172 Salt Mine Rd.
Ramona, CA 92065
(760) 789-9635 or (800) 923-7245 or Fax: (760) 789-7869
email: questions@galaxsea.com