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JoNightshade
06-21-2008, 11:26 PM
So, I've been on plenty of boats before, but never an actual cruise. Got some questions. :)

1) Is there some sort of lifeboat drill everyone has to participate in? How does that work? Does everyone assemble on deck? Or do they just put the info in your cabin or something?

2) How does food work. Is it all free? Do some cruises give you like a card you have to use to get food? Do you have to pay for some things and not others? (Note - for my story it would be good if there was some sort of payment or regulation so I would appreciate details if anyone has experienced this.)

Jersey Chick
06-21-2008, 11:31 PM
I did a Disney cruise a few years ago (totally cool, BTW, I recommend it, especially if you have kids) and they do a lifeboat drill in that they tell you where the boats are, and emergency exits.

Now, as for food, they did a bon voyage thing on one of the decks, where food and non-alcoholic bevs were no charge. The first alcoholic beverage was free (I think) but there was a charge for everything after.

The way Disney did it, was the key to your stateroom is a keycard, and you can use it all over the ship (and on Disney's island - Castaway Key) and things would charge back to your room.

I honestly can't remember if the cost of the cruise included meals - I want to say at least dinner, but I honestly can't remember.

John Paton
06-21-2008, 11:35 PM
At the start of every cruise, passengers must attend a compulsary lifeboat drill. Your muster point is determined by your cabin number. You are`required to wear your life jacket at the lifeboat drill.

The food depends on the cruise. My last cruise last year on the Sun Princess had quite a few restaurants serving food included in the price. There were a couple of specialty restuarants where you paid a surcharge. It depends on the ship. the cruise and the cruise line. I have been on other cruises where all the restuarants provided food that were all included in the price.

I have been involved in cruises for the past 20 odd years and have lost count of the number I have been on - feel free to ask anything ;)

JB_Finesse
06-21-2008, 11:49 PM
Yup, there is indeed a mandatory lifeboat drill where everybody lines up on deck and puts on life vests.

With the cruise I went on (I forget the company, it was over a year ago), all the food was free (except ice cream and stuff), as were water, lemonade and iced tea. Soda wasn't free, but for a small fee (maybe around $4.00) you could get a stamp on your card for unlimited sodas. The card was how you paid for everything, there was no cash used on board.

The really weird thing was that, with the buffet, there was no place to return your dishes. You could leave them anywhere on the ship and they'd be picked up. While they generally did a good job finding them, there'd still be the odd iced tea glass on the railing or half-eaten dish of macaroni salad on the stairs.

Libbie
06-21-2008, 11:50 PM
Oh, you are SO in luck! I used to work in the finance department for a major cruise company, and my husband is a professional cruise consultant! Any questions, you just ask. I am sure I can answer your most obscure one. :)


So, I've been on plenty of boats before, but never an actual cruise. Got some questions. :)

1) Is there some sort of lifeboat drill everyone has to participate in? How does that work? Does everyone assemble on deck? Or do they just put the info in your cabin or something?

Yes. This is done as soon as the last passenger has boarded, and before the ship leaves port. There is an announcement giving you instructions. You are to find your life vests in your cabin, put them on, and proceed to your assembly station when the alarm sounds. Each cabin has clearly posted directions to which assembly station each block of cabins "belongs" to. Once there, you're shown how to board the life boats and given more instructions on what to do in case of an emergency. After the safety drill is over, everybody returns to their cabin and about an hour later the ship leaves port.



2) How does food work. Is it all free? Do some cruises give you like a card you have to use to get food? Do you have to pay for some things and not others? (Note - for my story it would be good if there was some sort of payment or regulation so I would appreciate details if anyone has experienced this.)


You have to pay for some things, not for others. Soft drinks are usually free on most ships, but alcohol is definitely not. Most passengers buy a book of tickets that allows them to get alcoholic drinks. I think it would be within the realm of the plausible for any beverages other than coffee or tea to be something you must pay for.

In my experience, all food is included, though. I used to pay the bills for the food on each of sixteen ships (among the rest of the bills) and believe me, cruise ship companies make more than enough money off of passenger fare to pay for all the food you could ever dream of. No reason to charge extra. On the classier ships, you can choose to eat in the dining room with a full wait staff, or you can go to the lido deck for a big buffet-like experience. Or, you can have anything from either the dining room or the lido deck brought to your cabin via free room service.


The exception to the food rule is the gourmet restaurant. Most classier lines are now including special restaurants on their ships--you have to make reservations before you even embark to get in--and hiring well-known chefs to create the menus and oversee the cooking. I've been to a few of them and they are unbelievable. Those require additional payment, but the price is EXTREMELY reasonable for what you get: Around $20.00 per person for a full-course meal created by a famous chef. At least, that's the case on Holland America ships. Others may differ. :)

MsK
06-21-2008, 11:54 PM
Looks like you've got the answers you need.
The lifeboat drill is pretty standard. As the ship prepares to leave port, everyone goes to an assigned meeting location and is led through a presentation (about 20 minutes) and then shown where the lifeboats are. And you do have to wear your life jacket.
I've always been on ships where the food is included in the price but I see others mentioned some restaurants could have a surcharge.

If the story is fiction, I don't see any reason why you couldn't have some sort of payment for the food. It wouldn't jump out as completely out of line to me.

Also, the ships I have been on require you post a credit card before boarding. The credit card is connected to the Cruise ship ID card you carry with you and use like a credit card at the gift shops, bars, etc... Maybe that would work for your story. Your character could use the Cruise ship card at one of the better restaurants???

ComicSutra
06-24-2008, 04:59 AM
1) Is there some sort of lifeboat drill everyone has to participate in? How does that work? Does everyone assemble on deck? Or do they just put the info in your cabin or something?


Yes, there is a safety drill. Attendance is manditory. The stewards check cabins to make sure everyone attends. You have to bring the life preserver from your room with you (most people put it on before/as they go but you can also wait until you get there. They demonstrate the right way to put it on, how to activate the light, etc.). They also demonstrate the right way to exit the ship if needed, etc. All of the passengers attend at the same time. It's held in the largest theater on the ship. There is additional info in the cabin but it's supplemental. It's not meant to substitute for attending the drill.

I've cruised the Princess line several times and they have it down to a science to get everyone in and out of the drill quickly and handle the drill itself efficiently, clearly and, if possible, with a little humor. I'm sure the other cruise lines do the same.


2) How does food work. Is it all free? Do some cruises give you like a card you have to use to get food? Do you have to pay for some things and not others? (Note - for my story it would be good if there was some sort of payment or regulation so I would appreciate details if anyone has experienced this.)

This is becoming more fluid. Traditionally all food on the cruise was free. You just showed up in the dining room, buffet, etc. and you were served. Drinks other than coffee, tea, water and lemonade cost money, though. Then the cruise lines started offering some extras, like a Hagen-Dazs (spelling?) bar next to the main pool. That was an extra charge, whereas ice cream as part of a meal wasn't.

Then they started putting in "restaurants" in addition to the normal dining rooms. These vary according to the cruise line. Some are run just like a regular restaurant, including paying for it, though all shipboard purchases go on your ship-issued ID/payment card, which is secured by your credit card when you first come onboard (it's a way of encouraging people to spend money because they don't pay as close attention to it). Some cruise ships include the restaurant meals as part of your regular dining experience. If you use a name cruise line, call the info line and ask what their policy is. If you make up a cruise line, you can use whatever version of the above appeals to you and/or fits your story.

blackrose602
06-25-2008, 05:46 AM
A couple of points that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

1) Everything is dependent on the level of cruise ship. The mass market lines (Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Disney, etc) generally offer all-inclusive dining at two main dining rooms, a buffet, the poolside burger stand, maybe a pizza counter and room service. They also offer between one and three or four "specialty restaurants" that require an upcharge (10 or 20 bucks pp for a multi-course fine dining experience). Some offer 2/1 at off times.

Upscale lines like Seabourn and Crystal tend to be more all-inclusive. Some lines include all specialty restaurants in the passenger fare. Many include sodas, and a few even include alcoholic beverages. Of course, you pay for the privilege.

Ocean liners such as the Queen Mary II have class-based dining. Your average passengers eats in a good but not spectacular dining room. Those in top-tier suites can order off-menu, any specialty creation that can be made with the ingredients on the ship, all in a separate dining room, all included.

2) Lifeboat drills - most are held at the muster stations (by the lifeboats), while a few are held in a large theater. Disabled guests attend a special drill in a small, easy to access theater. Just a point to consider if you plan to set action during the drill - your MC might get caught!

3) Money - I've never heard of a ship where money was used onboard. Ships generally use a cashless system whereby your room key is also your method of payment. You can put down a credit card or a cash deposit.

Hope this helps!

Mike Martyn
06-25-2008, 10:48 PM
I can't add anything to the above but don't forget the other little touches.

The last cruise I was on had a very large games room with a bar running the full length of it.

In addition to a zillion video games (all free) there were about 8 full size pool tables each mouonted on gyroscopic gymbols so when the ship moved due to wave action, the tables would all compensate to keep the surface absolutely flat.

It was the wierdist looking thing. It almost made me seasick watching the pool tables all tilt back and forth in perfect synchronisation!