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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


 I want to go on a cruise but I haven't a clue where to start!
    
 How early should I book my cruise?
    
 If I wait to book, might I get a better “last-minute deal.”
    
 Aren’t there all sorts of "special rates" available?
    
 Do I have to make my own travel arrangements to get to the ship?
    
 Should I make my own airline reservations or buy my air through the cruiseline?
    
 How do I pay for my cruise?
    
 What are the cruise lines' payment and cancellation policies?
    


 I want to go on a cruise but I haven't a clue where to start!
    
      Just by landing on this page means you're off to a good start! Where to start? First, decide which kind of cruise shopper you are:
  1. Price Shoppers. Price is everything. Which ship, where it's going, who's on it...all this takes a back seat to price.
  2. Destination Shoppers. The destination is everything, and by destination, we're including the onboard "destination." The region, the ports, the ship, the stateroom, the onboard experience - all are of paramount importance.
  3. Combination Shoppers. Price isn't everything, but then, neither is the destination. Combination Shoppers work hard to find a balance between the two.
1. Price Shoppers. Head for these pages on the 7 Blue Seas web site:
  • HOME PAGE: Top 10 Deals! We've done the research for you. Check here first before going anywhere else!
  • HOME PAGE: More Hot Deals! Check each of these deals. If you want to see even more, click on "Go to MORE DEALS." We've got our Top 5 Picks, Cruise line specials and regional specials listed. If you haven't found something that appeals to you, you're not a Price Shopper! Read on...
2. Destination Shoppers. Our Destination Pages were made for you!
  • HOME PAGE: "Destination." Click on the Destination link at the top and the world of cruising is before you.
  • Take it from there! Navigation is easy. Notice that some large, especially-popular cruise regions such as Alaska or the Caribbean are sub-divided into smaller and smaller groups to help you narrow your search. Pros and cons of each are listed, as well as info on weather, new trends, etc. There's even a button to hit to see all cruises in the itinerary group you've chosen! Locate the cruise line and ship with the ports your prefer and you're ready to cruise!
  • HOME PAGE: "Find a Cruise." We've also got an excellent cruise search engine. Locate the "Find a Cruise" express section, choose a travel month and travel region and click "Go." The rest is easy.
3. Combination Shoppers. Most of us fit in this category of shoppers.
  • Sneak a peak at our Top 10 Deals. There may be a cruise listed that goes to where you want to go and is priced right. If not, read on.
  • HOME PAGE: "Destination." Click on the Destination link at the top and the world of cruising is before you.
  • Take it from there! Navigation is easy. Notice that some large, especially-popular cruise regions such as Alaska or the Caribbean are sub-divided into smaller and smaller groups to help you narrow your search. Within each are price tables, labeled "The Cost." Within the table you can modify your search my moving to other months and by selecting a different price qualifier. Nice, don't you think? Locate the right cruise at the right price and you're set.
  • HOME PAGE: "Find a Cruise." We've also got an excellent cruise search engine. Locate the "Find a Cruise" express section, choose a travel month and travel region and click "Go." The rest is easy.
Still have questions? Call us at 800 242-1781!
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 How early should I book my cruise?
    
      Book as soon as your plans allow. Cruise lines generally finalize and publish their ship itineraries from 12 to 18 months prior to sailing. Here are the advantages to booking early:
  • Choice. The sooner you book the more likely you'll get your first choice in sailing dates and accommodations.
  • Price. Almost ALL cruise lines offer early booking discounts in one form or another. These typically represent savings of 20% to 30% or more off so-called "brochure rates" but are generally variable by sailing, capacity controlled and subject to change without notice. First come - first served!
  • Price Guarantee. In almost all cases, once a booking has been made your fare is "locked in" and therefore not subject to any price increases which may take place.
  • Air & Ground Pricing Advantages. The sooner you confirm your cruise, the sooner air travel to and from that cruise may be arranged. Typically, the best air deals are those made as early as possible! The same applies to any pre- or post-cruise hotel/car rental/tour arrangements you may wish confirmed.
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 If I wait to book, might I get a better “last-minute deal.”
    
      Of course you might! Or you may not. As every shopper knows, there are “clearance sales” for electronics, cars, furniture and clothes. Same goes for cruises.

The Upsides?

  • You may save money! If the cruise deal matches your vacation plans, then go for it!
  • You've got a "last-minute" option. Work pressures, school vacations, planning conflicts - all can force you to delay your cruise plans. Booking late may be your only option and it's nice to know there may still be deals out there.
The Downsides?
  • You may lose money. In strong cruise markets, particularly those with limited seasons such as Alaska or Northern Europe, prices may actually climb as the sailing date nears!
  • You may lose out! Depending on the time of year, cruise itinerary and a host of other factors, you may find nothing left! Holiday sailings often sell out 6 months early; choice Alaska sailings dates are gone by mid-April; Europe in July should be booked in January...and so it goes. The downside is that you get a "leftover."
  • You may lose out on air and hotel deals, too. Fine, you found a great, rock-bottom cruise deal at the last minute! Now, how about a last-minute deal on air???? Or, the only air you could find to your cruise requires you to travel one day early but you can't find a hotel for less than $350 a night?
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 Aren’t there all sorts of "special rates" available?
    
      You bet there are – lots of them. If you can spell your last name you probably qualify for some sort of discount! Here's a short list:
  • Early Booking Savings. Every cruise line has their own lingo for these discounts but they all translate to this: put your money down early and you'll see savings of from 20% to 30% or more. Savings vary and there's some fine print involved, however.
  • Senior Rates. Many cruise lines offer Seniors (generally age 55+) savings of varying degrees, but typically around 15%. Senior rates are usually available on a limited number of sailings and subject to capacity controls.
  • Two-for-Ones. One person pays the full cruise fare rate; the other person travels for "free". Certain restrictions apply. Keep in mind that the "full cruise fare" may be a premium price; it's always a good idea to do some price comparisons before assuming the "241" is a real deal.
  • Free Air. Cruise lines recognize that sometimes it's the expense of traveling to/from the cruise that keeps people away. Offering free airline tickets from selected gateway cities often does the trick!
  • Regional Specials. To spark local interest, sometimes cruise lines' Marketing Departments offer enticements for travelers from specific regions (New York area, Northwest, Midwest, etc.).
  • Package Deals. All-inclusive Cruise + Air + Hotel packages are frequent incentives. "Back-to-back" cruise combinations are another ("Buy two back-to-back cruises and save up to 50%," for instance).
  • 7 Blue Seas Deals! We often receive or contract discounts directly through the cruise lines, either via group block savings or other incentives. Our savings become your savings which may be realized as upfront price discounts, special onboard amenities or shipboard credits!
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 Do I have to make my own travel arrangements to get to the ship?
    
      No. All major cruise lines offer "air programs" which allow you to purchase air travel to and from your cruise through the cruise line. In most cases, the airlines featured are major carriers with whom you're familiar; occassionally, charter airlines may be utilized.

These programs are optional at extra cost. In many cases, the air programs include ground transfers between airports and the ship. Most cruise lines, for various added fees, will allow you to request specific carriers, routings, travel times, alternate dates of travel and upgrades.

Alternatively, you're welcomed to arrange independent travel to and from your cruise; in fact, most cruise passengers do exactly that. However, be sure to consider the following suggestions:

  • Watch your arrival/departure flight times! If your ship departs Ft. Lauderdale at 5pm, don't schedule your flight arrival for 4pm! And even if your Alaska cruise arrives Vancouver at 6am, don't book your return flight home at 8am! Cruise lines have minimum connecting times between ship and airport; call us or the cruise line for those guidelines. For long haul flights, keep time zones and date changes in mind.
  • Mind the Weather! For example, if you're flying from the Midwest to Florida for your February cruise, why not schedule an overnight in Florida before your ship sails? Winter weather, in particular, can raise havoc with flight schedules. Always allow an extra cushion of travel time, especially when traveling to your cruise ship.
  • Purchase Trip/Travel Insurance! A variety of programs are available, with a variety of coverage options. Choose one that may help you best should you encounter delays or cancellations on route to or from your cruise.
  • Think outsde the box! Don't automatically assume air travel is the best way to get to/from your cruise. Consider train travel, too! Also, more and more cruises are departing from ports you can drive to in just a few hours or less. Be sure to weigh in the cost of gas, meals and parking.
The staff at 7 Blue Seas may assist you in choosing your airline or train schedule, or guide you in selecting the best travel times, but we cannot secure airline reservations or issue tickets on your behalf.
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 Should I make my own airline reservations or buy my air through the cruiseline?
    
      It's your decision. But before making that decision, consider the pros and cons of each arrangement.

Pros and Cons of making your own airline reservations:

  • Pro: Control. By making your own air travel plans, you'll have total control of the airline, routing, flight times, day of travel and airports. You're also free to arrange free travel or upgrades through airline frequent flyer award programs.
  • Pro: Price. You'll be able to find the price that fits your budget - a price that's often below the cruise line's offer. And, as noted above, you may be eligible to "cash in" on airline frequent flyer award programs. (Keep in mind,however, that some cruise lines include airport transfer fees in their air program fees.)
  • Pro: Advance Knowledge. You'll know your flight arrangements the moment you confirm them. Usually, cruise lines confirm air arrangements no earlier than 30 to 45 days before travel date, unless you choose to an pay extra for immediate confirmation.

  • Con: Refundabilty. Most low-cost airline tickets are non-refundable. If you cancel the cruise - even if outside the cruise line's penalty period - you may be left with a non-refundable airline ticket.
  • Con: Reservation error. By "error" we mean booking flights that do not allow sufficient time to get from the airport to the cruise ship (or ship to airport); booking flights that don't match the the cruise embarkation or debarkation date; booking flights that don't match with the cruise's port of embarkation or debarkation, etc.
  • Con: Flight interruptions. When the cruise line arranges your air travel they are more likely to be able to quickly make travel adjustments should your flights be delayed or cancelled due to weather, mechanical or operational reasons. When you make your own, independent arrangements - even if the cruise line is aware of your air itinerary - they are less likely to be able to make alternate travel arrangements should your flights be delayed or cancelled.

Pros and Cons of purchasing your air travel through the cruise line:

  • Pro: Peace of Mind. As noted above, should there be a flight delay or cancellation, you're more likely to be moved to alternate flights or airlines if you've purchased your air arrangements through the cruise line. Also, the cruise line will provide air schedules that provide ample transfer time between the airport and pier, or pier and airport. Should subsequent airline schedule changes conflict with those transfer arrangements, the cruise line will rebook and reticket your airline travel without cost to you.
  • Pro: Availability. Often, especially if you're booking your cruise within 60 days of cruise departure, low-cost air may be unavailable. However, the cruise line may have pre-arranged "block space" remaining, assuring you airline seats that may not otherwise be available.

  • Con: Price. Typically, cruise line air travel arrangments are more expensive than those you may be able to secure independently - especially if you're making flight reservations well in advance of travel date. But be sure to factor in transfer fees between the airport and the pier (and pier and airport); often these costs are included with cruise line air programs.
  • Con: Itinerary. Cruise lines utilize pre-reserved "block space" and other contracted arrangements in securing air schedules for cruise passengers. These schedules may or may not be the most direct itineraries available. Additionally, air travel may include overnight flights, charter airlines, or travel on days that would require the guest to purchase hotel overnights at their own expense.
  • Con: Flexibility. Unless additional service charges are paid, guests have little or no input in the selection of air schedules arranged by the cruise line. Requests for specific airlines, travel times or routings, airports (JFK vs. LGA, for example), or class of service almost always incur additional costs.

Cruise Myth: "Cruise line air always costs way more than if I did it myself!" Not necessarily. If you're booking between 60 and 30 days of the cruise departure, you may actually get a deal through the cruise line. And keep in mind that many cruise lines include transfers with their air programs. Additionally, cruise lines - particularly the "luxury" lines - often include air travel on selected sailings.

Cruise Tip: "What!? How come I've got a 'red-eye' flight?" Always discuss the pros and cons of purchasing the cruise line's air program with your 7 Blue Seas' Cruise Consultant before confirming your cruise reservation.

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 How do I pay for my cruise?
    
      Most travelers prefer to pay by credit card and all major credit cards are accepted by 7 Blue Seas. As an alternate, we will accept deposit and final payments by check.

We do not store credit card information on file.

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 What are the cruise lines' payment and cancellation policies?
    
      Payment and cancellation policies vary by cruise line. Even within the same cruise line, payment schedules and cancellation policies may vary depending on the length of the cruise, the cost of the cruise or the travel region of a particular cruise. In all cases, cruise payment and cancellation procedures and policies are established, administered and interpreted by the individual cruise line - not by 7 Blue Seas. For specific information regarding cruise line policies and procedures, contact a 7 Blue Seas Cruise Specialist.

Despite the wide variation in these policies, most cruise lines follow these general payment and cancellation patterns:

Cruise Payment:

  • Deposit at time of booking. Typically, most cruise lines will request immediate payment of deposit to secure accommodations on a cruise.
  • Deposit amount may vary. Assuming the booking is made at least three months prior to sailing date, most cruise lines will request a deposit of between $200 - $500 per person to secure the requested accommodations.
  • Final payment schedule may vary. Most cruise lines require final payment between 60 and 90 days prior to sailing. Variations occur among cruise lines and even within cruise lines. Variables can be cruise length, cruise cost or cruise region.
  • Full payment at time of booking. "Late Bookings" - bookings made 90 days or less before the cruise departure (or as determined by the cruise line) - may require full and immediate payment.
Cruise Cancellation:
  • Cancellation prior to final payment. In most cases, cancellation requests received in writing prior to final payment incur no penalty fees or charges. In those cases, deposit is refunded in full.
  • Cancellation after final payment date. Cruise line policies vary but in most cases the refund amount is based on a variable scale, dependent on how soon prior to sailing date the cruise cancellation request is received.
  • Name changes. With most cruise lines, name changes made following final payment constitute a cancellation and may be subject to standard cancellation policies.
  • Air tickets, cruise hotel packages, cruise land packages. In most cases, refunds (partial or full) will only be made upon receipt of all cruiseline-issued documents, including airline tickets, hotel vouchers and land vouchers.
  • Cruise line determines all cancellation policies. The cruise line (not 7 Blue Seas) is the final arbiter in all matters regarding cancellation penalties and fees.
Trip Cancellation Policies:
  • Trip cancellation protection policies may vary. Some cruise lines require purchase of trip cancellation protection at time of booking; others may require purchase of this optional protection prior to final payment.
Cruise Note: Cruise payment and cancellation policies are defined and governed by the cruise line. 7 Blue Seas acts only as the agent for the cruise line and has no control over the establishment, administration or interpretation of these policies.
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