Ok so I went a bit overboard on the stateroom stuff. I sounded like a paid advertisement for Holland America. OOPS! Plus now I know cruise ship cabins are boring! 🙂 But there are just a couple of last points I want to add to this series on the Alaska cruising.
One is the tradition od “dressing for dinner”. Historically dinner in the dining rooms on cruises were a formal affair. There were assigned times for each meal seating such as early or late, maybe 5:30 and again around 7:30. You were assigned to a table that often put strangers together. You sat with the same people throughout your cruise so hopefully you all got along.
The most formal dinner was the Captain’s Dinner when Jacket and Tie if not Black tie was strongly encouraged. Many of the cruise lines are getting away from this. The dining atmosphere is becoming more relaxed and casual. They are using a term “freestyle dining” or cruising which means that you can choose your own seating and the restaurant you want to eat in.
Beware of one thing…not all restaurants are included in the meal plan. Be sure if you chose not to eat in the dining room that the alternate restaurant is one of the inclusive options. If not you will surely have a wonderful meal but there will be a hefty price tag at the end of the meal. This can catch some new cruisers off guard.
On the Alaska Cruises through Holland America two of the dinner seating are formal. However if you don’t want to “dress the part” you can eat in the Lido Cafe which is casual. The same menu is offered as is in the dining room and it is an “inclusive” restaurant so no pricy surprise.
One other thing I made a point to ask about was the plane reservations to get us to the departure port. I had heard all kinds of things about the best way to handle the flights and of course no one agreed on anything so I tossed it out for the agents to answer.
What it boils down to is this: If the flight is booked for you by the cruise line they assume the responsibility to get you to the boat on time. They will assist you if your plane is delayed or your connections missed. If you book your own flight and have a mishap, you are on your own.
If the cruise line can’t get you to the departure port in time due to airline issues then they will be responsible for getting you to the next port of call. If you book the flight yourself, you are on your own.
Now if dollar for dollar the flight was the same cost either way it would be easy to decide . Just let the cruise line handle all the details. The problem is that unlike the “olden times” when cruise lines reserved a block of flights and offered discounted fares, you can now get a better price by booking your flight on your own. Just remember you will be on your own to handle any snafus.
One suggestion is to book your own flight and arrive a day early in your departure city. Use the time to relax, adjust your body clock or sightsee.
According to the “pros” from AAA and Holland America, this will be one of the most expensive vacations most people will take in their life so this is one time they strongly urge that you insure your vacation with trip insurance.
Although I don’t usually buy trip insurance, I expect that I will for this trip because as has been pointed out numerous times in this series of posts..it’s a lot of money!