There was the 15-year-old girl who was refused boarding on a ship set to sail from Puerto Rico. She admitted to a slight cough, a ship doctor found her temperature slightly elevated, and she and her father incurred thousands of dollars in expenses to stay in San Juan and fly back home.
There are many things that can lead you to be denied boarding. If you don’t have a visa for some of the places where the ship will make port calls, you may be barred from sailing. Make sure you have a passport and appropriate visas.
Carnival won’t allow anyone under 21 aboard if they’re not accompanied by someone at least 25 years old. A married minor couple must show up with proof of marriage. If you’re a divorced parent with a child, make sure you have a letter of permission to travel with that child from the other parent. And if you’re more than 24 weeks pregnant, you may be barred.
Here’s a link to Paul Motter’s most informative article.
Well, in some cases, you can.
For example, Celebrity Cruises will let you bring two bottles of wine or Champagne per stateroom aboard. But if you want to open it at dinner, you’ll be charged a $25 corkage fee. Consume it in your stateroom, and there’s no charge.
Carnival allows one bottle and levies a $10 corkage fee. Norwegian allows you to bring wine and Champagne aboard but charges $15 a bottle. No boxed wine allowed.
In most cases, hard liquor is not allowed. And any bottles you buy on board or during stops at port will be held by the ship until the end of the cruise. My advice: Call your cruise line ahead of a trip and learn the rules.
By the way, Carnival Cruise Lines has expanded the number of ships offering all-you-can-drink packages. Pay $42.95 a day plus a 15 per cent gratuity and you and can drink up to 15 drinks a day.
Think about that for a minute.
Thirteen Carnival ships offer the package deal. Here’s the good news: You also get a 25% discount on bottled water.
J.D. Powers & Associates, the company that rates consumer satisfaction, pronounced Booking.com and Hotwire.com the two country’s two best travel booking sites. I’ll tell you how they determined that . . . and who came in last.
The company considered these factors in determining rankings: the competitiveness of pricing; usefulness of information; availability of booking options, such as the ability to see fares spread across several days; ease of booking; competitiveness of sales and promotions; and customer service.
Customers of independent travel sites—in other words, not a specific airline, hotel, or rental car site—mostly book airline tickets followed by hotels, rental cars, and then vacation packages. Folks who book vacation packages were the most satisfied with the on-line experience.
But as you might suspect, pricing seemed to be the most important criterion for liking a site, and that’s clearly helped Booking.com and Hotwire.com get the top scores. Of the ten sites considered, the two at the bottom of the rankings are CheapTickets.com and Yahoo.com.
Keep in mind the site that allows you to bid on travel, Priceline.com, came in the number third position—I find it of most use when renting cards or booking a hotel, and you might, too.
I’ve often railed against resort fees, those extra, daily charges some hotels don’t show you up front as part of you room cost. But one of my favorite hotels in New York City, the Parker Meridien, is taking it too far with its hard-to-find “service charge.”
Why don’t hotels simply build those costs into the room price? Because no one wants to be the most expensive place in town when you compare rates on line. With fees buried in fine print—sometimes so deep you won’t notice them until you check out–a property appears more competitive against the competition.
And here’s another reason hotels like resort fees: A hotel pays room tax and travel agent commissions based on the room rate. There’s no need to share any part of a resort fee with the taxman or travel agent. And a hotel or resort can also levy that fee on guests staying for “free” thanks to frequent guest points.
This year the Parker Meridien levied a $10 daily “service charge” fee on guests to cover Internet usage, the use of the pool and fitness center, and local and long distance calls. All of which you may or may not use. Ten dollars isn’t exorbitant, but, please, include it in the room price so I know what I’m paying.
It’s not difficult to choose your seat on an airline flight unless you happen to be flying an airline such as Southwest that doesn’t assign seats. But what if your only choice is a middle seat? How can you find out—before your flight—if a better seat opens up.
You could check back with your airline every ten minutes around the clock before your trip, but I think it would a lot easier to sign up for a free account on a website called ExpertFlyer.com.
Here’s how simple it is. Create a free account on Expert Flyer and simply type in your flight information. Then click on a seat map. There you can create a “seat alert.” You can ask to be alerted the second an aisle, window, exit row, a specific seat, or two seats together become available. And then you should move very fast to secure that seat.
If the only seat you could get when you made your reservation was a middle seat, why should you expect any of those other seats to come up for grabs? If someone cancels his or her flight or switches seats or gets upgraded, that makes space for someone else.
And it might as well be you.