Office offers cruise tips, expectations
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 16, 2014) -- From new innovations to new destinations, cruises offer a multitude of choices for travelers seeking to get away for a week or a weekend, and for those worried about getting lost at sea, Fort Rucker Travel Leisure officers say the only thing to worry about is finding the strength to get back onboard to return home.

For Families or couples looking for a unique vacation that offers a large amount of things to do besides the usual camping, beach or amusement park trip, cruising offers many options for people looking to get far away, said Michelle Harris, travel leisure program manager.

"Cruising is a great option for Families or even singles," she said. "There are hundreds of things to do and see and people to meet. Cruises have something for everybody."

Travelers new to cruising usually have many questions concerning safety, price and weather, but Harris said that although people may have worries, there is usually nothing serious to worry about.

"One of the things that our customers are worried about is being nickeled and dimed once they are on the ship. And the ways around that is for people to know what is and is not included in the price of the trip," she said.

Meals, some drinks, port fees and entertainment are included in cruises. Alcoholic beverages are not included, as well as soda drinks and juice, unless passengers buy those packages, and shore excursions and activities.

"A lot of people wonder if they are going to have motion sickness, but generally the boat is a big island. You will feel some of the tremors of the waves and things like that, but it's not at all like being in a fishing vessel in the middle of the ocean," said Harris.

"But it is a moving ship, and if you are prone to motion sickness then maybe you should start with a shorter four-day cruise and bring motion sickness medicine with you, just in case," she continued. "That way you are not stuck for seven days on the boat if you do get sick. It's also a good idea for first time cruisers anyway because they can see if they are going to enjoy a cruise vacation without committing to a huge stay."

People can book a vacation with six various cruise lines through leisure travel.

"People tend to think cruises are not affordable, and they really are, especially if you are in the military because a few lines offer great discounts all year long," said Heather Linnell, travel clerk. "People are also worried about the weather and if their leave gets denied. But cruise lines will typically work around those things. If the weather is bad or dangerous in one port, they will usually change the route and stop at that port when the weather clears up."

Cruise ships are always trying to improve their services and their safety measures, and though some cruise lines have experienced major mechanical problems recently, Linnell and Harris agreed that maintenance is a precautionary action, not a reaction when it comes to these cruise lines.

"They maintain these ships -- they are on it when it comes to making sure they are on top of things," said Harris. "Cruise safety is the same as with airlines. Accidents happen, but it is so much safer than traveling in your own car."

If passengers prepare themselves as if they are going on a plane rather than a cruise, Linnell said that they will be adequately prepared for customs, security and baggage check.

"You do go through security just as if you were flying. You will check documents and going through metal detectors, so don't think you can bring a pocket knife or any other prohibited items on board," she said.

If leaving and returning from the same U.S. port, vacationers do not have to have a passport, but it is advised to have one in case someone misses the boat while in port. Passengers will need an original birth certificate with the seal in place of a passport, and everyone needs two pieces of photo identification.

"My advice is that people should always have their documents before booking a cruise, because you never know what might happen when trying to get the appropriate documents in the mail. I have found its best to have them at the ready before you pay for anything," said Linnell.

One thing people don't expect to be allowed to bring on most cruise lines is a bottle of wine per person or a case of water or soda, she continued. "But every cruise line is different in the amount they can bring, and most do not allow patrons to bring hard liquor on board."

There are dress codes for dinner on most boats. Swimsuits and flip flops are not allowed in most dining areas, but there are other dining options, Linnell said, where people can wear whatever they want.

"There are many ways to eat on the boat. One option for casual diners is the buffets that are usually open all day and night," she said. "And there is one formal night in the dining rooms where passengers are encouraged to dress up."

Looking for something different than a typical amusement park vacation, Linnell said that cruises offer everything from Vegas style shows and pools for adults only to with two-story water slides for children.

"Onboard entertainment rivals that of major shows, and there are full-service spas, child activity centers and programs, fitness centers and sometimes casinos on most boats," she said. "And for the long days at sea, there are activities such as karaoke, bingo, trivia, movies, dances and more."

Choosing a cruise vacation is something that is appealing to more and more people because different cruise lines offer different experiences, is a semi-inclusive vacation, passengers can visit several destinations in one trip, and people participate in on-board and off-board activities that range from animal towel folding to parasailing in the tropics, and Fort Rucker Leisure Travel is ready to help passengers set sail on their maiden voyage.

To learn more about available cruises, visit leisure travel on the first floor in the Soldier Service Center, Bldg. 5700.

Related Links:

USAACE and Fort Rucker on Twitter

USAACE and Fort Rucker on Facebook

Fort Rucker, Ala.

U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence