Paradise Cruise and Travel
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Cruise Ship Safety

The highest priority of the cruise industry is the safety and security of its passengers and crew. With more than 11 million vacationers cruising each year, the cruise lines take every appropriate measure to ensure that their guests are safe and experience enjoyable vacations.

While people are far safer on board a cruise ship than in virtually any community in the United States, on rare occasions, incidents may happen. You  have most likely heard media reports of people who have gone missing from cruise ships. These tragedies have spurred further media reports and speculation, and even congressional hearings. 

Cruising remains one of the safest vacations available, with an outstanding record of safety and security. In fact, when compared with the FBI's land-based crime statistics in the United States, cruise passengers are much safer on board a cruise ship than ashore.

While instances of crime on board cruise ships are rare, it is important that whenever traveling to be observant of one's possessions and surroundings at all times. Cruise passengers are reminded of this, as they are in any hotel, by safety information, daily bulletins, port visit briefings and the provision of a room safe or safety deposit box. In the event of an incident, the cruise industry takes all allegations and incidents very seriously, reports them to the proper authorities and fully cooperates in any investigation. In many instances, cruise lines do not publicly disclose detailed information to comply with directions from law enforcement and out of respect for grieving families.

* Cruise ships are comparable to secure buildings with 24-hour security. Every person on board a cruise ship, from the captain to the cleaning staff and all guests, are placed on official manifests. When sailing to or from U.S. ports , these manifests are provided to U.S. federal law enforcement officials – prior to the ship's departure – to compare to U.S. databases.

* Guests should be very comfortable with the security measures they see during their cruise vacation. These include the screening of 100 percent of all luggage, carry-ons and provisions coming onto our ships. Screening is done with X-ray machines, metal detectors and human and detector dog searches .

* Passengers and crew may embark or disembark only after passing through security. Once a ship is underway, access is strictly limited to documented employees and fare-paying passengers.

* Each passenger is issued an identification card which contains their digital photo and personal identification information on a magnetic strip that he or she must present when entering or leaving the ship. This technology allows the ship to know which guests and crew members are on board and which are not.

* Each cruise ship has a dedicated security officer and staff whose sole function is the security of its passenger and crew. Typically, security staff personnel have former law enforcement or military background and are trained according to international security regulations.

* Foreign crewmembers on ICCL ships are required to obtain a visa issued by the U.S. State Department for entry into the United States. This visa requires the completion of a background check. In addition, cruise ship employees are pre-screened by recruiting agencies.

* Cruise lines operate within a legal framework under which international, federal and state authorities investigate crimes on board cruise ships. Unlike most instances of shore side crime, the FBI has the authority to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes in international waters involving Americans.

The U.S. Coast Guard has jurisdiction for inspection and enforcement of international safety and security standards for all ships calling at U.S. ports. In a 1995 study, the U.S. Coast Guard determined that cruising was one of the safest modes of transportation available.

Cruising is among the most popular vacation options in large part because of its excellent safety record and the high level of quality service cruise ships provide. The industry will continue to do its part to maintain a safe, secure and healthy shipboard environment.

  (Paradise Cruise and Travel is a CLIA Member.)

TSA Air Travel Tips

Key Travel Tips

Following these tips will help you reduce your wait time at the security checkpoint.

Before the Airport

Do not pack or bring Prohibited Items to the airport. Read the Permitted and Prohibited Items list.
Place valuables such as jewelry, cash and laptop computers in carry-on baggage only.   Tape your business card to the bottom of your laptop.
Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry and accessories that contain metal.  Metal items may set off the alarm on the metal detector.
Avoid wearing shoes that contain metal or have thick soles or heels.  Many types of footwear will require additional screening even if the metal detector does not alarm.
Put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.
Declare firearms & ammunition to your airline and place them in your checked baggage.
If you wish to lock your baggage, use a TSA-recognized lock.
Do not bring lighters or prohibited matches to the airport.
Do not pack wrapped gifts and do not bring wrapped gifts to the checkpoint. Wrap on arrival or ship your gifts prior to your departure.  TSA may have to unwrap packages for security reasons.

At the Airport

Each adult traveler needs to keep available his/her airline boarding pass and government-issued photo ID until exiting the security checkpoint. Due to different airport configurations, at many airports you will be required to display your boarding pass more than once.

Place the following items IN your carry-on baggage or in a plastic bag prior to entering the screening checkpoint:
Mobile phones
Loose change
Money clips
PDA's (personal data assistants)
Large amounts of jewelry
Metal hair decorations
Large belt buckles
Take your laptop and video cameras with cassettes OUT of their cases and place them in a bin provided at the checkpoint.
Take OFF all outer coats, suit coats, jackets and blazers.
TSA Permitted / Prohibited Items List
TSA Permitted / Prohibited Items List
When is a passport required ?

You need a passport to travel abroad. Click on this very informative web site to see when a passport is required and how to obtain one.
Frequently Asked Questions

> When is a passport required and how do we get one?
> How do we get through the TSA quickly at airports?
> What about cruise ship safety?
> How much do we tip while we are on our cruise?
> How do we choose a cruise destination?
> What are the different types of cabins on a cruise ship?
> What are some of the most common travel related ailments?
>Why should we use a travel agent?

These are some of the most common questions that we receive. Click on it to see the answer. If you have other questions that we can answer, please drop us a line.
Tipping on Cruises

Here is an article by Jane Engle, a travel writer that we read and would like to share some excerpts with you. To read the complete article which appears in the Orlando Sentinel, click here.

An increasing number of cruise companies are adopting so-called automatic gratuity programs. The companies say such programs spare passengers the confusion of figuring out who gets what and the hassle of juggling money. Cynics may suspect the real purpose is to shanghai your wallet, but in fact, the amounts charged are close to what travel agents recommend customers tip anyway.
The confusion about cruise tipping is understandable. There are headwaiters, waiters, assistant waiters, cabin stewards and others who may expect gratuities -- or not. Some cruise lines, especially luxury ones, discourage tips. As recently as 2½ years ago, Seabourn Cruise Line staff members could be fired for accepting tips, says spokesman Bruce Good. Now they may accept them but can be fired for soliciting them.
Alas, not all cruise lines that encourage tipping recommend the same amounts, and the job titles of the crew may vary too. But most suggestions are in these ranges, per passenger per day: Cabin steward/stewardess/attendant, $3 to $4; waiter/server, $3 to $4; assistant waiter/busboy, $1.50 to $2.50; headwaiter/head server, 50 cents to $1.
Bartenders are a special case. Many lines automatically include 15 percent for service in the bar bill, meaning you needn't tip.
Passengers traditionally leave tips in envelopes on the last night of the cruise, which can lead to quite a backup at the purser's desk. With automatic gratuity programs, you avoid that, obviously. But an important point about such programs is that you usually can opt out of them or increase or decrease the amounts by notifying the purser once you're on board. You don't have to do it their way.
Your best sources for tipping guidelines on your particular cruise are travel agents and the line you book. Here's a roundup of some lines' general practices. (All amounts are stated per passenger per day, unless otherwise noted.)
Carnival: The line has an automatic gratuity program (which it calls a "reverse gratuity program") on 10 of its 16 ships, with a daily charge of $9.75. The company hopes to expand the program fleet wide within a year, says spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz. In alternate dining rooms (outside the main one), the reservation fee includes a tip. Bar bills include a 15 percent gratuity.
Costa: On Caribbean cruises, the suggestion is $3 each for steward and waiter, $1.50 assistant waiter, $1 headwaiter. On European cruises, the amounts are $1.50 steward, $2.50 waiter, $2.50 "assistant waiter team," 50 cents for maitre d' and "headwaiter team." Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
Cunard: An automatic gratuity program, begun in 2000, charges $7 on Caronia and $11 to $13 on the Queen Elizabeth 2, depending on cabin category. Bar bills include a 15 percent gratuity.
Crystal: The line suggests $4 each for stewardess and waiter in the main dining room; $2.50 assistant waiter, $4 for butler (penthouse only); an additional $6 per meal for alternate restaurants. Passengers can tip in advance when they book the cruise. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
Disney: The line gives suggestions by length of cruise; on average per day, about $3.60 for steward, $3.70 server, $2.70 assistant server, 90 cents head server. You can tip in advance, as do about half the guests, a spokeswoman says. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
Holland America: Advertises a "tipping not required" policy and declines to suggest amounts. "You're free to tip if you feel it's warranted," spokesman Erik Elvejord says. "To be honest, most people do tip." Bar bills do not include gratuity.
Norwegian: Automatic gratuity program charges $10 per day for ages 13 and older, $5 for children 3 to 12, no charge younger than 3. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
Princess: Automatic gratuity program fleetwide charges $10 per day; the final two ships added to the program in July were the Royal Princess and the Regal Princess. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
  Radisson Seven Seas: No tipping is expected.
Royal Caribbean: It suggests $3.50 each for waiter and steward, $2 assistant waiter, 75 cents headwaiter. Passengers can tip automatically by asking at guest relations (purser) when they board. Bar bills include 15 percent gratuity.
Seabourn: "Tipping is neither required nor expected," the line's Internet site says. "Our staff doesn't expect it . . . and we pay them well," spokesman Good says. But he adds: "If the guest wants to give a tip, who are we to say no?"
Silversea: "No gratuities are required or expected" on this luxury line, where fares can average $800 per day and up, says spokesman Brad Ball. Passengers can tip if they want, "but we don't encourage it," even for spa treatments, he adds.
Windstar: The line advertises a "tipping not required" policy on its Internet site. "Gratuities are not encouraged at all," sales coordinator Jordan Marona says. "But if people want to tip, that's their prerogative."

Jane Engle is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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How do I choose a Cruise Destination?

Choosing a Caribbean Cruise
From Linda Garrison,
Your Guide to Cruises.

Eastern Caribbean or Western Caribbean - Which Is Best for You?
Choosing where to sail is one of the first decisions made when planning a cruise vacation. Most cruise travelers select a 7-day Caribbean cruise for their first experience at sea. When you search the Internet or read cruise brochures, the most common itineraries offered are Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean. Which is better? The answer is either! It all depends on what your interests are, so in addition to selecting the right ship, you need to research the ports of call before you book. Both itineraries will provide cruisers with opportunities to sail, swim, snorkel, and shop. But there are differences. Let's take a quick look at the two most popular Caribbean cruise itineraries.
Eastern Caribbean Cruises
Most cruise ships sailing to the eastern Caribbean on 7-day itineraries embark from Florida. Ports of call on an Eastern Caribbean itinerary often include the Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. John (USVI), Puerto Rico, and perhaps St. Maarten/St. Martin. If you want less sailing (i.e. time at sea) and more shopping and opportunities to go to fantastic beaches, then an Eastern Caribbean itinerary might appeal more to you. The islands are relatively close together, smaller, and shore excursions tend to be more geared to beach or water activities.

Western Caribbean Cruises
Cruise ships sailing to the western Caribbean embark from Florida, New Orleans or Texas. Ports of call on a Western Caribbean itinerary often include Cozumel or Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Key West, FL; the Dominican Republic; Jamaica; Belize; or Costa Rica. If you look at a map, you will see that since the ports of call are further apart, more sailing is usually involved on a western Caribbean cruise. So you may have more time at sea and less time in port or on the beach. The ports of call in the western Caribbean are sometimes on the mainland (Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica) or at larger islands (Jamaica, Dominican Republic). Therefore, the shore excursion options are more varied. You can explore ancient Mayan ruins, hike the rain forests, or go snorkeling or SCUBA diving in some unforgettable locations.

If you are now thoroughly confused, that's okay! The Caribbean Sea is a cruise lover's heaven--blue seas, sunny beaches, and interesting ports of call. You will get all of these whichever direction you cruise. East and West are both great

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What type of Cruise Cabin is for me?
Tips for Selecting a Cruise Ship Cabin

by Linda Coffman

Your home away from home

"What does it matter? I'll only use the cabin for changing my clothes and sleeping!" Ah, I've heard that view expressed many times. If it truly doesn't matter to you, go ahead and book the very least expensive category guarantee you can find. On the other hand, if you view your cabin as your sanctuary, you will want a bit more than "standard inside."

Cruise ship cabins are not all created equal; however, they are all designed for comfort, convenience, and practicality. Standard cabins on modern cruise vessels haven't quite achieved parity with land based resort accommodations in terms of size, but cruise lines have recognized that small touches (and more spacious quarters) go a long way toward overall passenger satisfaction. You are likely these days to find your cabin equipped with amenities such as personal safes, robes for use on board, hairdryers, and toiletries—the little niceties that hotels have long provided for their guests.

Comfortable, Convenient & Practical

Aside from the little luxuries that vary from cruise line to cruise line, you'll find your cabin furnished in a pleasing decor. At the very least, a cabin contains beds (often twin beds that can be combined to form a queen- or king-size bed), a dressing table/writing desk, a chair, drawer or shelf storage, closet, and bathroom with shower. You'll also find a television set and telephone and some cabins even have sitting areas with a sofa or loveseat and coffee table.

"Omigosh, it's so SMALL!" Yes, cruise ship cabins often appear more spacious in brochure illustrations. Pay close attention to square footage and think "yacht" not "resort"—by doing so, you'll realize that a lot of thought went into the design and layout of your cabin.

What are the differences in cabin categories and what can you expect? Explore the following categories and take a peek at the illustrations to get an idea of which best suits your taste and lifestyle:

Inside Staterooms (See description below)

Outside Staterooms (See description below)

Balcony Staterooms (See description below)

Suites (See description below)

The perfect cabin... the best deal... I'm sure they exist, but they don't always go hand-in-hand. The lowest fares are in the "guarantee" categories—the cruise line guarantees you will be assigned a cabin at least as good as the category you book. Sometimes this means you'll get a higher category, but you don't get to select your location.

Why is location important? If you are prone to seasickness, your preferred cabin location should be in the middle of the ship on a lower deck where you will feel the least motion. If you are a light sleeper or like to sleep late in the morning, avoid high traffic areas (near elevators and stairs), areas of the ship where noise could be a problem (over or beneath a show lounge or disco), and the bow of the ship (where the sound of early morning anchoring activity could disturb your slumber).

A hard and fast rule for cabin selection is: Pick the category and location you will be most satisfied with for smooth sailing on your cruise. 

An inside Cabin
Is just that: a stateroom that is located inside the ship with no view—they have no window or porthole.
Often, to give the illusion of more space, you will find inside cabins have a mock "window" (complete with curtain) and rely on the generous use of mirrors for an airy feeling. On Royal Caribbean's largest vessels, there are even inside cabins with a view of sorts—some are designated "atrium staterooms" and feature bowed windows overlooking the the ships' interior grand promenades.
Inside cabins are generally just as spacious as outside cabins and decor and amenities are similar. On the newest vessels, you may find small refrigerators.
Many ships locate triple and quad cabins (accommodating three or more passengers) on the inside. Essentially, they look just like a standard double cabin, but have bunk beds that either fold down from the wall or disappear into the ceiling. Parents sometimes book an inside for older children and teens, while their own cabin is an outside across the hall with a window or balcony.
For passengers who want a very dark room for sleeping, an inside cabin is ideal. Use a bit of creativity and even your inside cabin can have a "window on the sea." Nearly every ship has a television channel that features a continuous view from the bridge (often accompanied by terrible elevator music). Turn on that channel before you retire and turn off the sound—it will be dark all night and you will awaken with a seascape!

A standard Outside Cabin
Has either a picture window or porthole.
To give the illusion of more space, these cabins might also rely on the generous use of mirrors for an even airier feeling.
In addition to the usual amenities, your outside stateroom might also have a small refrigerator.
The cabin's vanity/desk will almost always have two electric receptacles—one will accept standard US-style plugs (110-volt) and the other for European style plugs (220-volt). To plug in more than one gadget at a time, you'll need a power strip, or, for dual voltage appliances, a plug converter.
Two twin beds can be joined together to create one large bed, the equivalent of a queen- or king-size bed. A nice touch in some outside cabins are floor to ceiling, wall to wall curtains that allow passengers to create a "private" sleeping space.
Going one step further, standard and "larger" outside staterooms on modern ships are often outfitted with a small sofa or loveseat with a cocktail table or small side table. Some of those tables can be raised for dining. The sofas are usually "hide-a-beds" and can accommodate a third person. Cabins that are termed "larger" may have a combination bathtub/shower instead of just a shower.

Balcony or Verandah Cabin
Is an outside cabin with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that open onto a  private slice of deck.
While the cabins have large expanses of glass, their balconies are sometimes cut out of cabins' square footage (depending on the ship). To give the illusion of more space, a balcony cabin might also rely on the generous use of mirrors for an even roomier feeling.
Balconies are usually furnished with two chairs and a table for lounging and dining outdoors. Be aware that balconies are not always 100% private... dividers might be opaque and may not extend all the way from ceiling to floor or from the ships hull to the railing. On Princess Cruise Line's Grand-class ships, the balconies are "stepped" like a layer cake. The result is that certain categories have balconies which are visible from above.
In addition to the usual amenities, your balcony stateroom might also have a small refrigerator. The cabin's vanity/desk will almost always have two electric receptacles—one will accept standard US-style plugs (110-volt) and the other for European style plugs (220-volt). To plug in more than one appliance at a time, you'll need a power strip, or, for dual voltage appliances, a plug converter.
Two twin beds can be joined together to create one large bed, the equivalent of a queen- or king-size bed. A nice touch in some cabins are floor to ceiling, wall to wall curtains that allow passengers to create a "private" sleeping space.
Most balcony staterooms on modern ships have intimate sitting areas outfitted with a small sofa or loveseat with a cocktail table or small side table. Some of those tables can be raised to dining height. Sofas usually covert to beds to accommodate a third person. Some balcony cabins may even have a combination bathtub/shower instead of just a shower.

Home Suite Home
These are the most lavish accommodations afloat!
Suites are sweet indeed, but not all are created equal. Some luxury ships term all accommodations as "suites" and they generally range in size from about 250 to 1500 square feet.
While even smaller suites (often termed mini-suites) and penthouses are generous in size, the largest suites are more like apartments at sea. For example, the Garden Villas on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn that measure in at an extraordinary 5,350 square feet. Not only do they have a large living room and three penthouse bedrooms, they also feature huge private outdoor sun decks equipped with hot tubs, changing rooms, and dining areas.
In addition to the usual amenities, your suite will have a small refrigerator or mini-bar. Depending on the cruise line, it may be stocked with complimentary soft drinks, bottled water, and the alcoholic beverages of your choice. You can be assured that a bottle of champagne on ice will await your arrival. Little extras might include afternoon tea and evening canapes served by a white-gloved butler. 
Garden Villa bathroom with a view (and a television) on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star
The beds in most suites are two twin-sized that can be joined together to create the equivalent of a queen- or king-size bed. Expect roomy closets, abundant storage, and deluxe imported soaps and toiletries in the bathroom. And the bathroom may even be outfitted with a jacuzzi-style tub and separate shower.
Penthouse suites and mini-suites on modern ships have intimate sitting areas with a sofa, chair, and a cocktail table. Some of the tables can be raised to dining height. Suites and mini-suites in the smaller size ranges may only have floor to ceiling, wall to wall curtains that separate sitting areas from the sleeping space. For suite accommodations with a completely separate living room and bedroom, look for those with approximately 400 square feet and larger.
Suite balconies are usually furnished with two chairs and a small table for outdoor lounging. Depending on the ship and balcony size, you may also find a table and chairs for al fresco dining. Be aware that balconies are not always 100% private... dividers might be opaque and may not extend all the way from ceiling to floor or from the ships hull to the railing. On Princess Cruise Line's Grand-class ships, the balconies are "stepped" like a layer cake. The result is that certain categories, even some mini-suites, have balconies which are visible from above.
The top drawer suites on some ships even include the luxurious touch of complimentary laundry service. How SUITE it is!

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What are some of the most common travel sicknesses?

Motion Sickness
Motion sickness is an unpleasant problem for many travelers; however, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medications available. If you wish to combat motion sickness on your own, try the following:
When traveling by car, try to sit in the front seat and, if you can, avoid reading as it only heightens the feeling of motion sickness.
When traveling by boat, sit as close to the middle of the vessel as possible and look straight ahead at the horizon, a fixed point that will not move. Today’s high-tech cruise ships are built for comfort, with stabilizers for smooth sailing, and most passengers experience little or no motion sickness.
When flying, try to sit near the wing of the plane, or the side where you are accustomed to driving. Ear plugs also may help.
Extremes: Heatstroke and Hypothermia
To avoid heatstroke, stay out of the sun for prolonged periods of time. By the same token, try to avoid unusually cold water to prevent hypothermia.
It's very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a vacation and get dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and don't wait until you feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate you even more.
People who suffer from allergies should take the same precautions on vacation as they do at home. Bring any medications used on a regular basis. It’s also a good idea to bring an antihistamine in case of accidental exposure to a substance that triggers an allergic reaction.
The inflammation of the joints that occurs with arthritis may be especially troubling during long trips that restrict movement. Taking frequent breaks to walk around and relieve stiff joints and muscles can make car, plane and cruise trips more enjoyable. Remember to pack aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or any prescription medications you normally use for arthritis.
There’s nothing more miserable than getting sick while on vacation. For most destinations, the major health risk to travelers is diarrhea, which may be easily avoided. In general, common sense prevails. When in doubt, steer clear of uncooked meat, raw fruits and vegetables and unpasteurized milk products, and drink only bottled water (although the tip of the bottle may be contaminated, so wipe it clean before drinking from it) or water that has been boiled for at least 20 minutes. If you begin to feel sick or develop a fever, rest and drink tea or purified water. Most cases of traveler’s diarrhea clear up within a few days.

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Why should I use a travel Agent?

Agents can arrange all types of domestic and international travel, from hotel and resort accommodations to air and ground transportation, including car rental needs and tour packages. They can provide assistance with insurance protection, passport and visa applications, inoculation procedures and other foreign travel requirements.
Some agents maintain automated individual profiles that include the client's frequent flyer number, airline seating preference, smoking or non-smoking designation and other specifications for a custom-designed trip. Arrangements can also be tailored to suit business and holiday objectives, personal interests and budget concerns. Although most provide a wide range of services, some agencies may specialise in areas such as family travel, group travel, adventure travel, ecotourism, the mature market, incentive travel or travel for the disabled. A Paradise Cruise and Travel - you will come to appreciate our personal service.

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