Frequently Asked Questions
2023 EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISES
RETURN TO EUROPE!
Uncover the enchantments of Europe with an elegant Ama Waterways cruise and:
Save up to 5% on Suites & Balcony Stateroom
$300* Onboard Credit
Complimentary Premium Shore Excursion
Take advantage of this splendid offer on 7-night to 14-night voyages along the Danube, Rhine, Rhone and other stunning European rivers.
2023 Departures: Selected sailings throughout the year. Please contact us for more details.
BOOK BY JULY 31, 2020
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2020 AMERICAN RIVER CRUISES
AMERICAN QUEEN STEAMBOAT COMPANY
REDISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF AMERICA
Book a 2022 cruise along America's picturesque waterways and:
Save up to $2,000* per stateroom
Discover unparalleled beauty & tantalizing ports of call without leaving our fair shores as you sail in the luxury of American Queen Steamboat Company's stunning riverboats
2022 Departures: Selected sailings throughout the year. Please contact us for more details.
BOOK BY JULY 31, 2020
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2020 ALASKA CRUISE
MAGNIFICENT PASSAGE FROM ANCHORAGE TO VANCOUVER
Up to $300* Air Credit
Up to $400* Shipboard Credit
Discover Alaska from the comfort of Windstar's intimate Star Breeze on this unforgettable 11-day adventure
2020 Departures: Aug 2, 2020
BOOK BY FEBRUARY 28, 2020
CALL 1.844.SWCRUISE NOW
*All offers above are available on select cruises. Additional taxes and fees may apply. Terms and conditions apply. Please contact us for more details and availability.
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Whether or not to purchase optional travel insurance is a matter of personal choice. However, because of our three decades in the travel business we very strongly suggest that you protect yourself with an insurance plan. Time and time again, we’ve seen guests who had a medical or family issue that prevented them from traveling and they lost the full fare paid for their dream vacation. We’ve also seen perfectly healthy guests who took ill during their vacation, often as a result of more strenuous activity and richer foods than found in their normal daily routine. Medical coverage overseas and a return to the United States cost them tens of thousands of dollars. Be sure to write down your insurance policy number and the insurance provider’s phone number so you have the information nearby while traveling. And if you believe that your current insurance plan covers you abroad, please be sure to check with your insurer as this is frequently not the case.
How can friends and family reach me while traveling?
You can use local Wi-Fi networks or the ship’s Wi-Fi to send texts without incurring global roaming rates, but it’s also a good idea to find out from the cruise line how someone can call the ship directly just in case there is an urgent need to reach you while traveling. The method to do so will vary by cruise line, but generally will involve an international call directly to the ship itself which sometimes will entail knowing a ship’s location or call sign.
Do I need a passport or visa?
If you are traveling on a voyage solely within the United States, you will only need a valid form of photo ID such as a driver’s license. If you are traveling outside the United States, you will always need a valid passport and for some destinations, such as Russia or Asia, you might need a visa as well. We will let you know if a visa is needed but it is your responsibility to obtain the visa before departure. Keep in mind that your passport’s expiration date must be more than six months after your travel dates or it may not be accepted. To be safe, we suggest either making copies of the first page of your passport or your birth certificate, any visas you obtain, and your airline tickets to have as back-up. Just don’t pack them in the same bag as your actual passport and visa. You can also scan your documents and email them to yourself as attachments so that you can have proof of your identity and nationality as long as you have access to email.
Can I check in before departure day?
Most cruise lines have online check in and we strongly suggest you take advantage of this convenience. It makes your arrival at the ship and the boarding process much easier and hassle-free.
How much luggage can I bring?
Most cruise lines have no restrictions on the amount of luggage you can bring on your voyage, but airlines have strict rules. If you are among the majority of guests flying to your embarkation city, check directly with the airline on how much luggage is allowed. On many international flights, the first checked bag per person is free. On most domestic flights, including those within foreign countries, that may not be the case. Few airlines charge for carry-on bags but there are a handful that do. Check with your individual airlines on their specific baggage policy, including number of bags, surcharges, and size and weight limits. Also, do be aware that storage space in your suite or stateroom for extra bags may be somewhat limited. In addition, porters at hotels or drivers of motorcoaches may be limited in their ability to move and transfer very heavy bags. For all the cruises we offer, we find that a regular suitcase and a single carry-on item are all that is really needed. We always advise our guests to pack light. If you forgot something, it’s easy to pick up items such as a tube of toothpaste, an extra pair of socks, or a hat while traveling.
How strenuous is my trip going to be?
The answer to that question depends on the type of cruise you take. On most river cruises, moving about the ship is easy but ashore in medieval villages and historic towns, the ground may be uneven. Most cruise lines will offer walking tours geared to various fitness levels such as those who need more time, those who walk at a normal pace, and those who wish to walk briskly. On luxury ocean going cruises, the ships might be a bit larger, but the fitness requirements to enjoy your cruise are quite low. On an expedition cruise, expect a higher level of activity and expected mobility with the need to walk across rocky terrain such as a beach in Antarctica and the ability to get in and out of an inflatable zodiac for trips ashore.
Are there accommodations for the mobility impaired or those who need an oxygen tank?
If you have any medical conditions, we will let the cruise line know in advance so they can do their best to accommodate you. In some cases, it is at the cruise line’s discretion to deny passage if they believe the physical requirements of the voyage may exceed the guest’s capabilities at the time of sailing. Many ships are wheelchair accessible and several lines have staterooms designed for those with special requirements. Do note that in some cases and on smaller ships such as costal cruisers and river vessels, elevators may not reach the top outdoor decks. Many cruise lines can accommodate guests who require the use of oxygen. Whatever your physical condition, Select Waterways will be glad to assist you in selecting the cruise that will best match your needs.
Can the ship handle my special dietary needs?
On most ships, special diets such as gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian, and vegan can be accommodated with advance notice at time of booking. Since exact policies do vary by cruise line, Select Waterways will happily check with our cruise line partners for their ability to meet your dietary requirements.
Can I get cash on board?
You can often cash Traveler’s Checks at the front desk, but don’t expect an ATM aboard (although some ships may have one available). If you need cash, you can usually find an ATM ashore (except on specific ports on expedition cruises) but be aware that ATMs in foreign countries will dispense cash in the foreign currency of that country. You should also let your local bank know you will be traveling so they will not block any unexpected transactions while you are overseas.
Can I use the US dollar to pay for things?
The answer depends on where you are sailing. In Europe, you’ll find that you need Euros or even the local currency if your destinations are not part of the European Union. Throughout the Caribbean, US dollars are usually welcomed. In Southeast Asia, Africa, Russia and some parts of South America, US dollar purchases may be encouraged while in other areas, such as Japan, only the indigenous currency is accepted.
Are credit cards accepted?
Major credit cards are accepted for your deposit and final payment for your cruise and on board for payment of your shipboard bill (such as for massages or gift shop purchases). Though the situation has improved considerably over the last few years, note that there are still several establishments in Europe that do not accept American Express cards. We suggest you travel with a minimum of two different major credit cards; three is preferable. Also, let your credit card companies know your travel area and travel dates so that they do not deny unexpected charges from a foreign country.
How do I settle my shipboard bill?
Typically, on the last night of the cruise you will receive a statement detailing any shipboard charges made during the voyage. In most cases, these charges will automatically be billed to the credit card you have on file when you checked in either online or at the pier.
How much do I tip?
Suggested tipping amounts vary by cruise line. On many luxury cruises tips are included in your fare. Most lines suggest a set amount per person/per day for staff tips and allow you to charge this amount to your shipboard account. In some cases, you can pre-pay gratuities at the time of booking. Tips may vary from roughly $15 to $25 per person/per day on most cruises. Also, be prepared with cash in the local currency to tip motorcoach guides and drivers. You’ll find the service both aboard and ashore so exceptional that you won’t mind extending gratuities to those who have made your vacation so much more enjoyable.
Do I need to bring an adapter to plug in my phone or electric razor?
If you’re travelling on a river vessel in the United States, you will find the same standard plugs as you have at home. If you are on a larger ocean-going cruise ship, they often will have standard American-style outlets. On many European, Asian, Russian, and African river vessels, you may need an adapter, as will be the case on many expedition ships. We recommend you always bring an adapter if leaving the United States, because even if the ship has American-style outlets, hotels in which you stay pre- or post-cruise often will not. Many newer ships have built-in USB plugs for your phone, but it’s good to have an adapter handy just in case.
How many outfits should I pack?
We can’t say it strongly enough: pack light. When in doubt, leave it out. Pack shirts and blouses that can be worn interchangeably with slacks or skirts to maximize your variety of looks with fewer articles of clothing. For the most part, cruises today are country-club casual, especially river cruises. It’s nice to have one nice dress and one sport jacket for slightly dressier parties or receptions. If you feel lost without a suit and tie, feel free to bring them but they are rarely required, except on some of the most luxurious cruise lines and then only on a formal night. Expedition voyages are all about comfort. Each cruise line has its own suggested dress code, so we suggest asking us before filling that suitcase. Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes and a light jacket. If you are traveling to colder climates, heavier jackets are recommended. We suggest clothes that can be layered, since the weather may vary from port to port and even from morning to afternoon. And don’t forget your bathing suit and work-out clothes if you plan to use the pool or fitness facilities.
What items should I bring?
Remember that airport security requirements will limit the size of liquids and semi-liquids to less than three ounces per item so be sure to shop for travel size toothpaste, hair gel, etc. Overall, we find that you should bring:
- Enough medication to last at least twice as long as your trip in case you lose pills or there is an unexpected delay in returning home. Make sure they are in the original container, as this is a requirement in some countries. Also bring copies of your prescriptions so they can be filled overseas as necessary.
- The email, telephone, and fax number of your doctor’s office
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb or hair brush, razor, feminine products, and cosmetics
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Tissues and antibacterial wipes
- Basic first aid kit: medications for upset stomach, aspirin, antiseptic cream, cold medicine, vitamins, and bandages
- Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Small flashlight for evening walks ashore
- Converters, adapters, chargers, and power cords
- Travel umbrella
- Rain poncho
- Camera and extra memory cards
- Smart phone with charging cord
- Download maps and guides to ports of call to your phone or tablet in case you wish to strike out on your own while ashore
Is there a laundry on board?
Only the smallest of ships do not offer laundry service. Note that there is a charge for laundry service and that it can take up to two days for laundered items to be returned, so plan accordingly.
Do you have any advice for overseas flights?
A long flight can be quite taxing which is one of the reasons we suggest you arrive at least a day before your sailing date to have the chance to recharge and adjust to a new time zone.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses during your flight, as recirculated cabin air tends to dry them out.
- Alleviate ear pressure by chewing gum, yawning, or swallowing.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and comfortable shoes.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Periodically walk up and down the aisle to stretch your legs and get blood circulating.
- Try to sleep during your overnight flight.
Is there a doctor on board?
Ocean-going and most expedition ships have a doctor aboard and a small medical facility. Small coastal ships and river vessels usually do not have a doctor or medical facility due to their proximity to shore. For example, if you should fall ill and need immediate emergency treatment by a doctor, a riverboat or coastal cruise simply pulls ashore and is met by an ambulance. Note that there is a charge for services performed by any onboard doctor.
Is there a fitness center on board?
Larger ships, including expedition vessels, usually have a fitness facility. The larger the ship, the more extensive the facility. River vessels sometimes have a small gym and, along with their larger ocean-going cousins, spa treatments. The smallest of coastal ships may not have a fitness center or spa treatments, but you’ll find plenty of options ashore.
Is there a pool onboard?
The availability of pools on board varies by cruise line. Some, but not all, river ships have a pool on the top deck. Most smaller coastal cruisers will not. Luxury ocean-going cruise ships will almost always have a pool available. Expedition ships may or may not have a place to swim while on board, depending on the regions in which the ship regularly sails. You’re more likely to find a pool on a ship in the Galapagos Islands than in the Arctic, for example.
Are there shops on board?
Most ships have a gift shop. On a river vessel, it may be a small alcove, and on a larger luxury ship, there could be several standalone boutiques. Even on ships without permanent gift shops, tables will be set up in a lounge a few times during the cruise offering items for sale.
Can I stay before or after my cruise?
You’ll find that many cruise lines offer pre- and post-cruise hotel packages in their embarkation and debarkation ports that include some meals as well as guided tours of a number of attractions. For example, many Danube cruises highlight two or three nights in Prague with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Regensburg en route to boarding your river cruise. We can help you select the cruise line package that is just right for you, or if you prefer to be a free spirit with more time on your own, we can book hotels and train tickets for your own adventures.
Can I smoke on board?
You can smoke on board, but note that the vast majority of cruise lines only allow smoking in one or two small designated areas, often prohibit smoking on verandas and in staterooms, and on smaller ships, may only allow smoking on a specified area of an open deck. Usually, these restrictions include e-cigarettes as well. Ashore, you’ll find smoking more accepted in places like Europe than it is in North America.
What amenities are found in my suite or stateroom?
Most ships have high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi access
Most ships also have televisions with on-demand entertainment, documentaries, movies, and either satellite or local channels. Note that the ship’s television reception and Internet operate via satellite and may be temporarily restricted or unclear depending on the ship’s location. This is especially true of expedition vessels.
Your stateroom has a telephone that may be used to call the reception desk and other staterooms. Calls may also be made from ship to shore and charges will be billed to your onboard account. Rates vary by cruise line.
All staterooms have individually-controlled climate control.
For safety reasons, most ships do not provide irons and the use of travel irons is prohibited. On some ships, these same restrictions may apply to curling irons.
Staterooms are often equipped with a hair dryer and all feature toiletries, including soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion.
Most ship staterooms have a small safe for storing of valuables such as passports, jewelry or cash.
On luxury ships and premium cruises, you will often find a robe and/or slippers for your use during the cruise.
Will my ship have a bike I can use while ashore?
Many river cruises offer bikes free of charge to their guests. Complimentary bikes are much less common on ocean-going and expedition journeys. However, other means of self-transportation such as kayaks may be available on these cruises.
Are meals included?
Yes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks are always included on all voyages offered by Select Waterways. Many ships have specialty restaurants and while some lines have a surcharge for such dining, most do not. However, reservations are strongly suggested. Don’t worry–you’ll never go hungry on a cruise!
Are drinks included?
Inclusion of drinks varies by cruise line. Many river cruises offer complimentary juices and sparkling wines with breakfast, beer and wine with lunch, and beer and wine with dinner. The same is true of many expedition and ocean-going ships offered by Select Waterways. Luxury cruises, whether on river or ocean, include all beverages in the fare, including a limited selection of top-shelf spirits. Most premium and all luxury voyages include complimentary bottled water.
Are shore excursions included?
In general, river cruises include at least one escorted shore excursion in each port of call with a handful of optional shore excursions during each voyage. The same is true of most expedition cruises and luxury cruises. Luxury cruises will often add a special excursion exclusively for their guests once during the cruise, such as a wine-pairing dinner at a European estate or a special opera performance. Complimentary shore excursions are somewhat less common on other types of cruises. Check with Select Waterways on your cruise line’s exact policy and offerings.
Will I be able to hear my tour guide?
There’s nothing more annoying than straining to hear a soft-spoken tour guide on a busy street. All river cruises and many ocean-going ships offer a sophisticated, lightweight audio headset device to take along on shore excursions, so you never miss a word of your guide’s fascinating commentary.
Can I mail things from the ship?
You can obtain postage at the reception desk if you wish to send postcards, letters, or packages back home. However, note that your item will not be mailed until the next port of call. If you’re halfway between Antarctica and Patagonia, it may be a few days before outgoing mail is collected. Conversely, on a river cruise, most mail will be sent the same day or early the next day.
During this difficult time, we are holding off on our special offers as we encourage everyone to remain healthy and safe at home.
2019 CANADA & GREAT LAKES CRUISES
AMERICAN QUEEN STEAMBOAT COMPANY
FRENCH CANADA & THE GREAT LAKES
Save up to $4,800* per stateroom
9-night voyages sailing from Montreal, Chicago and other glorious cities
2019 Dates: Select Jun, Jul, Aug, Oct and Nov sailings
BOOK BY JUNE 30, 2019
CALL 1.844.SWCRUISE NOW
PORTUGAL, SPAIN & THE DOURO RIVER VALLEY
Save up to $2,000* per person
$200* Shipboard Credit per person
10-night voyages sailing from Lisbon to Porto, Portugal
2019 Dates: Various in July, August & November