Answering Your Questions

| May 29, 2003

Q. My wife and I are going on our first cruise to Alaska this May on the Norwegian Sun. Can you tell me if booking a penthouse suite gets you any perks such as free wine, fruit baskets, robes, etc? I have read several messages on cruise boards that indicate that you do, but I can't get any info from NCL. Thanks --Ed

A. Great question. And one I wish I could answer. Your travel agent may be able to get an answer for you. There may well be robes in your room, but they will be for use on the ship. As for fruit and wine -- maybe, maybe not; it all depends on what the line's policy is at any given time, or what your travel agent may be sending you as a bon voyage gift. My suggestion: Expect little and appreciate anything you get.

Q. After reading Kuki's article on price juggling, I need to tell you that I recently sailed on Princess, and three weeks before the sailing they had a sale. I got the sale price and saved almost $700 with absolutely no hassle at all. It always pays to try. I am booked again on Princess for June 8, and will keep looking for a lower price up to the date of sailing. --Glenn

A. Your point about checking on prices is extremely valid, especially in today's environment. Prices are constantly changing, and it pays to pay attention. This is also something your travel agent can do for you as part of the service he provides. Some cruise lines have set the final payment date farther out from the sailing date so that when they drop the prices closer in, they can charge a penalty for someone who wants to take advantage of a lower price. This penalty usually amounts to the exact price differential.

Q. I'm going on HAL's New England/Canada cruise later this month, leaving from New York City, returning from Montreal. I'll have my camera outfit with me, and it's valued about $900. Would you anticipate any problems with Customs bringing the camera back into the country? My wife read somewhere in cruise reviews that this could be a problem. Should, or could, the camera outfit be registered with Customs to prevent re-entry problems? We have been out of the country to Canada for the day a couple of times before, a few years ago, and never had a problem. Any insight will be appreciated. --Ken

A. You probably won't have a problem unless the camera looks brand spanking new. But to be safe, bring your purchase receipt; or you can always register it with Customs as you indicate.

Q. Can you assist me in any way to find out a cruise ship's smoking policy? I smoke small cigars, and recently on a Costa Cruise I found out they do not permit cigars in the designated smoking areas, which included the Casino. This greatly inconvenienced me. Although they had a cigar smoking area, it was completely away from all activity. I would like to avoid this in the future. --George

A. Every cruise line has a different policy when it comes to smoking. And the policy varies for cigarettes, pipes and cigars. You need to check with the line involved to make sure what the current policy is on your ship at the time of your cruise. More and more lines are placing greater restrictions on where and when guests can smoke.

Q. When we have dinner at one of the specialty restaurants on cruise ships that charge $25 per person, are we expected to tip--and if so, how much? --Edie

A. The answer to that depends on the individual restaurant involved. I was just on Celebrity's Millennium and it was clearly stated that the $25 included the gratuity (although several fellow diners told me they graciously tipped extra). Check the policy going in, and do what you think best. Whatever the amount or the policy, good service deserves a special thank you, whether verbal, a handshake, or a tip.

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