Do I need to bring my passport?
A passport (valid for at least six months beyond your return date) is required for travel to an international destination. Some countries may also require you to have a valid visa. Please contact your travel agent or our reservation staff for specifics. Australian citizens do not require a passport for cruises which do not visit a foreign port. A government issued photo ID is however required for passengers over the age of 18 years. A current Medicare card can be used for passengers younger than 18 years of age.
Do I require travel insurance?
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance, covering all countries you plan to visit during your holiday trip. If you are going on an Australian coastal cruise, you still require international travel insurance as your cruise is outside the scope of Australian Medicare, the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and private health insurance. Uninsured passengers are personally liable for any expenses incurred. All consultations, treatments and medications on cruise ships are charged at private rates.
What is included in my cruise fare?
Cruising is great value, because most of your holiday needs are taken care of. Your cruise fare includes accommodations, all main meals onboard, daytime activities and night-time entertainment including live stage shows. Beverages are usually not included, in particular alcoholic drinks. Shore excursions, on board purchases and treatments like spa and hairdresser come at an extra expense as well.
What do I need to pack and are there luggage restrictions?
You should carry cruise and travel documents, passport and valuable items in your hand luggage. We also recommend that you keep any medicines or medical items in your carry-on luggage. Type of clothing to pack differs between cruise lines, cruise destination and possibly time of the year. Most cruise lines’ dress code during the day is fairly casual. Comfortable, non slippery walking shoes are highly recommended to wear around the ship to avoid any accidents. It is advisable to bring clothing which can be worn in layers, since temperatures can fluctuate during the day and term of your cruise. The evening dress code varies between cruise lines. Some have formal nights, where cocktail attire is requested. Other cruise lines have a more relaxed dress code, even for dinner. Smart casual is often accepted. Cruise lines which offer shore excursions requiring protective gear do usually provide this at no charge. The outfits will need to be returned after your excursion. We recommend that you consult with our friendly staff at time of booking to ensure that you pack correctly for your chosen cruise. Unlike airlines, cruise ships do not have a weight restriction for luggage. In cabin storage space may however be restricted, depending on the ship, selected cabin and number of passengers in the cabin.
Which items can I not take with me?
Not permitted on board of any cruise ship are illicit substances, explosives, flammable liquids and weapons of any kind. Most cruise lines do also not allow passengers to bring alcohol on board. Duty-free tax-free and personal alcohol purchased onshore must be surrendered by passengers prior to boarding at any port. Duty and tax-free alcohol purchased on board will be held under bond and returned at disembarkation in the final port of call.
How do I pay on board?
Most cruise ships are cashless societies. On board payments and purchases are generally made with your personalised cruise card and against signature. You receive your cruise card at time of embarkation, usually with a print of your credit card being taken. The cruise card is also used as form of identification for disembarkation and re-embarkation during your cruise holiday. Some small ship operators do not use cruise cards. Instead you simply sign for on board purchases and pay at the end of your cruise.
What are shore excursions and how can I book them?
Shore excursions are tours organised by your cruise operator and are generally offered at every port of call. A variety of options is usually available. Shore excursions may differ in terms of activity level or cater for different interests e.g. with cultural or culinary focus. They are escorted by qualified staff and can vary in length and price. Shore excursions can be booked on board and often also in advance. This is advisable where possible, as popular excursions can sell out. Special equipment and outfits, which may be required for your chosen excursion, will be provided at no charge by your cruise operator. Please do not hesitate to ask our friendly staff for recommended shore excursions.
Is smoking permitted on board?
Most cruise ships have designated smoking areas. Rules and regulations differ between cruise operators. Please inquire on board for the specific regulations applying to your cruise ship.
What entertainment is offered for children?
This differs between cruise lines and ships. Larger vessels usually offer supervised ‘kid clubs’ broken down into age groups. Child facilities on smaller cruise ships can be more limitted, but may nonetheless offer suitable activities. Baby sitting services are also available on some cruise ships.
How much do I need to tip?
Cruise lines’ tipping procedures vary. Many cruise lines provide a suggested amount as guideline. Gratuities can often be paid for in advance, when you pay for your cruise. You may however choose to pay at the end of your cruise. On small cruise ships an envelope is often left in your cabin at the end of your sailing.
What currency is used on board?
The onboard currency is Pound Sterling. Shipboard accounts can be made in sterling travellers cheques. Mastercard and Visa is also accepted.
Are on board gratuities included?
Hebridean Cruises operates a strict "no tipping" policy.
What is the electric current on board?
The electricity supply on the Hebridean Princess is 240v AC and a standard UK 3-pin socket. Transformers will be required to use appliances that use a 110v current.
What if I have a special dietary requirement?
Hebridean Cruises cater for most dietary prefrences, with the exception of strict Kosher regime and a few others. Special requests should be included in your Pre-Cruise Questionnaire.
What is the dress code on board?
Daytime: During the dress feel free to dress casually. It is advised to bring suitable clothes for the are you're cruising in. Evening: For dinner Guests prefer to dress more formally, a jacket and tie for gentlemen and the equivelent for ladies. Gala dinners: The recommended dress code for Gala dinners is Black tie for gentlemen and evening wear for the ladies. Although this is not mandatory. Footwear: Non-slip shoes are advised whilst on-board, heavy soled or walking boots would be advised for shore visits.
Is the internet available on-board?
There are iPads available in the Library and that also have Wi-Fi access.Mobile phone reception in the Highlands and islands can be patchy and reception can be somewhat patchy.
Variety Cruises FAQ
What cabin facilities and on board services do you offer?
All cabins have private, nicely appointed bathrooms with showers. All cabins are air-conditioned and fitted with central music and with telephone for intra ship communication. All ships have in lounges TV's with satellite channels with at least English speaking channels. There are hairdryers in each cabin. Also, almost all of our ships have TV's or flat-screen TV's, safe boxes, mini-fridges, DVD players in cabins. You will find elegant dining rooms, spacious sun decks and comfortable lounges on board of our vessels. No pools are offered as it is common for our guests to swim off our ships or for passengers to reach secluded beaches by tender. Your cruise program is either with breakfast plus lunch or dinner or with all meals. Meals are served at set times and there is flexible seating. Limited laundry service is available at a cost on our small ships. The shore excursions are offered at a supplemental cost. The M/Y Pegasus, the M/Y Harmony V and the M/Y Variety Voyager offers a small wellness suite with massage and other beauty treatments. Sports activities: Swimming off the ships is possible as well as snorkeling, kayaking and canoeing. It is possible at some destinations to organize diving excursions.
What languages are spoken on board?
Language on board is English but German, French, Spanish or Russian can be spoken by our Cruise Coordinators and Hotel Crew on scheduled cruise sailings. In general there is a multilingual environment and you will have a chance to mix with a variety of nationalities. Excursions and public announcements are usually in English. English and sometimes German and French are widely spoken on all ports of call visited by our small ships.
What is not included in my cruise costs?
Unless a specific package has been purchased, transfers to and from the vessel, shore excursions, wine, alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, gratuities, laundry service and items of a personal nature are not included and may be bought en-route or are at a supplemental cost. There is a boutique on board some of our vessels. All on board charges are in Euros. Gratuities are at our guests’ discretion. As a rule, satisfied customers are expected to leave between Euro 10-14 or USD 13-16 per person per day. These tips are distributed to all crew members. Guests have the choice to adjust the amount of gratuities reflecting the level of satisfaction.
What should I pack?
Please travel as lightly as possible so as not to restrict space in your cabin. Soft bags are more practical than hard suitcases. Sports or casual clothes are more useful. Plenty of swimwear is required and a pullover or cardigan is recommended for cool evenings. Comfortable walking shoes are suggested when ashore.
What is the electric current on your ships?
Our ship generators provide an electric current of 220v. Cabins are equipped with European type plugs so please remember to bring an adapter if necessary.
Should I mention any health problems and special needs or dietary requirements?
Due to safety reasons it is requested that physical disabilities of any kind should be advised at time of reservation. It is understood that passengers requiring special attention or treatment will be travelling with their personal escorts. The company retains the right to deny embarkation to any pregnant woman beyond the 6th month of pregnancy. Variety Cruises ships are not suitable for passengers with special needs. Embarkation gang ways do not fit all types of wheel chairs. Cabin bathrooms and stair cases are unsuitable for disabled passengers. Every attempt to meet special dietary requirements should be made provided it is requested in writing at least 4 weeks prior to sailing.
What currency is used on board?
The EURO is the official currency while on board. There is an optional credit system for expenses on board that may be paid/settled at the end of the cruise. Most major currencies and traveller’s cheques are accepted/exchanged at their official exchange rate. Credit cards are accepted on board of all Variety Cruises ships.
Are children welcome on board and which activities are available?
There are no recreational facilities for children and reservations for those under the age of eleven are not advised. Taking that into consideration please note that children onboard are their parents’ sole responsibility. Fins, masks and snorkels are available on board for use during the swim stops. Kayaks are for some of our of our itineraries, such as Costa Rica, Panama or Seychelles. There's also a small library as well as board games and playing cards for your amusement. Movies are often shown in the vessels’ Lounges, so please check in the Daily Program for show times.
Do you offer shore excursions and are they included in the cruise tariff?
Shore excursions are not included in the cruise fares and are available according to the cruise schedule/ports of call visited. Details are available in your cabin and provided also on a daily basis by the on board Cruise Coordinator. Shore excursions are subject to shore and weather conditions and based on a minimum participation.
When do I embark/ disembark?
Passengers are requested to be on board 2 hours prior to departure. Disembarkation is after breakfast at approximately 9am. Please also note that sailing times are listed in the Daily Program and you must comply with the specified “ALL ABOARD” time, also posted on the Notice Board. If you are not on board by the set time, it will be your own responsibility if you miss the ship. The “all aboard” time is 15 minutes prior to the vessel’s departure time.
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