Frequently Asked Questions
Well, cruising got very popular for several reasons. You pay a onetime fee to get on the ship and you get everything you wish for. Food 24/7 for free, shows, pools, spa, fun, you name it. You get your cabin, unpack, and enjoy a week or more on a beautiful ship that offers everything you can do at land as well. Besides that, you will wake up some mornings and you are at a different island or even country you were the day before. Not convinced yet? How about sailing with a like minded LGBT people of every age and gender and enjoy socialize and party as much or as less you want. Promised, you will have an awesome time. We are a large group of like minded people and share the ship with other passengers. This is a group vacation and not a whole charter. But we will have private events on board and on land. We block a large group of rooms on the ship. This way, we can get you prices which are even lower than all-gay cruises and lower than what RCCL will charge the general public. Any negotiated discounts and upgraded cabins will automatically be passed on to you, our valued clients and friends. We are a mix of bears, chubs, cubs and chasers, admirers and their lesbian and straight friends. Segregation ended a long time ago, and, as we all know, straight people and women like us as much as anyone else. It's a matter of mutual respect for each other, and you certainly don't have to hide who and/or what you are. People are people and when they come together for a great party experience. It truly will be a memorable event. You are all welcome onboard and that is what will help make your vacation experience so unique.
WHAT DO I NEED TO GO CRUISING?
A passport would be the best choice. In some places to the Caribbean you can travel with your driver's license and birth certificate. But I really suggest to get a passport. You may want to travel the world with us and you definitely need one then. Passport should be valid at least 6 months from the sailing date. Keep your travel documents close to you and do NOT pack your passport into the checked luggage. There are thousands of suitcases at the pier and if you check in and your passport is in your checked luggage, you will have to wait till they find your bag. And that can take hours. So keep all documents to your body please.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK FOR THE CRUISE?
Well, whatever is "comfy" for you. As far as dress is concerned, the main dining room is open for all three meals daily, but you don't have to show up at a special time in order to be accommodated together. For most of the time, the dress code remains very simple. You will want to wear "creative", "comfortable" attire throughout the day. If you want to stay in your swimwear all day, that's fine too, but please be aware that tasteful attire is required in the main dining room - that means no bare feet (or "bare whatever"). If you eat at the buffet, wear a T-Shirt. If one day you don't feel like schlepping out a special outfit for a meal at one of the Restaurants, casual attire is completely acceptable). We blocked tables for our group for main dining every night. So before or after dinner, depends on what time we are eating, we all can enjoy some Martini's and the spectacular shows on board.
*HOWEVER, HERE IS AN IMPORTANT NOTE:*
Usually the first and last night at sea is designated as "formal, dress up" night. So, for the formal night only, we must request that you wear more formal attire to dinner. Royal Caribbean and some other cruise lines do not require a jacket anymore and dockers and a polo is fine. No jeans, t shirt, shorts etc. Sorry guys. The ship's photographer will also be on hand to snap photos with crew members and or any other people you wish to be included. The formal photos are taken before dinner and will be available to you at very affordable prices.
This dinner will be the highlight of your dining experiences and will be in the main, formal dining room. We ask everyone to join us and get to know us and participate in a fun-filled evening of gourmet food. But of course you have the choice to eat whenever, wherever you want.. Make sure to check out the specialty restaurants on board and make reservations early enough.
In your carry on when you get on board pack your meds, CPAP, bathing suit, long pants and polo for dinner etc. Your luggage will arrive at your cabin usually before dinner. But if something happens and it's late, you still have everything you need for dinner and after in your carry on.
WHEN CAN I BOOK MY SHORE EXCURSIONS?
We always set up some pretty exciting shore excursions. You will get an email when they are all out. WE strongly suggest you do NOT book these excursions directly with the cruise line yet, since we have created activities consistent with our lifestyle. We will tell you the excursions available ONLY to our group plus, if you would like to do something else, you will have many events to choose from. And sure, if you find a shore excursion from the cruise line, you can book it with them right away. I also suggest sometimes some cruise line excursions we can book together so we stay together.
HERE WE GO AGAIN! IS NUDITY PERMITTED?
Each cruise line has basically the same dress rule as any other. The only "legal" place for complete nudity is behind the closed door of your cabin. Well, and the Sauna and Steam room if it's no mixed.
Two guys got arrested on board at another bear cruise for violating those rules and showing their family jewels to other passengers. So be aware of that. I am not bailing anyone out on board or on any Island . Party before the cruise like there is no tomorrow, but please keep your leather chaps and harness in your cabin. We share the ship with many other families who spend also a lot of money for a great vacation. This is not gay pride or leather pride. We need to respect the others.
I'M TRAVELING "SOLO", SO AM I GOING TO BE EXCLUDED
FROM CERTAIN CLIQUES AND OPTIONS IF I'M TRAVELING ALONE?
First of all, no one travels alone or is lonely on a vacation. It is what you make of it. And, don't forget, those of you who don't know anyone else on the ship, there's always Arno who welcomes everyone and will push you into the group, or pool, or Sauna etc.. Promise, you will not be alone.
JUST ONE MORE TIME, DO I HAVE TO DINE AT THE SAME TABLE EVERY NIGHT?
Of course not. You can dine with whomever you wish whenever you wish to dine. The main dining room is open for dinner any evening. No reservations are required but all of those wishing to dine together should arrive at approximately the same time at the main dining room. We blocked tables for a specific time and the cruise line will charge gratuity up front so you don't have to do anything at the end of the cruise. This is for the whole ship. If you have been on a cruise before you know that by the end of the cruise you tip the waiter, wine lady, steward and everyone else. Now you paid your gratuity up front and you are done with it. You can also switch tables every evening for dinner now so you will have a different waiter every time. The first night requires though that you sit at the assigned table. Your table number is on your board card. All other nights you can sit at any table that is assigned to the group. There are also many restaurants in addition to the main dining room, and you can visit each one you want, when you want. Those are gourmet restaurants that do require an additional payment of anywhere from $10 to $90 per person. If you booked your cruise already you can go to to the cruise lines web site and search for restaurants on your ship. You can make reservations after you have a booking confirmation at those specialty restaurants. You can also wait till you get on board but don't be surprised if they are all booked by then. Do you only drink soda? Do you like to drink Wine with dinner? Check Soda and alcohol packages as well.
WHAT ARE CUSTOMARY GRATUITIES AND HOW MUCH DO DRINKS COST?
Since you pay gratuity up front, you are not required to tip anyone for anything. If a crew member or employee does something special for you, you can leave a tip for services for that extra special service you may receive. But that is totally up to you. The only exception to this arrangement is that, when purchasing alcohol and soft drinks, a 18% tip is automatically included on each receipt We will be traveling through some very hot regions of the World and dehydration can be problem for many of you. So, for those non-drinkers we suggest you purchase the soft-drink package, you can do that before the cruise or when you get on the ship. This plan will save you a lot of money. Many of you have asked about bringing your own alcoholic beverages on board. Any cruise lines official policy states that individuals may NOT bring onboard any of their own alcoholic beverages except for perhaps a bottle of wine. Ok, folks, you know the rules, if you get caught it will cost you money and your personal "stash" will be confiscated. So, please, let's avoid any personal confrontations with the cruise line. This trip is meant to be lots of fun, not lots of hassles. Any questions? Please ask me.
HOW DO I GO ABOUT CHECKING IN ON THE DAY OF DEPARTURE?
Depends on which port we are sailing from. My idea of cruising is to see the world, not going every year on the same ship to the same islands out of the same ports. A new concept for sure. In some ports you may be able to walk to the pier, others you have a short taxi ride, and some I may organize a bus ride. It's all depends on where we are sailing from.
Only if you want to. There are many over-the-counter products that can help avoid sea sickness (a rarity on the large ship we are using) but if you feel you need to take something to prevent sea sickness, we suggest you discuss with your physician or pharmacist prior to departure. Also, the sun is hot and sun blocks should be purchased before you leave on your trip. These products can be expensive if you wait to purchase them onboard so we suggest you stock-up on toiletries you may want to use throughout your trip. On board cosmetic purchases can become expensive and we don't want that to happen.
- *DON'T FORGET TO BRING YOUR "CHILL PILLS"* Those guys and girls on the cruise work hard to make this a life time experience. They are thousands of miles away from their families. Are always friendly, serve you delicious food, make your bed several times a day and do their best to make it a wonderful vacation for YOU. Remember, even if something goes wrong, you can make the best out of it.
- *DON'T FORGET THE OBVIOUS.* This is a no-brainer. You will make friends on board. From our group and also maybe people you meet on the ship. So print your trick cards, your name and email address on, or your business cards, or your name and picture with your cabin number on them. Whatever you decide, they do come handy.
SINGLE TRAVELERS AND MATCH UPS?
As a single traveler you pay basically 200%, from the deposit to the full cruise fare. Some cruise lines will deduct the port charges for one person. Some don't. Please ask in advance.
If you want to be matched up with another traveler we can do that, as long as we find another person who is also single and wants to be matched with someone else.
In this case we will hold your reservation and will contact you as soon as we have another sailor. If no one else is looking for a cabin mate we will not book you on the cruise, your CC will not be charged from the cruise line.. Please check with us sporadically where we stand if you want to be matched up.
You can also book a single cabin and add a second person later up to 4 days before the cruise. You must pay double deposit though.
If you or we can't find a cruise match, and you booked a single cabin, you can cancel the reservation without penalty before final payment is due. The date for that is on the reservation form. Balance is due no later than the final payment day.
After that, cancellation fees from the cruise line apply.
When you are booked on the cruise you will get a confirmation from the cruise line. Then your booking is official.
Here is a letter I got from Royal Caribbean. Other Cruise lines are following the same thing.
Dear valued travel partner,
In consideration of ongoing guest feedback and evolving industry standards, Royal Caribbean International is revising its onboard smoking policy, effective for all sailings departing on or after January 1, 2014.
All indoor public spaces and private staterooms will be smoke free, with the exception of the Casino, the cigar clubs on Freedom and Voyager Class ships, and one designated smoking venue on ships sailing from Chinese homeports. In the Casino, there will be designated smoking and non-smoking areas.
Additionally, smoking will not be permitted on stateroom balconies. Outdoor smoking areas will be designated on the starboard side of all ships. Guests in violation of the stateroom and balcony non-smoking policy may be assessed a stateroom cleaning fee.
Indoor smoking areas permit tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. Cigars and pipe tobacco can be enjoyed in designated outdoor areas, or in the cigar club on the ships that offer this venue.
Please consult our Smoking Policy FAQ for more details.
Royal Caribbean International is committed to continually enhancing the guest vacation experience. To find smoking venues and areas while onboard, your clients may consult their Cruise Compass, or visit Guest Services, where we will be happy to assist them. Thank you for your assistance in notifying your clients of this updated policy, and as always, for your ongoing support of our brand.
Royal Caribbean International
Pack a night light for your bathroom. The bathrooms are pitch black on most of the ships. When you get up at night to use the bathroom and you turn on the light it's like 5 Million watts of bright light right into your face. So pack a night light and plug it in, maybe even one with a motion sensor. Believe me, it its very useful, you will love it. Make a check list weeks before you sail and add everything you want to bring to it. I always over pack clothes. A few things to mention are:
Your meds, tumbs, Imodium, toothpaste, toothbrush, the obvious stuff, long pants, shorts, t shirts, shirts, bathing suit, if you want to dress up bring a suit or tuxedo. Lube, condoms, ED pills, sun tan lotion and aftersun, nail clip, headache pills or hangover pills etc. 10 ft. extension cord if you use a CPAP. You can order distilled water on the cruise lines web site under: Special Needs. Any other special needs you may have you can add to the form too. You get the idea.
WILL I GET A CONFIRMATION LETTER FROM THE CRUISE LINE?
After you send me your reservation with the necessary information and deposit I will book you on the ship and into my group. You will then get a "Summary of Charges" from me including a confirmation number from the cruise line.
You can go then on the cruise lines web site and check your reservation, add drink or spa packages to it, excursions, and later on when we are closer to the sail date, print your sea pass and luggage tags.
DO I HAVE TO PAY THE CRUISE IN FULL WHEN I BOOK? CAN I MAKE MONTHLY PAYMENTS?
The only thing you have to pay by the time of booking is the deposit of usually $250 per person, or $500 per cabin. Suites are double deposits. The rest is due by the final payment day about 75 days before the sail date.
If you want you can make smaller payments before the final payment is due, then just send me an email and tell me how much you want to pay and the charges will be made directly to the cruise line.
Before each cruise I will send out a itinerary what is planned on the ship and on land so you know what is going on. But I leave a few days open as well so you can do whatever you want. Remember, nothing is a must and you make the best out of this vacation. Do as much or as less as you want. It is YOU who made this group vacation happened and you enjoy it to the fullest.
Now you are ready to go. Get on the ship, meet everyone and have a wonderful time.
Big Bear Hugs