Before you sail, your cruise line might ask you to select a preset dining time, such as a 5:30 or 8:00 p.m. seating. Keep in mind other activities that might get in the way of early dining (such as port excursions), or that might hamper a later dinnertime (such as putting the kids to bed). Thankfully, most cruise lines these days also offer a flexible dining option, so you can choose different dining times (and venues) just about every evening.
While meals are included in your fare (except at some specialty restaurants), soft drinks, wine, and cocktails are often extra, so be sure to know your cruise line's rules. You might have to pay extra as well for gratuities, airfare to and from your port, and guided shore excursions.
If you're wondering which clothes to pack, keep in mind that the dress code at sea these days is more country-club casual than black-tie. Before you sail, check with your cruise line to find out if you'll need to dress for a formal night.
Traveling with kids? Ask if your cruise line offers an onboard youth program and/or babysitting services.
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