Cruise ships

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The upper deck of a typical cruise ship

Cruise ships are a means of travel with substantial benefits, and a few drawbacks. Some people love them; others don't care for them. They're worthy of consideration, especially if you find other modes of travel too difficult or inconvenient...or you'd just like to try a different experience. They make it easy to visit several places in a single trip with no need to repack belongings and use a car/train/bus/plane to travel to each location. On a cruise, your "hotel" comes along with you — cabin, meals and transportation. You unpack once, and may go to bed in Cabo San Lucas and wake up in Puerto Vallarta, and so on to other destinations...only to repack at cruise end. This is a great convenience and experience. Your sense of where you are is compromised only by not taking note of your itinerary.

Such a sampling of various cities, islands or areas in a region can help you decide if and where you'd want to visit later for a longer time. Typical cruise itineraries limit the time you spend in each place; usually it means just a day of activities or sightseeing. They may also include one or more days at sea — paradise if you enjoy a relaxing day by the pool or other shipboard activities, but less so if you prefer more active and open exploration ashore. Nonetheless, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for enough people to support a growing industry.

Today you can visit every continent on earth, including Antarctica, by cruise ship. Exotic destinations, such as the Galapagos Islands, are best visited by small expedition vessels. While these cruises are expensive, you'll be traveling with expert guides.

As you may note already, this article focuses on ocean cruising and ships. A parallel article (to be developed) would focus on river boat and barge canal cruising. River boats and barges offer more in-depth, close-up looks at many countries in their interiors. For travel on smaller vessels, see Cruising on small craft.

Understand[edit]

The golden age of transoceanic passenger travel has faded greatly. The only surviving ships from that era are all either converted to cruising, preserved as museums and/or hotels, or are laid-up, but that doesn't mean that traveling across the sea by ship is gone too. In truth, modern-day passenger ships are more designed for speed (e.g., Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2), and are much larger and more luxurious than they were decades ago. (The Cunard "Queens" still occasionally make traditional fast Atlantic crossings (e.g., between New York and England), and receive use as cruise ships at other times.) Only under extra fees or cabin types do cruise ships segregate access to small public areas or restaurants; all passengers can generally use all other public facilities and areas..

The picture of cruise ship travel painted by the circa-1977 TV series "The Love Boat" isn't particularly misleading (except about the inevitable bliss before debarkation and the all-American crew), but it is rather incomplete. Due to economy of scale, most modern cruise ships carry 2,000 to 5,000+ passengers. While the luxury segment of the cruise industry boasts small ships – even "boutique" vessels or "mega-yachts" – most ships form floating towns. Voyages range from a few days to full circumnavigations of the globe lasting three months or more, while fares range from a few hundred dollars to $100,000 or more.

Luxury cruise lines may have ships carrying just 100–800 or so passengers. Larger ships carry 2,000–3,500 passengers, while mega-ships can carry over 5,000. A mega-ship can weigh many times as much as the Titanic. Each size has its merits; for example:

  • Smaller ships can visit smaller harbors in highly desirable, rugged shorelines or unusual locales, e.g., the Riviera, Galapagos, Fjords.
  • Larger ships may offer a few more amenities as discussed in "On-board" below but must use well-sized harbors (or anchor/moor off-shore), and requiring transport and touring infrastructures to handle so many people.
  • Mega-ships offer huge public spaces and wide-ranging activities, but are limited to major ports with even greater infrastructures.

Cruise lines offer widely varying itineraries. Examples range from:

  • A few days at sea or to a nearby port-of-call. These may be offered as an introduction to cruising, or just as an opportunity to party.
  • One or two weeks to visit ports and sights in a particular region, per "Cruise types" below.
  • A month or more to see a region of the world, or three or more months to go around the world; a lifetime experience.

Each cruise is comprised of one or more cruise segments, e.g., a 1–2 week "round-tripper" will be one segment, while visiting two or more regions may sometimes involve 2-3 segments of an around-the-world cruise. That way, cruise lines can sell affordable "pieces" of long cruises that otherwise few can consider. Not infrequently, cruisers will buy two or three back-to-back/sequential segments to build a longer cruise, e.g., 7–10 days from Florida to the Western Caribbean, return, then 7–10 days for the Eastern, or two or more world regions when they are far away.

Companies[edit]

Major cruise lines, large vessel[edit]

See also Baltic sea ferries

Carnival Corporation is the giant in the ocean cruise industry. It owns Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises and Seabourn Cruises. The other major cruise lines are Royal Caribbean International, which owns Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, Oceania Cruises and P&O, which caters to the British market, and Norwegian Cruise Lines, which caters primarily to passengers on the United States' east coast with year round sailings from New York City and Miami.

Small ship cruise options[edit]

Cruise types[edit]

Your experience will be substantially affected by the cruise type you choose. On a port-intensive itinerary, except for a few sea days:

  • You might dine one evening, then enjoy entertainment, dancing, etc., go to sleep, and wake-up docked at your next port of call.
  • Under a typical full-day port visit, you can often start ashore at 7-8 AM and be expected back approximately 30 minutes before ship departure at 5-6 PM or so.
    • You can eat breakfast shipboard at your place of choice and be off-ship on your way to an organized tour, self-arranged tour or activities, or just a walk-about.
    • An "all-day" tour may include lunch (see tour description); a half-day tour can have you back to the ship for lunch, after which you may choose to do further touring, shopping or a walk-about for the afternoon. Half-day tours often begin shortly after shipboard lunch.
  • If you prefer such a cruise:
    • Look for itineraries in regions that offer many nearby ports, such as the Mediterranean, Baltic, The Fjords, the United Kingdom, Caribbean, Alaska, and the Mexican Riviera.
    • Look for departure ports within the region, to minimize sea days: for example, Caribbean trips starting in San Juan for the Caribbean, Amsterdam or Copenhagen for the Baltic or Fjords.
    • In contrast, ships from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Tampa can take 1–2 days to reach the Caribbean, and the same to return. But you have more cruise and ship choices there, and you can choose to drive to either port if you live close enough (see "Get in" below).

If you might prefer sea days, you can look for:

  • Re-positioning cruises (often crossing oceans) — usually taking two weeks or more, often involving one-way international flights. (See "Flying" under "Get in" below.)
  • Distant island or region visits from a mainland, such as a voyage to Hawaii from Los Angeles.
  • Segments of around-the-world cruises, usually traversing major regions over a period of 3–6 weeks. They, too, will involve one-way international flights.
  • Around-the-world cruises, taking 90+ days — best considered once you know you're comfortable with many days at sea.
    • When you find a voyage that appeals to you, look at "Do" below and the ship's description (on-line or in brochure) to appreciate on-board activities.

There are also various cruises for special interests, e.g., for bridge players (with a few masters on board), celebrity entertainers, cultural/political science/ history lectures, GLBT lifestyles, etc. There have even been Linux, "geek", big band, rock and roll, and home theater cruises, some of which are annual events. A few cruise sites will help you find them.

Cruise seasons[edit]

Many cruising regions have "high", "low" and "shoulder" seasons. These usually track with the most and least desirable times to visit the region, and times in-between, e.g., Winter for the Fjords, late-Summer/Fall for the Caribbean (tropical storms) are deemed undesirable. Expect to pay premium prices during high-season, substantially less in "low", and perhaps you'll find some bargains in "shoulder", e.g., for "re-positionings".

Many ships transfer among distant regions that have opposite high-seasons under repositioning cruises, e.g., between the Mediterranean, Baltic or Alaska and the Caribbean, South America, Australia, or New Zealand. The long distances require many sea days, often at attractive per day prices for those who like them.

Cruise demographics[edit]

While the cruise industry once catered primarily to seniors, the age of passengers has diversified significantly. The average age of Royal Caribbean's passengers is 48, many other lines appeal to 20–40 year-old couples, "party" cruises attract young adults, and Disney and others focus on families with children and teens. Cruising has turned into an enormously popular family vacation due to well-designed children's programs, even special cabin configurations.

Some itineraries and cruise-lines may attract more seniors, e.g., trans-Atlantic and -Pacific re-positioning cruises, Holland–America (it very effectively supports but doesn't just market to seniors). Reasons include cost, cruise length, numbers of days at sea, and dates that conflict with school.

If cruise demographics are important to you, read the cruise description carefully, research web sites on cruising (see "Other resources" below), and work through your travel/cruise agent to learn the probable demographics of any trip you're considering. You'll be glad you did so, or you risk embarking on a ship filled with rowdy young adults or seniors with limited activities.

If handicapped or pregnant[edit]

If you have a physical limitation, the cruise line can usually help – especially if notified in-advance. Without sacrificing personal privacy, use your agent (or directly if no agent is involved) to let them know about your needs and when they apply, e.g.

  • If you need special access to cabin facilities, you can be assigned a cabin specially equipped for your general needs. These may include door thresholds with little or no rise, convenient handrails to get about the cabin and bathroom, and special bathing equipment.
  • Help with the significant walking distances to embark and dis-embark (process discussed below), or to go on port visits.
  • If you purchase a fly/cruise or cruise-extension package (also discussed below), you should mention any other help you'll need.

A cruise can place you some distance from proper pre-natal care and birthing facilities, especially advanced medical care. If you have any complication, or might be well-into your third-trimester during a cruise under consideration, consult your doctor. Then inform the cruise-line, through your agent if used. A note of fitness for travel from him/her can assuage the fears of the line and staff as you go through embarkation processing.

Many cruise lines will in fact not permit you to cruise once you reach a certain point in your pregnancy (similar to airlines). Check this with your travel agent as you might be denied boarding upon arrival to the pier if you are too far along with your pregnancy.

Booking a cruise[edit]

Queen Mary 2 in Wellington, New Zealand

You can book a cruise through several types of providers, e.g., directly with a cruise line (by phone or on-line), through an on-line travel web site (that may also offer (even bundle) flights, hotels, tours, et al.), through a web site that sells only cruises, and through travel agents or cruise agents that offer their personal advice and services. Most agents charge little or nothing for those services. Beyond on-line sources, ask neighbors who travel, or look near home for an agency. Be selective and you'll often find someone who can help – for complex trips this service can be very useful.

  • To assure you are looking at a reputable on-line seller, look for credentials; cruise specialists are certified by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and will show a seal authorized by the CLIA. Many of their staff are trained agents; some specialize in certain cruise lines, with detailed insights into what any ship or cruise offers.
  • If you become a repeat customer, sellers will offer to assign you an agent who can learn your preferences and (with multiple cruises over the years), can give advice and services, help with problems encountered as your trip approaches or on or after it, even offer notices about unpublished deals, information unavailable just on-line.

Once you've found one or more cruises that suit you, you'll want to know the full costs and terms, including port fees and taxes, options on how to get to and from the port easily and on-time, what the cruise contract calls for, and other details rarely reflected in brochure or web-site prices or pages. To better understand them and how they work, at least look for and understand related articles in travel/cruise web sites before you decide to book; e.g., see this USA today article. Most contract terms favor cruise line interests. Many of their terms are based on international maritime law and the laws of the country where the ship is registered, rarely those of a traveler's home country.

Unless you have considerable experience, you should consider using an agent. He/she should help you considerably to understand the contract, all fixed costs, all options available and their costs, and their import. Before you buy any cruise or package (e.g., see "Getting to port"), he/she should provide a printed invoice reflecting all costs and the cruise contract for your careful examination, allowing you to question details and request changes.

If you wish to "book on your own", as you approach the "buy" point (using just a web-site), you should be offered a quoted full price based on all the parameters you've chosen, and the cruise contract. Save/print a full copy of the invoice and contract for your careful examination. Using the same on-line search parameters, you can later return to the web site and complete your on-line booking. Once you book on-line, you become wholly-responsible for many details related to the cruise, and arranging many non-cruise details on your own; all must complement each other, e.g., see "Flying to/from port".

Travel insurance[edit]

For a more in-depth discussion, see Travel insurance

If your trip starts to gain complexity or substantial cost as you plan it, or you are a first-time cruiser, you should consider travel insurance. Other reasons include if you intend to go on "adventure tours" (with risk of injury), have any medical condition that could flare up and require treatment or evacuation, will be a great distance from home, there's any possibility that a provider of trip services might go bankrupt, or if you've been forced to accept tight airline connections.

You usually must buy it shortly after you have booked your trip (e.g., make a deposit), not at later full payment. Its cost will basically be determined by your total trip cost, the age of travelers to be covered, levels of coverage, and options for coverage requested for certain problems, e.g., treatment for sickness or injury (on and off the ship), or medical evacuation. Good insurance will cover pre-existing medical conditions if purchased within a very few days of booking your trip...not if bought later.

Travel experts often recommend getting insurance from other than airlines or cruise lines.

  • Coverage offered by "lines" often focuses only or primarily on their responsibilities, while a quality policy will cover your end-to-end trip, with options for many risks that apply to you.
  • Cruise line protections (for a fee), for select cruise risks, are technically not insurance. No law or government agency has jurisdiction over their terms or promises of protection. And the fee for promised protections can be a major fraction of that for well-purchased, overall trip coverage.

You may also obtain better insurance rates and/or coverage by buying coverage through or from an association you belong to, e.g., AAA, AA.

Other resources[edit]

Several web-sites provide objective information about various cruise lines, ships, cruising regions and ports, and how to choose, prepare for and go on a cruise. Many offer professional reviews, some offer passenger reviews. But because they often sell cruises through third parties, they cannot be listed here. To find them, use a good search engine, with "cruise" and "advice" or "review" as keywords among your search parameters.

Those sites and travel magazines discuss other valuable topics, e.g., "wave season" (when to book, not when to go) versus other times, understanding what's included (and not) in prices shown, industry trends that may cause prices to go down. A good travel/cruise agent will have those and other insights. Knowing exactly when and how to best book a cruise receives nearly constant attention in travel articles, and approaches being an art.

Cabins[edit]

Cabin on the Wilderness Discoverer

Your accommodations can range widely and is usually determined by cost. Most cruise lines promote their ships as luxurious, and cabin (aka stateroom) furnishings can range from quite "nice" to "utterly elegant". The less expensive tend to be quite a bit smaller than ordinary hotel rooms — space you may only use for a few hours each day besides to sleep anyway. But every square inch is usable, e.g., luggage fits under the bed to allow you to unpack many/all items and hang them in closets or store on shelves/in drawers for easy access.

Cabin grades and categories[edit]

On large ships, you'll find a number of cabin grades or categories within each cabin type. They involve location, size, quality of view, features, etc. Good travel/cruise agents have access to the codes for the nuances of features and shortfalls for each. Cabin costs will vary not only by type but by those gradations/categories. For any cabin type, costs reflected in brochures and on web sites usually apply to the lowest grade.

Cabin types[edit]

The basic types include:

  • Inside cabins are the least expensive and located in the interior of the ship. Hence the name, they lack a window, but are filtered with the ship's air ventilation "piped-in".
  • Ocean view have windows (that don't open, ship's air ventilation "piped-in") and are slightly more expensive. The least expensive may have partially or substantially obstructed views.
  • Balcony/veranda at even higher prices, with outside chairs, perhaps a table, to watch sunsets, have a room-service meal or treat, and watch passing ships and land. On older ships, the least expensive may have partially or substantially obstructed views.
  • Mini-suites and full suites (the latter often multi-room) with private verandas. shower/bathtubs, sitting areas, perhaps hot tubs and other amenities, commanding the highest prices.

Perhaps oddly, suites and the least expensive cabins tend to sell out first.

Some cabins and all hallways have handrails for safety during occasional rough weather which are not often needed. Cabins designed for the disabled will be designed with many handrails and flat thresholds to aid accessibility and safety. On ships built in the late 1990s or later, very few passengers will be:

  • Bothered by pitching and rolling of the ship, all are built with highly-effective stabilizers.
  • Disturbed by the ship's engines or screws (propellers), they're very quiet.
  • Disturbed by frequent public announcements, these are easily heard in hallways and public areas. Except for key announcements, they are usually not piped into cabins, but can be heard in cabin on a designated TV channel.

Features[edit]

  • Virtually all cabins have twin beds, usually joined to create a generous queen, with side tables/drawers or shelves. If you prefer them separated, let the cruise line know. Suites may have king-sized beds. (See also "Sleep" below.)
    • Cabins configured for families may also have a pull-down or wall-mounted bunk-bed, sleeper sofa or settee, or another twin/queen bed.
  • All come with a small safe. While on board, you should lock all valuables in it (e.g., fine jewelry, passports, charge cards, cash), and leave them there unless needed, e.g., for a port visit, shopping ashore or dressing for dinner.
  • Expect to find a large wall-mounted mirror or two. Handy for checking your appearance, they also make the cabin seem bigger.
  • Small private bathrooms with showers are the minimum, with better cabins offering more space, shower/baths or larger showers. Each type will offer at least minimal toiletries typical for a motel (if you need specific ones, bring them), small cabinets and shelves for all toiletries, at least one counter and lavatory, and a toilet that operates by power suction.
  • All will have a phone with wake-up call capability (synchronized to the ship's time).
  • Virtually all will have a TV, some even an attached DVD player.
  • All will have at least a reach-in closet with a hanging rod, some hangars and a shelf often holding your life-vests. You'll also find storage drawers elsewhere. Suites may have walk-ins, with numerous shelves.
  • Better cabins resemble hotel rooms and may have a settee, desk with chair or more.
  • Better ships/cabins often offer a small refrigerator, holding chilled cans and bottles for sale. If you bring your own drinks, ask the cabin steward to empty it of items for sale.
  • Power outlets and wattage are minimized — this is essential to avoid fire risk.
    • The bathroom should have a low-wattage, usually 120V 60 Hz outlet adequate for such as a shaver, and often a 220V outlet for the ship's hair-dryer.
      • If not in the bathroom, the 220V outlet may be near the bed or desk, perhaps with the ship's hair-dryer stored nearby.
    • Near the bed or desk, you may find one or two low-wattage, usually 120V 60 Hz outlets adequate only for such as a laptop.
    • Net result: Don't bring your own iron or use your own hairdryer or anything that heats food or liquid.
  • Knowing these features and limits, experienced cruisers variously bring:
    • An extension cord to use low-wattage 120V items at convenient locations.
    • One or two nite-lites.
    • A small, plug-in surge arrester to prevent damage to personal electronics.
    • For warm climes, a small fan. Cabin air conditioners effectively but slowly change cabin temperature, but airflow is often modest. A fan can help cabin comfort substantially.
    • Some form of air deodorizer; balcony fresh air (if you have one) quickly helps but can compromise cabin air temperature and humidity.
  • For passengers with mobility challenges, some cabins have wide doors, "friendly thresholds" into bathrooms and showers/tubs, and other helpful provisions.

Location[edit]

Location can affect price somewhat because parts of a ship are more desirable for some passengers, e.g.,:

  • To avoid the effects of ship's rolling or pitching, some opt for a cabin on a lower deck or closer to amidships.
  • To sunbathe on their balcony, many choose a deck well below any over-hanging top deck.
  • Those who need quiet to sleep should choose locations away from lobbies and elevators, and with at least one deck between their cabin and any place with late-night revelers, e.g., nightclub, showroom.
  • Those with mobility challenges may prefer to be near elevators.

Other[edit]

Cabin water is fully potable, usually obtained by reverse-osmosis, so efficient that some large ships visiting ports with water shortages may offload potable water. Older ships may use distillation supplemented by fresh water on-loads. All ships carefully treat the water to ensure its safety. Taste in cabins may be somewhat bland or have a hint of chemicals. Elsewhere, water often receives additional filtration to assure excellent taste for use in bars, dining rooms, kitchens, and buffet self-serve drink dispensers.

If a ship offers laundromats (usually consistent across a cruise line), each usually has more than one pair of washers/dryers and one or more irons and ironing boards usable only there. You'll also find detergent and softener dispensers...some automatic. Machines and dispensers usually require coins or tokens obtained at the Pursor's desk, perhaps from a coin machine in the laundry room.

As you get interested in any cruise, ship or cabin type, go to the cruise line's web site and others for more details. Again, a good travel/cruise agent can help you find the features you need or want.

Key ships officers[edit]

Bridge on the Norwegian Jade

The ship and your cruise depend on them. Just a few of them include:

  • The Captain: He or she is called the ship's master for a reason, with total operational command of the vessel and when and where it goes. And yes, through recent changes to law, many can now officiate at weddings, as can accredited, "resident" or pre-certified clergy.
  • The Hotel Manager: In charge of all staff that deliver on-board services, e.g., Pursor/Customer Services, food and bar service, cabin staff, tour office, shops and nearly countless behind-the-scenes support staff.
  • The Cruise Director: Responsible for all entertainment, special activities, key briefings and announcements, and any port or shopping advisers.
  • The Maitre de for your dining room, the headwaiter, and (perhaps) most-especially your waiter for the area where your table is located if you have opted for traditional evening dining (see "Eat" below). They stand ready to make special arrangements for you on-request such as birthday or anniversary celebrations, table changes, and special or required dining needs, e.g., food allergies, special diets.

Get in[edit]

The best-known destinations for cruise ships are tropical ports in the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, but cruises can be found almost anywhere there's enough water to float a ship and cities or sites to visit. Cruise ships of various sizes visit the coasts of Alaska, Scandinavia, South-East Asia, East Asia, southern Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Oceania and New England; and various islands of the Pacific Ocean. Even the North Pole and Antarctica are now destinations, though the latter has emerging ecological questions.

In addition, specially designed river boats and barges ply navigable rivers and lakes of Europe, China, Brazil, Egypt, North America and numerous other places. However, as noted above, this article focuses on ocean cruising and ships.

What to pack[edit]

For more discussion, see Packing for a cruise

This can vary substantially according to the region you'll cruise, e.g., clothing for cool/cold areas versus warm, conservative colors for Europe, items to cover arms and legs as you enter many religious buildings worldwide.

If you'll fly to/from a cruise port, see Fundamentals of flying for other advice and suggestions. Many experienced cruisers find certain items necessities, e.g.,:

  • Sunglasses, polarizing, with strong light filtration, including full UV protection.
  • Sanitizing wipes or solution. If you purchase any, look for active sanitizing ingredients beyond just alcohol. Most intended for hands have a glycerin base to prevent drying skin. Avoid using them on hard surfaces as they leave an undesirable residue.
  • Skin protection. Essential for all cruises, the sun not only strikes you from above, but is reflected off the water on boat excursions and at beaches. See the article on sunburn and sun protection. Pack and use protection, e.g., adequate clothing, brimmed hats, sunblock with high UV A/B protection ratings. Ship's stores have some such items but charge dearly for them. You'll also find them ashore, but usually at a premium over offerings at home.
  • Binoculars. Most passing views from ship are at a considerable distance.
  • Duct tape. Useful to make temporary repairs to luggage and other items.
  • Power extension cord. Most cabins have one power outlet in the open cabin, and one in the lavatory. An extension cord with multiple plugs becomes useful if you bring a laptop, cellphone, shaver etc. and to reach a convenient place to use and/or recharge them. Take care with how many even low-wattage electrical items you use at once.

Essential papers[edit]

Any authority looking at airline tickets, boarding passes and passports will examine names carefully. TSA and other security authorities often require that key papers (e.g., airline tickets, passports) precisely reflect your full name. This applies to all persons in your travel group, e.g., spouse, children (toddlers perhaps excepted). It starts by making sure that whoever books your cruise (and any associated airline tickets) accurately enters each full name on reservations and later-generated tickets.

Passports and visas[edit]

Unless your ship's itinerary is confined to your home country (not often), you must prepare for a cruise as you would for any other international trip, to include passports, perhaps visas. Many countries to be visited may levy few or no visa requirements on day-visitors via cruise ship. But, check with the cruise line (through your agent if used) well ahead of time. Some lines will arrange needed visas for scheduled port visits, but also check specifically for visa requirements if you have an international flight itinerary.

  • The cruise-line will often insist that your passport have more than six months before it expires as of the date your international travel ends. They may be echoing requirements of countries the ship will visit and/or where you'll fly, e.g., many that require visas will not issue any for passports with less time.
  • Lacking a passport, or any needed visa, you risk being denied boarding on your departing flight or ship embarkation—without refund or other compensation. Your resulting expenses may not be covered by travel insurance purchased.

Very occasionally, port officials in certain countries will require review of all passenger passports before clearing the ship for passengers to go ashore. If so, they often join the ship a few days in-advance, and the ship will announce a day or so before the port visit that the staff needs to gather all passports for inspection.

Before you leave home, make machine or photo color copies of at least the primary, facing pages of each passport per details in the above linked article. Use the passports when instructed by authorities, e.g., going through airport, airline or customs and immigration processing, processing for initial ship's embarkation. Take them with you on the rare occasion needed ashore per ship's announcements. Otherwise, once on board, leave them in your cabin's safe and take the copies ashore instead