Do Road Scholar participants receive any special privileges?
One of the benefits of traveling with Road Scholar is our excellent educational content. In addition to private excursions, local experts offer group lectures that are exclusively for Road Scholars on a variety of topics related to the program theme. Your Road Scholar Group Leader will be with the group to offer their own insight and knowledge while also taking care of logistics and making sure your learning adventure goes as smoothly as possible.
Are the excursions exclusively for Road Scholar?
Every Road Scholar learning adventure is different; therefore, Road Scholar-exclusive excursions vary from program to program. We create field trips that offer authentic experiences by fostering connections to and supporting local communities. While onboard, your Group Leader or a local expert will often present exclusive lectures that provide substantial background on topics covered during your program. Additionally, many Road Scholar adventures include additional nights before embarking or after disembarking the ship.
Can ocean cruises accommodate guests with limited mobility or other special needs?
Cruise lines have made great strides to ensure all guests have a safe and enjoyable experience, regardless of mobility issues or disabilities. The cruise industry adheres to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in addition to any domestic accessibility regulations. All ships that dock in the United States are require to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Standards vary from ship to ship, with newer ships going farther than ever before to accommodate guests with disabilities. All ships have a limited number of handicap-accessible cabins and some have wheelchairs and scooters available for onboard use. Multiple elevators are spread throughout the ships and provide easy access to each deck and its amenities. When docking in ports of call with a cruise pier, wider planks are available to assist with the embarkation and disembarkation process. In ports that require the use of tenders, accessibility may be limited by water conditions and weight limits aboard the smaller boats.
What type of meals can I expect?
Ocean cruises always have, at minimum, a main restaurant that serves multi-course plated meals and a more casual restaurant serving a wide-ranging buffet. Both restaurants are complimentary and available to you whenever you choose, though some cruise lines require a reservation when dining at the main restaurant. When you are onboard with Road Scholar, the group leader manages the dinner reservation for the group at a specified restaurant so you can enjoy your meal stress-free and in the company of your fellow participants.
Are there other restaurants onboard?
The number of restaurants vary between ships but often feature all types of food from local delicacies to traditional dishes half a world away. While these restaurants are generally open to all passengers, some restaurants, usually referred to as specialty restaurants, require reservations, which must be made ahead of time. These specialty restaurants may only be available for an additional charge; they offer unique opportunities that range from make-your-own sushi to restaurants run by world-class chefs.
Is Wi-Fi available? How much does it cost?
Most ships these days offer Wi-Fi, though the reliability is still unpredictable. Satellite Internet has improved drastically over the years but the connection is not going to be as reliable as it is on land. Ships that offer Wi-Fi often limit the bandwidth available — ideal for a quick email or check-in, but not suited for browsing the web or uploading photos. For more information about the Wi-Fi policy, please check your program materials or directly with the cruise line.
Is bottled water available?
Bottled water is available on all cruise ships, though often at an additional price that can be as steep as $4 per bottle. Ships have state-of-the-art water filtration systems, so tap water — including the bathroom tap — is safe to drink and readily available throughout the ship. Instead of purchasing water onboard, you can bring a reusable water bottle to refill in your cabin.
Is distilled water available?
While not readily available, most cruise lines have distilled water for purchase by special request. Contact the cruise line ahead of time to have distilled water waiting for you in your cabin or speak to the cabin steward once you embark. If you are bringing your own CPAP machine, many cruise lines allow you to bring distilled water onboard when you first embark as long as they are carried in the same piece of luggage.
What amenities are onboard the ship?
It goes without saying; the larger the ship, the more amenities you will find onboard. Smaller ships such as the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey offer a more intimate experience with an outdoor pool, two restaurants, a gym and health spa, a library, a boutique and several lounges. All of the same amenities and more can be found onboard larger ships, ranging from full-sized theaters and experimental restaurants to duty-free shops, casinos and planetarium. Ocean cruises are a great option for families, with entertainment options for all ages. Most cruises have programming for kids up to 18 so families can enjoy the cruise together or take part in different activities while knowing your children or grandchildren will be in good hands.