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Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I go on an Africa cruise?
This depends on your itinerary. Africa cruises may visit ports in South Africa, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast or Senegal.
How long does it take to get there?
Travel times vary depending on where in Africa you are traveling. For example, South Africa is accessible via a 17-hour flight from New York City.
When is the best time to take an Africa cruise?
The Africa cruise season lasts from September to May. For most of Africa, temperatures run high throughout the year. But they may be more moderate than expected in mountainous areas. Most of Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons in these southern parts are the opposite of Europe’s and North America’s.
Will I need a passport or visa?
All cruises now require proof of citizenship. Passports are required on all Africa cruises. Visas may also be required. Your cruise counselor will advise you on documents you will need depending on your itinerary.
Is English spoken?
English is widely spoken in Africa. Resorts, shops and restaurants connected to the tourist trade will typically have English-speaking staff.
What is the time difference?
Times vary in Africa and range from three to eight hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone.
What is the local currency?
The local currency varies by country. For example, South Africa uses the Rand and Namibia uses the Namibian dollar. Currency exchange stations are available at most local hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.
Is tipping a common practice?
Tipping guidelines in Africa vary by country. It’s not always a common practice, but is appreciated in most places.
What should I wear?
Casual resort wear, including shorts and T-shirts, is the standard daytime attire for most cruises. Bring a variety of footwear, including low-heeled or rubber-soled shoes for walking on deck, sandals for beach excursions, sturdy walking shoes for guided tours and a pair of dressier shoes for formal dining. You can check your ship's dress codes for options suitable for nighttime, but most restaurants encourage slacks and nice dresses during evening meals.
What should I pack?
Think about the kinds of activities you will want to try and pack accordingly. Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and swimsuits, protective hats, good walking shoes and windbreakers. Also, remember to pack all of your medications, prescription or otherwise, in a bag you can keep with you as needed.
Is the water safe to drink?
The water in Africa is not always safe to drink. Most resorts and restaurants filter their tap water, though bottled water is available almost everywhere.
What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Shots may be required, depending on the countries in Africa that you will visit. It’s a good idea to check with your health care provider and discuss the countries you'll be visiting.
What types of electrical outlets are used?
U.S. cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets. International guests will likely need converters and adapters.
How do I make a telephone call from Africa?
Resort hotels and public phone booths offer direct dialing for international calls. Calling cards also are available for sale in tourist-friendly markets. U.S.-based cell phones might not work everywhere.
Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Not all hotels offer air conditioners. If recycled air is important to you, make sure to consult your travel counselor before booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay.
What is the shopping like? What souvenirs should I buy? Can I haggle over prices?
Wearable art, unique headwear and clothing styles are available in thousands of markets and boutiques across Africa. Visit Lome's central market, one of the best shopping sites in Africa, or search for Kente cloth in Ghana. Find East African souvenirs at Swakopmund market in Namibia or visit the craft markets in Cape Town. Avoid buying any souvenirs made of any materials that you believe could harm the flora or fauna of the country you are visiting, such as ivory, animal furs/hides, tortoise shell, coral and indigenous hardwoods. Bargaining is a common practice in Africa, especially for items sold in markets, medinas, bazaars and souqs. You might even be able to barter for goods in some parts of Africa.
How do I get around?
Most major cities in Africa have extensive public transportation systems that include travel by bus, taxi, train, bus or “bush taxi,” which is a form of shared transport in a car. Bicycle rentals may also be available, and tourist areas of town are often pedestrian-friendly. Shore excursions purchased through your cruise line highlight top attractions and include transportation and a guide.
Can I rent a car?
Car rental is available in some parts of Africa, and rental rules vary by country. Most companies require renters to be at least 21-25 years old. When you rent a car make sure you get unlimited kilometers and air conditioning.
What can I do there?
With so many different things to see and do in Africa, it might be hard to choose which activities to try! Dine at Maquis in Abidjan, which are African style restaurants famous for their grilled chicken and fish. Relax on the beach in Banjul. Visit award-winning vineyards in Cape Town. Take a city tour in the bustling town of Dakar. Stop at a Zulu village for a taste of native cooking in Durban. See giant Aldabran tortoises in Mahe. In Nosy Be visit Marodoka, a coastal ruin built by shipwrecked pirates. For even more possibilities, be sure to ask your travel counselor about combining your cruise with a safari package in Kenya, South Africa or Tanzania.
Do you have any photography tips for travelers to Africa?
There's plenty of natural beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards. If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter. Make sure photography is permitted before shooting in museums, churches and cathedrals; in some cases, you'll just be asked to turn off your flash.