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Old March 8th, 2009, 12:00 PM
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Default A not so Luxurious Disembarkation

Disembarkation Day

Not that today would be representative of every disembarkation day, but Silversea, like all the cruise lines, have to figure a way to improve the last experience of your cruise; getting off the ship.

One certainly wouldn’t think it would be much of a problem to disembark a ship with just over 300 passengers.

The first problem was misinformation on the information sheet provided with our luggage tags. It stated that Non U.S. citizens would pick up their passports and clear customs and immigration in the terminal.

Had I not accidentally stumbled on the error, I would have waited for our designated luggage tag color to be called, and walked off the ship, headed to the Terminal to collect my passport, which could have turned into a huge problem.

The process was scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 A.M., but we knew that wouldn’t be the case as we could see from our balcony that the ship hadn’t pulled into its berth yet at that time. So we enjoyed our room service breakfast, and headed to The Bar where passports were being returned, and guest moving through to the showroom to pass through Customs & Immigration.

The line seemed fairly long, and as we had a late flight, and were in no rush, we went back to our suite to wait awhile longer, and gather our carry-on luggage, as guest were asked to vacate the suites by 8:30 A.M. Returning at 8:45 we found the line even longer, surprising because they had so few passengers to get through. And I was surprised when an even longer line formed before us. I was wondering if we’d picked up stowaways in Ensenada. It took us an hour to get to the point to have our morning visit with the “always happy U.S. Customs & Immigration Officers”.

Then returned to the entrance of The Bar, to wait for “our color” to be called to disembark the ship. At 10 AM there still passengers in line, and it wasn’t until 10:30 A.M. that the first passenger disembarked the vessel.

Whatever had caused the delay is irrelevant, as on rare occasion these delays do occur. However, at no point was an announcement made even acknowledging that there was a delay. Communicating with the passengers would have without doubt kept the passengers rumblings to a minimum, even those who had paid drivers waiting for them at the pier, or those who were no doubt going to miss their scheduled flights.

Generally keeping people informed is a much better alternative than to leave them in silence, guessing about what is going on, or harassing the staff they see to find out.

Having Orange Juice and Coffee available in the lounge where people were waiting would also be considerate.

Here’s a few hints for Silversea to keep the disembarkation process as luxurious as the rest of the experience:

- As Norwegian Cruise Line does- allow guests to remain in their suites until their color of luggage tag is called

- When delays are obvious inform the passengers with ship-wide announcements. Your clientele is used to being well informed, allowing misinformation to flow through to them via crew they encounter only aggravates a bad situation.

Outside of the terminal, I overheard one of the passengers who were to transfer with us to LAX, ask a Silversea shore-side employee if there’d be Silversea people at the airport to assist those who miss flights. The answer “ We have limited people at the airport”. Translation “You are on our your own!!!”

Basically Siversea handled the problem of the delayed disembarkation as badly as all the cruise lines seem to handle it. As often as they encounter the situation, you really would think they would devise a way to handle it better!

Our ship’s transfer to LAX worked out fine. We checked in early enough to get an exit row seat, our flight even left on time, and arrived back in Calgary early. It’s very unusual for my air travel to go so smoothly.

Just to make my day really STINKY , we arrived home to find our home had once again been “skunked”. Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of living near the edge of city. The skunks must have been showing their disdain for us being gone for a month.

I hope to have some more stories from “the Shadow” as well as short video clips from the ship up on the site by this evening. Please do check back for the “finale” J
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