I just found out about this. I am booked for an Alaska cruise in Sept. I am a Platinum Member and have booked a Mini-Suite. We are traveling with family as a group and based on the schedule part of the family will board at 1030 the others at 230. I called Princess and asked about it. The agent really did not have information on it and put me on hold to check. She came back and said it is only being done on ships that have a large booking, so it may not happen all the time. You will be told of your boarding time when you get your cruise docs. I told her about being Platinum and having a suite and she advised it did not matter. I would be put into the front of my boarding group, and that was all. Airlines allow first class and passengers of a certain level to board when ever they want, does not seem a stretch to do the same on a ship. Plus the old system did not seem all that bad. I told her as a customer I wanted to voice a concern about it. She related they have a meeting everyday about customer concerns and would bring it up. I did not trust her so I emailed Princess Customer Care yesterday with a laundry list of reasons way this was not good from the customer stand point. First and foremost being some passenger get to board and enjoy their vacation up to four hours early only to accommodate Princess Cruise and not for the passenger.
As a loyal Princess customer I advised them I have learned to get to the dock early to insure my baggage reaches my room and never board after 100 pm as a rule. Also the most exciting time for a passenger is the boarding of the ship. I enjoy walking the ship, eating, and watching the excitement of fellow passengers. They have taken this experience away from the passenger and will cause envy among the passengers. This will cause tension at the dock and on the ship. They are going to cause undue complaints to docks agents and so one. having worked in the travel industry in the past, I know these policies come from management as a "cost cutting" tool. They are never researched from a customer service view point and often back fire on the company. Lastly, this is where you guys/gals come in. I advised them cruisers are a tight group and members of message boards would not tolerate it and would respond. I also told them I have a choice in cruising and would choose a line which does not use this method. So let Princess have it! This effects all of us, from the ones who get on first to the ones who get on last not for fault of their own, but only for the benefit of Princess.