Let me get this right. You drive up to the unloading area, unload your luggage and all passengers except driver. The driver gets a pass that allows him to park in long-term parking which costs $8.75 per day, payable in cash, in advance. Driver then takes a shuttle back to the pier, on which you can only carry a carry-on.
Here's where my question comes in. I understand that there are porters (non-Carnival people) who want to carry your luggage a short distance from the unloading point to where Carnival personnel tag them. I have read that you should just skip these guys and carry it yourself. Is that a good plan? How far is it? Is everyone using these porters or do you see people handling their own luggage?
Do families wait for the driver to return before proceeding to the Carnival tagging location or do they go ahead and handle that while the driver is parking and riding the shuttle back?
I'm not sure what the exact procedure is in Galveston, but from all the other ports we've cruised out of, we always turn over our luggage to the baggage porters to take onboard, with a tip of $1/$2 per bag, and have always had them come through, some later than others.
I would say, if the lines look really long when your driver drops your party off, go ahead and get in line and the driver can meet up with you, if not too crowded then just wait for him/her to arrive from the parking area and all proceed to the embarkment area. Just make sure you have all the papers properly filled out before this, really speeds up the entire process.
I returned from a cruise out of Galveston last week. I parked in a parking lot that was "full service" We parked, loaded a bus with our luggage, and was dropped off directly at the terminal to get on the boat. When we returned to Galveston, we were picked up by the bus, luggage was loaded under the bus, and we were dropped off at our car. The lot we parked in was called Dolphin.
Hope this helps, I'm a sucker for details as well!
We did Galveston in Sept. Going from there again in May. The unloading was a nightmare! I lost my husband, for a good hour. He went to drop off car in lot, and THEN found out he needed to prepay cash....Guess who had the cash? He had to drive back to terminal, park illegally to find me...a complete nightmare!
This time, we booked a hotel room the night prior to the sailing. Commodore on the Beach. The oceanfront room cost us 50.00, and we can leave our car there at no charge during the cruise, AND they provide shuttle service to/from the pier!!!! The room is basically free, considering what you pay to park, AND we won't be seperated from eachother at ALL this time.