When we were on Jewel of the Seas we looked across the street and saw the line trying to get on Carnival. It stretched as far as we could see and was virtually not moving. We had just dropped off our luggage and from the time we got in the long line to check in was ten minutes. It just seems like there is something very wrong in the procedure for embarking Carnival ships. We cruised Legend and Valor last year and we don't recall anything like this now.
As you stated, you have cruised twice with CCL and had no problems so it is not typical. There can be a problem with any ship of any line every now and then and something may have prevented them from embarking on time or enetering the check-in area or it could smply be that a number of buses arrived all at the same time.
This is one thing I do not like about Ft. Lauderdale. Every time we have taken a cruise from Ft. Lauderdale the embarkation process takes at least 90 mins. While no embarkation is 100% smooth, it does appear to me that Miami is able to much better handle the crowds.
Once we boarded in FFL and it went like a charm and we basically just walked onto the ship. Another time it was pretty slow with check-in going pretty good but we had to wait quite awhile in a pre-boparding area before they opened the ship up for new passengers. I will say that the worst embarkation we ever had was at FFL and we waited outside in the hot sun for over two hours! It took a total of almost four hours to board the ship and that was unacceptable. I know there was a problem that day but for someone like me with bad ankles and knees it was very bad. They could have at least offered free bottled water for those outside in the heat.
I also do not see much differance in the lines as far as boarding goes and have had great and easy boarding as well as terrible boarding with a number of differant lines.
Excellent points Jim and Paddletoe. I do not EVER let the embarkation process ruin my cruise experience in any way. Now, I don't know if I would feel the same if I ever waited 4 hours as you indicate below Jim. That's insane. One thing which did frustrate me when going on the Legend in December was the fact that all the tours (mostly seniors) cut in line - there was absolutely no monitoring of this behavior by the cruise line. I do get frustrated some times when I'm waiting in line and feel the cruise line should have this embarkation think ironed out...how many years have they been doing this? I realize there is more security checks, etc. but I really don't think this is the issue. To me, it appears they need more help, whether it be check-in clerks or more metal detector/scanner stations. Again, once embarkation (and the lifeboat drill) are complete, I've completely forgot about the embarkation process. This would probably be my sole complaint/concern from my last cruise. Everything went so well!
Thinking about it is actually pretty amazing that they are able to board so many people so quickly! Thinks about it, you have anywhere between 2500 and 3400 people that are processed through maybe two scanners, maybe a dozen or more regestration people, a table or two to give out you cabin keys and two to four stands to have them programed with your photo and of course the one area to have your boarding photo taken. Man, that is a lot of folks to pass through and enter the one door to the ship. In addition they tossed off the same amount of people and picked up after them before they let you on!
I have seen those folks and yes many of them are the older folks who 'absent-mindedly' cut in front of you and when called on it act surprised as they didn't really mean to cut in front of anyone. Yea right! They do this all the time and get away with it so why not try it on the boarding process and elsewhere on the ship. I've gotten where I call them down for it every time now it has gotten so bad. Example, while standing in Wal-Mart just before Christmas I was in the express line and standing about 4 feet from the person in front of me so as not to crowd him. I looked to the left and looked back and there was an older lady now standing between us! I was so shocked that I actually turned a full circle before say9ing anything and there was now an old man bewtween me and her! I was so mad that I was just about speechless and loudly proclaimed what inconsidrate, ignorant, rude and worthless people they were and walked away as I was concerned that I would say something else that would be embarassing to me as in profanity. Hard to understand why people are not more considerate of outhers. Lines actually go faster that way.
I was on the Liberty on 12/10 in FLL. I got in line around 12:40 and was constantly moving until I was on the ship by 1:50.
The fastest I have been through an embarkation line was in Tampa on the Miracle. I walked straight into the building, through all the "maze" and was next in line to see an agent, but then got to sit for about 45 minutes before boarding the ship.
Embarkation lines are necessary evils but I am sure there are ways they can improve the lines. In Tampa there were Fun Pass lines which moved very fast but in FLL there was no such thing UNFORTUNATELY. They were not understaffed, just need some tweaking on organization.
We have done RCI as well as CCL a number of time and see no differance in the time it take to get onboard. I can't really say much for Celebrity as we only went on one and that was from Hawaii and truthfully it was the fastest embarkation we have ever done with nobody in any line! I think it took us just about 10 minutes at most from the time we walked in to the time we were on the ship. I am sure that was a fluke as we were the first onboard as well. The absolute longest to board was on the Explorer of the Seas, a RCI ship, but that was right after 9/11 and while we were among the first in line at 11 am, we did not board until 4PM