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Old August 5th, 2008, 09:26 PM
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Default Are port arrival times accurate?

When my itinerary says that the ship will arrive in a port at 8:00 a.m., does it really mean 8:00 a.m. or does it mean that the ship arrives sometime overnight but people don't get off until 8:00 a.m?

I might like to get off the ship earlier in morning if there is an opportunity to explore the town and take some pictures before heading off on an scheduled excursion.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 11:13 PM
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That means you are scheduled to pull alongside, (or start tendering) at 8:00 AM, and usually though not always the times are pretty accurate.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 11:31 PM
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Once the ship arrives at the port, it has to be cleared by the local authorities, so you are at their mercy as to what time you can get off the ship but it's usually shortly after you dock.

If you have an early morning excursion, you probably won't have time to get off the ship to take pictures. Why not take them when you get back.

If it's an afternoon excursion, you can get off the ship as soon as it's cleared (unless you are tendering), wander around town, take pictures and then come back to the ship for lunch before you meet up with your excursion.

Have a great time.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 12:52 PM
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BTW, there are frequently very nice photo ops when gliding into port in the morning.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 02:53 PM
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Everyone has different experiences so take the average of everyone's responses and draw you own conlcusion.

I have not experienced nor ever heard of a ship being cleared early. Ships often arrive in port early, especially when the competition for docking facilities is feirce or the distance between ports is easily sailed in the allotted time.

Tendering off the ship can be frustrated by many things, especially customs and rough seas. But one thing is standard, the more time it takes to get cleared for passengers to leave the ship, the more bunched up the tendering will be.

Walking off the ship is always preferred, but the ship must still be cleared through customs. Crowds can still develop around the exiting gang planks and slow your egress.

Remember the customs officials are not in a hurry and they enjoy their positions.

Bottom line, don't expect to leave the ship at the scheduled port arrival times.

Now I've also noticed that largest crowd seems to develop at about 1/2 an hour after passengers start leaving the ship and not necessarily at the moment when the ship is cleared. I think a lot of people 'hang' back and try to avoid the crowds.

Hope this helps,

Steven
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Old August 7th, 2008, 08:45 PM
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Some interesting and somewhat confusing answers here. I think the question is more "what is usual?" and also whether ship are often in port and cleared long before the previously announced arrival time.

The answer is that ships almost always pull up to a port at exactly the time the schedule says they will. Most ship schedules are printed according to the official time a ship has the rght to be alongside any given dock. So, if they say they are arriving in St. Thomas at 7:00 a.m. there is a very good chance that is exactly the time the ship will touch the dock.

Then, the process of clearing the ship begins (getting approval from local authorities to let people on and off). Normally this is a very quick process, as it has to be, since many tours ask people to be waiting to disembark the ship in a public room at almost exactly the same time the ship is scheduled to arrive.

So, the answer is "no, ships do not generally arrive early and get clearance for people to walk on and off well ahead of the scheduled time.

Having said, however, I have seen it happen. Sometimes ships are alongside far earlier than expected, and if the customs people are early enough they may even clear the ship. But in most cases, even if the ship is alongside early it is not cleared until the expected time.

River boats are different, say you are cruising through Germany. The boats do not have to be cleared, so you can get off almost the moment they arrive. They also tend to arrive whenever they arrive, they don't time it the way cruise ships do.

Cruise ships time their arrivals more exactly for different reasons. They have restrictions an what can be done only at sea - open casinos an shops, for example. On my recent Eurodam cruise we pulled into Rotterdam from Amsterdam unexpectedly early and the casino staff had to rush to clear all the tables. But we were sailing within the same nation, so the ship was already essentialy already "cleared." But in most cases it doesn't do a ship any good to arrive early because the customs officials won't be there to clear the ship until they are scheduled to be anyway.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 09:11 PM
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How about Alaskan ports specifically? I assume there are no customs issues on my Seward - Vancouver itinerary until I get to Vancouver? It looks like Sitka is a tendering situation so I presume that will take awhile.

On a related point, do all tours "start" on the ship? I have back to back tours in Sitka and Skagway. Do I have to return to the ship for the start of the second (afternoon) tour?
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Old August 8th, 2008, 11:02 AM
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How about Alaskan ports specifically? I assume there are no customs issues on my Seward - Vancouver itinerary until I get to Vancouver? It looks like Sitka is a tendering situation so I presume that will take awhile.

There are no customs issues until you get to Vancouver, but the ship still has to be cleared by the local authorities in each port. This has nothing to do with the passengers - it's the ship's Purser who looks after this.

Sitka is a tender port, so it will take a while to disembark, unless you are on a HAL excurission, then you will meet in a designated location on the ship and go as a group to the tender.


On a related point, do all tours "start" on the ship? I have back to back tours in Sitka and Skagway. Do I have to return to the ship for the start of the second (afternoon) tour?

[color=red]Yes, all tours start either on the ship or meet on the dock, so you will have to return to the ship for your 2nd tour. Now in Sitka you may be able to meet the tour at the dock as it would take a lot of time for you to tender back to the ship and then tender back to the port for your tour. Check with the Shorex people and they will tell you what to do.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: Are port arrival times accurate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by quack
When my itinerary says that the ship will arrive in a port at 8:00 a.m., does it really mean 8:00 a.m. or does it mean that the ship arrives sometime overnight but people don't get off until 8:00 a.m?

I might like to get off the ship earlier in morning if there is an opportunity to explore the town and take some pictures before heading off on an scheduled excursion.
If you read Capt Albert on the HAL website.
He has some info that will answer your question.
Link given below

http://www.avidcruiser.com/albert/
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Old December 28th, 2008, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quack
How about Alaskan ports specifically? I assume there are no customs issues on my Seward - Vancouver itinerary until I get to Vancouver? It looks like Sitka is a tendering situation so I presume that will take awhile.

On our cruise to Alaska 08 the US Customs had to clear the ship. As an officer mentioned when I asked. Because it is foreign flagged vessel they have to clear customs at every port

On a related point, do all tours "start" on the ship? I have back to back tours in Sitka and Skagway. Do I have to return to the ship for the start of the second (afternoon) tour?

Most tours start at the ship or on the pier near the ship.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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The time you are permitted to get off a ship at a port depends upon a lot of factors. The arrival time, the time is takes the longshoremen to secure the ship and the clearance process time. Tendering is another story all together. If the ship line has good relationships with the ports authorities you will find the "clearance time" to be minimal. When tendering the tenders may have a difficult time boarding passenegrs if the water is rough. Lastly, the time you have for the ship's docking time is really estimated time the ship is susposed to dock. Just like flying on a airplane, "the time you are schedued to land". On many of our crusies, passengers holding ship purchased tours for the day are usually given preferred treatment and may (not always) get off the ship first (depending upon the tour time departure). We find it's best to always be flexible concerning docking. If (like us the last time) you are holding tickets for a privately arranged helicopter trip, you just pray everything will work great---even if it's just this one trip.
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