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  #31 (permalink)  
Old June 12th, 2012, 12:08 PM
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Talking Staggering boarding

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Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
I think all cruise lines still have "Staggering Boarding" in Cozumel. That's when all the people who spent the day at Carlos and Charlies stagger back on board.
ROFL. But not quite accurate.

ALL the people who spent the day at Carlos and Charlies stagger down the pier -- but not ALL of them make it back on board. Several times in Cozumel I have seen then standing on the pier waving their arms as the ship sails away ...
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old June 12th, 2012, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by aerospace View Post
When arriving early I usually find the first hour the best part of day 1.

Check in with no line and be on the ship when it's still empty. I've never had a line at 10:30 of more than 20-30 people and they usually have at least 10 check in agents at the start. When I did b2b(along with a total of 7 other cruisers) in February we walked off, went through customs, and had an hour before new guests came on board. Me and 2 staff where the only people on the 2 upper decks.

I got a few strange looks from staff, like aren't you supposed to be off the ship by now? lol
This is good for you that it worked out that one day - but it I also feel like posts like this just encourage people going to a 4000-passenger megaship to gang up at the terminal at 10:00 AND choke up the process.

My WORST checkin ever was one day when we got to the terminal at 11:00 and had to endure lines to check in, and then (much worse) a single, solitary line literally from the bottom of the stairs, up to the upper deck and then snaking along the entire entryway to the gangway, about 500 feet in line. It took an hour between checkin and walking on board the ship. We had a wheel chair and people literally used our handicap to cut in front of us and force us out of line.

I just thought that was a horrible way to start a cruise, and I don't like the idea of encouraging people to all arrive at the same time and clog the check-in process.

I certainly do understand the point about taking a red-eye and wanting to get on the ship. (which is why I have only done that once). But I still say if you don't have to be there early then do the people who have no choice a favor, and wait a little while.

It just is not realistic to foster the idea here for all readers that arriving at check-in at 10:00 a.m. is a good idea. It isn't a good idea if everyone does it. Even more important, if you arrive later I guarantee you will be able to virtually walk on the ship in the shortest time possible.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old June 13th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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This is good for you that it worked out that one day - but it I also feel like posts like this just encourage people going to a 4000-passenger megaship to gang up at the terminal at 10:00 AND choke up the process.
It is becoming fairly clear that the cruise lines have a big problem here. Ships get larger and larger, more and more people want to check in, lines get longer and longer.

Obviously, instead of trying silly stuff like Staggered Boarding that anybody could have predicted would raise an uproar, they need to get some logistics experts on the job and figure it out.

Every time I have checked in, the process was not well organized at the desk, which is the first problem. We handed over papers, had them fumbled through, posed for a picture one at a time, then waited while they found our cruise cards, and finally moved on.

The fact is that the airlines handle it more efficiently. One simple suggestion is to handle it by stations. Pass through security (which is actually not too inefficient in most ports.) Show your passport at Station 1. Move on and hand your health statement to Station 2. Move on again and get your picture snapped at Station 3. Hand your preprinted boarding pass to Station 4, they scan it and confirm your cabin number, and a printer spits out your cruise card. Make the mandatory stop for your boarding picture and on the ship you go.

If they have, say, 3 lines plus a premium line working it is still probably no more temporary employees than they use now. I think that psychologically, moving along and accomplishing something after each short line will sit a lot better than waiting a long long time in a big line to accomplish everything at once! The cruise lines need to realize that the procedures that worked on 1000 pax ships are NOT going to work now.

We are the customers. It is up to us, as we did with Staggered Boarding, to let the cruise lines know that they have to react to OUR convenience, and not expect us to build our travel plans around THEIR convenience.
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Old June 13th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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Obviously, instead of trying silly stuff like Staggered Boarding that anybody could have predicted would raise an uproar, they need to get some logistics experts on the job and figure it out.
Absolutely right, Mike. I have t say Oasis and Allure have the best embarkation I have ever seen, but it is solely because they planned it from the start. They have about 60 check-in stations, and then a separate waiting area with restrooms & chairs for until the ship opens.

Ironically, the experience I mentioned above was for Mariner of the Seas in Pt Canaveral. I have had similar experiences with NCL, also, for Epic in Southampton where the line outside the building was just thousands of people long (literally) only to lead up to just two people checking passports and three people handing out key cards.

The two lines fed to an empty space with the two passport people; so it was a race to see which person could get to either agent (it was not one agent per one line).

The Marina case was largely about that ridiculous picture taking, which they NEVER tell you is optional. They literally slow down ever single boarder for about 30 seconds just to take a vanity photo. Ridiculous. Just put the photogs off to the side for the people who want it. In thos case they had them at a doorway so there was no way around.

However - also keep in mind that cruise lines NEED a way to slow down the people who want to ruch on the ship, hence my post about not encouraging people to arrive at 10:00.

Think of all poor room stewards who need to completely change over a cabin. Think of all the waiters, busboys and cooks who need to work the buffet area on the day it is most crowded - all because people want to be on the ship as early as possible.

If the cruise lines could do staggered boarding they would do it. Too bad there is passenger blowback. I usually side with the passengers, but in this case I only think they are hurting themselves by not giving the ship the time it needs to turn the ship around properly.
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Old June 14th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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Now to be honest about it, those photographers have never seemed to be a delay to me. I guess for about our first 20 cruises we always stopped for that boarding picture. I have a trunk full of them. But since the checkin process at the desk takes several minutes, and people feed off it fairly randomly, it seems to give the photogs their 30 seconds in a fairly regular flow.

These days, we just wave at them and pass right by. Most places are so arranged that it is possible. If they did put it in a doorway, and a line was forming -- well, I am the kind of guy who would just brush right past and walk right through their picture. I would probably be polite enough to say, "Excuse me." But businesses that take advantage of my sense of etiquette to try to sell me something get short shrift from me. I certainly don't wait in line for something I don't want.

One of the best boarding experiences we had was in LA, on a NCL "fam" cruise to nowhere for travel professionals. Evidentally US Customs delayed disembarkation, and there were a thousand people waiting to go on board. We had a large room to wait in, plenty of comfortable chairs, and coffee, juice and cookie service kept well maintained. Even more important, the staff circulated with accurate information about the situation (even when it was "we're not sure") and there was a plan ready to move those people in small groups when boarding was ready to begin.

OTOH one of the worst was in Montreal. There was a very large cruise terminal, but ONE security scanner was set up at the very entrance so that a long line formed outside in the cold windy Canadian weather, with no chairs and little shelter. It is largely a matter of logistics, how well the cruise line plans to use the existing facilities. Somehow I feel that most of the time it is left to marketing people, to the purser who is largely a bean counter, or worse to the HR people who try to save money on temporary staff. There are many people trained in logistics of crowd control. They need to hire consultants from a major sports venue or Disneyland. A whole lot more than 3000 people arrive for any pro football game and don't have to stand in line for hours.

Long ago I purchased a seat cane so that I have a place to sit down in situations like that (and also when DW decides to go shopping!)

As far as preparing the ship between sailings, it really is only the cabin stewards who have a tough time there. Since the dining room is sparsely used, if at all, staffing the buffet should not really be a problem. Once again it is a matter of logistics and manpower usage. The stewards need to do the job they are trained to do, but other staff could easily be assigned to keeping supplies moving, towels where they need to be, vacuums plugged in and many things that would speed up the process. Once again it is a matter of looking beyond the way they used to do it.

It is strange that some ships seem to do it very well but others in the same line can't manage it. This points to energetic and innovative officers at the ship level but brings up the question of what is happening from corporate.

Of course, we all know the three biggest lies in the English language. Number three is, "The check's in the mail." Number two is, "My wife doesn't understand me." But the NUMBER ONE LIE is, "Hi there, I'm from Headquarters, I'm here to help you."
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Last edited by MercedMike; June 14th, 2012 at 10:43 AM.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old July 3rd, 2012, 05:39 AM
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I'm going on the Sept 8th cruise to Alaska and the Princess representative said yesterday there is no staggered boarding planned at this time. I wasn't to thrilled with possible 1:30-2:00 boarding time...
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