I just received my documents for my 1-23-05 cruise on Legend of the Seas to the Panama Canal. Boarding time says 2pm and sailing time says 5pm. I was under the impression that you could go to the ship at about 11 for boarding. I would not want to wait around for 4 hours till boarding. Is this a change of policy for Royal Caribbean?
That is the message RCCL is giving out. It is partly because of the new immigration procedures the ship must take. This in some cases have slowed the normal process by a few hours. They are also sending this message to prevent the high number of crowds that show up at 1:00pm. By sending the message that it begins at 2:00, they hope that more people will come later. So far everyone who has gone early seems to get on the ship. But this might change in the coming months.
I was able to be on board the Mariner this past summer at 11:15 am... boarding time said 1:00 PM. (we did not have access to our cabin until 1:00) As CD said above, it's likely that they are just trying to spread out the flow of passengers so they are easier to deal with.
HAL - Oosterdam - May 05
RCI - Mariner of the Seas - August 04
HAL - Volendam - July 03
Just came off the Splendour. We arrived about 11:30, but were held in the terminal until almost 1:30. Disembarking was the same deal, however we noted new procedures being taken by INS and US Customs personnel. They were scanning all passports and it appeared that they were employing face recognition cameras as well. All this took extra time,,,,but,,,,beats a terrorist getting on board, or into our country!
Just grin and bear it.
Just came off the Explorer. Yes, we had received notice from the travel agent to arrive at 1:30pm but we came at 11:00 am. The line was not to bad at that time but increased dramatically during the next hour. RCL opened the doors to check in at 12:00. The lines were huge. Did not board till 1:30. Suggest getting there as early as possible to at least get in the front of the line/ Better to wait at the pier that at home and then wait again. Problem is that INS and Customs are screening the international passangers one by one, photo,fingerprint etc. So disembarking took much longer preventing getting on early. No matter, you will have a nice time.
When getting off, try and leave the ship as early as possible or as late as possible, no inbetween. Explorer had 3,800 getting off, so you can imagine the crowd looking for luggage.
The earlier the better to board the vessel, or at least be dockside to check in. Better to wait at the pier than at home. One never knows what time they will allow you to board but the latest should be 1:00-2:00pm. Get there early to beat the lines.
Arriving at the Galveston port for the Rhapsody...twice we arrived just before noon and we on board before the 1 o'clock buffet. Parking and traffic can get a bit crazy with 3 ships in port at once. We use the ports secured parking (you will need cash) and shuttle to the ship. Security and check-in is so organized you will be surprized. Enjoy.
The price for the secured parking in Galveston is $60 when you get there. The porters ( the guys in tropical print shirts) work on their own for tips and are not with RCCL. They will take your bags and put them in the luggage drop off before you have a chance to think about it. So have tip money ready because they are fast. They will guide you to the end of the terminal where security and check in is. Everyone is pleasant and upbeat. Enjoy and congrats.