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cruisequeen July 29th, 2003 09:12 AM

My husband & I have talked about several different ways to speed up embarkation. Here's one idea we had. Everyone show's their ID, like you would at the airport. Have all your paper work (which has been mailed to you prior to the cruise) filled out completely. Get on the ship, and go to your cabin. In your cabin is your sign & sail card already coded with your credit card info, the cabin stewart comes in and checks you in, takes a quick photo and attaches it to your card. (or put your card in a hand held machine like the one where you put your card in and it embeds your photo onto it). If you want to change your cc info, you take it to the pursers office and they encode it there.
I'm sure there are different ways of speeding up this process. They could even mail your sail & sign cards along with the cruise documents and all you would have to do is put your card in the machine to have your photo embedded on it. Have someone checking your ID when you get to the camera area. I just feel these long lines could be somewhat avoided. There are always going to be a few passengers that have to be checked in the "old" way for various reasons - for get their card, don't use c. cards ect... but those would be few and far between.

Any other idea's out there??

Pete July 29th, 2003 09:52 AM

Re: embarkation
Nice ideas cruisequeen, but I suspect that the powers that be would not adopt them because they want to do 'all the work' in one place at one time. eg. your sign and sail card - they want to ensure that the person getting the picture on the card is indeed the one on the ID (Passport?). To give room stewards the necessary equipment would require many many machines. Then there is the matter of ensuring that everybody goes through the whole process and does not 'not bother' to do certain parts.

There is one way they could reduce the lines........

Simply.......... make more check-in desks.

Errrrrrr........ but that costs money.....

Pete :o)

cruisequeen July 29th, 2003 03:23 PM

Re: embarkation
I'm sure there are other options. I have a problem standing for long periods of time and this is what has prompted me to try to come up with a better way. One time I asked a "staff" member if there were some where I could sit while I waited my turn in line and they suggested the floor! That was the only time I was treated that way, but how customer friendly was that? They told me if I moved out of line I would not keep my place.
Let's put on our thinking caps and help out the cruise lines with this problem.

Jim Munkittrick July 29th, 2003 03:31 PM

Re: embarkation
Cruisequeen....Last year i was hobbled by a broken leg. When it came time to stand in line..we got in line..I then turned tothe guy behind me explained I had a problem and would he mid letting me back in line when he approached the front...NO PROBLEM. Did the exact same thin this past April (another broken leg).
now maybe it was because we were sailing with Texans that they were friendly, but it worked two times in a row. Give it a try.

Also, remember, 90% of those "Cruseline" employees that check you in are either temps or part-timers with no vested interest in you or your vacation. The option would be full time, trained, EXPENSIVE employees that would, in turn, cost you more money for your cruise.

Thomas July 30th, 2003 09:48 AM

Re: embarkation
I like some of these suggestions. Anything that improves the process is a good thing. What's good for the customer is good for the business, IMHO>


LisaK July 30th, 2003 12:03 PM

Re: embarkation
Do you think that assigned boarding times could work?? How about having someone on the cruise ship's shuttle buses from the airport that could do a pre-cruise check-in?

babe ruth August 1st, 2003 01:13 PM

Re: Re: embarkation
As of now, the only thing I've seen really work is chosing a smaller ship. For some reason, ship designers seem to think that whether the ship holds 150 or 3500, it only needs one "front door". WRONG!


AR August 2nd, 2003 10:48 AM

Re: embarkation
Here's the perfect solution:

Make everybody members of the line's frequent cruiser club.

Then they could all get in the priority check-in line and things would go a lot faster!!


Myles August 3rd, 2003 07:46 PM

Re: embarkation
I'm really not at all sure that there is anything that can speed up the process due to the bureaucracy restraints imposed for security purposes by the Office of Homeland Security. The cruiselines have very little leeway, if any, to depart from federal guidelines. Even if they could, I doubt they would want to take the responsibility for a possible security breach due to insurance and legal considerations. If anything, it's more likely to get worse, especially if there is a hint of the cruiselines becoming a possible target. Oh well, I've become accustomed to the travel inconveniences everywhere, so I guess it's not the end of the world.

babe ruth August 5th, 2003 02:00 AM

Re: Re: embarkation
Well, actually there IS something the large ships could do to make embarkation less painfull. But it results in something the large ship lines do not want ---- spending more money. They could have more than one "front door" to the ship by alphabetical last names of the guests, and have more people manning the check in stations. I agree that security (so long as it is not just checking for carry on booze) is an important item. But it is one the lines should provide for, instead of putting it on the backs of the guests via longer lines.

Because of this (and other things) we do not cruise on large ships. In my opinion, they are not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which has received very lax enforcement as to cruise lines when operating on American soil under the current administration. But, we can do little about this except to keep it in mind the next time we vote. In the meantime, my wife and I must avoid such messes, due to rather mild physical disabilities, and confine our cruising to small ship cruise lines. Heck, that is probably the best idea anyway. Never had to worry about a chair by the pool!


Marc August 5th, 2003 08:01 AM


Post Edited (08-07-03 12:28)

KimJack August 5th, 2003 08:48 AM

Re: embarkation
Well, I think we've just been given the best solutions to the problem at discussion. Sail on small ships (preferably small expensive ships like Crystal or Raddison) and vote Democratic. Yeah, that ought to do it. That ought to resolve all the embarkation difficulties for the average Joe Cruiser sailing on whatever ship gives him the most bang for his buck (most likely big cheaper ships like CCL, NCL or HAL). Oh no! I believe that I find myself in the latter group!

So while I do appreciate the "rich & famous" approach together with the political advice, I think I'll go back and reread the Everyman suggestions in this thread. They may not work, but at least I can appreciate their sincerity.


Marc August 5th, 2003 08:57 AM


Post Edited (08-07-03 12:28)

KimJack August 5th, 2003 02:25 PM

Re: embarkation

I'm intrigued by yor remark that Radisson & Crystal vessels <aren't small ships>. I don't know what the generally accepted norms are for defining ship size. However, I would say that (if using passenger capacity as the criterion) the Radisson Voyager and Mariner (700 pax), the Navigator (490 pax), the Diamond (350 pax) and the Paul Gauguin (320 pax) all might be considered to be "small" ships, especially when compared with today's large and mega-liners.

As for Crystal, their Harmony and Symphony (940 pax) also fall into my definition of "small", although they approach my "medium" category. The right of each person to define ship size -- that's what makes America great!
Seriously, I would categorize as follows:
Very small ships -- under 300 pax
Small ships -- 300 - 1000 pax
Medium ships -- 1000 - 1900 pax
Large ships -- 1900 - 2700 pax
Mega-ships -- over 2700 pax

Obviously, my breakdown is arbitrary. If one defines size in relation to gross tonnage or some other criterion, things would change. In no instance, however, would I consider any of the Radisson vessels as anything but "small".
The smallest vessel I ever cruised on was the Renaissance R1 (700 pax) and I considered it as a small but lovely ship. If you disagree, so be it. I'd really like to see some pros & cons on this subject.


babe ruth August 5th, 2003 02:26 PM

Re: Re: embarkation

First, there are some small ship lines like Oceania out there that are no more costly than HAL. Second, if a ship like the 650 pax Oceania Regatta does not fit your requirements, booking your cruises on the smaller (under 2000 pax) ships of HAL, RCI, and the like will help some. Avoid the megaliners. Third, I know many people of both political parties who feel that too little is done to accomodate persons with disabilities in the entire travel process.


Marc August 5th, 2003 02:35 PM


Post Edited (08-07-03 12:27)

Chuck Palm August 5th, 2003 03:47 PM

Re: embarkation
On our last cruise on the Star Princess there were two entrances used but the embarkation was still very awkward and took a very long time. That was my only complaint on the entire cruise.

Regardless of one's political party, I would hope that all passengers would do their best to understand that disabled passengers need to have accommodations made to ensure their comfort and safety. Law suits are costly for cruise lines and injuries are costly to passengers in many ways. It makes sense that passengers with wheelchair accessible cabins could be taken to the purser's desk for the bulk of their check-in after proper I.D. is shown. This might help speed up the regular lines too!

Chuck Palm August 5th, 2003 04:56 PM

Re: embarkation
Was that comment supposed to be funny? Why does everybody want to spew their politics of hatred on a forum like this? I don't get it. Is Rush Limbaugh on vacation or something?

babe ruth August 5th, 2003 05:01 PM

Re: embarkation
Let's not get political here. A partisian political discussion would probably get removed from the board anyway. Suffice it to say that I usually vote a split ticket -- last time for more Republicans than Democrats due to the candidates and issues. But again, I know a lot of life long, totally loyal Republicans who disagree with select items on the current adgenda, and one of these is the handling of interpretation and lack of enforcement of ADA. As my wife has MS and, on a less serious note, I have arthritic feet, ADA is a sensitive issue with me.

As we have cruised a lot recently, we have seen a definite relationship between ship size and embarkation lines, crowds, and waits. The last ship we sailed that is not a "small ship" was the RCI Grandeur of the Seas which carries a max of around 1800 pax, I think. While it wasn't the "breeze on" process of very small ships, it was totally reasonable, and not overly burdensome to those with disabilities. The same was true for reboarding at the ports. When I see ships of over 2000 capacity embarking and boarding at the ports, I begin to see problems. When you get to the mega ships, it can be a horror story at embarkation and port reboarding. So for those for whom long embarkation lines and reboarding lines are an issue (they are with me), I recommend confining you bookings to ships with fewer than 2000 guests, to lessen the probability of these horror stories.

Drawing the line at 2000 (or fewer if possible) should leave Jack and all others looking for low cost cruises plenty of options.


KimJack August 5th, 2003 05:08 PM

Re: embarkation
Marc and Richard,

Thanks for your comments, and pardon my stumble into the semantics trap (what's small, etc.) I think with the huge vessels that are being built today the meaning of the size adjectives has changed greatly in the past 10 years or so. Carnival's Fantasy class ships (70K GT, 855' length, 2000 pax) looked real big not long ago. Now CCL is bringing in ships with capacities of nearly 3000, and RCCI's new ships are carrying over 3100 pax. What next?


Post Edited (09-09-03 08:52)

CruiseKing August 7th, 2003 01:02 PM

Re: embarkation
Since my wife has OI, we are staunch advocates of ADA. While embarking on our last cruise on Carnival, we entered the room filled with people. We spoke to a lady in uniform and asked if there was any to expedite our embarkation because my wife cannot stand for long periods of time. That wonderful lady escorted us straight to the front of the line, spoke to the person behind the check-in desk and we were able to board immediately.


walt lynch September 5th, 2003 03:52 PM

Re: embarkation
maybe if the ship would board by decks. each deck should have a time for you to come to the dock and walk up to check in and on ship if you miss your time you wait untill the end and board. yes yes it will work

Thomas September 8th, 2003 08:39 AM

Re: Re: embarkation
Sometimes you don't know what deck you're on until you get to the pier and check your bags with the porter. When you get a guarantee category you won't know your room until the porter informs you from his manifest. If you've been upgraded a couple of decks you wouldn't know that until then. So you'd sit there in the parking lot thinking, I could be on the ship right now but since I've been upgraded I have to wait another 2 hours until my deck is boarding.


Kar06 September 8th, 2003 03:49 PM

Re: embarkation
Good point Thomas...hmm....

Embarkation could definately use some work though. I mean, sometimes it's not awful, but it could be better.

p.g. September 8th, 2003 08:39 PM

Re: Re: embarkation
Gee guys when we boarded the Grand Princess it was smooth and easy. I don't think waiting in line for 10 or 15 minutes is a hardship( unless of course you have a physical problem). I think it would help if everyone didn't rush to get on soon as the embarkation process begins, staggered boarding times would help.

On another note, I do not think this is the place for you (any of you!!) to discuss politics. First of all as a foreigner I don't know what the heck your're talking about LOL and second of all it is all too easy to get way to mouthy way too fast on the net. There ARE real poeple reading this stuff , and they have real feelings too!Besides this is a HAPPY, HAPPY,FUN, FUN place!!!

Harry Martin September 9th, 2003 12:39 PM

Re: embarkation
Applause, applause PG!

Regarding the disabled, I have no problem at all with letting those folks in first etc. My mother is in a wheelchair parttime due to cancer radiation therapy from a couple years back (she is unable to stand for lengths at a time). She said the cruise staff is wonderful (taking them right to her table and whizzing the wheelchair out of sight). Also, in Europe, she said the French, English and Italians were fantastic in their dealings with folks with a disability.

But, back to the original topic, the best way in which to improve embarkation would be for more lines to arrange online check-in, such as Princess. We always zip right onto any Princess ship. I always write on my comment card, "W\hy don't more lines do it?" And on the opposite side, getting off the ship is great on Princess in that they tell you the order the colors will be called -- makes the waiting so much easier.


ErnieMCC September 10th, 2003 10:19 AM

Re: embarkation
Embarkation procedures are an unending source of frustration for the lines. They are fully aware of the understandable tenet that a delayed and troublesome embarkation triggers a negative mood in the cruise guest which can often carry over into everything the guest sees or does on board for the rest of the voyage. Suggesting that a cruise line that spends millions to ensure that its guests experience great service on board could be oblivious to the trauma of a poorly executed embarkation doesn't make sense... they are very aware.

There is a sea change of difference between what is planned and what looks good "on paper" and the reality of a particular embarkation. With a degree of frequency that has markedly increased since the horrors of 9/11, embarkation may be delayed because of events totally beyond the control of even the most dedicated and caring cruise line.

Generally, embarkation is scheduled to be spread over a 3 or 4 hour period. This is based upon a timely clearance of the ship upon its arrival. Nowadays, a ship can be cleared at 8am... or, on a bad day at 11am... or anything in between. Late clearance delays the start of embarkation of new passengers for a variety of reasons. As an example, at some piers in Port Everglades, the embarkation desks, computers and so forth... in the Embarkation "Hall"... are set up in the exact same space as the Baggage "Hall"... so even the basics of embarkation cannot be set up until the arrived baggage has been claimed and customs been cleared. Pier 21 at Port Everglades is a classic example of this.

Other factors include the geographic origination of the passengers. Sailings that attract a large percentage of Florida residents (in the Ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale) tend to have large groups arriving by bus in a very short window... generally between 11am and 1pm, as opposed to arrivals spread out over a period of time say from 11am to 3pm or so. This bunching up of arrivals quickly overwhelms the embarkation procedures and is a major cause of delay, backup of passengers and so forth.

I spend a good part of almost every weekend at Port Everglades and am frequently at the same pier for the same ship week after week. Pier 2, from which the Grand and Golden Princesses depart is a good example. I can tell you that embarkation varies from week to week... with some embarkations as smooth as silk (generally coupled with an early ship clearance) and others that are just horrific.

I recently did a crossing on the QE2 from New York to Southampton. Cunard assigns arrival times (mine was 2pm or so) and the system seems to work well. I arrived at the pier before noon, checked in my luggage and went into midtown for lunch. When I returned, at the appointed hour, embarkation was a breeze. 20 minutes later a lightening strike in the area knocked out Cunard's embarkation computers. If you had arrived shortly after I did, your impression of Cunard's embarkation procedures would have been the exact opposite of mine and of those who embarked earlier.

As with most things in life, this problem defies simple solutions. I know a number of cruise line pier managers (a thankless job if ever there was one) and it is an unending source of frustration to them... but I fear that we'll only see more "tinkering"... with changes here and there... but the likelihood of stressful embarkations will, I'm afraid, persist in the foreseeable future. I don't see the soon to arrive "E" Documents helping much either.

I suppose one caught up in a difficult embarkation ought to stop and think how lucky one is to be going off on a great cruise vacation and just grin and bear it... as one minor inconvenience endured because of the distracted world in which we live.

Post Edited (09-10-03 11:56)

Starfighter September 10th, 2003 03:21 PM

Re: embarkation
I just returned from a cruise on the Carnival Destiny, a ship which carries about 2600 passengers, I believe. I almost hate to say this because it goes against the grain of the general opinion, but within an hour of getting in line to board, I was on the lido deck having a snack. Granted, this was a first for me, but maybe someone out there in the ivory tower is listening to you and doing something about it. It was great! Have a good one!

Kathy & Dave September 10th, 2003 08:39 PM

Re: embarkation
We have been on NCL and Princess and never waited more than 15-20 minutes to check in, even though the lines were long. We did have to wait a bit to board once, but we were there early and they hadn't started boarding yet.

I hear stories about embarkation of other lines and it makes me want to stay with NCL or Princess!

trvlauthority September 11th, 2003 10:53 PM

Re: embarkation
Does anyone realize, even the people who think they can "vote" more disable friendly ships that the cruise lines DO NOT HAVE TO FOLLOW THE U.S. CODES????? They are registered under another country for various reasons, this being one of them!!!! So you can vote anyone you want into office...............but do it for MUCH better reasons then that!!!!!!!!

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