7 Tips for a Speedy Disembarkation

by Donna Heiderstadt

7 Tips for a Speedy Disembarkation

by Donna Heiderstadt

Nobody really wants to leave a cruise ship when they’ve been having a blast on vacation, but packing your luggage and disembarking is inevitable. And to make matters worse, it usually takes place frustratingly early in the morning. So to help you end your cruise in the speediest and least stressful way possible, here are seven tips you should know.

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Carnival ships in Miami / iStock / photosvit
Ready for take off
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1. Book an early flight home — but not too early.

Passengers with morning flight departures are usually among the first groups allowed to leave the ship. Before you book your flight, call the line to check the earliest disembarkation possible, and be sure to factor in transport times and your airline’s check-in requirements. Another thing to consider: It’s unusual for a ship to be delayed, but on the off chance it happens, you might want to budget a little extra time.

Passengers with morning flight departures are usually among the first groups allowed to leave the ship. Before you book your flight, call the line to check the earliest disembarkation possible, and be sure to factor in transport times and your airline’s check-in requirements. Another thing to consider: It’s unusual for a ship to be delayed, but on the off chance it happens, you might want to budget a little extra time.

Reception area
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2. Be informed.

Don’t wait until the night before disembarkation to figure out the protocol. If you didn’t check before you made your flight, stop by reception a few days into the cruise and ask how the process will work — what time the ship docks, when the first passengers will be called, what your transportation options are — and then plot what makes sense.

Don’t wait until the night before disembarkation to figure out the protocol. If you didn’t check before you made your flight, stop by reception a few days into the cruise and ask how the process will work — what time the ship docks, when the first passengers will be called, what your transportation options are — and then plot what makes sense.

Carry-on bag
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3. Choose the DIY option.

If you’ve packed a wheeled bag that you can easily handle by yourself in elevators, on escalators, and up and down stairs, you can opt for the walk-off or self-assist option. This is typically the first group called to leave the ship.

If you’ve packed a wheeled bag that you can easily handle by yourself in elevators, on escalators, and up and down stairs, you can opt for the walk-off or self-assist option. This is typically the first group called to leave the ship.

Baggage claim
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4. Ask about luggage check-in services.

Several cruise lines — namely CarnivalRoyal Caribbean, and Celebrity — offer luggage check-in services in some ports. You get your airline boarding pass and luggage tags while still on the ship, pack and place your suitcases in the hallway the night before, and then you don’t see your baggage again until you’re at the carousel in the airport back home. Many cruise lines also sell concierge services with home-to-ship delivery and vice versa.

Several cruise lines — namely CarnivalRoyal Caribbean, and Celebrity — offer luggage check-in services in some ports. You get your airline boarding pass and luggage tags while still on the ship, pack and place your suitcases in the hallway the night before, and then you don’t see your baggage again until you’re at the carousel in the airport back home. Many cruise lines also sell concierge services with home-to-ship delivery and vice versa.

Sun Princess' International Cafe
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5. Be either an early bird or a leisurely lingerer.

Getting into an elevator mid-disembarkation is all but impossible, so arrive at the gangway level before the first announcements are made. If you have an afternoon or evening flight, consider hanging out on the ship as long as you can — that way the crowds will thin out and lines will be shorter. Some cruise lines — including Celebrity — will even let you pay extra to stay aboard for lunch. They charge $59 for adults and $29 for kids to stay on until 90 minutes before next departure.

Getting into an elevator mid-disembarkation is all but impossible, so arrive at the gangway level before the first announcements are made. If you have an afternoon or evening flight, consider hanging out on the ship as long as you can — that way the crowds will thin out and lines will be shorter. Some cruise lines — including Celebrity — will even let you pay extra to stay aboard for lunch. They charge $59 for adults and $29 for kids to stay on until 90 minutes before next departure.

Room key card
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6. Don’t forget your key card.

You won’t be able to get off the ship without swiping that handy key card one last time. And why waste time rummaging through your bags or running back to your cabin to retrieve it? As you’re leaving the ship, make sure you have the key card in a convenient spot.

You won’t be able to get off the ship without swiping that handy key card one last time. And why waste time rummaging through your bags or running back to your cabin to retrieve it? As you’re leaving the ship, make sure you have the key card in a convenient spot.

Luggage
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7. Mark your bags.

Inside the cruise terminal, thousands of bags will be lined up in color-coded groups — and most look surprisingly alike. So unless your luggage is chartreuse, tie a distinctive ribbon on the top handle to easily spot it.

Inside the cruise terminal, thousands of bags will be lined up in color-coded groups — and most look surprisingly alike. So unless your luggage is chartreuse, tie a distinctive ribbon on the top handle to easily spot it.

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