No one likes waiting in line, especially at the end of a cruise when there's a flight to catch or sightseeing to do. The good news is if you're one of the more than 3.5 million cruisers who go through Fort Lauderdale each year, disembarkation just got a whole lot faster.
Cruise passengers can now complete their U.S. customs declaration paperwork in advance on their phones with a free app called Mobile Passport Control — and bypass long customs lines. After creating a profile and filling out the paperwork on the app, you can hop in an express line to give your info to a customs officer via an encrypted code, along with your passport.
Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades is the first cruise port in the U.S. to use the app to aid disembarkation, and it comes at a good time. The largest ship in the world, Royal Caribbean International's 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas, just started calling the port home, joining other mega ships Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Holland America Line's Koningsdam.
The app is only available on iOS for now (sorry Android users). And although no other U.S. ports have started using the app, several airports — including both Fort Lauderdale and Miami, as well as Seattle, San Francisco, and New York — have begun using it for air travelers.
The app is part of a growing trend to automate the embarkation and disembarkation process. Royal Caribbean, for example, allows passengers to check in online and fill out forms before they leave home, leaving just a few details to be taken care of in port. And if you're cruising on the line's Harmony of the Seas, you can do even more from home, including upload your photo.