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Embarkation when is the best time to show up?

H

higavin

Guest
#1
Has anyone had a bad experience by showing up just 1 hour before sailing? The Princess website says show up at least 2 hours before sailing and you can't start boarding before 4 hours before sailing, when is the best time to get there?

I hate standing in lines, but then who does? We're sailing on the Grand, if full, that's 2600 people trying to get aboard in 4 hours. of course, everyone with out of date passports, lost tickets and missing documents will be in line ahead of me.

Any good stories (horror or happy) about showing up early or late?

Any neat tricks to make getting on board quicker and easier?

If you showed up with all your papers in order 15 minutes before sailing, would they say no, you can't come on board?

I would never cut it that close intentionally but things happen.

My plan is to spend the night in Galveston the night before and take a cab to the dock getting there 2 hours before sailing.
 
D

DJA

Guest
#2
Either go early or late. 12:30 or 3:30. Avoid the peak times around 1:00 and 2:00 when all the big busloads of people come in on the Princess transfers.
 
S

sailboat

Guest
#3
When to show up depends on the Port. We cruised from the Port of Baltimore and EVERYONE showed up early. That would not have been bad had the port been more well organized--like those in Miami and San Juan, but it was a zoo with no one really sure about where they were supposed to be. People who showed up later had an easier time of it.

To speed you along, complete as many items on line as allowed -- dining preferences, excursions, etc. Have all of your embarkation paperwork filled out and ready to check along with your passport/ID, tickets, credit card (to validate your on-board purchase card). This is not the place to ask questions about the cruise, what's for dinner, who is the captain, where can I get lunch--all of which I have heard people asking at embarkation. Be prepared to go through security similar to that in airports. Try not to lug all of your belongings aboard with you--let the porters bring your bags on. Smile a lot and say hello and thank you--it really does help.

Joining the frequent cruiser clubs usually gets you to a preferential line--but we cruisers are a dedicated lot--so don't be suprised if you've got lots of company!
 
S

Snowblower

Guest
#4
Howard & Amy,
I have not had a problem showing up one hour prior to sailing. Had a flight that was late one time that almost caused us to miss the ship. Showed up at 4, sailed at 5. When we showed up at 4, we walked right up to the counter, got are cruise cards and walked right on the ship. If you are in the terminal prior to sailing the ship is not going to leave with out you!!!

Many passengers (including myself!!!) are excited about getting on the ship so they try to get there at 11 in an attempt to beat the masses. As DJA states you want to try and miss the 1-2 period. I am familiar with many of Princess cruise terminals but not Galveston. Someone please correct me if I am wrong but I think this is a first for Princess sailing from Galveston?? Only once have I experienced sailing from a new terminal with new employees on one of the first cruises and it was a complete disaster. The employees were confused, struggled with the paperwork and sometimes just didn't know what to do. I will hand it to these people though, I was back at the same terminal about a month later on a different ship and the employees did just fine that time. They just needed practical experience. You might want to check and see how many Grand Princess cruises are sailing from Galveston prior to yours. Sometimes arriving at the terminal at 4 is not all that bad of an idea.

Number one pointer:
1. Carry any of your valuables on your person or in a carry-on bag. Rid yourself of all large luggage as soon as you get to the terminal (have stateroom tags on the bags prior to arriving at the terminal). Every terminal I have ever been at have porter's at the entrance to the terminal. Give them your bags, tip and they will see they get to baggage loading. You don't need to take any of these bags with you to the check-in counter.
 
E

Einstein

Guest
#5
We are of the mode that we wish to be aboard that ship and enjoying EVERY possible minute we can so we arrive at about 10:30 and are onboard by noon at the latest in MOST cases. Figure we are just gonna be thinking about that cruise anyway so might as well be lookin at the ship. :grin Besides that hour prior to boarding goes by SO FAST and U would be amazed the Gr8 people U meet in line and start forming friendships with before U even walk down the gangway.

.
 
C

Cruise cutie

Guest
#6
=yeah..and we ALWAYS take a taxi to the pier, turn our luggage over to the stevedores and take my valuables, and change of clothes and swim suit on with us..we go for 11 AM too... never had a long wait and we ALWAYS beat the Princess transfer buses..enjoy!!..:)..Joanne
 
L

Lizaluu

Guest
#7
It would be really stupid to show up one hour before sailing ON PURPOSE because I have heard that sometimes ships leave their ports early in order to avoid a hurricane that may be going towards their port. That happened in Miami recently. They left one hour early to avoid the hurricane.
I think sometimes Galveston gets rain storms really bad so if the weather is bad it is best to get there as soon as possible and have lunch on the ship, unpack your luggage and relax with a drink and watch the late comers rush onto the ship.
If the ship is planning to leave on time they will start to disengage from the pier before the last 30minutes is up so if you arrive 15 minutes before departure you may be too late to board. Ships are not in the habit of docking again once they start the process to leave the pier. Many passengers have been left behind. Cruel shoes....
Of course if bus loads of cruisers are stuck in traffic or the planes with hundreds of passengers are late to arrive.... the ships will do their best to wait for them but sometimes they don't care and they leave.
At the Los Angeles/SanPedro port most ships leave one or two hours late. They wait for the late arrivals.
I have never seen them leave on time. I like to watch them leave sometimes from the Ports of Call Village restaurants. It is fun.
One more thing.... what if your cab has a engine problem on the way to the pier or there is a car accident and it is blocking the way to the pier. I once had a flat tire when I was driving friends to the pier. We had left in plenty of time but we had to stop to change the tire. You never know what can happen at the last minute. I heard about a taxi driver who got lost for 45 minutes taking passengers to the cruise ship. I thought that was strange since it is so easy to just get off the freeway and you are there at the San Pedro port. I suspect the driver did it on purpose in order to make more money because the freeway has a sign that tells you where to get off to get to the ships.
 
U

utopia

Guest
#8
isn't it impossible to board before official time?

Since Princess states that boarding commences at 1pm for a 5pm departure, I don't understand how early bird posters here were be able to board before the official 1pm marker?

A couple of replies here state that going early (10:30am-11:30am) before the bus crowd means you can avoid the lines and get on the boat faster. But, how is that possible when the workers won't allow passengers on until 1pm? I thought the only reason for arriving early was to be closer to the front of the line, but it would still be necessary to wait a few hours more with the huge crowd.

Can someone clarify? Thanks!!!
 
S

Snowblower

Guest
#9
Utopia, the critical word here is "official". What the corporate office states in the cruise documents is one thing, what the personnel at the dock do is another. Getting on the ship early really depends on the efficiency of the crew. Once they get the previous passengers off and the staterooms clean they will start boarding immediately. We have been in our stateroom as early as 11:30 am before. I have seen Princess begin checking in passengers as early as 10:30 am and have us wait in a special area until boarding. We always go early and only one time in several cruises have we waited in line until the 1:00 pm official time (Ft Lauderdale/Golden Princess). As for the "huge" crowds they usually seem to arrive 1:00-2:30 pm. The only times we have seen the crowd arrive early has been in LA for Mexico cruises. I can only guess it is because of the amount of cruisers from the LA basin and the number of different airports in the area. Many westcoasters can fly Southwest and take early morning flights....
 
U

utopia

Guest
#10
helpful advice

thanks for the info, snowblower. that clears things up.
when do you think the earliest eary-birds would arrive at the san pedro port for check-in for a mexican riviera cruise that departs at 5pm?
 
C

Cruise cutie

Guest
#11
I have not flown and departed for Mexico but I agree with Snowblower it would be the 10:30-11AM deal as well...=shrug hope there is an experienced Mexico cruiser to tell you..all of our cruises have been out of Lauderdale and San Juan..have never gotten ON the ship later than noon....we wait in the ante room with others..it's fun and relaxing..Hey I'm on a cruise...:grin..Joanne
 
L

Lady Jag

Guest
#12
I've arrived about 1-2 hrs. early (before printed boarding time) with the exception of 1 time.
The longest wait was 45 mins. for the Grand in FLL, but it went quickly.
We've sailed out of San Pedro/LA about 6 times and have never left an hour or two late like Utopia says. The latest we've sailed was about 30 minutes late, even on the weekend 3 night cruises.

We prefer to get to the port ASAP, so we're there very early like Einstein & Red Stripe. What else are we gonna do anyway? Drool over the ship from a distance or drool over it while waiting in line? =dunno
 
F

fastscot

Guest
#14
We have cruised many times from San Pedro and getting there early (before 11 a.m.) is a good idea. As soon as the previous passengers have off-loaded and the ship is clear, they will start boarding no matter what the brochure says! We have quite often been on the ship and sitting having lunch at 12 noon!
 
L

Lady Jag

Guest
#16
Sorry - meant to say "Lizaluu" instead of "utopia".

11 AM is a good time for San Pedro/Port of LA. Seems to be a good time for most of the places we've sailed from, including Seattle.