Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Disembarkation day

We haven't had a lot a questions lately, at least none that I thought would be an interesting topic, until one last night about the disembarkation at the end of the cruise.

The question was "what time should I have my driver pick us up when we get back?"

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this one. Although the ship is scheduled back in port the last morning at a certain time, things can happen where it is both a little earlier or later. Then the process of "clearing" the ship which is a Customs and Immigration thing. Most of the time this is fairly routine but things happen here too.

Then it is the actual process of disembarking the passengers. First, luggage must be taken off ship and put in the terminal. The cruise lines assign you a number or color or some such designation so that they are not having 2000+ people trying to exit the ship at the same time. It can be a little chaotic (said toungue in cheek) with that many people looking for their bags, finding a porter, and then going through the customs and immigration process.

By working smaller groups, the process becomes much less aggravating for you the passenger. So how are these groups determined? Normally, passengers with earlier flights booked through the cruise line get off earlier. There is a simple reason for this. The bus that takes these people to the airport is also the bus (s) that are going to be bringing people back to the ship for the next cruise who are getting in during the morning hourson their flights. People who purchase disembarkation tours (those with later flights) need to be off the ship to start the tour. These jtours end at the airport and these buses actually are the ones that bring people back from the airport with the flights getting in late morning or early afternoon. It's all a timing thing.

Normally last is people who have made their own arrangements after the cruise, which are many. So you still all can't get off at the same time.

The question about "what time should my driver pick me up?" is therefore a tough one to answer and be sure we as the agent are going to advise our client correctly. 9 - 10 AM is pretty safe time for planning. Most limo drivers know the drill and may even have a waiting place (diner or something) close by.

What you should do is have the driver's cell number (if you know who your driver is) or the company number and call to confirm your pick up and then call again when your color/number is called and you are ready to leave the ship. Alternately, you can call when you get into the terminal and have your luggage in hand.

We do this with many of our clients when we are going to meet with them at the airport or after their cruise. We also try to arrange a certain "meeting point" especially at a port terminal. It is going to be crowded and a little "crazy" that morning so my best advice is be patient and don't make the last day of your cruise so stressful that you need a nother vacation right away. (What am I saying? Better yet, make it stressful, get home, have a drink and call us to book your next cruise right away .)

Seriously, you've relaxed all week on the cruise so be patient and it will work out OK.

I had another thought after posting this a little while ago. When we personally drive to the pier or make our own arrangements for air, we don't mind waiting for a later disembarkation time. We can sleep a little longer and relax with a nice breakfast and actually delay getting "eveicted" from the ship.

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