Long lines, delays, people are upset and complaining about everything even if it didn't relate to the cruise and it is natural to blame the cruise line for these delays in getting off the ship. We went through this just yesterday coming off the NCL Sky (we were on a Seminar at Sea) in Miami. We opted to not take our own luggage off the ship and took a late "color tag" so we could take our time getting off the ship and not have to rush.
We had had a nice relaxing breakfast and headed to the gangway around 9 AM. Ooopps! There was a long line both at the exit from the ship and in the terminal waiting to go through customs. I turned to Helen and said "let's find a seat and wait a little while." Why stand in a line and wait when we could sit in a lounge and wait for the line to move along. A few minutes later there is an announcement "Attention passengers we have a slight delay in the terminal and apologize for the delay. We will disembark you as soon as possible." We heard some groans from people near us. Then the announcement about 15 mintes later again apologizing but it was explained that the Customs folks had an issue with their computers and could not clear people through the customs and immigration process.
Let's be fair here to the cruise lines. They want you to get off as quickly as possible so they can prepare the ship for those coming on in a few hours. They don 't delay the process. Think about embarkation. Yes, there are lines but they move quickly because they have control over the process. They put as many check in personnel at a station as possible. (Things are a little slow at first at the security check-in getting into the terminal with screening carry on and people but again, that's not really the cruise lines fault. Actually it's people who slow things down there by not being prepared for this process (another topic for another day).)
We ended up getting off the ship around 11 AM - two hours later than we started to. Those people who got off at 7:30 had no problem (except lugging luggage
The point is be prepared that when issues happen with Customs and Immigration, you will be delayed getting off the ship and it is not the cruise lines fault so please, be fair and don't blame them. We hear clients say that the process of getting off the ship was so bad that we will never sail on that cruise line again. Guess what, it happens to all cruise lines at various times.
So my tip today is when disembarking the ship and you see long lines, you have two choices. Go back somewhere on the ship and relax or stand in line and complain. If you then stand in line and wait and wait, put the blame where it really belongs - on YOU. You made that choice.
On a side note, things do happen at disembarkation beyond anyone's control and this is why we never recommend planning flights home before noon time or even later depending on the port you are at. There will be lines at the airport too and you don't need to stress yourself out anymore than flying stresses people out these days trying to catch your flight.
When we saw the lines moving again and get smaller, that's when we left the ship, went through customs, got our luggage and into the car and it all took less than 30 minutes without any stress.
So it's not the cruise lines fault and they should not be blamed when disembarkation doesn't go smooth (and very rarely does it). You've relaxed all week so please don't ruin it the last morning for yourself or others.
Please feel free to share your thoughts or suggestions on this topic in the comment section. Your comments are appreciated.