Seattle Pier 91 Best Arrival Time?

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#1
6 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
What's the best time for arrival at Pier 91? Our boarding time is between 10:30 and 3:00. We'd like to get breakfast before the cruise (we're flying in the day before) and I'm not sure what time to book our transfer.


It's our first time cruising and I've read that Pier 91 can be rather chaotic. Any other arrival advice is welcome!

Thanks so much!
#2
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
28,733 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
"Best" in what way?

If you are talking crowds, there is no absolute ability to say when crowds will be low- every boarding is different from the last, or next. But there is usually a crowd of eager people (we are usually in that crowd) when boarding first starts. After that, no one can predict, realistically.
#3
6 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
"Best" as in suggested times from experienced cruisers. As I mentioned, we've not cruised before. So I don't know what "best" would be. I thought, perhaps, there would be a window of time to aim for when arriving. However, it seems I was incorrect. We'll get there when we get there, I guess.

Thanks!
#4
Seattle, WA
1,629 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Originally posted by Lemon Tea
"Best" as in suggested times from experienced cruisers. As I mentioned, we've not cruised before. So I don't know what "best" would be. I thought, perhaps, there would be a window of time to aim for when arriving. However, it seems I was incorrect. We'll get there when we get there, I guess.
Best has too many meanings. Right off the bat, I can see two different answers:

Best for us means on-board FAST so we can enjoy lunch in the MDR (doors close by 1:30), so we'll deal with some hurry-up-and-wait to get that. To do so, we arrive at 10:45, on the heels of the last few people leaving. We will probably end up waiting a bit for the check-in lines to even open, may wait a bit for the waiting area to be established, may wait in line for the security staff to be ready to scan our cruise cards/take our picture, but if done right, we're in our cabin at 11:40 and at the MDR at 11:55. We're done with lunch at 1:00 and can go make spa reservations, walk the ship, unpack our camera bags and get "the command center" setup by the time our checked bags are delivered. We're unpacked and suitcases in the closet by 2:30, take a brief nap, and go Ketchup to Mustard Dill (don't you Relish my bad jokes?) at 3:30.

Best for some means no waiting. If so, get there at 2:30. You'll fly through the lines, get right on the ship, drop your carry-ons in the room, and head to muster drill at 3:30. Our first cruise involved a Princess Seattle->Vancouver transfer on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, so the border crossing was SLOW (about an hour for our bus). We got to Vancouver at 4:00 for a 4:30 sailaway, but we didn't care because we were on a Princess transfer. We practically ran through check-in: there was no one ahead of us at security, there was no one ahead of us at Customs, there was no one ahead of us to fill out our medical declarations, no one ahead of us at check-in, and no one ahead of us at the card scan/take picture point. We went right to our cabin, dropped our bags, and the steward hurried us off to muster drill.

Me? Pick one of those two, and don't go for the gap in between.
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Prior:

Repositioning Ruby Princess (VAN-SEA) 5/5/17-5/6/17

Mexican Riviera (LA RT) Ruby Princess 2/11/17-2/18/17

Repositioning Crown Princess (SEA-VAN) 9/19/15-9/20/15
Alaska (Seattle RT) Ruby Princess 8/9/15-8/16/15
Alaska Sampler (YVR-KTN-SEA) Ruby Princess 4/29/15-5/3/15
Alaska (Seattle RT) Grand Princess 7/20-27/14
Alaska Northbound Sapphire Princess 8/11-18/12
Alaska Northbound Coral Princess 9/4-11/10
#5
6 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
Originally posted by peety3
Best has too many meanings. Right off the bat, I can see two different answers:

Me? Pick one of those two, and don't go for the gap in between.
Ah! This is so helpful! I totally understand that "best" varies by person. I had no idea that the doors to lunch close at 1:30. In fact, I have no idea what to expect at the port at all. The boards have been very helpful in that regard.

From you and the other poster, it sounds like arriving early ensures that you have time to settle in and get something to eat. I appreciate this info.

Thanks so much!
#6
Seattle, WA
1,629 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Originally posted by Lemon Tea
Ah! This is so helpful! I totally understand that "best" varies by person. I had no idea that the doors to lunch close at 1:30. In fact, I have no idea what to expect at the port at all. The boards have been very helpful in that regard.

From you and the other poster, it sounds like arriving early ensures that you have time to settle in and get something to eat. I appreciate this info.
Disclaimer: all of my answers here are Princess-specific. If you're on HAL or Celebrity, YMMV.

You can eat all afternoon long: buffet ("Horizon Court", usually on the Lido deck ), pre-made sandwiches and dessert nibbles ("International Cafe", usually on deck 5 midship), room service, or there's usually a pizza station, a burger/hot dog station, and an ice cream station near the pools. It's just the MDR that closes at 1:30. Note that if you ask "where can I get lunch?", the Princess crew will always tell you Horizon Court, deck XYZ/location. If you ask "which dining room is open for lunch?", they'll tell you which dining room, then send you to the Horizon Court anyway.

I guess the other side to my answers is that if your flight arrives at Sea-Tac at say 11:00am, don't hurry to the port to get there at 12:30.
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Prior:

Repositioning Ruby Princess (VAN-SEA) 5/5/17-5/6/17

Mexican Riviera (LA RT) Ruby Princess 2/11/17-2/18/17

Repositioning Crown Princess (SEA-VAN) 9/19/15-9/20/15
Alaska (Seattle RT) Ruby Princess 8/9/15-8/16/15
Alaska Sampler (YVR-KTN-SEA) Ruby Princess 4/29/15-5/3/15
Alaska (Seattle RT) Grand Princess 7/20-27/14
Alaska Northbound Sapphire Princess 8/11-18/12
Alaska Northbound Coral Princess 9/4-11/10
#7
1,919 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
For the Princess sailings, lines for embarking the ship after security and check-in are usually the slowdown point, and they're usually gone by 1:00, so my standard advice is to arrive around 12:45 if waiting around makes you crazy.

While check-in may start at 10:30, regardless of the cruise line, I would be VERY shocked if boarding itself started much before 11:30 and there will inevitably be hundreds of passengers who have some form of priority boarding, so the odds of a first-time guest in a standard cabin type being on before 12:15 are approaching zero.
#8
Western Washington
5,014 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Our observation in June was the HAL and Princess process looked about the same. We arrived at 10:30 in the drop off area for cars (taxis have a separate lane) and gave our luggage to a guy with a cart who was color coded for HAL (Orange if I remember right, Princess was Yellow vests). Completed the health forms at the tables to the right as we entered the lower level of the terminal. Then up to security lines via escalators (or in our case elevator with the wheelchair). If I recall the divide for HAL/Princess was to two different security lines at the top. On the HAL side (right side of check-in area) after security we then went to the table to declare our bottle of champagne we were taking. Then to the seating for the waiting area (in our case the separate wheelchair area).

Here's the chaos part. If you arrive really early you get a seat to wait for a long time. If you come sort of early the area will be packed but you won't have to stand around waiting as long. Once they board suite people and wheelchairs my understanding (since were gone by then) is they start boarding according the order of the schedules sent out but not at the times listed. Basically boarding by decks until the waiting area is mostly cleared out. After that boarding is pretty much as you get there with no waiting around. So arriving after about 1pm it would pretty much be walk-on. Of course if you want to eat lunch in MDR this could be a problem.

About MDR lunch - on HAL we were told several times lunch was in the Lido Marketplace buffet and when we asked about MDR they all said they did not think it was available. But when we went there they were all ready for a bunch of guests. I heard a theory for the obfuscation that went since HAL HQ is in Seattle they sometimes host lunches for travel agents and other special groups in the MDR and sometimes it isn't available so better to tell people "no" and be wrong than to say "yes" and disappoint. It may work the same on Princess.
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#9
Cincinnati. OH-Go Reds
5,494 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
I just returned from Emerald Princess cruise on Sunday July 16. If you want to avoid all crowds show up to port at 1pm. If you want to be in the thick of crowds show up at 11am. Princess does not open boarding until noon; however, if you are staying in a suite; they have a separate boarding area and will get onboard the ship before anyone else. We had a suite and showed up at 11:20 and were onboard by 11:40. The normal waiting area had over 500 people waiting for noon when they opened the ship. Hope this helps
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#10
Seattle, WA
1,629 Posts
Joined Oct 2013
Originally posted by AF-1
I just returned from Emerald Princess cruise on Sunday July 16. If you want to avoid all crowds show up to port at 1pm. If you want to be in the thick of crowds show up at 11am. Princess does not open boarding until noon; however, if you are staying in a suite; they have a separate boarding area and will get onboard the ship before anyone else. We had a suite and showed up at 11:20 and were onboard by 11:40. The normal waiting area had over 500 people waiting for noon when they opened the ship. Hope this helps
Every time we've gotten there early enough, Princess has started boarding at 11:30am. In Seattle and in Vancouver, they service Elites and Suites until caught up, then Elite/Suites get priority and Platinum gets best-effort until caught up, then Elite/Suite/Platinum gets a priority line and Blue/Gold/Ruby gets best-effort. As a Platinum in a Mini-Suite, we were in the room, bags dropped, specialty reservations made, spa reservations adjusted/confirmed, and camped out in front of the MDR at 11:50am.
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Prior:

Repositioning Ruby Princess (VAN-SEA) 5/5/17-5/6/17

Mexican Riviera (LA RT) Ruby Princess 2/11/17-2/18/17

Repositioning Crown Princess (SEA-VAN) 9/19/15-9/20/15
Alaska (Seattle RT) Ruby Princess 8/9/15-8/16/15
Alaska Sampler (YVR-KTN-SEA) Ruby Princess 4/29/15-5/3/15
Alaska (Seattle RT) Grand Princess 7/20-27/14
Alaska Northbound Sapphire Princess 8/11-18/12
Alaska Northbound Coral Princess 9/4-11/10
#11
Cincinnati. OH-Go Reds
5,494 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
That is awesome Peety3. I guess we were fast tracked because of the suite.
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#12
Washington State
1,135 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
We normally get to Pier 91 around 10:45 or so. This year on the Emerald we pretty much walked right though security and up to the Elite/Platinum check in counter. Once we are checked in we walked over the Elite/Platinum lounge and out the door, got our picture taken and were on the ship by 11:20. After we had a nice leisurely lunch in the Botticelli Dining Room we went up to the Horizon Court Buffet, OMG it was an absolute zoo up there, I’m glad we always have lunch in one of the MDR.
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#14
Canada
144 Posts
Joined Aug 2015
As we have our first Princess ceuise coming up in Sept, I also appreciate all the info. Unfortunately we will be those first timers only in a mini suite.

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