What time do you board a 4pm departure cruise?

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#1
142 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
How early do they let people on the cruise? And since this is my 1st cruise ever, can anyone give tips as to what time is best to board as to avoid long lines & crowds? Of course, we want to enjoy as much of the boat as possible, but we also don't wanna spend 2 hours standing in line at the terminal waiting to board. Thanks for the help!
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#2
Wisconsin
6,138 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by BaltimoreChickadee
How early do they let people on the cruise? And since this is my 1st cruise ever, can anyone give tips as to what time is best to board as to avoid long lines & crowds? Of course, we want to enjoy as much of the boat as possible, but we also don't wanna spend 2 hours standing in line at the terminal waiting to board. Thanks for the help!
You MUST be on board at least 2 hours before the ship is to set sail, so 2 p.m. would be the latest you'd want to be boarding..

Most of us show up at the port around 10:30 or 11 a.m. Boarding starts around 11:30, and that way we're on the ship and eating lunch, touring the ship, having a cold drink, whatever...long before the ship sets sail.

Cabins are usually ready between 1:30 and 2, so there's a bit of time to start to unpack, too.

Except for my last cruise, where there was an issue on the ship so they couldn't start boarding right away, I've never had to stand in line for more than a few minutes before starting the boarding process.
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#3
10,074 Posts
Joined May 2008
Originally posted by BaltimoreChickadee
How early do they let people on the cruise? And since this is my 1st cruise ever, can anyone give tips as to what time is best to board as to avoid long lines & crowds? Of course, we want to enjoy as much of the boat as possible, but we also don't wanna spend 2 hours standing in line at the terminal waiting to board. Thanks for the help!
I always arrive at the port around 1020am. That puts me in the front of the line when the doors open and get checked in right away.

It's been my experience that it's best to go early - before the buses from the airport start arriving. It gets really, really crowded then.
#4
Southwest Florida
6,916 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We've been lucky to get to port at 11 or 11:15 -- The first rush is through by then. Normally within 20 minutes or so we are on board eating lunch. Royal Caribbean lets you in your room at around 1:00 so I go and unpack and then roam around and have a DOD (Drink of the Day). Enjoy your first cruise!!
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#5
Cape Cod MA& Weirton WV
4,419 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Originally posted by BaltimoreChickadee
How early do they let people on the cruise? And since this is my 1st cruise ever, can anyone give tips as to what time is best to board as to avoid long lines & crowds? Of course, we want to enjoy as much of the boat as possible, but we also don't wanna spend 2 hours standing in line at the terminal waiting to board. Thanks for the help!
Welcome aboard, since it is the first cruise good time to learn the lingo. it is a ship in that a boat is something that can sit ON a ship. The front 1/3 of the ship is FORWARD the back 1/3 is AFT and in between 1/3 is MIDSHIPS. your Left when you are facing Forward is PORT your Right facing forward is STARBOARD. One more thing the pointy bit Forward is the Bow and the flat bit all the way AFT is called the STERN, cabins facing backward so you see where you have been are Stern, not aft cabins.

As to boarding question, you can arrive around 11 or so but must be on board no later than 90 min. before sail away. That by the way only applies to embarcation day not to when you must be back on board in ports which is 30 min. prior to sailing.

If you board early you may not be able to go to your cabin right away normally the cabins are available by about 1 to 1:30. you can however go to the buffet or as I prefer, ONE of the main dining rooms will be open for lunch,IF IT IS AFTER 12:30 though you may be told otherwise.

Hope you have a nice trip.
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#6
882 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
We boarded around 11:30 and it is great to sit and have a bite to eat, walk around, etc., while the masses are still boarding! The earlier you get on the ship, the earlier your vacation begins. Also, get to know the ship on "their time" (before sailing) instead of yours!
#7
Northern Nevada
820 Posts
Joined May 2006
As a new cruiser I am sure that you will be excited to get on board and start your vacation. As others have said most ships board at 11:30 a.m. with occassional exceptions. Once we were not able to board our ship until late afternoon because of a severe norovirus outbreak on the cruise prior to ours which meant that the ship had to have a total scrub down. That rarely happens. I recommend boarding in time to enjoy lunch and take a walk around the ship. Some cruisers wait until 1 p.m. or later to board in order to go directly to the cabin.
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#8
Queensland
329 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
great question thanks
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#10
142 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
thank you all so much! since it's my first time cruising i may just try to get there around 11:30 so we can all get on board and start checking everything out!
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#11
San Antonio spaceship earth
7,140 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Originally posted by BaltimoreChickadee
thank you all so much! since it's my first time cruising i may just try to get there around 11:30 so we can all get on board and start checking everything out!
Great idea indeed. Start the vacation as soon as possible!

Under the latest US rules, you have to board the ship at least one hour before sailing. The ship must submit a list of all the pax on board and their passport numbers or ID used before the ship is allowed to leave port. To the dismay of a few pax, there is no deviation from this policy.
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#12
San Ramon CA
137 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
in time for breakfast after an all night flight. HAL also allowed boarding as early as 9:30. But, we could not go to our rooms until around 2 on both.
#13
17,485 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Originally posted by satxdiver
Great idea indeed. Start the vacation as soon as possible!

Under the latest US rules, you have to board the ship at least one hour before sailing. The ship must submit a list of all the pax on board and their passport numbers or ID used before the ship is allowed to leave port. To the dismay of a few pax, there is no deviation from this policy.
The cruise line must submit the final passenger manifest one hour before sailing. To give themselves a sufficient data processing window to get the report out on time, the cruise lines generally require you to check in no later than 90 minutes or two hours prior to departure. It's really necessary to follow the individual cruise line's instructions as cut off times can vary from line to line.
#14
San Diego
8,858 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
I usually try to get to the port around noon. Plenty of time to get on, go to lunch, look around and relax before muster and sailaway
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#15
Buffalo, NY
116 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
This might seem like a silly question but what do you do with your carry on bag between the time you board and the time your cabin is ready? I'm thinking about going to the pool as soon as I board but I'm going to be putting some valuables in my carry on and don't really want to leave them unattended at my chair. Thanks!
#16
Wisconsin
6,138 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by nkereina
This might seem like a silly question but what do you do with your carry on bag between the time you board and the time your cabin is ready? I'm thinking about going to the pool as soon as I board but I'm going to be putting some valuables in my carry on and don't really want to leave them unattended at my chair. Thanks!
Sorry..you leave it unattended at your chair. Or you and a travelling companion share "watchdog duties". Pack it so your valuables are at the bottom, not easily "grabable" at the top, and it should be fine. There's not much area around the pool; you should be able to keep an eye on your bag, even if you're swimming.
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I've cruised on Princess, Carnival, HAL,
NCL, Hurtigruten and a couple of even smaller lines in the past. HAL is (for now) my favorite!

#17
Buffalo, NY
116 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by uppitycats
Sorry..you leave it unattended at your chair. Or you and a travelling companion share "watchdog duties". Pack it so your valuables are at the bottom, not easily "grabable" at the top, and it should be fine. There's not much area around the pool; you should be able to keep an eye on your bag, even if you're swimming.
Ok, cool. Didn't know if there were like lockers or a place to check a bag or anything. But this works!! Thanks!!
#18
Richardson, TX
71,096 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
I park around 10:30 and am checking in by 11 am, or I feel like Im late. Im eating lunch in the buffet before Noon.
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#19
Michigan
160 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by nkereina
This might seem like a silly question but what do you do with your carry on bag between the time you board and the time your cabin is ready? I'm thinking about going to the pool as soon as I board but I'm going to be putting some valuables in my carry on and don't really want to leave them unattended at my chair. Thanks!
I am actually cruising for the first time myself in a couple of weeks -- but in my reading recently, I saw another similar thread and someone in that one said that on SOME lines (I think they were on Carnival), then MAY let you take your carryon luggage to your room even if it isn't ready yet. They said that they do this often and have just asked if they could go to their room JUST to drop off the carryons and them immediately return -- and they have been allowed to do so numerous times.

So, it might be worth a try -- just to note it.

- John...
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