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Alaska Embarkation (Vancouver) ?


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Hi everyone!

I'm taking my first Princess cruise (Golden) to Alaska this June and leaving from Vancouver.

 

-Will we be given a port arrival time?

-What time does boarding normally begin?

-Are rooms ready at the time you board or at later time?

-Do most people tag their luggage to be delivered or bring it on, if the rooms are ready upon arrival?

-Do you have to tag your luggage?

 

Since we will be on the ship for 7 nights, we are not feeling the need to rush to the port and want to enjoy as much as we can in Vancouver before boarding. Is there a "golden" time that is good to board to avoid all the rush in the morning??

 

Sorry for all of the questions. I've only sailed on DCL and I believe their embarkation process is slightly different.

 

Thank you!

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You will be given a suggested arrival time which many do not pay any attention. You can generally board starting around noon +/- 30 minutes or more. Boarding is done by groups on a first come basis. However suite pax and elite/platinum pax get to board first.

 

Rooms are ready when you board the ship so go directly to your cabin and drop your carry on luggage before going to lunch. You can carry on anything that will fit through the scanner which is the same scanner used at the airport. Therefore large luggage will not fit and have to be checked.

 

All luggage that are to be checked must be tagged. You will get the tag from your Princess personalizer and have to print them off on your printer at least 3 days before sailing. We always tag our carry on luggage in case we get separated from it by accident or omission.

 

The best time to avoid crowds is after the initial rush so about 2ish is a good time but you must be on board at least 30 minutes before the ship sails so don't wait too long.

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I live in Vancouver and cruise out of the port frequently. Most cruises start boarding around 11:30. If there is a problem with customs or the ship needs extra cleaning it can be later. Luggage must have a tag showing your ship and room number. The shore workers have tags if you don't bring them, just ask when you drop off your luggage. Sometimes the rooms are ready but other times they won't let you into your room until after 1 pm. One of the dining rooms will be open for lunch. They will direct you to the buffet but if you want a nice quiet lunch, go to all the dining rooms and see which one is open.

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Vancouver boarding can be a real mess, depending on how many ships are in port at the same time. Unless they treat voyages to Alaska differently from those to Hawaii, you will go through US Immigration/Border Protection (whichever it is - can't ever keep it straight) as you board the ship, rather than in your first Alaska port. There can be significant delays if not enough agents are assigned to handle the crowds - completely beyond the control of the cruise lines.

 

Here's a website which will give you the port schedule, showing how many ships are in port:

 

http://crew-center.com/vancouver-canada-cruise-ship-schedule-2018

 

On your other questions, your boarding documents will give you a 'suggested' boarding time. This is rarely enforced. Boarding usually begins somewhere around 11:00am, and different categories of passengers are directed to different lines. Rooms are usually ready about 1:00pm. Most people have their larger luggage tagged and drop it off at the port to be delivered to their room later in the day. They keep valuables in a carryon and never let it out of their sight! All carryon luggage must fit through a scanner about the same size as airport security scanners. Luggage you are not carrying on yourself must be tagged, though the porters at the pier can attach tags for you.

 

There's probably not a 'golden time' in such a busy port, too many variables. You don't mention if you're flying in the day you board - if you are, then I would head straight to the pier, drop off your luggage, then just walk around the pier area if time allows.

Edited by Kartgv
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When there is one ship in port or even two the boarding can go well. With three ships it is very busy and could even be chaotic.

 

As mentioned the challenge is that you have the extra step of USA immigration.

 

Just be patient that day.

 

Keith

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As stated above, it really depends on how many ships are in port, I was there a day that there was 4 ships in port and it took 3 hours in waiting areas and lines, this port is a very very busy port and it is all condensed into one entrance area, so the lines dont separate check in till later in the process

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Wow thanks for this info! We will be boarding there in June also and it looks like there will be three ships boarding that day. We will get there as early as we can and be patient. It's always worth the wait :-)

 

Also keep in mind that three ships boarding means there will likely be at least three ships disembarking a week or so later, and that can be insane as well. Hubby and I actually missed our flight last time we returned from Alaksa because we were stuck in the taxi line for over an hour and a half. Luckily the flights from Vancouver to Toronto are frequent so we were only at the airport for an extra hour before we caught the next flight. If there are three ships in port when you return I would consider taking the ship's shuttle to the airport or having a car pre-arranged to pick you up.

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Thank you everyone! We flying into Seattle two days early, taking a train up to Vancouver and then spending the day/night in Vancouver before the cruise. It looks like there will be our ship (7:30-1800) and an HAL ship (7-16:30) in port that day (and maybe another smaller ship, Seabourne?) We will likely take a taxi from the hotel to the port.

 

We disembark in Anchorage (Whittier) and have arranged for the bus to take us to the airport that will pick us up at 8:45am. I'm hoping we will have enough time to eat breakfast on the ship before the bus comes because it's a 4 hour bus ride with a stop at a nature preserve. Our flights are around 11:00pm the night we disembark so I don't foresee that being an issue or concern, in fact, we may rent a car at the airport and drive around Anchorage for the day to pass the time.

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Wow thanks for this info! We will be boarding there in June also and it looks like there will be three ships boarding that day. We will get there as early as we can and be patient. It's always worth the wait :-)

 

Are you sailing on the 16th as well??!!

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  • 1 month later...

There are two ships in port on the 23rd, with a third ship arriving later that night. We are scheduled to arrive at VCR at 10a via Air Canada. We are planning to just grab a van taxi (6 in our party) to the dock. Will we get there sufficiently early to avoid the crowd? Any additional tips for our situation?

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There are two ships in port on the 23rd, with a third ship arriving later that night. We are scheduled to arrive at VCR at 10a via Air Canada. We are planning to just grab a van taxi (6 in our party) to the dock. Will we get there sufficiently early to avoid the crowd? Any additional tips for our situation?

 

Assuming you are on time you will arrive and lots of people will be there.

 

I would still do this.

 

Just be patient and you'll get through it all.

 

Keith

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There are two ships in port on the 23rd, with a third ship arriving later that night. We are scheduled to arrive at VCR at 10a via Air Canada. We are planning to just grab a van taxi (6 in our party) to the dock. Will we get there sufficiently early to avoid the crowd? Any additional tips for our situation?

 

One more tip: be sure to use the correct airline code.

 

VCR (Carora, Venezuela) is a long way from YVR (Vancouver, BC). If Air Canada tags your bags as the former you won't be seeing them for quite a while

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Hi everyone!

I'm taking my first Princess cruise (Golden) to Alaska this June and leaving from Vancouver.

 

-Will we be given a port arrival time?

-What time does boarding normally begin?

-Are rooms ready at the time you board or at later time?

-Do most people tag their luggage to be delivered or bring it on, if the rooms are ready upon arrival?

-Do you have to tag your luggage?

 

Since we will be on the ship for 7 nights, we are not feeling the need to rush to the port and want to enjoy as much as we can in Vancouver before boarding. Is there a "golden" time that is good to board to avoid all the rush in the morning??

 

Sorry for all of the questions. I've only sailed on DCL and I believe their embarkation process is slightly different.

 

Thank you!

You hit the nail on the head with "slightly." We've seen that all cruise lines are more alike than different.

 

Yes, you will be given a suggested arrival time, but it is only a suggestion with no enforcement. Very similar to DCL, people in suites, and Elite and Platinum Captain's Circle members will be allowed to board first, before general boarding starts.

 

You'll have the same security screen that you are used to, with the same rules--luggage must fit thru the scanners or be checked. Because this is a cruise to Alaska, you'll have the US Customs clearance as part of the boarding process--just another step, another line. Rooms are generally ready at the time of boarding, but if not, they WILL allow you to drop off your carry ons before you go to lunch. That's a nice change from DCL. Same as you are used to, there will be one sit down dining room open for lunch as well as the buffet and fast food outlets.

 

You print out your luggage tags, so you can print as many as you like. We tag our carry ons (on all lines) just to be safe. You must have a tag on all checked bags, but as you are used to, the porters at the terminal will have tags. So yes, you can choose to carry on cases that are too big to count as an airline carry on provided they fit thru the scanner or you can choose to check them.

 

Boarding will start about 11:30 normally, assuming a normal disembarkation from the cruise before...and with all lines, that's a bit "assumption." Our first ever Princess cruise had weather issues.....we had Princess transportation which had been told to delay us for an hour, but when we got to the port, the ship had not docked yet. You can imagine what that process was like. Fortunately, our next several cruises were more standard.

 

Things that are different--unless you are in a mini-suite or full suite, your cabin will be much smaller than what you are used to. The beds do separate; your booking info shows the bed configuration you chose. The buffet will be open from about 6am to midnight; the offerings will change throughout the day. You have the option to choose "anytime" dining or "traditional" with a set time. Room service is actually good. No lines to see characters. There is not enough room in the theatre for everyone to see a show, so if you want a seat you'll need to be there early--like 45 minutes early. Obviously, there is the casino. There is a smoking lounge....but you have no need to go there if you don't smoke and it didn't interfere with our enjoyment of the ships. No free sodas. Buy a soda package or bring your own on board. The coffee at the buffet coffee stations is made from concentrate and is yuk. Buying a coffee card will give you 15 specialty coffee or tea "punches," plus all the decent, fresh brewed coffee and tea you want. Free juice is only available at breakfast; get extra and take it to your refrigerator if you want it later. Golden has a covered pool. It does not have a "thermal suite," (same as "rainforest.") Internet is purchased by the minute rather than the mb. It is slower and more costly than DCL. If you purchase it in advance, you get "bonus minutes," making it a better deal than purchasing on board. However, in Alaska, your US cell phone will work in most ports; just look at the signal to be sure you are picking up a US tower and not roaming. That may decrease your need for internet time. That's really about it. We took our first Princess cruise as a "try out" before a long cruise we were considering, and quite honestly we were prepared to be unimpressed. The first night we sat in the room and said, "There's nothing wrong with this ship." Each line has things we like better, but overall it is a good product at 1/3 to 1/2 the price of DCL.

 

The Golden will dry dock before the Alaska season. I have not been able to find any definitive info about what is planned beyond the required engine inspections and retooling.

Edited by moki'smommy
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