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We always stay at a hotel near the pier. I watch to see if the ship arrives on time. It is does, we head to the pier by 10:30. We go through security and check in. Boarding usually begins at 11:30 -- and the cabins are usually ready at that time so that you can drop off your carry ons and do whatever you want to do. Some people will go to the Lido or the Dive In for lunch. But you can also go to the dining room from Noon to 1:30 for a sit down lunch.

A couple of times the fog was so bad that the ship didn't arrive until after 10 AM. I had the hotel call to find out when we would be allowed to start boarding.

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I think embarkation has improved since we did it out of San Diego - at least, I hope so.

 

Taxis cannot take you to the stevedores, you will have to lug your luggage and try to get one before you do the winding snake slow walk to check in and get through security when we did it.

 

I would either go VERY early or later around 2 pm to avoid that hassle.

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Taxis can't deliver passengers to the location that baggage handlers have their carts ? That makes no sense. How to elderly, mobility limited passengers hump their luggage for blocks while rolling their walkers, wheelchairs or scooters ? The stevedores won't be getting too many tips if people have to handle their own luggage for 60 % of the way to the ship. I would think the port worker's unions would fix that really fast. Unless you are talking about Uber and Lyft. The taxi unions may limit their access to the piers because there's not too much love lost between the ride sharing companies and regular taxis.

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Here is my experience from April: Taxi dropped me off directly in front of the check-in kiosk. Showed my boarding pass to that person then turned left to line up for the stevedores. Gave them my bag then turned right and entered the terminal. My experience may have been different because I joined a ship coming from the Fort Lauderdale Panama Canal sailing.

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Here is my experience from April: Taxi dropped me off directly in front of the check-in kiosk. Showed my boarding pass to that person then turned left to line up for the stevedores. Gave them my bag then turned right and entered the terminal. My experience may have been different because I joined a ship coming from the Fort Lauderdale Panama Canal sailing.

Glad to hear it has changed.

 

Our experience - dropped off in the parking lot, not allowed to take us to the sidewalk lugged our luggage to the sidewalk and stood in a huge line trying to get a stevedore's attention (not their fault - there were few).

 

About 30 minutes late we line up to enter the building. It wasn't good.

 

Captain Van Eerten apologized and said that San Diego HAD to improve. It's good to hear that it seems to have.

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Taxis can't deliver passengers to the location that baggage handlers have their carts ? That makes no sense. How to elderly, mobility limited passengers hump their luggage for blocks while rolling their walkers, wheelchairs or scooters ? The stevedores won't be getting too many tips if people have to handle their own luggage for 60 % of the way to the ship. I would think the port worker's unions would fix that really fast. Unless you are talking about Uber and Lyft. The taxi unions may limit their access to the piers because there's not too much love lost between the ride sharing companies and regular taxis.

 

We used a regular taxi. They had to drop us in the parking lot and we had to lug the luggage to the sidewalk across some pretty tricky area with the cars coming in.

 

documented on my LIVE thread if you want to double check me ;). It was a mess. We helped a couple that had issues and it was NOT fun.

 

I have avoided San Diego as an embarkation port ever since.

 

As well, on that cruise disembarkation was a mess. We were only on turnaround thankfully but what was supposed to be 7 am disembarkation turned into a 9 am + disembarkation.

 

I do have a cruise in my sights in 2020 and two options - get off in San Diego/Vancouver. Guess which one we will choose ;). Vancouver was a piece of cake when we got off last time.

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How to elderly, mobility limited passengers hump their luggage for blocks while rolling their walkers, wheelchairs or scooters ?

 

This, sadly describes about 95% of HAL's clientele..

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Was easily peasy coming and going from San Diego.

 

We arrived at the pier about 11:00 and was on by 11:45 (after priority etc going first) and VERY EASY getting on and off....San Diego did an AWESOME job for boarding and debarking....don't let nah-sayers take over...ALL is great from San Diego!!!! We had NO issues at all :p

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When we boarded in San Diego two years ago there were two HAL ships boarding on the same day. I anticipated a horrible experience but they were quite organized. Our taxi dropped us near the entrance marked Westerdam. Luggage wasn't a problem and I would have remembered because I had an injured hand. Because of two ships in port we were given a specific time to arrive based on the location of our cabin..They boarded the highest decks first so our wait was minimal. There was a problem later with the scanner/computer etc not working. Some folks couldn't board until it was fixed and our departure was delayed.

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In San Diego on our April 22nd cruise from San Diego to Boston thru the canal this year, we had what I consider a messy chaotic embarkation. The Maasdam was in port with a Disney ship where the baggage drop off was in the same location. Quite a mass of passengers from both ships dropping off luggage where there were no signs designating Maasdam and the Disney ship luggage drop off. We had our bags tagged properly so we were directed by a dock staff member, who saw our tags, where to go to drop our luggage.

 

However, one of our CC Meet & Greet members brought their luggage to the drop off point, with the mass of people, without tags and even after telling a dock worker trying to tag their luggage with Disney tags that they were on Holland America's Maasdam their luggage did not show up on the Maasdam. Their luggage was finally located (back at San Diego) after we got to Ft. Lauderdale, (15 days later) too late to have it forwarded to the ship. They decided to have their luggage shipped home. Remarkably they handled this "crisis" calmly with smiles and an attitude that this would not spoil their cruise. Fellow passengers helped with some clothes and other items. After 2 sea days when we got into Puerto Vallarta they where able to purchase other clothes and needed items there.

So, if in San Diego and there is a 2nd ship embarking make very very sure that your luggage has HAL tags on it. If you do not have tags stay with your luggage until they are tagged with HAL tags by the dock workers, make sure you personally see them placed on your luggage.

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On some cruises documents list an arrival time assigned by HAL. This topic has been discussed on previous threads. Believe many people ignore these assigned times. Most of the times are later than11:30.

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However, one of our CC Meet & Greet members brought their luggage to the drop off point, with the mass of people, without tags and even after telling a dock worker trying to tag their luggage with Disney tags that they were on Holland America's Maasdam their luggage did not show up on the Maasdam. Their luggage was finally located (back at San Diego) after we got to Ft. Lauderdale, (15 days later) too late to have it forwarded to the ship. They decided to have their luggage shipped home. Remarkably they handled this "crisis" calmly with smiles and an attitude that this would not spoil their cruise. Fellow passengers helped with some clothes and other items. After 2 sea days when we got into Puerto Vallarta they where able to purchase other clothes and needed items there.

This sounds exactly like the San Diego embarkation I went through several years ago, and that nothing has improved in the meantime. We went to Hawaii while the other ship headed to Mexico. There were people on our cruise who were reunited with their luggage when they disembarked.

Turning in luggage was chaotic, at best.

 

I was scheduled to be on this Panama cruise, and booked with extreme trepidation about embarking there again. I did have to cancel for other reasons, and am very happy now that I did. I swear a Higher Power was looking after me.

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Was easily peasy coming and going from San Diego.

 

We arrived at the pier about 11:00 and was on by 11:45 (after priority etc going first) and VERY EASY getting on and off....San Diego did an AWESOME job for boarding and debarking....don't let nah-sayers take over...ALL is great from San Diego!!!! We had NO issues at all :p

 

We live in San Diego and have never had a problem embarking or disembarking here. Additionally, the location of the cruise terminal between the Star of India and the USS Midway along the Embarcadero is very scenic, clean and safe for visitors and cruise passengers. Get on the ship early and enjoy the sail away along the bay and out through Pt. Loma, it's a great sail away port.

 

Additionally, the Port Authority of SD has made significant improvements to the cruise terminal over the past 5 years and it is not the same as it used to be.

 

What a tremendous disservice the long time posters who are bad-mouthing the port of San Diego are doing for those who have never sailed from or to San Diego just because they had a delay or couldn't manage their luggage themselves.

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Here is my experience from April: Taxi dropped me off directly in front of the check-in kiosk. Showed my boarding pass to that person then turned left to line up for the stevedores. Gave them my bag then turned right and entered the terminal. My experience may have been different because I joined a ship coming from the Fort Lauderdale Panama Canal sailing.

 

Thanks for sharing your positive embarkation experience. The fact that it was recent (April 2018) is significant and illustrates the fact that old-time cruisers who post on CC don't always have the most-up-to-date information.

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Thanks for sharing your positive embarkation experience. The fact that it was recent (April 2018) is significant and illustrates the fact that old-time cruisers who post on CC don't always have the most-up-to-date information.

Cities want the cruise ship market, it is a great money maker. At one time Seattle had major problems with cruise ships in that Customs was significantly holding up disembarkation with excessive, unnecessary examination of luggage and documents. The cruiselines wrote formal complaints to the city government basically saying that if their system did not improve they would move their business to Vancouver. It is now a much smoother operation at Seattle ports.

I suspect that a similar situation probably occurred in SD. We have cruised in and out of SD previously and never had a problem. However we have never done so with HAL hence my question of embarkation boarding time. We are staying in SD the day prior to cruising and we are staying the day of disembarkation. I am a SDSU graduate and there are things that we want to do in SD and we are working out a schedule to do so. Knowing boarding times will help with that.

I am appreciating all of your comments.......

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