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Freedom Out of San Juan - Boarding

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Have not sailed from San Juan in quite a few years and that was on smaller Celebrity ships. I remember the Pan American Pier not being especially organized. Any suggestions on what time would be best to get to the pier for boarding? Set Sail Pass indicates 12:30. The Freedom is certainly larger than our past San Juan cruises.

 

thanks

.

 

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We did Adventure out of the Pan Am last June.  It was very disorganized.  We flew in from Orlando that morning.  Think we landed about 8:30 or so.  Got our bags, cab, and got there 9:30 or so.  The last cruise, despite having arrived at 6am, was still in the middle if disembarkation.  The porters had no clue where to put the arriving guests.  We, along with about 30 others, were moved multiple times.  It was like it was there first day on the job.  Then they didn't allow us into the check in area until about 11.  Then you have to wait there until they open this massive garage door that leads to the escalators.  Only problem is there was only 50-100 chairs.  And they didn't open the door for 45 minutes.  And once that's opened, they positioned the photo folks at the bottom of the escalators so the mass of people have another hurdle to cross.  So all in all, 10:30/11 would get you pretty close to the front of the line.  Unless your flight gets you to PR that day and early, there isn't a rush to leave your hotel to get to the pier.  I think the only check in that I've had worse was when we went on Quantum out of NJ but that was the second week it was there and the "tablet" check in was all new to them.  Hope that helps.

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We have cruised out of San Juan (specifically RCI from the Pan Am pier) several times and have never  felt it to be disorganized. We always arrive at the pier around 11:00. The doors are usually open but sometimes they're not. We have never had to wait more than 15 minutes outside. Once inside the terminal, check-in has always been fairly quick and we have always been on the ship before noon.

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Arrive at 9:30 and the experience in post #2 is likely.  Arrive at 11:00 as in post #3 and that is about what to expect. 

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We took our first cruise this past June on Freedom out of San Juan.  Not actually knowing what to expect, we arrived at the port around 10:15 am that morning.  The porter station was very busy, but not a disaster and they took our bags rather quickly.  We then moved to the next part of embarkation and all told, we had everything we needed to board the ship within 10 minutes.  We were next told to find a chair and wait.  As we were walking to the waiting area, a nice RC associate pointed out two chairs right up front for us.   Within 5 minutes of sitting down, the gates opened and we were boarding the ship.  No disorganization, nor delays and I'm happy to say our first cruise embarkation was a breeze.  Now if our 2nd out of Port Tampa can move just as quick, I'll be super-stoked and ready for a drink!

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I am one of those who arrive around 10am (both times) and it was a long wait. I remember standing outside in the 90 degree humid heat.  The two times I sailed, we waited approx. 30 min, maybe more outside then we got to go right inside to the check in lines.  There was no sitting and waiting in chairs.  Definitely not something I experience at other ports.  If arriving at 11am makes things easier in terms of a smooth arrival and entry to the cruise terminal, I would rather wait.  I don't mind waiting.

Edited by slyster

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I've sailed out of San Juan with RCI twice.  Once in Sept 2017 and once in Sept 2018.  Both experiences were polar opposites.  Both times we arrived to port around 10:45a.

 

In 2017, the port area was a cluster, the porters were not taking bags of the arriving folks, and we stood in line for over an hour just to drop our bags with the porter, then off to another line to wait for security to open.  Security lines were fairly long, but check-in itself went quickly.

 

In 2018, the port area was still packed with folks still disembarking, but the porters were ready and receiving our bags immediately, security was open with no lines, and we were checked in waiting for boarding to start within about 10mins total.  It was the fastest drop off/check-in we've ever had at any port.  We waited another 15mins or so and the doors opened and away we went.

 

I'd say arriving around 11a at the earliest would be the safest bet for an early arrival.  If you came at 2:30p or so, you'd pretty much walk right in and on the ship.

 

Dan.

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When we last sailed from San Juan, we were able to go to a duty free store, after security, before boarding.  Can you still do that?

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7 minutes ago, LPYRCRUISER said:

When we last sailed from San Juan, we were able to go to a duty free store, after security, before boarding.  Can you still do that?

Yes. 

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We just went on Freedom in October. It was a pretty crazy embarcation.We got there about 10:30. We had a rental car as we were heading out as soon as we checked in. All the guests were still leaving a nd the parking lot situation was interesting. There was drive up to drop off luggage. Everyone had to park and drag luggage forward. The porters were there but not very helpful. We went through security with our 2 bottles of wine. There is a duty free shop where you can buy...2 bottles of wine. Interesting! you then get directed to seats. We were a suite so we had an area. But it is certainly neat and organized like Miami where every spot is filled and seated by level. This was more free for all. We then watched them open the garage door thing about 6 times and everybody get excited. Then it would shut again. But still not more than 45 minutes and we boarded, dropped off the wine, grabbed lunch and a drink and headed out to the National Park. We were given a hard time by security who said we could not leave unless we were returning by 4 for the muster. We agreed , knowing that was incorrect. We were holding the paper that said we could reboard much later and do a remedial muster drill.

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Just sailed on Freedom on 10/13.  Got to the pier around 3pm (best flight available).  Porters immediately grabbed our luggage, no lines inside and we were onboard in just a couple minutes.  Took longer to get our picture then it did to get checked-in.  Rooms were ready.

 

Since the ship leaves so late from SJU, I actually now prefer to get there later in the afternoon and avoid the crazy rush.

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On 11/8/2018 at 3:57 PM, schmeed said:

Just sailed on Freedom on 10/13.  Got to the pier around 3pm (best flight available).  Porters immediately grabbed our luggage, no lines inside and we were onboard in just a couple minutes.  Took longer to get our picture then it did to get checked-in.  Rooms were ready.

 

Since the ship leaves so late / . from SJU, I actually now prefer to get there later in the afternoon and avoid the crazy rush.

 

Is showing up at 1/1:30 chaotic? We can further delay our check out at the hotel.  

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7 hours ago, RG306 said:

 

Is showing up at 1/1:30 chaotic? We can further delay our check out at the hotel.  

 

Our experience has been that 1:30pm and later should not be bad.

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We just returned from Freedom.  Sail date 10/27/18.  It was the worst overall check in experience we have had.  The problem was with luggage drop off.  We did arrive at 1230 , and waited in line for 45 minutes to deliver our luggage to a porter.  There were 3 lines, but no signage as to which line to be in.  New people would arrive and just scoot to the front of the line.  It was mayhem.  The actual check in process went very smoothly and we were able to board immediately after receiving our sail and sign cards.

     My suggestion for a smoother experience would be to arrive early, 11am or later than 3pm.  Check with someone as soon as you arrive, as to which line you are to be in.  It is based on the location indicated on your pre-printed luggage tag.  Good luck and enjoy your cruise.

 

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We have sailed out of San Juan too many times to count.  We usually stay at a hotel for at least one day before so we are not rushed and arrive at the pier by 11:30. Everything has always been organized and pretty easy to get through.  I do know that sometime customs will hold them up.  The ship gets in very early so I do not know why customs takes longer other than maybe there is a deeper inspection or they are just running late.  Enjoy your cruise.

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