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Any tips for embarkation day at the Vancouver port? What is a good time to arrive? Is it a different check in process from the US ports?

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I like to arrive around 10am and sit in the lobby.  Then enjoy a casual lunch before it gets busy.  Otherwise, arrive after 2pm.

 

11am to 2pm has the heaviest embarkation crowds, especially as a three ship day.

 

Radiance of the Seas, Crystal Symphony, and Azamara Quest for June 14th.

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As well, you will pre-clear US Customs and Immigration in Vancouver before you sail; you will be considered to be in US waters after that security clearance. This is so you don't have to clear Customs at your first US port on your Alaskan cruise so for that reason it's great, but does make for long lines on a 3-ship day (speaking from experience).

 

It's up to you when to arrive; are you staying at a hotel close to the pier?  Traffic is very bad on crowded pier days. You can arrive anytime after, say, 10 am and the porters will take your luggage but as stated, it will be incredibly busy just so you know.

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Thank you for the info! We are not staying close to the pier. I think we will plan to arrive around 10.

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1 hour ago, MNshortie21 said:

 I think we will plan to arrive around 10.

 

That is when we would arrive, too. 🙂  Have so much fun. 🛳️

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On 5/29/2019 at 11:54 PM, Langley Cruisers said:

As well, you will pre-clear US Customs and Immigration in Vancouver before you sail; you will be considered to be in US waters after that security clearance. This is so you don't have to clear Customs at your first US port on your Alaskan cruise so for that reason it's great, but does make for long lines on a 3-ship day (speaking from experience).

 

It's up to you when to arrive; are you staying at a hotel close to the pier?  Traffic is very bad on crowded pier days. You can arrive anytime after, say, 10 am and the porters will take your luggage but as stated, it will be incredibly busy just so you know.

 

At what time do they start the process of clearing passengers through customs...?  We are staying at a hotel right nearby...so just wondering how early we should plan to arrive at the customs area...?  Any suggestions..? 

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Depends - before anyone embarks everyone onboard, including in-transit pax, have to be cleared into Canada ('zeroing out' the vessel) then the in-transit pax are prioritized for preclearance back into the USA. I've never heard of any boarding process beginning much before 11am in Vancouver, with busy days sometimes dragging on until almost noon. This is the downside of an early arrival - it's 100% guaranteed that you will sit around for a big chunk of time, and the earlier you show up the longer the delay! It's why we now board among the last folks instead of the first - if you show up after the crowds have been dealt with there's no delay and curb to cabin time is ~20mins, while even the first person in the queue has that same 20minute time plus one to two hours of sitting around.

 

If you were local I could understand the temptation to get onboard as early as possible regardless of how inefficient that is in total wait time - but for tourists, unless you have multiple visits to Vancouver under your belt, be aware that every minute sitting and standing in queues at the pier is time you could have spent sightseeing in one of the top ten cities on the planet... personally I don't think any 'free' lunch is worth missing out on seeing more of your embarkation port, especially if you haven't had much pre-cruise time. Go along and drop your bags early, sure, but then get yourself out and about - as long as you leave the stuff nearest the pier (e.g. Gastown, Coal Harbour, FlyOverCanada, Harbour Centre) until last you have no extra risk of missing the ship.

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Posted (edited)

We're staying at the Pan Pacific and have the cruise package including baggage transfers and 2PM checkout.  

We also have the club class lounge.  Seriously thinking about sleeping late, late breakfast, and hanging out at the hotel till around 1 PM.  

It's not our first cruise on this ship.

How would that work?

Edited by RocketMan275

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14 hours ago, martincath said:

I've never heard of any boarding process beginning much before 11am in Vancouver, with busy days sometimes dragging on until almost noon. This is the downside of an early arrival - it's 100% guaranteed that you will sit around for a big chunk of time, and the earlier you show up the longer the delay!

 

 

 

5 minutes ago, RocketMan275 said:

We're staying at the Pan Pacific and have the cruise package including baggage transfers and 2PM checkout.  

It's not our first cruise on this ship.

How would that work?

 

Same here...we're also staying at the Pan Pacific...and are spending a few days in Vancouver before the cruise.  Plus, we've been to Vancouver many times before.  We've sailed on our ship before, too, but last time we left from Ballentine--which I understand is no longer used--thank goodness...! 🙂 

 

So, just wondering...once we do go through customs (however long it takes--and I've read that things are a bit better since they installed passport kiosks)...is there a comfortable place to sit to wait for cruise check-in and then embarkation... ?  

 

And, any idea what time cruise check-in usually begins...?

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1 hour ago, RocketMan275 said:

We're staying at the Pan Pacific and have the cruise package including baggage transfers and 2PM checkout.  

We also have the club class lounge.  Seriously thinking about sleeping late, late breakfast, and hanging out at the hotel till around 1 PM.  

It's not our first cruise on this ship.

How would that work?

Depends how many other ships - only one in port? Queues should be decreasing by not much after 1pm, and won't ever get bad. 4 ship day? Queues will be just hitting their maximum levels of suck, so kill more time before heading downstairs.

1 hour ago, Yo Adrienne said:

Same here...we're also staying at the Pan Pacific...and are spending a few days in Vancouver before the cruise.  Plus, we've been to Vancouver many times before.  We've sailed on our ship before, too, but last time we left from Ballentine--which I understand is no longer used--thank goodness...! 🙂 

 

So, just wondering...once we do go through customs (however long it takes--and I've read that things are a bit better since they installed passport kiosks)...is there a comfortable place to sit to wait for cruise check-in and then embarkation... ?  

 

And, any idea what time cruise check-in usually begins...?

I've only ever left on Princess/NCL, and we had already learned to go late by our first NCL Vancouver cruise, so I can only comment on what Princess used to do ~7 years ago which won't be very relevant to current situation... you need to hear from fellow 'show up early and wait' people to get an accurate answer on this one I'm afraid, as after our first three-ship Princess embarkation we decided very firmly that the 'free' sitdown lunch was NOT worth fighting the crowds for in order to board in time to be allowed into the MDR, and we've boarded late ever since.

 

But bearing in mind the logistics of Canada Place there simply isn't room for much by each individual vessel - even fancy-pants Unobtainium card holders sailing in a suite can't be catered to with anything better than a limited number of folding chairs and tables, though I imagine any included snacks will be swankier the higher up the cruising 'food chain' you are sailing.

 

If you don't need to sightsee, why not do what we do as locals (assuming that the missus isn't squeezing in another half-day in the office before boarding...)? We treat ourselves to a nice long couples massage late morning, then a delicious and leisurely lunch (the vast savings on the massage compared to those on board pay for a very luxurious lunch indeed!) before wandering over to the terminal a couple of hours before departure.

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14 hours ago, martincath said:

Depends how many other ships - only one in port? Queues should be decreasing by not much after 1pm, and won't ever get bad. 4 ship day? Queues will be just hitting their maximum levels of suck, so kill more time before heading downstairs.

 

Looks like Royal Princess, Seabourn Sojourn, and Nieuw Amsterdam.  We're on NAM.

We will have a Pacific Club room with a 2PM checkout.  I understand there is a buffet and complimentary coffee and tea.  We'll plan on sleeping late (2hr time difference), do the buffet, and then just hangout and enjoy the view till 1 or 2 pm.  The hotel is forwarding our luggage so we'll only have a small carry on.

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Does anyone know if when we embark in Vancouver and we  are not sailing till midnight, if we can go back off the ship to explore?

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2 hours ago, merinski said:

Does anyone know if when we embark in Vancouver and we  are not sailing till midnight, if we can go back off the ship to explore?

Yes, in theory, BUT it's all down to how long the cruise line is willing to pay for CBSA/CBP/Security staff to be on-site... as contractually they only need to be there until 5pm on normal cruise days, anything else is billed at OT rates and if you have the full set of immigration folks that's not cheap (whereas Security monkeys are).

 

If you check trip reports for some of the other oddly-timed sailings, like NCL Bliss/Joy who can't get under the bridge except at low tide or a couple of the fancy ships which stayed overnight in port over the last couple of years, you'll see that information about earliest and latest possible boarding times was all over the map every cruise. Routing actually has an impact too - if the first port of call is in Canada, no US Preclearance is needed which means CBP & CBSA can go home at their usual time and have no impact on you. If first port of call is in the US though, you will go through US Preclearance every single time you get on-board, and also go through Canadian immigration whenever you get off! The ship would basically be treated as if it were already inside the USA, with the Canadian border at the pierside.

 

Best thing to do IMO is to plan for dropping your bags during the day, but not actually checking in until you are ready to stay on-board. And if it is one of the NCL cruises - welcome to utter incompetence of communication. You can't trust anything that they tell you more than a couple of days in advance, as you will see for yourself if you do peruse those old trip report threads!!!

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40 minutes ago, martincath said:

Yes, in theory, BUT it's all down to how long the cruise line is willing to pay for CBSA/CBP/Security staff to be on-site... as contractually they only need to be there until 5pm on normal cruise days, anything else is billed at OT rates and if you have the full set of immigration folks that's not cheap (whereas Security monkeys are).

 

If you check trip reports for some of the other oddly-timed sailings, like NCL Bliss/Joy who can't get under the bridge except at low tide or a couple of the fancy ships which stayed overnight in port over the last couple of years, you'll see that information about earliest and latest possible boarding times was all over the map every cruise. Routing actually has an impact too - if the first port of call is in Canada, no US Preclearance is needed which means CBP & CBSA can go home at their usual time and have no impact on you. If first port of call is in the US though, you will go through US Preclearance every single time you get on-board, and also go through Canadian immigration whenever you get off! The ship would basically be treated as if it were already inside the USA, with the Canadian border at the pierside.

 

Best thing to do IMO is to plan for dropping your bags during the day, but not actually checking in until you are ready to stay on-board. And if it is one of the NCL cruises - welcome to utter incompetence of communication. You can't trust anything that they tell you more than a couple of days in advance, as you will see for yourself if you do peruse those old trip report threads!!!

Thank you, it is the NCL Joy. I've been told we have to be aboard by 10pm. We stop in Victoria first stop.

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2 minutes ago, merinski said:

Thank you, it is the NCL Joy. I've been told we have to be aboard by 10pm. We stop in Victoria first stop.

The good news is that odds are high that you will be able to get on and off as you like until All Aboard time then, with just Security to worry about. The downside is that you'll do US immigration in San Francisco - and they have fewer desks at the terminal and even less experience of handling cruiseships than Vancouver does (it took three hours for Golden Princess to be cleared by CBP on our trip there, and that's with ~60% of the pax load of Joy). Don't book any tours that require a deposit or upfront payment in SF!!!

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1 minute ago, martincath said:

The good news is that odds are high that you will be able to get on and off as you like until All Aboard time then, with just Security to worry about. The downside is that you'll do US immigration in San Francisco - and they have fewer desks at the terminal and even less experience of handling cruiseships than Vancouver does (it took three hours for Golden Princess to be cleared by CBP on our trip there, and that's with ~60% of the pax load of Joy). Don't book any tours that require a deposit or upfront payment in SF!!!

Oh Great! Well, we don't have an excursion to worry about it SF. Is it really immigration there if we end in LA?

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1 minute ago, merinski said:

Oh Great! Well, we don't have an excursion to worry about it SF. Is it really immigration there if we end in LA?

Yup, 100% (unless SF is missed because of terrible weather or something) - US Law requires the Port of Entry to be where immigration checks happen. You may do Customs just once in LA (odds are good the ship will sail far enough out to open casino, shops, Duty Free so they need to capture whatever purchases/wins happen on that leg too, and why do it twice?)

 

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