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My US Direct experience on June 9 departing from Vancouver


UF G8R

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When I first boarded the Coral Princess on June 2 in Whittier, my first stop was to the Customer service desk to sign up for US Direct as had been suggested on this board. Early sign up was suggested as it seemed that the total number of seats on this program was limited and it was first come-first served.

The attendant at the desk was unfamiliar with the term US Direct. When I described the program he asked if we had signed up for a princess transfer from the ship to the YVR (yes) and if we had signed up for the luggage program, EZ Check (no). It costs 15$ per person and provides your boarding passes and airline luggage tags to your stateroom the night before you disembark. They take your luggage and the next time you see it is at your home airport. We had not signed up for this but the chance to get our boarding passes printed ahead of time alone was worth the cost for us so we were eager to sign up. It seems that on Princess, these two programs together, the princess transfer and the EZ Check constitute the US direct program.

In the morning we docked as scheduled at 7:30 AM. We went to our assigned gathering spot (Sabatinis) and waited until we were called at 8:30. We boarded a bus and traveled to the airport. We still needed the immigration/customs cards; you know the ones that you sign swearing that you are not bringing apples, gold bullion, farm animals or heroin into the US. We showed our passports to Canadian authorities and to US authorities several times, and went through airport security. We ended up in an area of the airport that was closed off from the rest of the airport and had only flights departing to the US. The traffic through Vancouver was quite heavy (rush hour Monday morning) and I didn’t note what time we got to the airport, but when we got to the terminal, the 11 AM flights to the US were just calling the first passengers to board. Our flight was delayed from 2:05 to 2:55 PM so we had plenty of time to kill.

We changed planes in Chicago and sadly, our baggage didn’t make it to Atlanta with us. However, it was a United Airlines problem and not a Princess or EZ Check problem. Our baggage didn’t make it out of Chicago. They couriered it to our home and we had it by 3 PM the next day. On our outbound flights, I was very careful to carry on my valuables and everything that I needed so that we would be comfortable for 48 hours should our baggage go astray. Somehow, I wasn’t thinking clearly on the way home and packed our camera in our checked bags. If we had permanently lost our bags, losing all our photos would have been especially painful.

I had one major complaint with the program and that was with the Princess side. I have written to Princess Customer service and time will tell how they decide to handle it. The bag tags and boarding passes are sent from the airlines to the ship via satellite. Well there was a satellite problem somewhere along the line after about 70% of the materials were received on our ship and ours was in the 30% not received. We didn’t get our materials until near midnight after being told that we had to have our bags out by 10 PM. I spent our last evening on board pacing the room and going back and forth to the customer service desk. My complaint was not that the tags were late; that was outside of anyone’s control. My complaint is that the ship’s staff failed to give me accurate information and keep me informed about what was happening.

That was the only problem that we had for the whole trip. Everything else was smooth as satin.

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It is too bad about the problem with getting the materials but gald that it worked well for you. I also don't know why the crew is not well versed in the program, CC's seem to know more about US Direct then them.

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So were you allowed to sign-up for Easy Check at the Passenger's Service Desk the first day onboard?

 

We have used Easy Check before but didn't sign-up for it until mid-week or so when all the information was delivered to all the staterooms. If I can do it the first day and get it out of the way with, that would be great. - SF

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just curious you say you left ship at 8:30 but when you got to the terminal they were calling for 11 am boaring was that after security and cusoms/immigration? we have an 11ish flight out on a sunday and wondering how good the chances are even with US direct of making it?

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In my experience, these "luggage direct" programs are never worth it. Unless you have an extremely tight departure time, you will always have plenty of time to get everything done at the airport. I've stressed before about 12 pm departures, the ship gets back in at 8 am, we rush off the ship, and then find ourselves at the airport before 9. The last time I used one of these programs there was literally no line at all at the airport, so I promised myself I would never do it again. I felt like I paid the cruiseline $30 or so bucks just so I wouldn't have to take my suitcase from the cruise terminal to the taxi.

 

It sounds like in this situation that it wouldn't have made a difference, as United would have lost your bags anyway. Hopefully you were able to write a letter to United and you were able to get some kind of compensation.

 

I'm curious how immigration is handled when you use these direct luggage services across country lines. What happens if they decided they want to go through your luggage? It's already gone and being put on the plane.

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just curious you say you left ship at 8:30 but when you got to the terminal they were calling for 11 am boaring was that after security and cusoms/immigration? we have an 11ish flight out on a sunday and wondering how good the chances are even with US direct of making it?

 

We got to the terminal before 10:30 and they were boarding the 11:00 fight. We were on a monday morning, presumably there will be a faster drive to the airport on a sunday morning. You would probably make it but how safe is probably?

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In my experience, these "luggage direct" programs are never worth it. Unless you have an extremely tight departure time, you will always have plenty of time to get everything done at the airport. I've stressed before about 12 pm departures, the ship gets back in at 8 am, we rush off the ship, and then find ourselves at the airport before 9. The last time I used one of these programs there was literally no line at all at the airport, so I promised myself I would never do it again. I felt like I paid the cruiseline $30 or so bucks just so I wouldn't have to take my suitcase from the cruise terminal to the taxi.

 

It sounds like in this situation that it wouldn't have made a difference, as United would have lost your bags anyway. Hopefully you were able to write a letter to United and you were able to get some kind of compensation.

 

I'm curious how immigration is handled when you use these direct luggage services across country lines. What happens if they decided they want to go through your luggage? It's already gone and being put on the plane.

 

 

On this Monday morning in Vancouver, it took us 2 hours from the time we boarded the bus at the dock to the time we entered the air terminal. I was expecting it to be faster and I asked one of the Canadian airport people if we were really saving any time and she said that doing it the usual way was far more time consuming with having to drop off your bags and then pick them up again before going through customs/immigration. Since we had a 2 PM flight, we had pleanty of time but I think it was a good choice for us.

 

I have never had my bags lost before, it never occurred to me to ask United for compensation. We got the bags back, intact, within 18 hours and since we were on our way home, there was no inconvenience. I have asked Princess to refund or credit the 30$ for the bag transfer program because I was so disappointed in how the ship staff failed to keep me informed or offer alternatives. We'll see what happens.

 

As for the way they treat the bags security wise, that is a good question. I suppose that they can search any bag they feel like searching. I have had my bags searched on domestic flights and find a note inside when I arrive at my destination, that the TSA has searched. Once I was bringing two bottles of Shorty's bar-b-q sauce from Miami to Atlanta. I had to check the bags because of the liquid rules. I had carefully wrapped them in papertowels and triple-plastic-bagged them and when I got home, they had been totally unwrapped. I was glad that no one stole my Shorty's sauce! In the same line of thought, if the bags had been overweight, would we have been sent a bill? I doubt it. So it might be a good choice if your bags are too heavy. 15$ is way less then the 100 that United charges for overweight bags.

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It sounds like in this situation that it wouldn't have made a difference, as United would have lost your bags anyway. Hopefully you were able to write a letter to United and you were able to get some kind of compensation.

 

The fact that they got their luggage the next day from United is pretty much a miracle and I don't think they offer compensation for less than 2 days. Over Christmas, they kept our's in Chicago for five days so we got a full refund of everything we had to buy (since it was, oh hey! a six day trip!) and the cost to ship all our luggage home (...I will never EVER let United have my luggage again. Ever.) (but I won't say I'll never fly them!).

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On this Monday morning in Vancouver, it took us 2 hours from the time we boarded the bus at the dock to the time we entered the air terminal. I was expecting it to be faster and I asked one of the Canadian airport people if we were really saving any time and she said that doing it the usual way was far more time consuming with having to drop off your bags and then pick them up again before going through customs/immigration. Since we had a 2 PM flight, we had pleanty of time but I think it was a good choice for us.

 

I have never had my bags lost before, it never occurred to me to ask United for compensation. We got the bags back, intact, within 18 hours and since we were on our way home, there was no inconvenience. I have asked Princess to refund or credit the 30$ for the bag transfer program because I was so disappointed in how the ship staff failed to keep me informed or offer alternatives. We'll see what happens.

 

As for the way they treat the bags security wise, that is a good question. I suppose that they can search any bag they feel like searching. I have had my bags searched on domestic flights and find a note inside when I arrive at my destination, that the TSA has searched. Once I was bringing two bottles of Shorty's bar-b-q sauce from Miami to Atlanta. I had to check the bags because of the liquid rules. I had carefully wrapped them in papertowels and triple-plastic-bagged them and when I got home, they had been totally unwrapped. I was glad that no one stole my Shorty's sauce! In the same line of thought, if the bags had been overweight, would we have been sent a bill? I doubt it. So it might be a good choice if your bags are too heavy. 15$ is way less then the 100 that United charges for overweight bags.

 

I think the only advantage is that you don't have to lug your own luggage to the check in window and that you already have your boarding passes printed. But you still have to fill out the declaration form and then still have to go through immigration. I can see how this program might be beneficial if the line to check in at the ticket counter is 100 people deep, but otherwise I don't see much difference.

 

I've written United before when my bags where late and arrived the next day. Had some things in there that I needed for work the next day and was inconvenienced because my bag did not arrive. I believe I got flight credit towards a future trip, but I don't recall how much I received. I think that would be a better way to go than trying to get money back from Princess. After all, they provided the service that you paid for, it was United that messed it up.

 

I suppose Immigration/Customs would do the same thing that TSA does as you mentioned, simply going through your bag and looking through things. Somehow it seems like you should be there though. And good point about an overweight bag - I don't see how they would charge you for it. Or maybe they just leave it behind and then have the airline contact you later to pay??!! In this day and age of charging for even a first checked bag, I wouldn't be surprised about anything...

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I'm confused. I thought EZ check somehow meant you didn't have to go thru customs (that you're basically checking in to your flight from the ship) and that your bags went through ahead of you.

 

If all it means is not having to wheel your suitcase, I don't see the benefit either.

 

By the way, the OP is correct, per my favorite travel agent, that EZ check + Princess transfer = US Direct. Most Princess employees don't recognize the term "US Direct".

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I'm confused. I thought EZ check somehow meant you didn't have to go thru customs (that you're basically checking in to your flight from the ship) and that your bags went through ahead of you.

 

If all it means is not having to wheel your suitcase, I don't see the benefit either.

 

By the way, the OP is correct, per my favorite travel agent, that EZ check + Princess transfer = US Direct. Most Princess employees don't recognize the term "US Direct".

 

That's my impression from the last time I was suckered into using this type of service. But then again, I've never had to go through customs before since my other cruises were in the Caribbean and from US ports. Not sure if it's much different internationally, but I don't plan on using it for my upcoming Alaskan cruise.

 

Maybe the OP can clarify, but it doesn't seem like much benefit at all. There is no way to skip customs - cruise passenger or not - if you desire to go back into the US! IMO, it's just another "service" that the cruiseline provides but really doesn't seem to be all that necessary. I have seen some families though moving mountains of suitcases - maybe 10 or so - that are 8 feet high. For these families, simply the mere convenience of not having to deal with it all may be beneficial. But personally, if I can't carry my luggage, I'd pay a porter to do it...and the tip would still be less than $30!

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We just did US Direct on our Alaska cruise with HAL. In my opinion is was well worth the money. The only problem that we experienced was with United and not with the US Direct service. Our luggage didn't get to our home airport with us. They delivered it the next day.

 

HAL also does not recognize the US Direct terminology. You buy the HAL transfer and Signature Express Baggage Service (SEBS) once you are onboard the ship. The forms also come to your cabin on day 2 or 3. All SEBS pax met at the same place and waited for the busses to take them to the airport in Vancouver. It took a while for the ship to be cleared (not HAL's fault) so we had a little wait until we could board the busses. We still make it in plenty of time for our 12:35 flight. I think we were at the airport and through security by about 10:30. The bus driver asked if we wanted him to talk about Vancouver as we went to the airport. Most people said yes so we had a nice tour of the city and learned some interesting facts.

 

The only wait that we had was going through security. That took about 10 minutes. We did have to fill out both a Canadian and US customs card. As we walked through the airport (a special section) a Canadian official took one card (no waiting) and a US official took the other (no waiting). Going through security, they pulled an occasional person to inspect the carryon luggage. They were very through when they did that. We were not checked. I had sealed our checked luggage with ties and they remained intact so our luggage was not opened at all.

 

I would do US Direct again without question. It was quick, easy, and painless. I don't like dealing with my luggage or waiting in lines for immigration, security, and such so this is a good solution for avoidling that. It was worth the extra cost to avoid the stress.

 

We had friends who did US Direct from the airport to the ship in Vancouver and they were quite pleased with the program.

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We just used both programs on our Northbound Princess cruise from Vancouver and they worked like a charm.

 

We flew into Vancouver day of departure and used US Direct from the aiport direct to the ship. We landed about 11am and were in our cabin around 1pm with very easy access to the ship. The best part was not needing to claim our luggage at the airport and just being wisked off to the ship. Our luggage showed up in the room around 3:30pm without issues. An important reminder is to tag your bags with the ship tags before you leave home! There were people who wanted to use the program at the airport but when the local folks helping at the airport asked if their bags were already tagged, they said no and then they were required to retrieve them and then go through the usual customs and immigration steps to get to the ship. If flying into the Vancouver Airport, look for the red vested US Direct folks who will help guide you to the appropriate area. There are tons of them and you can't miss the line.

 

As for Easy Check, we received documents in our cabin on about the 3rd day of the cruise with a form to fill out if we wanted to use that service in Whittier. We had already booked a tour excursion off the ship in Whittier that would eventually get us into Anchorage early in the afternoon and we had a rental car waiting there so we could explore the remainder of the day because our flight home wasn't until midnight. We did not want to be lugging everything around with us all day so Easy Check was the way to go. For $16 a piece, we enrolled in the program on the ship and got our tags and boarding passes about 6pm on the last night of the cruise. We packed our bags and sat them outside the cabin that night and we didn't have to do anything with them again until we picked them up at home early Sunday morning when our flight arrived home. It was well worth the $16 we spent a piece on that and we had a lot of fun exploring Anchorage our last day of vacation not needing to claim and recheck luggage going home. I highly recommend using both programs if you can!

 

Dave

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That's my impression from the last time I was suckered into using this type of service. But then again, I've never had to go through customs before since my other cruises were in the Caribbean and from US ports. Not sure if it's much different internationally, but I don't plan on using it for my upcoming Alaskan cruise.

 

Maybe the OP can clarify, but it doesn't seem like much benefit at all. There is no way to skip customs - cruise passenger or not - if you desire to go back into the US! IMO, it's just another "service" that the cruiseline provides but really doesn't seem to be all that necessary. I have seen some families though moving mountains of suitcases - maybe 10 or so - that are 8 feet high. For these families, simply the mere convenience of not having to deal with it all may be beneficial. But personally, if I can't carry my luggage, I'd pay a porter to do it...and the tip would still be less than $30!

:confused: I have always needed to clear customs when returning to US homeports for both Caribbean and Canada/New England cruise. The advantage of US Direct is that you CAN avoid having to wait in customs lines when heading directly from the cruise ship to the YVR airport, saving both time and inconvenience, and well worth the extra $35, IMHO.

 

here is a link to the Port of Vancouver website, explaining the US Direct program:

 

http://www.portvancouver.com/vanAlaCruise/content/infoPassengers/usDirect.html

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The web site outling the program has the following requirements.

 

Port to Airport - disembarking in Vacouver

  1. Travelling with a valid U.S. Passport and/or valid U.S. Permanent Resident Card.
  2. Arriving on a cruise ship direct from a U.S. port.
  3. Have a flight direct to the U.S.A, same day as disembarking the ship.
  4. Have purchased onboard the ship or with cruise booking the Onboard Check-in program.
  5. In possession of cruise line bus transfer to Vancouver International Airport.

Number 2 in the list says that you are arriving directly from a U.S. port. The Tahitian Princess itinerary leaves from Vancouver and returns to Vancouver. All stops during the voyage are Alaskan stops with the exception of the stop before Vancouver and that is Victoria, BC.

 

Does anyone know if this cancels out the opportunity to us US Direct since we are not technically arriving from a U.S. port?

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All stops during the voyage are Alaskan stops with the exception of the stop before Vancouver and that is Victoria, BC.

 

Does anyone know if this cancels out the opportunity to us US Direct since we are not technically arriving from a U.S. port?

 

I would think that it does, unfortunately. US Direct saves a lot of time and trouble and is well worth the money. You should still be able to use the express baggage service where you do not have to deal with your luggage at the cruise terminal or airport.

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But if you still have to go *through* customs with Direct/EZcheck, how does US Direct/EZcheck keep you from having to stand in long customs lines?

 

You are in a different place from those without US Direct. We walked down a special corridor when leaving the ship and an official was standing in the middle of the aisle and we handed him our Canadian form. We didn't even stop walking. It was that easy. When we got to the airport, we stopped at a special place away from the terminal and security officials checked the seal on the bus then boarded the bus and checked our passport and boarding pass. We then went to a special entrance to the airport where we went through security which took less than 10 minutes. We handed our US Customs form to someone after going through secuirty - no line at all. Easy, easy, easy.

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I'm sold. We'll use it from ship to airport in Vancouver, as our flight is at 12:30. I called Princess, and they said now you need to sign up for it on the ship. I guess once upon a time, it was possible to do online.

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I'm sold. We'll use it from ship to airport in Vancouver, as our flight is at 12:30. I called Princess, and they said now you need to sign up for it on the ship. I guess once upon a time, it was possible to do online.

 

As far as I know, you can only sign up for the ship to airport US Direct on the ship. You can book airport to ship with your TA or direct through the cruise line. I don't know if you can book it online.

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As far as I know, you can only sign up for the ship to airport US Direct on the ship. You can book airport to ship with your TA or direct through the cruise line. I don't know if you can book it online.
Our TA was able to purchase the $35 EZ Check transfers for our upcoming Tahitian Princess cruise, but I know we still need to register for US Direct once we board.
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The term, "us direct" doesnt seem to have any meaning to Princess staff. The two programs: a princess transfer from the ship to the airport, along with the EZ Check for the bags, comprise US direct.

 

I just read a response to my post asking about what happens when you dont use the program and feel like we made an excellent choice using it.

 

I was disappointed in how Princess handeled the delay in getting our boarding passes and airline luggage stickylableswithbarcodes thingy. It wasnt the delay it was that I was not given a straight answer about what was happening which caused my last night onboard to be spent going back and forth between my stateroom and the CS desk. I wrote to Princess and requested a refund on the EZ check and yesterday they wrote back and gave it to me! It's a small amount but tells me that their customer service system works and that they are interested in satisfying the customer. It was a wonderful cruise and I will consider Princess again with future cruising.

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Our TA was able to purchase the $35 EZ Check transfers for our upcoming Tahitian Princess cruise, but I know we still need to register for US Direct once we board.

 

Well, the $35 transfers aren't called EZcheck, just Princess transfer. We purchased our $35 Princess transfers w/Princess when we booked the cruise, but those aren't the EZcheck/US Direct $15 part that needs to be purchased on board. I don't have a travel agent (except the advice of my mom, who's a semi-retired TA.)

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Well, the $35 transfers aren't called EZcheck, just Princess transfer. We purchased our $35 Princess transfers w/Princess when we booked the cruise, but those aren't the EZcheck/US Direct $15 part that needs to be purchased on board.

 

Hi,

For RCI, does the RCI transfer from the ship to the Vancouver airport and the RCI "luggage valet" constitute "US Direct"? Or is there more to it?

Thanks.

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