February 1, 2017

2 Common Cruise Questions On Arrival And Departure Flight Time For Embark And Disembark The Cruise Ship

Going on a cruise? You may want to fly in and out of the city that has the cruise port if you don't live near one. Today, I want to address two common questions that first time cruisers typically have about the flights.

1. What Time Should The Arrival Fight Time Be In Order To Embark The Cruise Ship On Time?
If going on a cruise is one of the bucket list things that you must do, then don't risk flying in on the same day your cruise leaves. Flights can get delayed and you'll miss your cruise. If you must fly in on the same day, make sure to give yourself several hours in between from deplaning, picking up bags, leaving airport, and getting to the cruise terminal. After that, you also need to go through security and check in, etc. with the cruise line. It's a lot to do! There will be a lot of people try to get on the cruise ship with long queues, and therefore the more time you have before boarding the better. I recommend that if you can fly in one or two days prior to the day that your cruise leaves, that'd be ideal.

2. What Time Should The Departure Flight Time Be After Disembark The Cruise Ship And Go To The Airport On Time? 
First and foremost, check your cruise itinerary to see what time the ship docks at the port. Then allow 4-5 hours before your flight time. Cruise lines are very good with arrival earlier or on time to the port because they operate on a tight schedule. Often time, they arrive an hour earlier than what's specified on the itinerary. If you do call the cruise line to get the advice, 4-5 hours are usually their recommendation. 

Below are some additional tips that help you get off the ship faster and get to the airport with plenty of time to spare before your departure flight time. 

What is self-assist luggage program?
During your cruise, try to make some time to go to the reception desk and ask them for the form that you can fill out for self-assist luggage program. This program basically means that you will be carrying on your own luggage to disembark the ship. I recommend you do this as soon as you can and do not wait until the last minute to do that. They do have deadline for passengers to turn in that form.

MSC Cruise Line's Self Assist Program
How to verify that I enroll in self-assist luggage program?
Depending on the cruise line. Your first human intuition is to ask the reception desk directly. Some cruise lines need all the forms submitted and then the staff will enter all the information into the computer's system. Therefore, you can only verify that the day before the disembarkation as they will send you the instruction to your stateroom.

What procedures do I need to follow to disembark the ship as soon as possible?
  1. This is SUPER IMPORTANT! You need to go to the reception desk before the disembarkation day to close your account or clear your balance if you use cash/debit card for all transactions on board, or for whatever reason you have an open account with them. You need to close it or you are not allowed to disembark the ship when they scan your cruise card while you are in queue to leave the ship. I witnessed this happened to other passengers, and it's not pleasant! Try to settle the account days before the disembarkation because the lines to reception desk could get really long, especially on the disembarkation day as several people are not aware of this.
  2. The day/night before the disembarkation, you will receive the instruction about the self-assist luggage program. With self-assist, do NOT leave your luggage outside of your stateroom the night before the disembarkation. Instead, follow the instruction provided to you. I found it very helpful too to watch the disembarkation process on the TV in my stateroom to learn more about the procedure. So if that's available to you through your cruise line as well, I strongly recommend that you watch. 
  3. On the disembarkation day, you can either choose to show up based on your appointed time and deck number or show up earlier if you can. They are not checking your disembarkation time, which means that if there are disembark times that are earlier than yours, you can simply show up and join that group to leave the ship. The earlier you get out of the ship, the more time you have for your flight time.
  4. After clearing the immigration, you may proceed to outside where there will be transportations that are available to take you to the airport. They range from regular taxi to shared van. Sharing ride means that you'll have to wait until the van has enough passengers before the van leaves for the airport and then you'll have to wait for your turn while the van drops everyone off based of their airlines and airport terminals. The regular taxi will be much faster because you can simply hop on the taxi with your luggages and the driver will take you all the way to your departure terminal and airline. 
There you have it! If you still have any questions, feel free to leave comment. Hopefully you have plenty of time before your departure flight. As the saying goes, it's better to be early than sorry!

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