With an early morning arrival at the final destination port, a lot happens behind the scenes before disembarkation of the guests is allowed to begin. On the 2nd last night on-board, a form will be delivered directly to your stateroom, along with your program for the last day. You fill out the form to advises the ship staff of details of your departure from the port. This is your opportunity to advise them if you have an early flight departure, so the staff on the ship can assign you an early time for disembarking. Early disembarkation is not available to all guests, just the ones who are able to carry out their own luggage from their stateroom to the dock.
If you have no pressing travel needs the day of disembarkation, then you will be given luggage tags the night before your scheduled arrival date to place on your luggage. You then place your packed bags outside of your stateroom door before 10pm the night before arrival and they will be picked up outside of your stateroom, organized according to the times the crew has scheduled you to leave the ship in the morning.
It is important that if you are traveling with a group of people, that you all have tags of the same color and time, so visit the client service desk if you need to make changes, the day before departure. This makes for an organized and efficient method of staggering people for departure, making the arrival back home as stress free as your vacation was.
As long as there are no weather delays, issues with docking the ship or security concerns then you can expect to leave the ship between 8am and 10am after enjoying breakfast at the buffet. Please be aware that Cruise Lines will NOT sell a transfer between the Port and the airport if your flight is scheduled before Noon as they consider the timing just too close in case there are delays with docking, customs, traffic or at the airport. Anyone in the travel industry has a story they personally experienced in regards to unexpected delays that resulted in major trip disruptions for guests who did not plan proactively to avoid them.
With a docking time of 7am, if you do have a flight scheduled before noon, you would need to arrange for early debarkation, carry off your own luggage, get a taxi or shuttle and get to the airport to get checked in an hour before the flight departure if its domestic or up to 3 hours if it’s an international flight. You can plan as close to the cut off as you feel comfortable with. We have had guests in the past who were able to make a 10:45am flight and other who missed a 12:55pm flight.
Most ships use a single gangway for departing guests and you will be advised which one it will be according to which pier a particular ship is docked at; so the location of the departure gangway can change between voyages. Once you are off the ship, you make your way to the cruise terminal where all of your luggage that had been placed outside of your stateroom the night before, is arranged in separate queues according to your color coded tags that had been given to you on the ship. Once you locate your bags, you continue through the well marked lines to arrive and be processed through customs. This entire process can be anywhere between 15 – 30 minutes as long as there are no complications.
Making an educated decision is crucial to avoid unneeded, extra expenses. Do not make assumptions or take advice from people who have not taken the information directly from the Cruise Line or Airline you are travelling with. Educating yourself on the company’s policy is the only way to protect your hard earned travel dollars. Please feel free to contact me with all questions pertaining to your specific travel plans. My job is to search out the information you are looking for which frees up yours to simply enjoy your vacation.