When To Arrive For General Cruise Boarding
General boarding gives you a broad window to board. For example, a cruise ship might be scheduled to depart port at 5:30 p.m. and have a boarding window from 12-4 p.m. Guests are allowed to arrive at any time during that window.
So when should you get to the port? That depends on how badly you want to start your vacation.
With large boarding windows, many people choose to arrive right when boarding begins . That leads to long lines right at the start of the boarding window. While security and check-in are designed to move quickly, it still takes some time to process thousands of passengers.
So if you want to board early, you can arrive at the port right when boarding starts, but be prepared to wait in line.
Thats why we recommend waiting until about an hour before the end of the boarding window to arrive at the port.
Note: One thing you should never do is arrive late to the boarding window. That can cause delays and stress on trying to get on the ship. All passengers are required to board at least 90 minutes before the ship departs to comply with government rules.
Cruise Tips: What To Expect On Departure Day
Inevitably, all good things must come to an end. As your cruise vacation comes to a close and you prepare to head back home, debarkation day is the day you disembark your cruise ship and venture back home refreshed and renewed. The key to a smooth and easy debarkation day is following direction from the cruise line employees.
Norwegian is very prepared and understands the importance of making it to the airport for early flights and the importance of getting you back on dry land in a timely manner. It’s important to remember they’ve done this countless times, so they have an extensive system in place to make sure things flow efficiently and to get you where you need to be as quickly as possible.
Preparation for debarkation day starts the night before by making final purchases, saying your goodbyes, arranging your luggage, and preparing for customs.
Relative Locations Of Cruise Terminals Bus And Train Stations Plus Major Hotels
The Southampton map below clearly marks the four cruise terminals in relation to the city’s other amenities. We have dedicated pages providing more information on Southampton hotels and using the bus and train stations.
Southampton has a good public transport network, with good links to London and other parts of the country. Cruise customers are well served by a range of London to Southampton transfers which directly connect the capital and it’s airports to Southampton’s cruise terminals.
There is a wide choice of hotels within a short distance of Southampton’s cruise terminals.
The City Cruise terminal is the only terminal within walking distance of any hotel, these are the Ibis, Ibis Budget, Novotel and Holiday Inn. The other Southampton cruise terminals require a short taxi journey, as theyâre a little further along the waterfront.
Our Southampton city map above illustrates the locations of the hotels and the four cruise terminals.
There are no shuttle buses or public transport connecting any of Southampton’s hotels to the cruise terminals.
We have a dedicated Southampton hotels page which compares all the properties and covers all budgets and tastes.
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What Do You Do When You First Board A Cruise Ship
When you arrive, its officially the start of your vacation.Youll be greeted onboard with a welcome glass of bubbly. If youre hungry, you can head to one of the onboard restaurants for lunch or scope out the bars and lounges. Grab some al-fresco bites by the pool, or head to the buffet for a variety of options. The Retreat guests can dine in Luminae for lunch on embarkation day as well.
Get to know the ship and discover all of the exciting things to do on a cruise. Go beyond your stateroom to worlds unknown, whether its your first time watching the skyline fade behind you from a cruise ship or first time exploring a gym at sea.
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Post up in a sunny deck chair, or be one of the first to hit the pool. Stop in at the Destination Concierge desk to continue planning the day-to-day details of your trip, or get to know more about the destinations youre sailing to.
Its also okay to unwind and do nothing! After all, this is vacation, and you have plenty of time to unpack.
Introduce Yourself To Your Stateroom Attendant
Your stateroom attendant will likely end up being a highlight of your cruise. Our stateroom attendants are friendly and provide top-notch service. They want to make your accommodations as comfortable and as relaxing as possible.
Youll likely see them in the hallways outside your stateroom, and theyll be quick to say hello. This is a good time to introduce yourself and make any initial requests you may have, such as only stocking the mini fridge with red wine and not white wine, or changing the bed configuration if its not already to your preference .
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General Boarding Vs Staggered Check
Before we get too far, you should know that cruise lines use two different methods of boarding these days. Which style you see will depend on your specific cruise line.
The first type is general boarding, in which the ship has a wide-open boarding window during which any passenger is free to arrive at any time and board. So if you want to arrive right at the start of boarding to maximize your time on the ship, then you are welcome to do so.
The second style of boarding which many cruise lines are now switching to is staggered check-in. Here, each passenger has a designated window of when to arrive. So while the ship might board from 12-4 p.m., a passengers boarding window might be from 1:30-2 p.m.
The style of boarding you have will make a difference on when you should arrive to the port. The cruise line will let you know when you book your ticket what time you are eligible to board.
How Do I Get My Luggage Off The Ship
You have two options for getting your bags off the ship. If you want crewmembers to carry your suitcases off the ship for you, you will need to have your bags packed, tagged and set outside your cabin door at a specified time the night before you disembark. Usually, the deadline is sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight. Crewmembers will pick up your luggage, carry it off the ship in the morning and place the bags in sections, according to tag colors, at the cruise terminal for you to reclaim. Before the deadline, ship’s staff will return any confiscated items to your cabin for you to pack.
This procedure has its inconveniences. You have to remember to leave out everything you will need on your final morning, including the clothes you want to wear home. Anything you don’t put in the checked bags — nightclothes, toiletries, and so on — has to fit in your carry-on. Although most people report no problems, there is the opportunity for theft, so you might want to put TSA locks or cable-ties on your bags to secure your belongings. It’s always wise to keep valuables and important medications with you.
Note: If you’re taking advantage of a cruise’s luggage shipping program, you may have to claim your bags at customs and personally deliver them to the shipping representative. Check with the valet company handling your luggage as to disembarkation procedures.
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The Process Of Getting Off A Cruise Ship & When To Schedule Your Flight
In our experience, getting off the ship once a cruise had ended is much more time-consuming than boarding.
Thats because once you depart the ship you now have to go through customs and immigration to declare anything you bought while you were abroad and be checked back into the country. Combine this delay with thousands of people trying to leave at once and youve got a recipe for long waits.
Most cruise ships have self-assist debarkation. This allows passengers who can carry all their luggage with them to depart first.
The thing is that most people seem to opt for this method, instead of waiting to leave later in the morning and not carry their luggage. Weve seen lines around the ship first thing in the morning that took 1.5 hours to get off the ship and out of the terminal.
Other passengers wait for their selected debarkation time . While this means you wont get off the ship first, the process of actually leaving is usually faster since the lines are shorter.
In any case, given that it can take a considerable amount of time to get off the ship, what time should you book your departing flight?
The earliest time for your departing flight depends on a lot of factors. We recommend no earlier than five hours after your ship arrives back at home port.
Do I Need To Go Through Customs And Immigration At The Cruise Port
When your cruise ship arrives at its disembarkation port, local immigration officials need to clear the ship before anyone can disembark. Ships that terminate in U.S. ports may require passengers to fill out customs forms and show their passports to immigration officials in the cruise terminal. Some passengers might be required to meet with immigration officials onboard prior to getting off the ship. Because rules change, based on the country of the disembarkation port and the nationality of the passengers, it’s best to follow all instructions given onboard.
Also, if you’ve purchased souvenirs on your cruise, be sure to check your home country’s allowances for goods like alcohol, cigarettes and cigars brought back from abroad. Keep all receipts because you could be asked to report the value of all goods purchased abroad if you go over the limits, you face taxes on some of your items.
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Things That Could Delay You Getting To Your Flight
Unfortunately, getting off the ship isnt just as simple of having it dock and then rolling your suitcase off. There are a number of factors that can delay things, which is why we recommend an ample five-hour cushion before your flight.
Weather DelaysOne of the biggest headaches for a cruise ship is fog. Early morning arrivals in humid port cities are a perfect recipe for delays due to fog. Its not unheard of for a ship to have to wait off the coast for several hours while the fog lifts before making it to port especially spots like Galveston, which are notorious for fog.
Debarkation DelaysWe mentioned earlier how there can be huge lines to get off the ship first. With such a rush of people trying to debark at once, it can take up to two hours to make your way off the ship and collect your luggage.
If you dont want to wait in line, you can debark later in the day. While that saves you the hassle of just standing around, it doesnt get you off the ship any earlier.
Customs & ImmigrationAnything to declare? Even if you dont, youll have to go through customs and immigration. This is another reason why it can take so long to get off the ship.
Weve seen ports where its a breeze to go through, taking almost no time at all. Weve also seen ports where its a major delay that forces you to stand in line for an eternity. Sometimes it seems there are too few agents working, leading to longer delays to get off the ship.
What Do You Do With Your Luggage On Embarkation Day
As soon as you arrive at the port, youll be met at the vehicle drop-off area by couriers who will take your luggage and put it onto racks. From that point it will be brought onto the ship and delivered to your stateroom.
To make this process easier, you can print off luggage tags at home from your cruise account at the same time you check in. These luggage tags have your name and stateroom number on them and can be stapled around your luggage handle. You can also get luggage tags mailed to you if you book your cruise early enough.
With Celebrity Cruises Open Access, youll have access to your stateroom as soon as you board, so be sure to pack your essentials in your carry-on so you can freshen up before exploring the ship.
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Getting To Know The Ship
Upon check-in at the cruise terminal, you’ll receive your first issue of the Freestyle Daily, which details the day’s activities and special events and is a great way to get a feel for the ship. The Freestyle Daily will be delivered to your stateroom every evening, with info to help you plan the following day.
Learn More About Your Ship
Register Kids for Activities
Do I Need To Tip Crewmembers Before I Get Off The Ship
Cruise lines have individual policies when it comes to tipping, and you should familiarize yourself with those policies before you start your trip. Most lines will automatically add tips to your final shipboard bill some require no tipping. In many cases, you’ll have the option to prepay gratuities before your trip. You are welcome to give additional tips for outstanding service at any time during your cruise. For more on cruise ship tipping procedures, read What to Expect on a Cruise: Tipping Crewmembers on a Cruise.
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What Do You Wear On Embarkation Day
Comfort is key on embarkation day, and its okay to keep it casual on the first day of your cruise.
Many people wear bathing suits underneath their clothes or pack their suit in their carry-on so they can head to the pool right away. Others prefer to dress up so they can have nice photographs taken of the entire family as you board the ship.
Because you may be waiting for your luggage to be returned to you, some people pack an extra outfit in their carry-on to change into for lunch or dinner. It really depends on your preferences. We recommend bringing a sweater or light jacket in case you get chilly in colder climates, or a hat and shorts if youre cruising to a tropical destination.
Find out more about what to wear on a cruise.
Are There Advantages To Arriving Early
Weve covered that if you show up to the port later during the boarding window you will see shorter lines and a faster time to get on the ship. But are there advantages to getting on the ship sooner?
The reason that people arrive early is to get a head start on their vacation. Many people are excited to board, and with the ship is open for passengers, you can hang out poolside or get a bite to eat. Boarding early gives you a few more hours of your trip.
If you decide to face the lines and board early, you should know that your cabin may not be ready the moment you get on the ship. In that case, there will be a spot to check your luggage so that you can explore the ship without having to lug around a suitcase.
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Which Cruise Ships Will Use Southampton’s Fifth Terminal
The fifth terminal has been earmarked for MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. These companies have signed partnership deals to use the facility, however this is not exclusive and other ships will use it too. The Port Authority determine which ships dock at which terminal and this is how the other four terminals operate.
What Time Can You Board Your Cruise
The time you can board your cruise varies depending on what kind of stateroom you have and what time your cruise departs.
You can always check the Celebrity Cruises mobile app to confirm what time your ship sets sail on embarkation day. Be prepared for an initial rush when boarding begins and another rush right after lunch.
To avoid long lines at security and the check-in desk, plan on getting there right when boarding begins. Lines also tend to be much shorter during the last hour of boarding, but then youll be missing out on a few hours on board on embarkation day!
If youre planning to arrive later, make sure you know when embarkation check-in ends, as this is usually before your ship sets sail. For coast guard purposes, the check-in time ends earlier, and if you get there after that cut-off time you wont be able to board, even if the ship hasnt pulled away from port yet.
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How Do You Check In For A Celebrity Cruise
One of the best ways to start your vacation and get onto the ship quickly and easily is to use the Celebrity Cruises online check-in before you arrive at your embarkation port.
While checking in online, you can provide all the information needed to expedite your time at the port so you can get on your ship faster. Youll receive a handy Xpress Pass, which indicates that youve completed check-in.
Keep in mind that checking in for cruises isnt the same as checking in for a flight. While you may be used to checking in for your flight no more than 24 hours before it takes off, with Celebrity Cruises, online check-in time is cut off a few days before embarkation day, so dont leave checking in until the last minute.
Government regulations require cruise lines to submit their final list of departures at least an hour prior to sailing, so dont procrastinate on getting to the cruise terminal if you didnt complete the check-in process online.
Another way to avoid lines on embarkation day is to book The Retreat, which comes with priority check-in and a host of other benefits that will make your vacation unforgettable.
If youre sailing on Celebrity Edge, you can upload a photo of yourself using the check-in app. Then, when you arrive at the state-of-the-art terminal, your face will be recognized and youll be whisked inside in mere minutes.