Cruising Tips: How to Avoid the Long Embarkation Lines

A common concern that I hear from my cruise clients is “How can I avoid the long line to check in on the cruise?”

Waiting in line is certainly no one’s idea of a stress-free vacation. And though lines come with the territory on mega cruises, when over 6,000 other people are along for the same ride, there are strategic tactics you can utilize to significantly reduce wait times!

1. Check in Online Before Embarkation Day.  This step is essential!  When you book your cruise, we submit your reservation to the cruise line and follow up by providing you with a booking confirmation.  You can use the booking number from your confirmation for your pre-cruise check-in as well as to pre-reserve special dining and entertainment arrangements for your cruise.  By completing your pre-cruise check-in and presenting your boarding pass when you arrive at the pier, you will save significant time when checking in at registration.

2. Become a Frequent Cruiser: If you’re a loyal cruiser who returns to one provider over and over again, you can earn points that add up to a VIP membership! This gives you access to all kinds of perks, such as exclusive rates, complimentary dinners, early luggage check in, and sometimes even skipping the check-in lines!

3. Buy a Pass: Carnival cruise lines currently offer a fast pass option called Faster to the Fun. It only costs an extra fifty dollars, but it moves you past the crowd at check-in. It saves you from waiting in the general boarding lane on embarkation day. Plus, you have the option for early or late disembarkation, and priority tender service from ship to shore. You save time at check in and again at check out!

4. Enjoy the Shipboard Activities on Port Days: Do you or your family want to try out the new 10-story slide on Royal Caribbean, or scale the climbing wall, or enjoy the hot tub in solitude? Today’s cruise lines have a multitude of popular activities on these new mega ships and let’s face it – they can get crowded! Your best bet is to go is on port days, when the majority of cruisers leave the ship. This gives you the freedom to roam the vessel with a little more space...and take advantage of the shorter lines!  The spa frequently offers special pricing on port days as well!

5.  Buffet tips: Don't go at noon...or 5pm. Try going 30 minutes earlier to skip the lines at the food. One of the best ways to skip the line at the buffet is to avoid it altogether. While everyone is lined up, you can easily find open seats in the quieter main dining room at breakfast and lunch, or at some of the ship’s alternative dining venues.

6. Disembark Last: If you think trying to disembark first will get you off the ship fastest, that actually isn’t the case. If you wait it out, you’ll miss the lines. If you’re in no rush to get to the airport, it’s best to let all the other passengers off the ship first, and exit only when the last call is announced.  Find a comfortable place to hang out and lose yourself in that engrossing novel while others fight their way off the ship.  Bonus: Your bags will be much easier to find, and extending your vacation for as long as you can is always a good idea!