The article said that the downside to Princess' new debarkation procedure is that you have to go to an assigned area instead of waiting where you want. Let me tell you, that has been the biggest problem with debarkation--everybody going "where they want"; and that usually meant the stairway closest to the gangway.
The new procedure is a dream. I've come into San Pedro on the same ship before the new procedure and after and there is NO comparison.
On one of last few cruises I went to the Elite waiting place around 9 AM & was asked for our name & the girl was upset that we hadn't gotten off the ship with the first walk off's. They're keeping a list of all pax & when they're scheduled to depart. It appears that if you want to walk off with your luggage they expect you to leave among the first group & not hang back. Either way it's definitely a better program.
For years, we have tried to avoid the hassles of that last morning and disembarkation. It never made any sense to us that folks would park themselves in some uncomfortable crowded place, and just sit (of stand) for what can be hours. Since we almost always do our own air, we finally learned to book later flights (usually in the early afternoon) and just relax. Now, when everyone is crowding in a public area, we usually will go up to the pool deck and sit in a comfy deck chair with our books. We usually save some drinks and snacks (from breakfast) and just relax. Than, after just about everyone has left the ship, we simply walk off the ship, grab our luggage (easy to find since most of the luggage is gone) and grab a taxi to the airport, pick up our rental car, etc. Although we qualify for priority disembarkation on some lines, we still follow our slow process. We figure that since we love being on ships, why rush off and fight all the crowds.
Debarking on NCL has been a snap and hassle free-you pick your own time to debark, Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and stretch out in your stateroom or any public area to await your scheduled debarkation time/color-No waiting in any assigned areas, and your bags will be in your chosen color area at the time you yourself have picked! Works like a charm! Oh Yeah-The lines are relatively short too!
On our most recent cruise, HAL Ryndam disembarking in Vancouver, we opted for the airline check-in program briefly described in the article. For $16 per person, HAL printed our boarding passes, gave us airline baggage tags for two items of luggage apiece, and then brought those bags to the airport. We didn't see them from the time we set them outside our door until we arrived in Boston nearly 20 hours later. This was great -- just like my initial days of cruising, only for a fee, which was pretty modest, IMO.
Regarding designated waiting areas, we've had this on several ships, and enjoy it. The main downside is that if you are traveling with friends whose departure arrangements differ from yours, there's a good chance you won't be able to wait it out together. But, that's not so much of a big deal.
I did note from the article that Carnival estimates that 40-50% of passengers utilize the Self-Assist option. Wow... that equates to more than 1,000 pax on some ships! No wonder the lines snake around the deck for so long.
As for the rest of the issue, I haven't finished reading it yet, but I did enjoy the article on Boston. Some of it is a little dated (the photo of Quincy Market provided by the Breater Boston Convention and Vistor Bureau shows a highway that is no longer there; the Ritz Carlton is now the Taj Boston), but that is to be expected with long times between composing and publishing.
RCI charges $20 per person for the luggage and airline program, but it is the same as the one on HAL. I recall wondering how the airlines get their money if someone's luggage is too large or overweight.
I'm with you Hank. I do not want to get off the ship, period. The longer I can stay on (and lounging) the better. Once on the Ecstasy, we had to wait a long time. We took some free beverages from the buffet, and lounged where the playground was for the kids. We had the whole section to ourselves!
RCI Radiance of the Seas Sep 2009
NCL Sun March 2008
Carnival Destiny June 2006
Carnival Ecstasy June 2002
Carnival Elation August 2000
Celebrity Century June 1998
Carnival Carnivale August 1993