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sienna 01-02-2008 01:17 AM

I am traveling as a family with 4 young kids and want some advice on boarding and disembarking the ship, I'm a first time cruiser and not totally sure I understand the process. What time should we shhot for to get on and off the ship. Also, I heard that the safety check lasts like 2hrs, I'm wondering how my kids will handle that. I'm getting a little nervous about this. Any advice is good advice, thx

LisaP 01-02-2008 06:09 AM

Which cruise line will you be sailing? There may be slight differences between how they handle the muster drill, although I have never had one take two hours -- one-half hour, tops.

elnbluesman 01-02-2008 04:58 PM

Hi Sienna,

Boarding is a bit easier than disembarking. I would arrive at the ship about an hour or so early. I know on our Carnival cruise, they started the boarding process a bit earlier than advertised, and we missed the rush. Getting off the boat can be a different story, but I have to imagine every experience is unique. Read my review of our Inspiration cruise in the Carnival section, which was probably on the end of the disembarking spectrum that you DON'T want. With kids, I would just make sure that your travel arragements leaving the port on your last day leave you with ample time to spare in case of delayed exiting off the ship. I would like to think that avoiding the cruisers that are wanting to be the first ones off the ship might be a good idea when travelling with young ones.

Larry in Miami 01-02-2008 08:18 PM

With Carnival they say the boarding time is 1:30 but I get there early and I am usually on the ship enjoying lunch by Noon.

The life boat drill lasts about 30 minutes.

fruby 01-03-2008 01:11 PM


Get the kids involved with all aspects of the cruise. Have all of them read about the ship, the ports, embarkation and disembarkation, dining rooms and other food choices, kids/teen programs, and the travel arrangements to and from the ship. If you do this, you are preparing them for a very different kind of a vacation and they will better understand what is going on. A cruise is a great family vacation but you should get the kids prepared.

Hope that this helps.


And make it very clear that there will be no cranky behavior

queenofcruzin 01-03-2008 01:35 PM

R u related to SuperNanny ? Your ideas are great but I have travelled with adults who don't read a thing and still get cranky.....but we use the SN advice and put em in the naughty chair.

Scott Taylor 01-03-2008 06:19 PM

Try to relax, it's much easier than it might seem. You do tend to be on edge the first time or two checking into/boarding a cruise ship. It certainly can be intimidating. Not to worry, just think of it as checking into a hotel and a flight at the airport at the same time, that will really help. Put all your cruise docs and passports etc. in an easily accessible pouch.

I would also reccommend that before you leave home be sure that you purchase some durable luggage tags and fill them out with your cell phone number, (assuming you'll have your cell phone with you). Believe me, I've lost luggage on a few cruises and wish someone had told me this. The cruise line will give you color coded luggage tags but these sometimes get ripped and removed accidentally. Also another tip regarding luggage... when you depart they load bags for all the departing guest in huge bunches. It's hard to find your luggage sometimes. I've had people grab my bag a few times by mistake. I would make some kind of very visable attachment, like a colorful hair scrunchy or a pom pom yarn ball or anything that will clearly differentiate your bags visibly to you and to others.

For your children. Be sure to check them into the children's programs early so they can start making friends right away, otherwise they'll be too shy to join in mid way.

Checking out is easier, I think, with the exception of packing the night before. I start organizing a few nights before so I don't have to spend 1/2 that night freaking out about getting packed up.

Most of the muster drills are no more than 30 mins. You'll be in your cabin by then. I reccommend not being the first one's out when they make the announcement, wait a few minutes. It'll make it go quicker for you with the kids cause when you get down there you'll have to stand there for a while while waiting for everyone. Maybe not a good idea to pass this tip out to too many people or the drills may end up taking longer LOL . Certainly don't be the last one's out or you'll get dirty looks from the other passengers.

Remember to relax though. Getting stressed about this stuff can make your first day tense. It's your vacation. It really isn't that difficult. Boarding/ticketing can seem like it's confusing, lots of lines and people every where. We usually board about an hour before the ship leaves ( only because we're always running late! we live in Orlando and drive to the cruise terminals). I would get on board as soon as they allow you, usually 1:00 pm or so on most ships. Carry a carry-on with you with anything you'll need for the first few hours on the ship because you won't see your luggage til much later. Go on deck for the sail away party to set your mood right, lots of fun and it will set the mood for the rest of the vacation! Have a great time!

PA Steve Rocky Mount 01-12-2008 04:24 PM

Larry in Miami is 100% right. If you get there by noon, they'll be happy to let you on. Remember that your boarding day is the first day of your get there early!! Most things are clolsed but you can do the pool and you can certainly walk around and tour the ship. Remember the kast day you're going to eat and then they will throw you off!!

Many lines have EARLY DISEMBARKATION..if you can caryy off your own bags, then they'll let you leave as soon as the ship clears customs. Otherwise, it "hurry up and wait!!"

Have a GREAT cruise!

SC Native 01-14-2008 01:14 PM

My husband and I were on the Grandeur of the Seas departing from Tampa at the beginning of January. We have carried our own luggage off in the past (from Port Canaveral), but we were told that it was not allowed in Tampa. The ship was delayed in the channel because of fog and arrived 2.5 hours later than expected. Most of the children were well behaved, but those on best behavior had game boys, dvd players, etc. I would definitely take a distraction for the time spent waiting to get off the boat... it is not nearly as much fun as arrival.

TrvlPro 01-14-2008 01:59 PM

RCCL has been discouraging self-debark for a while now but the don't prohibit it. If you simply don't put your bags out the night before you can leave with your luggage in hand.

Cheers, Neil

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