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peter l 04-12-2009 06:23 AM

I know that so many have said that one can get on board much earlier than the stated time but here is the question one more time. Our stated time is 2:00pm for San Juan but we will be there for two days prior to our cruise and need to be out of our hotel around 11:00am. From experience, what time can we expect to be allowed on board if we show up early? Thanks for the assistance once again.


Sandy 04-12-2009 06:46 AM

Boarding time always depends on how quickly or slowly the previous cruise is processed by Customs and debarked. Also, it's possible that other things can happen that delay boarding, such as a surprise Coast Guard inspection. All things being equal, however, boarding CAN start as early as noon, or as late as the stated boarding time.

If you go to the pier from your hotel, you may be able to board early. If not, they'll have you seated until boarding time, assuming the seating areas are not filled by the time you get there.

You could also try asking your hotel for a late check-out on cruising day, so you can relax at the hotel before traveling to the pier.


Dave Knott 04-15-2009 08:07 AM

We just came back from the southern caribbean out of San Juan. We followed the advice found on this site and arrived at the port at 11:30. We were on the ship and eating lunch in the Windjammer at 11:45! Word of advice, tip the porter good! We could not get to our rooms until 2:00. We hung out at the pool until then while people were still standing in line to board. Be careful if you use the baggage valet service when you leave.

BarbH 04-15-2009 08:37 AM

It's been years since I've cruised, so my "terminology" isn't fresh. Where and when do we come into contact with the "porter"? Is there a difference between him and the "valet service"? We are going out of Miami (arriving and staying at a hotel the day before). You also mentioned "being careful if you use the baggage valet service", why?

We are more than happy to tip extra for extra services that make our lives run smoother, I just need to know how to make that happen. Thanks!!

Dave 04-15-2009 09:19 AM

The porters are the people on the pier who receive your luggage when you arrive for the cruise. Valet Service is a program RCI has where in some ports you can pay a fee and they will process your luggage for the flight home, print baggage tags, and your boarding passes. In some ports the luggage goes from your cabin to the airport directly. In others you have to carry it through Customs and then load it on a truck at the pier for delivery to the airline.

BarbH 04-15-2009 10:18 AM

Thank you for the info! Do you have any suggestions on tipping amounts for the Porter? Per bag? Or even more to get checked in quicker?

Dave 04-15-2009 10:36 AM

A porter is not going to get you checked in quicker regardless of the tip. All they do is take the luggage and load it in bins for transfer to the ship. This is before you get to the check-in area.

Check-in speed is a function of the staff, the number of passengers in line, or if you have priority embarkation (suites or platinum, diamond, diamond plus C&A member).

Tipping two or three bucks per bag is fine.

BarbH 04-15-2009 10:55 AM

Dave Beers - Thank you for the advise and info. We will definitely tip well either way. Any specific reason for the comment in quotes (from Dave Knotts)below then?


Word of advice, tip the porter good!

Dave 04-15-2009 11:08 AM

It has become cruise folk lore that if you don't tip the porter at embarkation your bags won't make it aboard the ship. Not really true. In fact at Seattle our porter took our bags and carted them off before I could pull out my wallet, and never returned. Some will run their mouths giving a song-and-dance, but that is really all it is. They have too much luggage to handle to play games with individual passengers.

On the other hand, tipping a porter to take your luggage out of the terminal on debarkation day is a wise thing to do. They know the layout and can save you some time and effort. Plus they are giving truly individual service as opposed to what happens on embarkation day.

If you ever notice when a bus pulls up at the pier from the airport, they offload the luggage before the passengers are allowed off. Some will fearfully tip anyway, but many just walk off to check-in. I've never heard of anyone's luggage not making it aboard.

Bill McGarr 04-19-2009 01:36 PM

Just returned from cruise on the Monarch out of Port Canaveral. There is a big sign there saying porters are salaried employees and no tipping is required. We still tipped though.

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