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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.