When my husband and I first cruised, over 20 years ago, we booked the cheapest flight we could find on the day of sailing and took a local taxi from the airport to the pier in Acapulco. The ship wasn’t using the main pier, plus the taxi driver got lost. Eventually, we were tendered, along with another couple, out to the ship about an hour and a half before it sailed.
I don’t do that anymore. Now, I prefer to arrive a day before sailing, even for relatively nearby ports, in case of canceled flights and delayed luggage. This practice saved us once in Venice when Lufthansa left our suitcases in Munich and we didn’t get them until the following day just before the ship sailed.
Even for travelers who like to cut it close, there’s another reason to rethink that option. Just like airlines that are closing the plane door 10 minutes prior to departure, some cruise lines are closing the ship door earlier, too — much earlier in some cases.
Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and Azamara Cruises have a new policy that they WILL NOT ALLOW anyone to board less than 90 minutes prior to departure. And, if the passengers have not registered on-line, they need to be there 2 HOURS prior to boarding. No Exceptions!
According to Celebrity Cruises, this is to help with “government regulations in some ports that require cruise lines to submit a departure manifest 60 minutes prior to sailing.”
Other cruise lines have not yet followed suit, but will probably be watching how the new system works and just how many passengers get left at the dock.
It is possible that this new policy is aimed more at people who drive to the pier since many travelers these days have learned not to trust airline schedules. It also may be to encourage passengers to book air through the cruise line — then it’s the line’s responsibility to get people to the ship and to transport them to the first port of call should they miss the sailing.
In any case, the solution to this is a no-brainer. Show up on time.
Miss a flight? There may be another one an hour later — not so with a ship.
Waving “bon voyage” isn’t nearly so much fun from the dock.