Hands up who hates being late for anything?
When it comes to travelling, do you arrive even earlier at the airport/dock/coach terminal than the time recommended ?
If you answered 'yes' to both of these questions, the following tip may go against the grain somewhat!
Even if you're not usually a stickler for time, when you’ve been planning a cruise holiday for ages – and dreaming of one for even longer – it’s understandable that you might want to get on board your ship as soon as you possibly can.
With such huge numbers boarding on embarkation day, the tendency to want to get there early to try and avoid the crowds will also be very strong.
It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that arriving early is not the key to a stress-free boarding day. Instead, the trick is to go later rather than earlier.
Read more: 8 secrets for first-time cruisers
Cruise Critic editor, Erica Silverstein, speaking to the Sunday Express, advises “arriving at your homeport during the tail end of the embarkation window”.
“Most people show up super-early, even before the doors open, hoping to get onboard the ship and start their holiday as soon as possible,” she explained, adding that people “can waste a lot of time shuffling through security and check-in queues, and even sitting around waiting to be called onboard.”
The fact that you’ll still be carting around your luggage for much of this process makes the prospect even less appealing.
And even when you get on board you usually can’t check in to your cabin straight away, necessitating even more waiting around. A comparison could be drawn to the time spent waiting around in an airport before a flight – and who wants to do this for longer than they absolutely need to?
“Arrive a half-hour to an hour before embarkation ends, and you'll find few people and no, or few, queues,” advised Silverstein. “Maybe you missed an hour of onboard time, but you also missed an hour of standing around doing nothing.”
Having a good transfer plan is also key to minimising stress on day one of a cruise, she explained. Cruise-line shuttle buses can be slow, crowded and expensive, and if your transfers are not included in your cruise package, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to organise a taxi on the actual day you leave. It’s a day that tends to be a very busy one for local taxi and Uber drivers, and you definitely won’t be the only one trying to grab a last-minute ride!
Instead, make sure you research and organise your transfer plan well in advance – and then confirm these arrangements the day before you set sail. Hopefully this will then allow you to arrive at your ship at the perfect time for your long-awaited cruise holiday – just remember, the advice here is all about being later, not late!