The Coronavirus pandemic is slowly but surely reaching its end. No one thought they’d see the end of this pandemic. So much pain and suffering! So much agony and impatience! That mentality is getting closer and closer to “no more”. With the cruising industry restarting, and ships returning to service one-by-one, it’s time to return to basics. Every cruise vacation, whether a 5-day or 10-day voyage, begins on the day of days-sailing day. Unfortunately, all cruises come to their conclusion on the ever so hectic disembarkation day. On both days, the same redundant questions are asked week-in and week-out. Why on earth isn’t there an answer key published for such questions? To kick off the 2021-22 post-COVID era, it’s time to once and for all revisit the top 5 most redundant cruising questions.
5) Sailing day: When will luggage arrive at our staterooms?: It’s no joke. Cruisers are known for packing a ton of luggage. Let it be said without any explanation. It doesn’t matter how much luggage anyone packs or what fancy art designs are featured on their of luggage. It doesn’t matter how often guests sailed with a particular cruise line. Luggage is sorted and screened one bag at a time. Clearly printed on guests’ luggage tags, are the codes “FWD” for Forward, “MID” for Midship, and “AFT” for Aft. Using those codes, the longshoremen sort and load the luggage onto the ship. Once onboard the ship, the bags are then resorted by deck. Afterward, deckhands bring the luggage up to their designated decks. From there, the stateroom attendants rest the luggage outside the guests’ staterooms. This may take up to four hours time. The smaller the ship, the lesser time it takes. The larger the ship, the more guests, the longer it may take for luggage to be sorted and delivered.
4) Disembarkation day: Is luggage laid out by deck?: Disembarkation can be the easiest, and yet, it can be the hardest. Let it be known that an error-free disembarkation makes for a happy ending to any cruise. The big question redundantly asked by guests is whether luggage is laid out in the disembarkation hall by deck number. No, they are not! Prior to disembarkation, guests are provided assigned numbered tags to attach to their luggage. When guests’ numbers are announced over the ship’s P.A., they must head for the gangway located on the ship’s main deck. Guests must have in hand their stateroom key cards, declaration form (if applicable), and their travel documents. Having entered the disembarkation hall, guests must proceed to the area of the hall where they’ll find the luggage with their assigned number. Guests are also given the option to do self-assist, meaning they must take all luggage with them including carry-on items. During self-assist, no assistance is provided by the ship’s staff or the shore staff.
3) Sailing day: If we don’t like our dining assignment, where do we go?: Every night on board ship is ended with a bang, in the dining room. On sailing day, it is vital that guests must trust and verify that their dining room assignments are to their liking. On sailing day, it’s ok to ask the shore staff what to do or where to go in this situation. Once on board, guests must proceed to the main dining room and speak with the head waiter or maitre d. By speaking with the maitre d, guests can ask where their table is located or what type of table they’re assigned to. Further guests can make the culinary team aware of any dining concerns. Food allergies must be discussed with the dining room staff immediately. A cruise ship’s dining room staff is often known for putting on quite a presentation, however, guests must inquire with them ASAP to ensure a healthy, safe, and satisfactory dining experience.
2) Disembarkation day: Where do we retrieve confiscated items?: Prior to every cruise, guests must be aware of the assortment of items they are permitted to pack and items that are prohibited onboard. Believe it or not-prohibited items are still found in carry-on and checked luggage on a weekly basis. The question most redundantly asked by guests is where to go if they need to retrieve confiscated items? Whether in their carry-on or checked luggage, prohibited items are “prohibited” for a reason. Items that are considered a potential threat to the safety and well-fare of fellow guests and crew are not permitted onboard ship. This includes hair dryers, toasters, curling irons, and plug strips. It’s plain, pure, and simple! In the event that any item(s) get confiscated by pier security or the ship’s security staff, guests are provided with a receipt with their name and stateroom number. Upon disembarkation, whether leaving the ship, or when exiting the terminal, guests can retrieve their confiscated items. It’s an unhappy moment having items confiscated prior to cruising or while onboard. For all time sake, guests must visit a cruise line’s website and educate themselves on what items are permitted onboard. More importantly, they must make themselves aware of what items can and will be confiscated.
1) Sailing day: Can we be the first ones onboard?: Everyone remembers the Abbott & Costello skit, “Who’s on first?”. With all respect, being the first ones onboard is the myth of all myths. There is no such thing as being the first ones onboard. Why? On sailing day, the boarding process is uniform. However, every cruise line is known for having a unique approach to the boarding process. For instance, Disney Cruise Line begins its boarding process with the “Family of The Day”. The Family of The Day is selected out of the first 500-1000 guests already checked in. Specifically, the Family of The Day is particularly a family with children. Other cruise lines follow a more standard boarding process. VIP guests in the high ranks of a cruise line’s loyalty program are permitted to board first. Immediately following the VIP guests are those guests requiring special assistance. This includes wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and scooters. After the special assistance guests have boarded, the general boarding begins. Guests issued boarding group numbers are permitted to board in numerical order. Depending on how smoothly the boarding progresses, soon or later the shoreside team will move ahead with an open boarding. So now, who’s on first?
It can’t be a more amazing sight to see-watching cruise ships sail again. On sailing day and disembarkation day, there can’t be a more unbelievable moment to behold. It’s time for cruisers to ask those stumping questions week-in and week-out. There are the funniest of questions, such as “How come the microwave in my stateroom won’t work?”. That’s because it’s the stateroom safe. Guests are sure to ask questions that make both shore and ship staff go, “Hmmmmmm!”, such as “Is the ship moving forward or is the water moving backward?”. In due honesty, the top five most redundant questions shared above are the questions that are sure in definite need of an answer key. Consider the answers given! From asking questions about luggage, to dining, to confiscated items, and to being the first onboard, guests now have the knowledge required to move forward. By the end of 2021, all ships throughout the industry will be fully operational. Confidently, by then, all of the top 5 most redundant questions will be answered, and God willing-committed to memory.