Cruise Tips7 Ways to Bypass Lines on a Cruise

7 Ways to Bypass Lines on a Cruise

We all hate waiting in lines, and being on a cruise ship is no exception.  While lines are a part of life, here are seven ways you can help bypass lines on a cruise. And no, line cutting is NOT an option.

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Loyalty Programs – One of the best perks of always cruising on the same cruise line is priority embarkation/debarkation and having your own line at guest services.  While it may take you a few years to earn this status, it is well worth it to bypass the 45 minute or longer wait when you need to ask a question at guest services.  Plus, who doesn’t like being first on the ship?

Purchase It – New to cruising and want the line cutting perks of a higher loyalty status? On Carnival Cruise Line, you can purchase Faster to the Fun (FTTF) that will automatically give you priority boarding and a separate line at guest services.  However, FTTF normally sells out months in advance so you will need to purchase it well in advance of your cruise.

Avoid Peak Dining Times – To avoid lines at dinner time, either choose traditional dining (early or late seating) or avoid the peak dining times for Anytime Dining. If you are sailing on a cruise line that lets you make reservations for Anytime Dining, always take advantage of that. You can expect lines to be longest between 7-8:oo pm. If you show up ten minutes after Anytime Dining opens, you will often walk right in with no wait at all.

Avoid Peak Tendering Times – Waiting in lines for tendering can be frustrating. On one cruise, the cruise director came on the P.A. and told us what times to avoid if we didn’t want to wait in lines. I ignored his advice and ended up waiting over an hour in line to board the tender.  On my last cruise, I took their advice and walked right on the tender when we were at Grand Cayman.

Make Show Reservations – Many cruise ships now let you make reservations for shows.  You just walk up, they scan your cruise card and you sit down. If you do not make a reservation, you have to wait in line to see if there is room for you.  Making reservations is usually as easy as downloading an app and pushing a few buttons. You can often even do it at home before your cruise.  It is well worth it.

Early Bird Gets the Worm – When it comes to disembarkation, I’ve learned from my nearly 30 cruises that getting off early is the only way to go. I once tried to be the last off and ended up waiting in a custom’s line for nearly 90 minutes. Talk about a rotten way to end a cruise. On my last cruise, I went from the ship to car in less than 10 minutes.  That is the perfect way to end your cruise, stress free.

Sometimes Being Late is Better – While we all love being early and the first on the ship, you can often walk right on without any lines by showing up at the pier an hour or so after boarding has begun.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise Tips7 Ways to Bypass Lines on a Cruise


  1. I understood, when disembarking,it is done by “number or sometimes color of your tag”.Is this not correct.

    • I’m pretty sure that unless you pay for early disembarkation or have an early flight, your assumption is right. Not sure about having a suite if that allows you any additional privilege since my 13 cruises have been manning an oar! 🙁

  2. When tendering in a port or just docking in a port, unless I have an excursion booked early, I just wait up on the upper deck or on my balcony (if balcony is on dock side of ship) and wait till the line dies down. Usually about an hour or so after dropping anchor is as long as I wait. Also, the wait time is the best time to go to the buffet or the MDR as everyone is scrambling to get off the ship.

  3. Or, just book a Haven suite with Norwegian Cruise Lines and “1st in line” is part of the package. No need to get up early, or pay any fees. best of all, you can arrange dinner ANY TIME you like. 🙂

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