The morning of disembarkation is definitely my least favorite part of a cruise. Not only because I know that I’ll be waiting in a long line in customs, but that my vacation has ended and it’s time to go back to the real world, and work. Here are some tips to help that morning go smoothly and to help you understand the disembarkation process.
You will have to be out of your room usually around 9 am so the crew can get the cabins ready for the cruisers who are boarding in a few hours. If you are flying, I recommend that you have an afternoon flight so your morning is not rushed. Rushing off the ship to try and catch an early flight is just no way to end a vacation.
You will have the option of getting colored tags for your luggage. Each color represents a different time in which you can get off the ship. Your luggage that you do not want to carry off the ship yourself will have to be outside your cabin door the night before. Remember to keep a fresh set of clothes for the next day, as well as any hygiene necessities. If you wish to carry your luggage off the ship yourself, you can disembark off the ship at any time you wish. Otherwise, you will have to wait until you color is called over the PA system for you to disembark. Without this system, 3,000+ passengers trying to get off the ship at the same time would create a massive log jam.
Even though you have to be out of your room by around 9:00 am, you can go have breakfast and stay in the public rooms of the ship until a certain time where everyone has to be off. (usually around 10:00 am) I like to enjoy having breakfast on the deck of the ship and spent the last few moments of the cruise having a relaxing meal.
Immediately after exiting the ship you will have to go through customs. This is often the longest line that you will have to wait in during your entire cruise. I have had cruises where the line was 10 minutes, and others were it was close to an hour. For the sake of everyone behind you in line, don’t take fruit off the ship and make sure that all your custom forms are filled out completely. Your room steward will provide these forms in your room the night before. Also, there is no cell phone use in the customs line. They will not be kind to you if you pull out your cell phone, even to check text messages.
The times given are approximate. Each cruise can vary based on the schedule of that particular ship.