Disembarking, or, Wow! That trip went by fast!
Ok…it’s time to get off the ship. Damn, that week went by fast! So it’s now the last evening on board. You should have received several documents, and some luggage tags, to assist you in getting off. Let’s start (groan!) First, decide what you want to carry ashore, and what you want to pack for the luggage handlers. I guess even before that you have to decide if you’re going to do “self assist”. That means, YOU get to carry everything…suitcases, purchases, passports (or documents to prove who you are) and be able to do it for the entire disembarking process, up and down stairs, through narrow passageways, and there will be noone to help, even when you get to the teerminal building. So, you decide to NOT do self assist. Pack your suitcases, put the proper luggage tag on it, (don’t forget to tear off the stub!), and put it outside your stateroom door. I hope you kept all your purchase receipts, you will need them if you are challenged by Customs. Fill out the Declaration form, (one per household) and be accurate…if you bought 3 litres of alcohol, declare 3 litres, don’t try to hide one or two. You are now getting up this debarkation morning. Go ahead, go get breakfast, just be aware the rooms need to be empty no later than the time the ship requested. If you need to, take your carry on bags with you to breakfast. Remember what zone, or priority number you were issued (remember that stub?) Settle back, find a nice spot to relax, and proceed to either 1. your collecting point, or 2. a nice spot on the Lido Deck for that last sip of coffee. Your zone is called, so proceed to get off the ship. You will need your sign and sail card, as it is proof you actually got off the ship. You have gotten off the ship, and you are going to your zone number. Here is where you and your bags get reunited. Gather your bags, (you can get a porter if you need one) and proceed to the correct line to get through Customs/Immigration. Here you willl present your legal documents (passport, or birth certificate and photo ID), as well as your filled out Declaration form. Customs will either wave you through, or ask you to open the bags, or prove price. One very important point here. Duty can only be paid by cash. No credit cards are allowed. As for the liquor, you are allowed (for U.S. citizens) 1 Litre per adult 21 and older. 2 of you? 2 Litres. 3 or more (minor children) 2 Litres. You have now passed through Customs, and you head to your transportation. Tip your porter, and your cruise is now officially over. Now, some cruise lines have a “luggage express” service, available for select ports and airlines, where you “check in” with the airline while still on board. You tag your bags with the tags provided by the cruise line, and check in for your flight. The cruise lines charge for this service, but it may help in getting you home easier. Since each cruise line has different rules and regulations concerning this service, I will not attempt to deal with the differences here, just let you know that this service is possibly available to you.
So there we have it. We got on board, we got off the ship. What happened in the middle? Only you know that for sure. Did you have fun? Did you meet new friends, or try new foods, or see new cultures? Did you relax? Well, just one more tip. On your way back home, especially if you’re flying, that trip to the airport can put all that stress you just got rid of, back. If at all possible, try to get the latest flight back home, or even better, fly home the next day. If driving, plan on takiing your time. Don’t push hard. Above all, remember the relaxing fun you had, and hopefully you will get to go back soon.