Voyager of the Seas‘ second-ever embarkation in New Orleans on Saturday was a healthy improvement over last week’s debacle, which many seasoned cruisers called their worst departure ever. But the Royal Caribbean ship still left 1.5 hours behind schedule.
It took passengers less than an hour to get through the check-in process the second time around, better than last Saturday, when cruisers queued for nearly four hours to board the Big Easy’s largest-ever homeporter. The general boarding security area a week ago, for example, was packed with passengers waiting in line for 1.5 hours; on Saturday, it was 95 percent empty, with queues of five minutes or so.
Clearly, port staff went through extra training to better deal with the 137,308-ton ship, which spokesman Harrison Liu says is sailing at 100 percent occupancy (3,114 passengers) for its Thanksgiving week cruise. But outside the Julia Street Terminal, it was a different story.
Some drivers reported crawling in traffic for two hours just to get close enough to the entrance to drop off luggage. The road running alongside the port was clogged all afternoon, and the two-lane terminal entrance remained ill-equipped to deal with hundreds of luggage trolleys, buses, cars and people, despite an increase in port staff, police officers and stevedores.
The port and cruise line certainly have their work cut out: They’re counting on a large drive-in crowd from the Gulf States to fill weekly Western Caribbean departures of the Voyager of the Seas through April, but the challenge of driving to the port could scare some off.
Our advice, if you’re able: Pack light, drive directly to the terminal parking lot a few blocks away (or park at a nearby hotel) and carry your own bags to the terminal.
Check out Elissa’s reports from Voyager of the Seas, including a rocky embarkation day in New Orleans, the gutsiest thing a woman can do at sea and her time test pitting cruise ship elevators vs. stairs.
Find out what more than 700 Cruise Critic members think of Voyager of the Seas.
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