Royal Caribbean and sister cruise line Celebrity are launching a new program that will allow passengers on some voyages to bypass traditional airport check-ins. "Onboard Check-In and Luggage Valet" is being rolled out in conjunction with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Patrol in ports across North America. There is a charge -- from $10 to $20 per passenger -- to participate.
"Onboard Check-In and Luggage Valet" is now available to Celebrity travelers whose cruises end in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, San Diego, and San Juan; it's also functioning in Vancouver and Seattle though those ports, primarily utilized during Alaska itineraries, aren't in use in winter.
For those sailing on Royal Caribbean, voyages that wind up in San Juan are in luck; the program is also operational in Seattle and Vancouver.
Note this very important caveat: The service is only available to folks who are departing for a U.S. city on the very day the ship arrives back in to port. Otherwise, passengers who opt for an extended stay in the port of embarkation must check in with their airline as usual.
Otherwise, it works like this according to a statement from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity: Before leaving the ship, passengers confirm with cruise staff their flight information and the number of bags to be checked. Based on that information -- which also is electronically forwarded to the airlines -- boarding passes, luggage tags and claim checks are printed and given to guests.
"Guests with afternoon flights can take advantage of shopping or city tours before going to the airport directly to security checkpoints and on to their gates and flights. While guests take in the sites, their luggage is securely transported to the airport, processed and moved directly to their aircraft" (Editor's note: You might want to severely limit your carry-on bags in order to get around easier).
The program was first tested out in Vancouver and the cruise lines anticipate adding additional ports throughout the winter and spring.
We'll keep you posted.
Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Launch Disembarkation Program
December 28, 2005