One of the most reviled aspects to cruising, big ship lines traditionally require passengers preparing to depart cruises to rush out of cabins on the voyage's last morning to wait in public lounges waiting for a color-coded tag to be called. Then the morning is punctuated by increasingly annoying series of bleatings over the loud speaker ("pink group 10 may now disembark"). But ever since NCL expanded its "Freestyle" concept to allow passengers to disembark at their own pace, cruise lines have been looking for ways to make the process less of a time-waster.
In Princess' case, the new effort aims to create a quieter, more streamlined send-off. Already in place onboard all its ships (except Sapphire Princess, which will adopt the system this spring), passengers receive a flier instructing them when to assemble (depending on air arrangements) and in which public area. Once they've arrived at the right place at the prescribed time, they will be escorted to the gangway by a member of the ship's staff.
The line hopes that the new process will help eliminate passengers congregating in the ship's atrium near the gangway, plus creates a more relaxed flow for morning meals.
And of course, if you're able and willing to carry off your own luggage, the self-disembarkation process is always available. Cruisers who choose to do so get first crack at getting off the ship.
Experienced the new process? Let us know how it went. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor