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how soon can you board a carnival cruise from Fort Lauderdale?

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Jul 26th, 2012, 01:58 PM
  #1
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how soon can you board a carnival cruise from Fort Lauderdale?

We're leaving Saturday on the Carnival Freedom out of Fort Lauderdale. My sister-in-law just got an email not only saying that boarding starts at 1:30, but also absolutely not to arrive until then. My family has sailed on Royal Caribbean our last 5 cruises and never once have they made people wait until the appointed time to embark - we could always get on at least 2 hours early...and we never received an email pointedly telling us not to arrive early.

Does anyone have experience with Carnival from Fort Lauderdale or otherwise? We still want to arrive early, unless they would actually make us wait with mobs of people until 1:30.

Another question...my mother and father in-law have VIP boarding starting at noon. Does anyone know if family members (non-VIP) can board with them in case they need help with carry-ons?

Thanks!
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Jul 26th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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The earliest I have ever board a Carnival ship was at 9:30 a.m., pre-arrnaged with the cruise line. We were a party of 8 and we were convenor of a group of more than 500.

With that said, we were generally on board around 11 to 11:30 a.m. The general rule of thumb is that the last passenger disembark by 9 to 9:30 a.m. Give them an hour to clear out of the terminal and the staff to get the cabins ready.

Anyone with VIP boarding priviedges can bring guests with them.
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Jul 26th, 2012, 02:36 PM
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Thanks eschew. Do you remember the official boarding time for the times you were able to board around 11 - 11:30?

We can either arrive at 10:15 or 11:15 with our hotel shuttle. Originally we thought we take the earlier one, but maybe the 11:00 shuttle will work out fine.

Glad to hear about the VIP boarding too.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 07:51 AM
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Official time is always noon but they usually let people on around 11:30 a.m. or earlier, if they are ready. And that's the big "if", and that's why they always said noon.

I typically arrive between 11:30 and noon. There would be people waiting already, maybe a couple hundred or more. Go through the security line ups, show the preferred early baording pass, go to a separate waiting area, check in and get the cruise card, typically get on baord within 20 to 30 minutes of arrival.

The longest wait time was on the security check line up. Either shuttle is fine. A choice of check out later from the hotel or get there earlier and wait longer at the cruise terminal. There is nothing in the cruise terminal to see so you will be just sitting around.

Depending on which hotel you are staying, maybe 15 minutes travel time to the cruise terminal from most "cruise port" hotel that offer free shuttle service.
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Jul 27th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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Thanks for the info eschew. We now have a plan!
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Jul 27th, 2012, 08:27 PM
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Perhaps they are going to do some extra cleaning or sanitation procedure that will require extra time. At least they are letting you know.
One cruise we were on did not board until two hours after original boarding time because of that, and we did not learn of it until arrival at the port where hundreds of people were already waiting.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 02:58 AM
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Could be Sassafrass, but it won't be as bad as waiting 2 hours for the delivery of our dinner last night when everyone was starving!

We'll hope for the best this morning, and keep your post in mind if we have to wait. We shouldn't complain about extra cleaning on a cruise if it would come to that. Thanks!
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Aug 12th, 2012, 03:54 AM
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US HLS/Customs HAS to clear the ship before anybody can board. They have the final say, not the cruise line, regardless if the cruise line wants to start boarding just because they want your money at the bar or if the rooms are ready. Sometimes it's cleared quickly, sometimes it's not. Last 2 cruises we were able to board around 11:30-12 but the rooms were closed off till ~1:00pm.

One of my earlier cruises was delayed because Customs did not clear the ship until many hours after arrival, due to the fact that their computer system went down and they had to go back to the office and get other laptops. We did not start boarding until about 5pm.

That said, the average is about ~noon or maybe little earlier.
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Aug 12th, 2012, 05:02 AM
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We're back from the cruise and it was great! We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the Freedom.

Our in-laws were allowed to take 2 guests with them upstairs to the VIP lounge, no more. 2 nice things about the VIP Lounge were that it wasn't crowded and it had better A/C. Sort of nice to be up there.

Boarding started at 11:30 with a large group of travel agents (who were complaining that they didn't usually have to wait so long) followed quickly by the rest of the VIPs, then everyone else. It was especially nice to get to the buffet and easily claim our tables before the hoards arrived, although they followed quickly.

We were so glad we ignored that initial email telling us not to arrive before 1:30! Definitely worth being early!
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Aug 12th, 2012, 05:42 PM
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Great to hear you have a great time. The 2 guests only must be a new thing as there were 6 of us last time and only 2 were VIPa.
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