Arrived at the pier but was not able to board the ship

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Dec 19, 2015
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#1
I had booked a holiday vacation for my family (9 of us total; including my 82 year old mother) on a Royal Caribbean cruise. We were schedule to sail Dec 5th out of Ft. Lauderdale. We had our flight from Midway cancelled the night before at 10 pm. Before we booked another flight we called Royal Caribbean to see what was the latest time we could board the ship. We were told 4 pm by their customer service rep. We rescheduled our flight and we arrived at the pier at 3:50 pm. When we entered the building to check in the port security person told us to wait while they checked with Royal Caribbean personnel. She came back she told us we were not allowed to board. No reason given other than we had to be there by 3:30 pm. We were kicked out of the building into the rain. We were left stranded on the pier as we watched the ship leave at 4:50 pm. We were on the pier until 8 pm before we could find a hotel room and get a taxi. I have called Royal Caribbean twice and basically they said they would not provide us any reimbursement or credit because our cruise contract says we needed to be there 60-90 minutes before sailing. Even though this is true, it is not what they told us when we booked our flight. If they would have told us we needed to be there by 3:30 pm we would have found a flight that arrived earlier.
Do I have any recourse to recoup my costs from Royal Caribbean.
John J
 
Sep 22, 2014
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#2
I had booked a holiday vacation for my family (9 of us total; including my 82 year old mother) on a Royal Caribbean cruise. We were schedule to sail Dec 5th out of Ft. Lauderdale. We had our flight from Midway cancelled the night before at 10 pm. Before we booked another flight we called Royal Caribbean to see what was the latest time we could board the ship. We were told 4 pm by their customer service rep. We rescheduled our flight and we arrived at the pier at 3:50 pm. When we entered the building to check in the port security person told us to wait while they checked with Royal Caribbean personnel. She came back she told us we were not allowed to board. No reason given other than we had to be there by 3:30 pm. We were kicked out of the building into the rain. We were left stranded on the pier as we watched the ship leave at 4:50 pm. We were on the pier until 8 pm before we could find a hotel room and get a taxi. I have called Royal Caribbean twice and basically they said they would not provide us any reimbursement or credit because our cruise contract says we needed to be there 60-90 minutes before sailing. Even though this is true, it is not what they told us when we booked our flight. If they would have told us we needed to be there by 3:30 pm we would have found a flight that arrived earlier.
Do I have any recourse to recoup my costs from Royal Caribbean.
John J
Hi John
I'm very sorry for your disappointments and troubles.
I can empathize with you but by the letter of the law, you are not on very solid ground.

You don't mention the sailing time. I'm assuming it was 5 or 530 pm.
In any event, the actual time for final check in at the pier can be an hour or so before the last minute final boarding. But, both of those times (check in & boarding) are set by a combination of Port Security, Cruise Line On Shore staff, and On Board Ship staff.

Truth be told, RC is not legally liable for your loss.
But, that does not mean you should not try to receive some recompense toward a future cruise.
Perhaps a 50% future cruise credit + a generous On Board Credit (OBC)
This appeal, must be made in the frame work of good will and future customer relations.

Send an email to the Customer service department requesting such a solution.
Wait a week and if you do not receive a satisfactory answer, escalate your request by appealing up the corporate chain of command, one level a week.
You will find the contact addresses in the above mast head.

Good Luck
John McNeal
PS
You are entitled to refund of Port charges and taxes.
 
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Neil Maley

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#3
You should never fly to a cruise the day of the cruise. Did your travel agent counsel you on that?

With flights canceled as frequently as they are today, you should always fly in at least a day before.

I think whoever you called at Royal gave you the time the ship departs, not the latest time you could board, which is usually half hour to one hour before the ship leaves. A final manifest has to be sent to the appropriate authorities and once thats out, no one else can board.

I would suggest writing to the cruise line and request a future cruise credit. We have a tab on top of the page with our company contacts you can use.
 
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Jan 6, 2015
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#5
All the cruises we have taken specify not only the departure time but the "check-in" time and the time by which to be on-board.

When I searched for Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises out of Ft. Lauderdale, they all showed a 4:30 PM departure. Per the FAQ on their website ...


... they require you to be checked-in no later than 2 hours prior to departure, unless you checked-in online. In your case, that would be 2:30 PM to be in line for check-in.

So your 3:00 PM arrival was indeed too late. It seems what the CSR told you was the boarding time, which could be accurate (i.e., 30 minutes before departure).

For future sailings I would suggest a number of things:

1. Schedule a flight the day before with at least one flight departing after that. This gives you one more opportunity to fly out that day. This is a practice we instituted years ago.
2. Be sure to request an email from a cruise line agent specifying all three times: check-in on-board, and departure. And do so for each port as well, so you are never late.

Other have suggested contacting Royal Caribbean with which I agree.
 
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JVillegirl541

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Nov 21, 2014
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#6
From the LW perspective one of the issues is that he believes or his understanding was that when he called RCCL about his travel delays he had until 4pm to make the ship.
I'm afraid that there was a huge misconnect between what the agent said and what our LW understood. Or even more likely he was given this info and it was just plain incorrect!

I believe the only hope (short of the LW having Travel Insurance) is to hang up the phone and start using our contacts to contact RCCL.

Disclaimer: depending on what type of travel insurance, I'm not even sure this event would have been covered.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#7
From the LW perspective one of the issues is that he believes or his understanding was that when he called RCCL about his travel delays he had until 4pm to make the ship.
I'm afraid that there was a huge misconnect between what the agent said and what our LW understood. Or even more likely he was given this info and it was just plain incorrect!

I believe the only hope (short of the LW having Travel Insurance) is to hang up the phone and start using our contacts to contact RCCL.

Disclaimer: depending on what type of travel insurance, I'm not even sure this event would have been covered.
As written above, John J "called Royal Caribbean to see what was the latest time we could board the ship". "Board" is the key word here. Yes, you can board the ship as late as 4 PM, but to achieve that, you must be checked-in much earlier per RC ...
 
Likes: Neil Maley

JVillegirl541

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Nov 21, 2014
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#8
As written above, John J "called Royal Caribbean to see what was the latest time we could board the ship". "Board" is the key word here. Yes, you can board the ship as late as 4 PM, but to achieve that, you must be checked-in much earlier per RC ...
Yes and as I said this misconnect of industry rules and an assumption on the part of the LW is the base of his entire complaint. Had he been told 2:30 or 3:00 then it would have been clear to him hours earlier that he was plain out of luck!
I'm being the devils advocate here :)

There are certainly a lot of things this family "could have or should have" done to avoid missing the boat and losing a huge amount of money. Travel Insurance certainly may have helped and arriving the day before the ship sails is the Gold Standard to avoid airline & weather issues.
 
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Jan 6, 2015
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#9
Yes and as I said this misconnect of industry rules and an assumption on the part of the LW is the base of his entire complaint. Had he been told 2:30 or 3:00 then it would have been clear to him hours earlier that he was plain out of luck!
I'm being the devils advocate here :)

There are certainly a lot of things this family "could have or should have" done to avoid missing the boat and losing a huge amount of money. Travel Insurance certainly may have helped and arriving the day before the ship sails is the Gold Standard to avoid airline & weather issues.
I agree that RC could have given him all three times, but they did answer the question that was asked. On our second cruise, they specified all of them because some people check-in but then exit the pier area to walk around (which we did). So we knew when to arrive and when to be on board.

But equally important is knowing the "be on board" time for all the ports. Don't wanna be left behind there either ...
 
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JVillegirl541

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Nov 21, 2014
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#10
That phone call to RCCL is the only thing the LW has to hang his hat on.... And that's how he needs to address the entire ordeal. And he needs to put down the phone and start with our RCCL contacts. Briefly and politely stating what happened. If the CS agent had been clearer this family would never have proceeded to the port.

Remember it costs nothing to ask or as another Advocate describes as "Artful Begging" :)
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#11
How disappointing for @John J and his family of nine to be refused boarding. That's a sad experience, and a costly one.

I concur with the other advice to contact Royal Caribbean through the Company Contacts list and see if any consideration can be offered to you and your party. (A little known fact: Royal Caribbean has two Guest Relations sections ... the higher of which is called Executive Guest Relations. They may be able to assist you.)

One thing I note: the poster asked RCCL what was the latest time to board, and indicated to us that if he'd known the actual time he would have chosen a flight that arrived earlier.

Another take on this might have been to ask RCCL what was the EARLIEST time to board. That would have allowed a time buffer.
 
Likes: VoR61
Sep 22, 2014
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#12
Having done many Back to Back (B2B), aka consecutive cruises, I can understand the language misunderstanding. A cruiser who had been aboard the ship for the cruise immediately preceding the new boarding would have been able to board at 4 pm by showing his picture ID and his already issued Key Card.
 
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Neil Maley

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#14
As written above, John J "called Royal Caribbean to see what was the latest time we could board the ship". "Board" is the key word here. Yes, you can board the ship as late as 4 PM, but to achieve that, you must be checked-in much earlier per RC ...
Exactly! Boarding and checking in are 2 very different things and technically, for boarding, the girl was right. The correct thing to ask was check in time.

Good catch.
 
Likes: VoR61
Aug 28, 2015
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#15
Q: When can I board the ship?
A: The boarding time for your ship and sailing date is specified in your Guest Vacation Documents. Please do not plan on arriving at the pier prior to the specified time as the ship will not be ready to board guests.

Due to new government regulations requiring cruise lines to submit final departure manifests at least 60 minutes prior to sailing, guests are requested to complete Online Check-in no later than 3 days prior to their cruise. If you do not complete Online Check-in 3 days prior, you will be required to complete this process at the pier at least two hours prior to the published sailing time. Please note: All guests must be checked-in and onboard the ship no later than 90 minutes prior to the published sailing time or you will not be permitted to sail.
Read more at http://www.royalcaribbean.com/befor...&faqSubjectName=Top+FAQ's#RE5q6PqwspLHi5YV.99
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#16
One other tip, which is really a shortcut, that I use to remember the "times before departure". 30 minutes to be at the gate and then double it for each "checkpoint":

60 minutes to be in the TSA line
2 hours to be at the airport
and double all that for International travel ...

These are based on the numbers that I could find for the major US carriers. Airport and airline times may exceed these, but as a general rule I think this tip would work ...
 
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Neil Maley

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#17
We arrive for domestic flights 2 hours before, 3 hours for international and we arrive by noon on the day of a cruise (because we've always flown in the day before if we are not leaving from NYC). We've never been denied boarding for anything. If all travelers did this, we'd probably never have any more of these issues on Elliott.
 
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