Saturday, May 12, 2018

Luggage on a Cruise

I'm working on a new book about the lives of the crew working on cruise ships. The other day I was taping an interview with one of the crew members we know and he was talking about the hardest part of the job.

Click on the arrow below to hear part of the interview.


Luggage. Oh, the luggage. It's heavy, it's bulky, and people bring just too darn much of it. If you look at a ship of about 3,000 passengers, the crew could potentially be working with 10,000 pieces of luggage in one day. Like he mentions in the interview, some people bring eight pieces. And us? No matter how long we're gone it's just the one piece and the backpack. We don't want to make any extra work for the crew - or for us.
Even when the cruise is over, the work with luggage doesn't end for any of the parties.

The procedure for getting your luggage off the ship is different than any you may have experienced before. You are assigned color-coded luggage tags that control the flow of passengers off the ship and assist you in finding your luggage within the cruise terminal.

You attach the luggage tags to your bags and place the bags outside the cabin door on the last evening of the cruise. Crew collect luggage from hallways all throughout the night and organize it based on the tag's color. You don't see your bags again until the next morning in the terminal. (But keep your carry-on with you and be sure to have the obvious items like medications and passports in the carry-on.) And don't forget the clothes you'll be wearing the next day. Don’t be caught in pjs because you forgot to pack clothes to wear off the ship! Take everything out of the safe and leave it open. Hold onto your cruise card because you will need it for one last scanning off the ship.

When you collect your luggage in the terminal it will not be on a carousel like at the airport but placed side by side grouped by the luggage tag color. There may be several hundred bags in your luggage tag group - and several thousand bags in the terminal - so double check the bag carefully before leaving with it. There are porters available in the area for passengers needing luggage assistance. 

If you can manage all your luggage on your own you may have the option to take it off the ship yourself. For those driving home from the port or with an early morning flight this walk-off disembarkation can usually get you on your way earlier. But if you plan on carrying all your luggage off the ship, think very carefully about the logistics of it. Multiple large suitcases and carry-ons being dragged down a carpeted hall. Fitting into super-busy elevators. Finding a place to keep suitcases during breakfast. Rolling those suitcases up or down the gangway. Down another even busier and slower elevator in the terminal. Are you nimble and fit and patient enough? Are your travel companions?

Or just make it easier on everyone and keep the luggage to a minimum.