We returned last week from a one-week cruise on the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas. We chose that ship because it sails out of the Port of Baltimore – a short 30-minute drive from Annapolis. This was our second cruise (out of Baltimore) and I must say that it is REALLY SO NICE not having to fly somewhere to get onboard!
We arrived before noon and there were short lines for security and check-in. The ONE BIG COMPLAINT about check-in was that we were meeting others (kids) and they were forced to wait outside in the freezing cold. That is ridiculous – terrorist alerts or not. So be warned if you are meeting a group – wait in your car until everyone is there.
If you carry your bags on – also be aware – there is a long winding walk where they try and sell you things like drink packages and take your photo. You will also register any kids (and get a wristband for them) along the way. If you check your bags it will be a much easier walk but you could wait hours for your bag to be delivered to your room (they said if didn’t get it before 7, call for assistance – UGH). We carried on once – exhausting by the end since we had a kids bag too. Pack a light backpack with swimsuit or something to keep you occupied for first couple of hours.
My parents got in an hour earlier than we did – I would say get on as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
Here are the actual steps for check-in:
1. Drive to the parking lot for the Port of Baltimore – really easy, right off I-95 and Key Hwy (right next to the ship – short walk to ship)
2. Pull up to drop off your bags – unless your carrying on (then you will just drive by)
3. Drive up to one of the pay station windows to pre-pay for parking – it’s $15 per cruise night
4. You can drop people off if want then park but it’s not a large lot
5. Walk into left or right entrance – there are 2 lines for security (sometimes really long line on one side and none on other)
6. First show passports and boarding passes, then go through x-ray machines
7. Complete a questionnaire (medical) then get in line (we went through quickly) to receive your cruise card photo ID – then they will take a photo (about 5 minutes) and issue a cruise photo ID (sea pass). You will use that card for everything – room key, ID for leaving and returning to ship, purchases onboard (acts like a credit card), gambling, etc. – so don’t lose it!
8. Walk through the long, winding boarding area – 10 minutes? Register any kids
9. Show your cruise ID and go have fun! You won’t be allowed in rooms until 1 or so. Most people went to buffet for lunch and it took a while to find a seat.
10. Relax and have fun – no cooking, no cleaning and no work!
Stay tuned for “part 2 – The Cruise”…