To get off the ship you have to do a few simple things, scroll down for details
- Get your luggage ready to go
- Go through Customs (maybe)
- Walk off the ship
- Find your luggage
- Shuffle off
| Your Luggage on the last night |
We ALWAYS wait until after dinner on the last night of the cruise to think about this, we just plain don't want to return to the real world. The time eventually comes though and you must get your stuff packed up and ready to go, following some simple guidelines.
The ship will want your luggage out in the hallway, tagged with those same Carnival tags it had on it when you came on board between 10PM and 1:00 AM, They want you to wait until 10PM so the stewards can navigate the hallway with thier carts of stuff and clean the rooms one last time before you leave. Don't worry about this. I have yet to hear of anybodys luggage being stolen out of the hallway. During the night the Stateroom Stewards will place the luggage in thier secure holding area and place it ashore when you arrive at your final destination.
Be sure to pack as carefully going home as you did a month before your cruise started. You want to be sure those Carnival coffee cups and souveniers get home safely. I always put any possible breakables in the center of a large piece of luggage, surrounded by clothes. Liquids like bathroom supplies or anything that could oooze out and ruin my new Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt I put in large ziploc bags, just like when we came here. It's tempting to just stand back and throw all your junk in your luggage in a depressed, its really over now, mood. Don't. You've still got the last night to live, don't be a party pooper
Sample Customs Form
Everyone must fill out a Customs Declaration Form but not everyone has to go through a Customs Check.
You can bring home the following United States Customs Allowences:
$800 worth of stuff your bought outside the country per person (not per family, for a family of 4 you can have $3200)
1 Litre of Alcohol
200 Cigarettes (1 carton)
100 Cigars (Non-cuban)
You can bring more but will have to pay a "duty" tax on the excess...maybe. If you're just a little over your allowences chances are the Customs Agent may let you go without charging you. I know this happened to us. On our first cruise we stocked up on booze, exceeding the allowence by several bottles (they didn't mention this when we were buying the stuff in the gift shop). The Customs Agent checked it out and let us go without paying anything.
If you have not exceeded your allowences you do not have to go through customs but you must have your Customs form in your hand as you leave the vessel. Actually you will leave the vessel, find your luggage, then leave the terminal, its then that a Customs Agent will take your form.
This is really not a big deal unless you're a drug smuggler (they DO have drug sniffing dogs), terrorist or Michael Jackson (if he leaves they don't want him back) There is a Debarkation Talk by the Cruise Director that's a good idea to attend on your first cruise, after that skip it, nothing changes...and if it did they'd let you know, believe me!
In the morning, before you disembark, there will still be a few opportunities to spend some more money, it will be cash though. The photo shop will probably be open as well as the specialty coffee place for last minute fixes on buying if you haven't bought enough stuff already. If your ship does a Video Tavellog you can pick up one of those too if you had second thoughts during the night and changed your mind.
You'll need an ID and your Customs form to get off the ship. On previous cruises we had to punch out with our Sign and Sail cards but didn't have to on our last one. Save your Sign and Sail card though. It won't work in the gas pump back home but it makes a great souvenier and reminder of what matters in life: Cruising! I keep mine in my wallet so every time I open it I see and am reminded of why I continue in my boring real life job, why I dont go out to eat anymore, why I buy clothes at a thrift shop, why urge the kids to become drug dealers to bring in a little more income, and why we feed the dogs on alternating days...because Cruising Is Life (clever huh?)
| Find Your Luggage and Get Out! |
On your final morning they will still feed you. Have a nice breakfast, then wait to be called for disembarkation. If you went over those allowences we mentioned earlier, you will be instructed to go to some designated area of the ship where Customs Agents will deal with you separately. If you have an early flight, you should have gotten special tags to put on your luggage and they would have called you first, along with people that had booked post-cruise shore excursions. If not, the Cruise Director will let you know when it is your turn to get off the ship by calling the different color tag groups, corresponding to the color tags on your luggage. There's really no rhyme or reason to the order of this so don't try to figure it out.
When you walk off the ship you eventually come to a large area where all the luggage has been taken. I call this the Luggage War Room. It is arranged by the location it was in on the ship as indicated by your luggage color tag. I would show you a photo of this area but photography is strictly prohibited in this area. Proabaly because this place is a frantic zoo and THE reason that they let passengers off the ship a few at a time.
I do have a few tips to make this part easy.
First, if you have a later flight home, say after 2:30 PM, take a Carnival Post Cruise Shore Excursion. In addition to being a good way to kill some time and make it to the airport, you get off the ship first. This is important because by the time the last day comes you may not WANT to leave the ship but its clear that there really are more passengers coming onboard later so you do have to get off. Its best to just get it over with.
Second, mark your luggage so you can see it. We use that black and yellow hazzard tape that you see on floors around your nuclear reactor. (Do not use this or we will take your luggage by mistake) Different colored duct tape, for example, works well. Also, get a porter to help you with your luggage in the War Room. They practice the commando techniques necessary to navigate this area, you do not. Let them be your guide. Belive me its way more worth it to tip them here than it was to tip them when they took your bags to put on the ship on day one.
When you get to the airport, you'll have to go through the whole security thing all over again. If you've made connecting flights you're probably getting tired of this. Be patient, they are trying to save your life.
When we disembarked the Legend in March, we found that our luggage had been searched. This had occured in the Ft Lauderdale airport by airport security who put this notice inside our luggage after checking it. I suspect that these pieces of luggage were checked because they had metal boxes in them that xrays could not see through. Once they saw that those boxes had Coffee, Creamers and Sweet and Low (from our pre-cruise hotel stay- they never give us enough coffee in the rooms) instead of pipe bombs, drugs or counerfit $2 bills, they let us slide on through