Carnival Cruise Line Further Clarifies Priority Boarding Procedure

Carnival Cruise Line has further explained boarding procedures in Galveston and how priority access works differently than other homeports.

Due to ongoing confusion about priority passenger boarding in Galveston, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has further clarified where guests should go on their way to their cruise vacation at the popular Texas homeport.

Despite recent rumors, priority boarding is very much available at the terminal, but is slightly different than what frequent cruisers may be accustomed to at other homeports.

Carnival Cruise Line Priority Boarding in Galveston

In response to guest concerns about priority boarding in Galveston, Texas, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has reached out with clear instructions about where the designated priority boarding lines can be found.

“Due to the space outside both terminal buildings with a quite narrow verandah area by the doors entering the buildings, Galveston has a slightly different set-up from what other ports may have,” Heald explained.

As guests approach the terminal entrance in Galveston, curbside agents verify each guest’s boarding pass. If “Priority” is printed on the pass, the guest is directed to the “On Time” boarding lane, regardless of the arrival appointment they may have selected.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Galveston
Carnival Cruise Ship in Galveston

Inside the terminal building, the “On Time” lane splits and all Priority guests are directed to a single line noted for VIFP Diamond, VIFP Platinum, Suites, and Faster to the Fun boarding. Each of these groups enjoys the priority embarkation privilege.

After guests have successfully had their identification verified and passed the security screening, three separate priority lanes are available, depending on the type of priority boarding a guest has for the cruise.

Diamond and Platinum loyalty guests share one lane, while separate lanes are also available for suite guests as well as Faster to the Fun guests. These separate lines help expedite the check-in process for each group.

Cruise Ship at Port of Galveston
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

“I hope this helps explain what happens,” Heald said. “My thanks to all the wonderfully friendly embarkation staff and to all of you for choosing to sail from Galveston.”

With the upcoming Excel-class Carnival Jubilee to debut from Galveston in December 2023, it is important that these embarkation procedures be clarified to work flawlessly. The new ship can welcome 5,374 guests at double occupancy and up to 6,631 passengers when fully booked, and for her inaugural season, many guests with priority boarding access are sure to be onboard.

At the moment, Carnival BreezeCarnival Dream, and Carnival Vista are currently homeported from Galveston.

Earlier Confusion About Priority Boarding Access

Several weeks ago, Heald clarified that the priority boarding benefit was not being removed, a rumor that had been circulating online due to embarkation confusion, largely at Galveston but also with concerns at other homeports.

At that time, some miscommunication between embarkation staff and how the lines were organized was noted, and thereafter corrected.

Carnival Cruise Ship in Galveston
Photo Credit: BUI LE MANH HUNG / Shutterstock

“There seemed to be some confusion on the wording we had online about this,” Heald said. “The practice is to allow Priority guests to join the Priority queue whenever they arrive and this will be reworded in our online information and reiterated to the home port embarkation teams.”

Now, it seems the signage at the Galveston terminal may be somewhat unclear, and guests may not realize that the “On Time” line is further split inside the terminal, where they will be able to join the “Priority” embarkation queue.

At other Carnival homeports, guests with priority boarding access are often able to join the appropriately labeled line before they enter the cruise terminal, eliminating some of this confusion. In Galveston, the distinction between the lines is not made until inside the cruise terminal, which can cause misdirection.

Priority boarding – being one of the first to embark a ship and skipping the lengthy check-in lines – is one of the most sought-after loyalty privileges from Carnival Cruise Line, available only to guests booked in suites, past cruisers who have achieved Diamond or Platinum status with the cruise line, or guests who purchase the add-on Faster to the Fun package.

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