Carnival Issues Clarification Over Guest Embarkation Confusion

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Due to confusion at cruise homeports that has led to some embarkation snafus, Carnival Cruise Line has clarified just how the loyalty perk of priority embarkation is meant to work.

This follows some miscommunication reported by guests in recent days, but the cruise line assures guests that priority embarkation is still available for guests who qualify, regardless of the homeport or arrival appointment window time.

Priority Boarding Still Valid

Rumors have swirled online recently that Carnival Cruise Line was removing the priority boarding benefit from VIFP guests as well as the Faster to the Fun benefits package.

The concern apparently began with confusion while embarking at Galveston – where Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, and Carnival Vista are currently homeported – with some priority guests reporting being sent to the back of the embarkation line when they arrived at the terminal, despite having “PRIORITY” printed on their boarding passes.

Port of Galveston Cruise Passengers
Photo Credit: JSvideos / Shutterstock

Instead, guests have reported being told they must adhere to the arrival time window they selected while checking in prior to their cruise, even if they had the priority designation. The rumor expanded with more reports that this was to be the case at all Carnival homeports.

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald, who addresses hundreds of questions and requests from Carnival guests each day, discussed the matter with Carnival executives, and has clarified the procedure.

“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.”

Carnival Cruise Line Ship
Photo Credit: 4kclips / Shutterstock

Carnival’s website states “Guests will only be allowed to check-in during their pre-selected arrival appointment,” but also clarifies that “Priority guests may board anytime between the earliest opening hour and at the latest, an hour before departure.”

A designated priority entrance or embarkation line is found in every homeport terminal but signage and location can vary, which may make the line more difficult to locate if travelers are arriving at a very busy time. Carnival is working to inform homeport teams about the procedure to ensure everyone receives the priority benefit if they are eligible.

Who Gets Priority Boarding?

Priority embarkation and debarkation is one of the most popular benefits given to Carnival’s most loyal “Very Important Fun Person” (VIFP) guests, those who have reached Platinum and Diamond status.

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Line Hints at Loyalty Program Overhaul

To reach the Platinum level of loyalty, cruisers must have at least 75 loyalty points with the cruise line. To reach Diamond, the minimum is 200 points. Guests receive one point for every day they sail with Carnival – 3 points for a 3-night cruise, 7 points for a 7-night cruise, etc.

Carnival Cruise Line Embarkation
Photo Credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

Travelers who purchase the “Faster to the Fun” package also receive the priority embarkation benefit. Faster to the Fun is available on a limited basis on Carnival cruises, with prices varying depending on the sailing date, cruise length, and number of guests in the cabin. The package only needs to be purchased once per stateroom for all guests in that cabin to receive the benefits.

At times, the benefit may not be available, such as when there are so many Diamond and Platinum guests booked on a particular sailing that it is impractical to offer priority boarding. This was recently the case on Carnival Venezia‘s maiden voyage. The benefit is also occasionally canceled on longer Carnival Journeys cruises that typically host many seasoned travelers.

To facilitate social distancing and prevent crowds as cruising resumed after the pandemic shutdown, priority boarding was also not initially available when cruising restarted, but was reinstated in November 2022, several months after Carnival ships began sailing again.

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