When most people go on vacation, the last thing they want to do on their precious time off is to wait in line. On a cruise ship, however, long lines are sometimes unavoidable, especially on larger ships that may carry up to 4,000 passengers or more on a single trip. In fact, today’s largest cruise ships can hold more than 6,300 passengers at maximum occupancy. With so many eager travelers on board, how can you avoid spending hours of your vacation just waiting in line?
You’ll spend less time waiting in line during your cruise if you arrive before lines begin to form. Whether you are embarking at the last minute, meandering to the dining room when dinner begins, visiting the buffet at the peak dining time or rushing back to the ship just before casting off from the port, you’re sure to find longer lines. Instead, opt for earlier shore tour groups, earlier and less crowded assigned or flexible dining times or the first set of portrait sessions on formal night and you’ll have a much smaller crowd to contend with.
Learn Your Way Around
The better you know your way around the ship, the easier it will be to find shortcuts that help you avoid congestion and long lines without getting lost or wasting time asking directions or consulting a map. Take the stairs rather than wait for elevators if possible, and don’t forget outdoor stairways and shortcuts on the pool deck or deck promenades. It may also be much faster to get from one end of the ship to the other along a cabins-only deck rather than braving crowds that line the shops, bars and casinos.
Use a Credit Card for Your Shipboard Account
One of the longest lines you’ll find on a cruise ship is at the purser’s desk toward the end of the cruise when passengers who have paid cash for their onboard accounts now have to settle up or add more money to their tabs. If you’ve used a credit card to secure your account, however, you won’t have to wait in that line unless you’ve maxed out the card. If you do pay cash and are close to your total, visit the purser’s desk earlier in the cruise to increase your tab and be sure you can avoid that tedious and frustrating line.
Pay for Shorter Line Privileges
Depending on the cruise line, there are ways you can buy your way out of long lines. Most cruise lines offer short line privileges to returning passengers once they reach a certain level of loyalty, which of course means buying more cruises in order to qualify (never a bad thing!). These programs may include a designated station at the purser’s desk, expedited embarkation and debarkation, priority tendering and other ways to shorten lengthy lines. On some lines, you can also purchase passes that include some of these perks even if you don’t yet have enough loyalty to get them for free. Booking a suite or another type of high class cabin – at a higher rate – can also bring you some short line privileges.
Of course, there will be times when lines are unavoidable, such as for safety briefings, tendering into port, waiting at the buffet or meeting up for shore tours. In these cases, the best course of action is to be patient and always follow crewmember instructions. While you may have to wait a bit, understanding what to do and doing it promptly will help keep the line moving as quickly and smoothly as possible so everyone can get on with their vacation.