Royal Caribbean Informs Guests of Luggage Changes and Strikes

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Royal Caribbean International has begun notifying guests of the potential impact of local longshoreman union strikes in Canada on cruise operations, specifically for luggage handling.

The cruise line is advising guests that there may be delays for debarkations in Vancouver, which can affect onward travel plans after a cruise.

Strike May Impact Royal Caribbean Cruise Operations

Guests aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas have been advised that there may be delays with collecting checked luggage after sailing.

“On July 1st, a strike held by the local Longshoreman union started in Vancouver, Canada – we believe this will remain peaceful. As a result, we have updates to our luggage process, and some tips for you to consider,” a letter delivered to guests’ staterooms reads.

The cruise line notes that onshore “luggage operations” will begin an hour later than usual, and as a result, luggage collection in the cruise terminal will start after 9:20 a.m.

This could impact guests with early flights or other early travel arrangements who may have been planning to collect their bags earlier in the morning.

Royal Caribbeans brilliance of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

To counteract this slight delay, Royal Caribbean advises that guests with flights before noon take advantage of the “self-assist/express walk off program” with their bags, which requires guests to remove all their own luggage from the ship as they debark, without crew member aid. Wheelchair assistance cannot be provided for guests who self-assist their luggage.

The letter is undated, which means these letters may be presented to guests on every sailing of Brilliance of the Seas, which is currently offering 7-night roundtrip Alaska cruises through the end of September.

Similar letters may also have been delivered to guests on Radiance of the Seas, which is also sailing 7-night Alaska sailings this summer, but those cruises are one-way trips between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, Canada.

The southbound sailings that end in Vancouver would be the most impacted, though luggage delivery on embarkation day for northbound sailings may also be slightly delayed.

About the Strike

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) began striking on July 1, 2023 after months of failed negotiations with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA). Key issues at stake include port automation, wages, and other factors.

The ILWU indicated before the strike began that cruise travel would not be impacted, as workers would continue to service cruise ships throughout the strike.

Cruise Ships Docked in Vancouver
Cruise Ships Docked in Vancouver (Photo Credit: Iryna Makukha / Shutterstock)

Longshoremen help berth and tie up vessels, set up gangways, handle cargo and supplies, and support other logistics of vessels coming and going at the port. Without these services, it would take much longer than typical for vessels to move in and out of a port facility or cruise terminal.

Why the Luggage Delay?

If the ILWU is still servicing the cruise ships, why is Royal Caribbean noting any delay with luggage operations?

Details have not been revealed, but it is possible that a work “slowdown” is part of the strike process, or else fewer longshoremen may be reporting to work during the strike period and so a labor shortage is causing delays with how luggage or cargo is moved on and off cruise ships.

There is no indication of how long the strike may last or whether strike initiatives may be strengthened as the days pass.

In addition to Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, ships from Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and a variety of other lines also either homeport from Vancouver or use the port as a day visit.

Guests booked on sailings that start from, end in, or include Vancouver should stay in touch with their cruise line for updates on any possible delays or other impacts.

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