Beware of embarkation in Seattle!

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#1
Pacific Northwest
1,831 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
My husband and I are experienced cruisers having just completed our 28th cruise yesterday. We boarded the first Celebrity Alaska cruise on the Infinity on 5-10-2011. We have never experienced a worst embarkation, not even close. We arrived at 11:45 AM. We lined up and turned over our luggage. From there we were directed to another line to wait to check in. What a nightmare! The line snaked around with many loops in a hot and stuffy over crowded area. It took two hours to reach the check- in desk. Everyone was complaining and very angry. We were told that it was a computer glitch; we later found out that it wasn’t and new, undertrained staff were blamed. Once on the ship, this seemed to be the topic of conversation and it lasted the whole cruise. Many passengers were adamant that it was their last cruise with Celebrity. The staff seemed to have a party line which was to downplay embarkation.

One couple we spoke to said that they arrived at 3 PM. They went through the embarkation process with no delays. Therefore, my advice to anyone embarking at Seattle is to arrive later in the day, but be prepared.

Judith
#2
WA State (the dry side)
823 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Being from Washington state, I have utilized the Seattle cruise port many times and have never had any problems. Sure, waiting-in-line happens sometimes, but, IMO, never long enough to be upset about. It is nowhere near as overcrowded as, say, some of the piers at Port Everglades.

Sorry for your bad experience, but I think your thread title, "Beware of embarkation in Seattle!" is a little harsh - as if you are implying that this is a common occurrence at this specific cruise-port, whereas in my experience it certainly is not normal.
#4
Orange County, CA
237 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
I heard it was because of a surprise Coast Guard inspection and full immigration inspection of the crew. It's not at all unusual during the first two departures when a ship arrives in a port in which it will be based for the season. Same thing happened to us in Ft. Lauderdale at the beginning of the winter Caribbean season after the ship had been in Europe all summer. My wife and I have sailed from Seattle many times and have had smooth embarkations with X. IMHO, while it's very unfortunate you had to endure a terrible start to your cruise, my guess is that the remainder of the Alaska sailings from Seattle will embark much smoother.
#5
460 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
We had a bit of a wait at the terminal, too, but it was not extremely long. We arrived around 11:45 am.

My concern is the disorganized screeing staff. My laptop had to be placed bare on the conveyor belt at the screener, without the protection of a plastic box, amid suitcases. On the other side of the screening device, suitcases began falling to the floor, because there was not enough standing area for the bags. Luckily, I was able to rush through the metal detector to rescue my computer before it hit the floor, too. Take care going through the screening at this terminal.
#6
Port Orchard, WA
163 Posts
Joined May 2009
I wouldn't necessarily blame the cruise line. TSA, customs and the Coast Guard can make sailing into and out of Seattle a chore.

We once pulled into Seattle while on the Mercury sailing from Vancouver to Long Beach and customs had everyone disembark the ship at 0800 (after a night at the Martini Bar) and we couldn't re-board until 1100. As usual it was raining and not much was open (too early) so we went to the closest Starbucks which was already full of passengers. Starbucks was way too crowed for us so we walked to the ferry terminal where I knew there was another coffee shop. Thank the brain children in charge of U.S. Customs and TSA who have no common sense. This was not the cruise lines fault, just our friendly government.

Be glad TSA doesn't run security in the Caribbean! Could you imagine having to disembark early in the morning at each Island.
#7
543 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
I agree with those who say it is not the cruise line. I have had a totally smooth embarkation at Seattle with Celebrity, no waiting, and a totally rough one, same ship, at Port Everglades due to simultaneous surprise inspections by CDC and Immigration.

Observing the staff who handle check-in at 7 different ports, I have come to believe that only a few work for the cruise line. Most work for the port, and others work for government entities, depending on what country you're in.
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I have enjoyed cruising on Celebrity, HAL, Azamara, Princess, and RCI.


#8
Eugene, Oregon
61 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
The OP's experience in Seattle sounds much like my own experience in Vancouver on 5-13-11. I sailed on the first cruise of the season on the Rhapsody of the Seas. I arrived at Canada Place at 1:30, and got to my cabin two hours later. US Customs seemed understaffed, with only 3 agents checking passports for US citizens.
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Rhapsody of the Seas, Alaska, 5-13-2011
#9
8 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Originally posted by techie123
The OP's experience in Seattle sounds much like my own experience in Vancouver on 5-13-11. I sailed on the first cruise of the season on the Rhapsody of the Seas. I arrived at Canada Place at 1:30, and got to my cabin two hours later. US Customs seemed understaffed, with only 3 agents checking passports for US citizens.
Did you use US Direct in Vancouver?
#10
Vancouver, BC
6,267 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Even if embarkation was a nightmare, I can't believe people would let it ruin their whole cruise by continuing to talk about it and say they would never cruise Celebrity again.
#11
17,935 Posts
Joined Nov 2003
wow--sorry to hear that!

this was one of our best ports to disembark from & return to...no waiting at all & a beautiful sailaway view in all directions!
#12
Lakewood, Ca
12,479 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Originally posted by PS90
Being from Washington state, I have utilized the Seattle cruise port many times and have never had any problems. Sure, waiting-in-line happens sometimes, but, IMO, never long enough to be upset about. It is nowhere near as overcrowded as, say, some of the piers at Port Everglades.

Sorry for your bad experience, but I think your thread title, "Beware of embarkation in Seattle!" is a little harsh - as if you are implying that this is a common occurrence at this specific cruise-port, whereas in my experience it certainly is not normal.

I have to agree with you. I was on the same sailing and while there was a long line, it was very organized. Sometimes there are lines, no matter where you go. I've had better and I've had worse embarkations.
I will definitely sail out of Seattle again!
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#13
Eugene, Oregon
61 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by Buffy S
Did you use US Direct in Vancouver?
No. I arrived in Vancouver a day early.
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Rhapsody of the Seas, Alaska, 5-13-2011
#14
13,067 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
TSA doesn't work for Celebrity.
Customs and Immigration don't work for Celebrity.
Coast Guard don't work for Celebrity.
US Public Health doesn't work for Celebrity.
Port check-in staff don't work for Celebrity.
Port luggage porters don't work for Celebrity.

Just a few observations to keep in mind.
(Substitute any cruise line for the name Celebrity).
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...…..813 Days At Sea...….(670 on Celebrity)...and I'm counting all 7 days on the ill-fated Millennium even though my cruise was shortened!)
#15
Chicago by way of Boston and NOLA
16,910 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
I am not sure why you found the need to warn people about embarkation being slow on ONE particular cruise out of Seattle. This can happen at ANY port on ANY cruise line. The cruise line has minimal control over whether embarkation will be slow, medium or fast. Anybody who would waste time perseverating on this days into their cruise and/or vow to not sail on a particular cruise line again because of this is rather naieve and inexperienced regarding cruising.
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#16
Western Massachusetts
567 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
Originally posted by Route6A
We had a bit of a wait at the terminal, too, but it was not extremely long. We arrived around 11:45 am.

My concern is the disorganized screeing staff. My laptop had to be placed bare on the conveyor belt at the screener, without the protection of a plastic box, amid suitcases. On the other side of the screening device, suitcases began falling to the floor, because there was not enough standing area for the bags. Luckily, I was able to rush through the metal detector to rescue my computer before it hit the floor, too. Take care going through the screening at this terminal.
Thank you for the heads up on this. I'll make sure to send my sister ahead of me in line so if I can't get to my laptop in time, she'll at least be there to grab it.
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#17
Tampa, FL
1,031 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
We've been on that cruise and had the same experience. We had did the one that left at 8pm but it didn't leave until 10pm due to the craziness. It did get us out of the muster drill and got a free case of water. But we are thinking of going in August.
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#18
Melbn, 'Straya
1,985 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
We check in a couple of hours before departure. It has many benefits:

1. Minimal lines, sometimes none at all.
2. Minimal delays with customs, immigration, etc.
3. Cabin ready and waiting.
4. We sometimes miss the muster drill. Drat!

I'm not advocating cutting it so fine that you risk missing departure but to check in several hours beforehand seems to add unnecessary stress, especially as you spend a lot of that spare time hanging around an overcrowded buffet/theatre or wherever else they herd arriving passengers while their cabins are prepared.
#19
13,067 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I, too, usually wait until a bit later to check in, but o those occasions when I had to check out of my pre-cruise hotel early and got to the ship early, I have never found that I was made to hang around the theater until the stateroom are ready. Perhaps that is some other cruise line? On Celebrity, you can eat in the buffet, at the pool grill, the Bistro on 5 (on those ships that have this venue) and sometimes at the Aqua Grill. All the public areas are open.
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...…..813 Days At Sea...….(670 on Celebrity)...and I'm counting all 7 days on the ill-fated Millennium even though my cruise was shortened!)
#20
Shalimar FL
5,108 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
So 'many' passengers spent the cruise talking about not getting on board efficiently. I guess cruising through the beauty of Alaska wasn't that interesting and the ship experience wasn't enjoyable enough to set aside complaining.

Was on a Panama Canal cruise were a whole group flying from Chicago (in Jan!) the day of the cruise and missed the departure. When they get on board, they spent the entire cruise complaining. I made sure not to be within earshot after listening to them once We all have our choices of how to enjoy our experiences. That group got their 'enjoyment' complaining. It's like listening to some guy at work who got stuck in a traffic jam because of an accident. You smile politely but get away.

Sorry this cruise started rocky, but I hate to tell you but this occurs on every Cruise Line including the most luxurious, and every port at some time.

Den
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