Getting ahead of the 4500 people this ship can hold is a real advantage Carnival Cruise Line is testing a new program where all occupants of a given stateroom can board the cruise ship first, have instant access to their staterooms upon boarding and find their hand-delivered luggage already waiting for them. The program, called "Faster to the Fun," costs $49.95, and only needs to be booked by one occupant of the stateroom to give the same access to everyone staying in the same room.
Typically, the first people to arrive aboard a cruise ship are locked out of the staterooms corridors until all staterooms have been "turned around" with clean sheets, new bathroom amenities, new literature and a thorough cleaning. So they take a quick tour of the public areas before heading to the buffet area for a long lunch. On most cruises the earliest the staterooms are made available is 1:00 p.m. Sometimes it is as late as 3:00.
The vast majority of guests give their larger pieces of luggage to stevedores on the pier to be hand-delivered to their stateroom by the crew much later in the day, very often as late as 5:00 p.m. or even after the ship has set sail.
The "Faster to the Fun" program is sold through the Carnival "shore tours" division and should be booked pre-cruise either online or though your travel agent. It mainly involves the boarding process, but in addition to priority embarkation, direct access to stateroom and a guarantee that your luggage will be waiting for you, you also get priority lines to exit and return to the ship in ports of call and priority tender tickets for ports where the ship must ferry passengers to shore.
It may sound a bit trivial, but it is a very handy thing for some people. It is not unusual for a ship to be as late as 2:30 p.m. before the staterooms are open. That makes the boarding process especially tiresome if the guest took the redeye flight to get to the ship, for example. Notably, at least one other cruise line, Holland America, has already has a program called "Stateroom Direct" to offer all guests access to staterooms as early as 11:30 a.m.
The "Faster to the Fun" program is so far only in trial on two Carnival ships, the Carnival Imagination (starting Aug. 20) and Carnival Liberty (Aug 25) and it is limited on both ships to a relatively small number of people. But there is the potential for it to become a very popular program since it means you can change clothes immediately and even settle in for a nap right away if you happened to take the redeye flight to the cruise ship.Go to the Carnival Web site for more information.
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