I've read several reviews where people comment on long lines for embarkment and disbarkment. Are there chairs in the terminal where passengers can sit, until its their time to check in? I have a difficult time standing for long periods of time due to muscle weakness.
When is the best time to board the ship in order to avoid standing in long lines? Any suggestions?
We always get to the port around 10:00 and are of the first ones in the lounge area (w/ chairs). When it is time to open the check-in windows (around 11:00), you will be able to get right on the ship.
When debarking, you will be called to a lounge area where you will await the announcement of your colored suitcase tags. There, you will be able to sit, however, once leaving the ship, there will be a line to get to the baggage area where there are few or no chairs available. I would have someone else in your party get the bags while you sit on the floor and watch to make sure nobody takes your bags. That's what I do!
You definitely want to try to be one of the first folks at the terminal so you don't have to wait in the long line. There are seats available, however, you will have to have someone travelling with you save your place in line. This being said, you can also arrive at around 3:00 PM and find that the line is significantly shorter. I do not advise doing this, however, because you miss the opportunity to get onboard and "chill" before muster and sailing.
If possible, carry a carry on onboard with you. Have whatever you think you would need right away. Even if your stateroom is not ready for you to "move in" for the week, you can still stow your carry on there. Next go up to Deck 11 and have lunch and then leisurely stroll the ship and become familiar with it. By the time it sails you will be relaxed and not rushed.
It is a wonderful ship to sail. Very pretty. Comfortable staterooms. Tons of activities. Good food. Excellent entertainment and wonderful staff and crew!
We just got back from a cruise on the Navigator, and our embarkation and debarkation experiences were much better than anticipated, based upon the horror stories we read about. Embarkation took about 20 minutes (even though we arrived more than an hour earlier than the offical 2pm start for embarkation; then again, maybe that's precisely why it went so well). We asked an innocuous question about the process, and the RCI person took us into the Platinum (or whatever) embarkation room and we were treated as though we were part of the elite passengers. If they only knew....but I digress. The upshot is this: both getting onboard and leaving the ship were painless processes, and much easier than we experienced on Princess 18 months ago. Are there seats? Yes. Will you need them? Probably not. But I'd say you should arrive earlier than they say to arrive, because they were letting people on the ship long before the 2pm "official" beginning of embarkation.