Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises’ guests can complete airline and luggage check-in process for their flights at home before they step off the ship.The new service enables guests to bypass the traditional airport check-in process, adding convenience and reducing wait time by an estimated 45 minutes to two hours.
The service is being rolled out at ports across the United States, based on approval by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, as well as seaport, airport and airline security personnel.
Called “Onboard Check-in and Luggage Valet,” the service is now available to Celebrity Cruises’ guests whose cruises conclude in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Miami; San Diego; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Seattle.
The service is available for Royal Caribbean guests whose cruises end in San Juan and Seattle. Both brands also offer the service for arrivals in Vancouver, British Columbia. To qualify, guests must fly to a U.S. city on an expanding list of airlines on the same day their cruise ends.
Before leaving the ship, guests confirm with cruise staff their flight information and the number of bags to be checked. Based on that information—which also is electronically forwarded to the airlines—boarding passes, luggage tags and claim checks are printed and given to guests.
Guests with afternoon flights can take advantage of shopping or city tours before going to the airport directly to security checkpoints and on to their gates and flights.
While guests take in the sites, their luggage is securely transported to the airport, processed and moved directly to their aircraft.
There is a nominal fee for the service, ranging from $10 to $20 per guest, which varies by port and service offering.
The service was first piloted at the port of Vancouver during the 2003 Alaska cruise season.
The 10-week test program involved two airlines and approximately 2,000 guests. In 2004 and 2005, the Vancouver service was expanded to include eight airlines and about 52,000 guests. Up to 75 percent of eligible guests used the service, averaging more than 500 guests per sailing and nearly 65,000 pieces of luggage this year.
“The luggage valet service makes returning home easier than ever,” said Nick Hafner, vice president of Air, Sea and Hotel for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.
“Our guests don’t have to locate their luggage, transport it to the airport or stand in long lines, waiting to check in. Our goal is to provide an improved guest experience and an enhanced security process. We have accomplished both.”
“This service brings innovation to the travel industry by dealing with check-in formalities and luggage before going to the airport, all at a very reasonable cost,” said Alexander Gerdts, project manager. “We are adding more airlines and ports with the vision of offering this great service to all of our guests.”