Sunday, March 04, 2012

Updated RCCL Back-to-Back Cruises Procedures

RCCL Back-to-Back Cruises Procedures

An anonymous commenter asked about how Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL)'s back-to-back cruises work. To my surprise, I didn't post anything on this after I did it in November 2011. This post will tell what happened, why as I understand it and what you can expect if you do back-to-back cruises with Royal Caribbean.

Before I did my back-to-back Royal Caribbean in November 2011, I had a number of questions which I didn't have the best of luck getting answered. However, these questions were answered at a special event Royal Caribbean held 1 day before the Serenade of the Seas returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico for the conclusion of my first cruise. This event was only for those of us who were doing back-to-back cruises. We received a special invitation to the event. I remember being surprised by how many people were doing it. There must've been at least 40 plus folks at the event. To me, it makes sense to do back-to-back cruises as long as both itineraries are reasonably good. While I loved RCCL's Alaska cruise on Radiance of the Seas, I wouldn't care to do that back-to-back as it does the same exact ports except in reverse order.

At the event, the ship's staff explained some very important items. First, we would have to get new Seapasses for the 2nd cruise. This is because our SeaPasses were only good for the first cruise. Also, RCCL closes the SeaPass account and a new one is opened for the second cruise. We were told that we would have to go to the International Customer Relations desk the morning we arrive in San Juan to get our new SeaPasses and presumably the list of charges for the first cruise. Second, we would also receive 2 pieces of paper. One was for customs and, the other was to enable us to skip the lines to get back on board the boat. Customs was going to be different because, you don't actually leave and, you don't have to declare anything at this point. Later, when I went through customs, they were thrown off by the paper I was told to show them. Apparently, the guy didn't deal much with that sort of thing. At this point, you can go back on board the boat if you wish. The second piece of paper came in handy if you decided to do some kind of tour between cruises like I did.

One other plus of those doing back-to-back cruises was you got priority booking for at least some of the services available on board such as spa services for the 2nd cruise. You did have to pack your bag BUT, if you weren't changing cabins, it wouldn't leave the cabin. You might want to put the luggage sticker for the 2nd cruise on it.

Overall, my cruise changeover went fine. I got to do a great tour of El Morro Fort and due to the 2nd piece of paper explaining I was returning for my 2nd cruise, I passed easily through the lines to get back on board the Serenade of the Seas. This piece of paper has to be turned back into Customer Service. Later, I met my travel friend Harvey and welcomed him to my boat. After sailing on Serenade of the Seas for a week, it felt like it was my boat. I'd learned my way around it and knew some of the staff on board by first name. It was really nice. I look forward to the same experience during my November cruises with RCCL. Stay tuned.

An Update

On November 3, 2012, I did back-to-back cruises on Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. Procedures during the changeover were different from when I sailed on Serenade of the Seas. There wasn't any meeting where some of the ship's staff explained what would happen when we arrived back in Venice, Italy. I didn't have to pack my stuff in my suitcase at the end of the 1st cruise. Also, we didn't have to go to the International Customer Relations desk to get our new SeaPass. The new SeaPass was delivered to my cabin 1 day before the 1st cruise ended. Customs was different though that could be because I had to deal with Italian customs vice U.S. customs. Like before, I was able to skip in-processing for the 2nd cruise. In April 2013, I'll be doing back-to-back cruises for the 3rd time with Royal Caribbean. I'll be sailing out of and into U.S. ports so maybe the procedures will be like they were for Serenade of the Seas. Stay tuned for another update in May 2013 on this.

2nd Update

This is the update I promised for the April/May 2013 cruises.

I sailed on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas from April 23rd to May 10th. I left out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and would arrive in Baltimore, Maryland. Apparently, sailing out of San Juan caused some kind of problem with customs to where it took longer when the ship pulled in from what was my first cruise. I heard that customs would've gone more smoothly had we sailed out of and into Baltimore. Unlike with Serenade and Splendour of the Seas, I didn't get off the ship to do any sightseeing. The cruise ship terminal was too far from any of the sights including Fort McHenry which the ship sailed by on its way in. It was well I decided to stay with the ship in another way in that things were a real mess when we pulled into Baltimore. The Grandeur of the Seas was re-positioning to Baltimore and, they made a big hoopla about it. Baltimore's 1 fire fighting boat greeted the ship with sprays of its water cannon which was pretty cool. I heard the state's Governor was there to greet the ship too.

Concerning back-to-back procedures, my new seapass was delivered to my room the night before. As I decided to stay with the ship, I was told I'd go with a special group of us that would be escorted off the ship to customs, process through customs and then re-board the ship. This was different from Serenade of the Seas as I didn't process through customs at all that time. Due to the special stuff going on because of the re-positioning, things were very chaotic with people getting off and on the ship. That was another reason I decided to stay with the ship vice do something at Baltimore's Inner Harbor (lots of nice shops there and some neat things to see). The group I was with was supposed to be escorted off the ship at 9:30 a.m. and that got changed twice with us finally walking off the ship at 11:30. We processed customs around Noon. I think it would be easier doing back-to-back on Grandeur now as you won't have all the hoopla.

In September 2013, I'll get to do back-to-back cruises for the 4th time when I sail on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas. I will be getting off the boat between cruises as I plan to do a hop on hop off tour of Miami. So, I'll post yet another update on how things go procedure wise from that cruise. Stay tuned.

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