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Self-disembarkation on Royal Caribbean cruises

23 Oct 2017
Matt Hochberg

On the last morning of your Royal Caribbean cruise, Royal Caribbean provides an option for guests who wish to carry their own luggage off the ship that is referred to as self assist, express departure, or self disembarkation.  Regardless of what it is called, this option provides guests with a way to depart the cruise ship at their leisure.

Here is an overview of how to carry your own luggage off a Royal Caribbean ship, if you so choose.

How self disembarkation works

Guests who elect to carry their own luggage off the ship will be required to take their luggage from their stateroom, and take it all the way off the ship and through customs.

Unlike guests who have luggage transported for them from their stateroom, guests who carry off their own luggage can leave as soon as the ship is cleared by local customs.  

Guests may indicate they wish to use Express Departure by registering with Guest Relations.  In our experience, registering with Guest Relations is a suggestion, rather than a requirement.

Once you commit to carrying your own luggage off the ship, and the time window to leave your luggage outside your stateroom door for it to be delivered for you, you must stick with taking your own luggage off the ship.

Most often, the Express Departure option is preferred by guests who want to depart as early as possible due to travel plans, work requirements, or other needs.  However, if you opt to carry your own luggage off the ship, you may depart at any time.  On disembarkation day, an announcement will be made once the gangway is opened and cleared by local authorities, and at that time, guests carrying their own luggage may depart the ship.

Why carry off your own luggage

The primary reason most guests opt to carry off their own luggage is to allow them to stay on their own schedule and be among the first to depart the ship.

Some guests want to leave the ship early, and the first bags cleared by officials for pick up may not be available for an hour or more following the gangway being opened. Express Departure allows for the speediest exit from the trip and for those that want or need to get going early, this is the best solution.

Other guests simply prefer to be among the first off the ship to avoid any delays in customs, or onboard the ship.  Some ports have a reputation for having longer disembarkation lines, so being among the first means a seamless exit.

What to know before carrying your own luggage off the ship

  • You need to be comfortable with taking all of your luggage off the ship without any assistance. You must be physically fit as there will be no assistance or porters.
  • The exact time you can exit the ship will depend on when the ship is cleared by local authorities. There can be unpredictable delays in that process, so there are never any guarantees when guests may exit the ship.
  • Often guests who want to take part in Express Departure will be directed to a specific location on the ship.  A list of locations and times will be delivered to each stateroom the night before disembarkation.
  • Guests opting for self-disembarkation do not have to leave the ship immediately.  They may remain onboard for as long as they wish, up until the required time for all guests to leave the ship.
  • There are usually notices in the Cruise Compass a few days into the cruise for guests who want to carry their own luggage off the ship.  The notice informs guests of the option, and to register with Guest Services.

Have you carried your own luggage off a Royal Caribbean cruise before? Do you have questions about using this in the future? Share your experiences and concerns in the comments!

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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