When you arrive at the cruise terminal for the first day of your cruise, there are porters waiting to take your luggage so that it can be delivered to your stateroom on the ship.
Should you use their services, and if so, what is the "catch"?
They're there to make things easier
Porters are a convenience meant to simplify the process of getting your belongings on a cruise ship.
Think of porters like curbside luggage check-in at the airport. You drive up to them, drop off all of your checked luggage and they lug the bags to be delivered to the ship.
There is no fee for their services, but a tip is customary for their services. Usually $1-2 per bag is what most people pay.
You will give them anything you will not need for the first few hours after getting onboard. Luggage gets delivered onboard the ship in the afternoon and early evening, once it gets scanned by security and delivered to the appropriate deck.
Be sure that each piece of luggage is tagged with luggage tags. If not, a porter can provide one on the spot.
What if you don't use a porter?
If you opt not to use a porter, you will have to take your luggage by yourself through the cruise terminal and onto the ship.
Keep in mind your luggage must be able to fit through the security x-ray machine in the cruise terminal, so if it cannot, you will have to send your luggage with the porters.
After the cruise is over
Upon disembarking your cruise ship on the last morning of your cruise, there will be porters available to help you with your luggage.
Just like on embarkation day, there is no fee to use their services, but tipping is expected.
Not only will porters make things easier on you on that final morning, but in many cruise ports, porters have their own line for getting through customs which can greatly speed up exiting the terminal.
Should you use a porter?
I always use porters on embarkation day or on disembarkation for the convenience they provide at very reasonable cost.
For $1-2 per bag, it is a bargain to have someone else lift and drag my bags around.
Plus, I have found porters to be invaluable on the final day to get through customs faster. In some terminals there are special lines for them, and even when there is not, porters often shave time off by knowing where to go and when to expedite the process.
All too often I see some family with all of their bags dragging them through the ship, into the elevators, and stacking them on the pool deck or in the Windjammer while they wait for the room to be ready.
In short, the low cost of having to tip is worth using them.
Helpful tips for using porters
- Make sure your luggage tags are affixed to every piece of luggage before you get to the terminal.
- If you run out of luggage tags (or forget them), porters can provide ones for you.
- Luggage may not be delivered until the evening, so keep anything important with you (medicine, sunscreen, swimsuits, anything you need for dinner).
- Keep a few small bills for porters for easy tipping.