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Spotted: Royal Caribbean adds new express pass for even faster cruise ship check-in

02 Nov 2023
Matt Hochberg

It looks like Royal Caribbean may have a new way to speed up getting you on the cruise ship.

Express Boarding

Royal Caribbean has steadily worked on developing ways to make the check-in and it looks like a new option may be on its way.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Bridgetbien posted a screenshot of a new Express Boarding option that appeared in the Royal Caribbean app.

Express Boarding pass

The pass was available for the November 3 sailing of Freedom of the Seas from Miami.  Miami is also the same homeport that the new Icon of the Seas will use when she debuts in 2024.

Read moreWhat it's like to cruise on Freedom of the Seas in 2023

After activating the Express Boarding option, the Set Sail pass turned purple. 

Bridgetbien reported they are staying in a balcony cabin and are Gold level in Crown and Anchor Society, so this isn't necessarily a benefit for suite guests or top tier members.

Express Boarding pass

The new feature was activated after Bridgetbien completed the health questionnaire in the app, "We completed the health form and then the app showed confetti and balloons and that first screen popped up."

According to the pass, guests with this option can look for Express Boarding signs inside the Cruise Terminal.

Royal Caribbean has not formally announced this new Express Boarding pass option, and there's no clear indication who can get it or how to get it.  For the time being, it appears to be a limited test.

Not the first express check-in option

If a faster way to check-into your cruise sounds familiar, this isn't the first iteration.

In early 2020, Royal Caribbean began testing an Expedited Arrival option on select ships.

Guests that downloaded the Royal Caribbean app and filled out all the necessary information pre-cruise could qualify for an Expedited Arrival option.

Expedited Arrival pass

Similar to Walt Disney World's old Fastpass system, guests with Expedited Arrival got to bypass the regular check-in line in the cruise terminal and instead walk through accelerated checkpoints to get onto the ship faster.

The new feature began rolling out to a few ships right before the cruise industry shutdown in 2019.

Following the cruise industry restart in 2021, Expedited Arrival was not seen again.

A long-running effort to make check-in easier

Galveston, Texas terminal security

Royal Caribbean has been waging its own battle to make the embarkation day experience easier and faster.

In an industry centered around guest satisfaction and delivering fun, the check-in process has been a thorn in the side of that desire.

Royal Caribbean is fond of referring to its effort of getting passengers on the ship faster as going from "curb to ship".

Facial recognition

Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to implement facial recognition technology as part of the boarding process in select cruise terminals.

In fact, Royal Caribbean announced it would invest in facial recognition back in 2017 when they introduced a slew of new innovations coming to cruises over the next few years.

Prior to the pandemic, Royal Caribbean saw about 70% adoption rate of the cruise line app on a ship that had the app available. Since the restart of operations in 2021, the adoption rate jumped to the mid to upper 90s.

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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