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The extra step you should take before your cruise for the fastest way on a ship

12 Dec 2023
Matt Hochberg

Selfies aren't just for influencers anymore. It's actually the important step to do pre-cruise to get on the ship faster.

When the day arrives to get on your cruise ship, the last thing you want to do is waste time in the cruise terminal instead of boarding the ship.  Yet, too many people skip a pivotal step that can move things along quicker.

Royal Caribbean has made its app easy the key to boarding your ship.  Similar to an airline boarding pass, you can do it all via the app. But unlike a flight, cruise ship passengers are asked to take a photo of themselves.

The purpose of taking a photo of your face is so that ship security has a record of it, and you have to do it before embarkation.

Terminal A check in

The photo is optional in the app, but if you wait to take the photo in the cruise terminal, you'll waste time there and more importantly, take longer to get onboard.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean app walkthrough and tips

This might sound like it's not a big deal to take a photo before the cruise, but Royal Caribbean is about to make it far more important.

Why taking a selfie will become more important

Check-in signs

It's easy to overlook taking a selfie during the check-in process, but soon you'll definitely want to do it ahead of time.

Royal Caribbean is getting close to introducing a new way to check-in for a cruise that rewards passengers who do everything they need to do before embarkation day.

A new Express Boarding option is being tested in PortMiami on at least one ship, and it's meant to speed up the process for people who do everything they are supposed to in the app ahead of time.

Port Canaveral line

This means you scan your passport, take a selfie, and enter your credit card and emergency contact details.

It might not sound like a big deal to have the fastest way onboard, until you're waiting in a line that you didn't have to wait in.  No one likes waiting in line when others can breeze past them.  

Find the right spot for the photo

Hallway in house

One word of advice to avoid having to re-do the photo later is ensure you pick a spot that has a neutral background.

Royal Caribbean doesn't want things in the background, so take the photo in front of that boring hallway in your home instead of in the car or at the office.

Speaking of things that don't belong in the photo, make sure you aren't wearing any hats or sunglasses in your selfie photo.

If you don't do this, you'll have to re-take the photo in the terminal.

How to take selfie

You can take a selfie photo and upload it two ways.

The easiest is through the Royal Caribbean app. You can start the check-in process 45 days prior to your cruise departure date. 

Once you have the option to check-in, you'll see "Check-in now" enabled.  From there, "Travel Info" is the first section to complete.

Upload selfie

The selfie photo is available under "Snap a security photo".

Alternatively, you can do the check-in on the Royal Caribbean website.  The problem with the website is you need a way to take a photo and get it to your computer.  There's no doubt taking a photo from your phone while already in the Royal Caribbean app is easier.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean check-in process guide

More tips to speed up embarkation

Terminal in Galveston, Texas

In addition to taking a selfie, you'll want to to do a few more things.

Be sure to enter all of the information in check-in process so that each section has a green check mark next to it. This means entering your personal information, travel documents, credit card, and emergency contact information.

A day before the cruise, the health questionnaire will become available in the app, and that's the final step in checking in for the cruise.

Galveston, Texas terminal security

On boarding day, there are also a few good tips to assist in getting from curb to ship as quick as possible:

  • Have your travel documents (passport) in hand
  • Take a screenshot of your SetSail pass, just in case the app doesn't work
  • Have luggage tags printed and attached to your luggage

Read more15 Royal Caribbean boarding process tips for a fast embarkation

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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