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Does check-in open at midnight? And 5 other Royal Caribbean check-in questions

29 May 2024
Calista Kiper

How do you check in for a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Royal Caribbean Check-in questions

While the process is easy, there aren't tutorials immediately available.

Plus, you may not know the hacks to get the earliest boarding times and step on that gangway faster.

To begin your cruise vacation as soon as possible, you'll want to have an efficient check-in process.

Here are all your pressing questions answered in one handy guide.

How do I get the earliest boarding time?

Gangway to cruise ship

Boarding early means that you get onto your cruise ship earlier and can begin your vacation right away.

You can get the earliest boarding time by checking in early.

Check-in opens online 45 days before your cruise and closes the day before.

Cruisers can check in online, either through Royal Caribbean’s app or website. 

Check-in will involve entering identifying information, scanning your passport or ID, and taking a security photo. 

Cruiser should also add an emergency contact and a payment method for any onboard expenses.

Once check-in is completed, you will be able to choose an arrival time to enter the terminal.

The arrival times will be listed in half-hour slots, usually ranging from 10:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.

These arrival times are first-come, first-served, so the earlier you check-in, the more time slots will be available.

Does check-in open at midnight? 

Boston terminal

If arrival time depends on when you check in for your cruise, how early can you check in? 

Online check-in opens 45 days before your cruise and is available on both the app and the website.

If your cruise leaves from the United States, online check-in will open at midnight in the time zone of the departure port.

While you can use both the app and the website to check in, the app provides a few more benefits.

In the Royal Caribbean app check-in, you can scan your passport, upload a security photo, and answer required health questions to receive a mobile boarding pass.


This saves you time at the cruise terminal since the terminal agent just has to verify your travel documents and scan your mobile boarding pass.

Of course, you still have to bring travel documents such as your passport and Set Sail Pass.

But, ultimately, checking in on the app as early as possible means you'll spend less time boarding, and more onboard the ship, beginning your vacation!

When are Royal Caribbean luggage tags available? 

Both luggage tags on the suitcase

Luggage tags are available before your cruise, usually at the 30-day point when your vacation documents are available.

To access them, go to the Royal Caribbean website, log into your account, view your cruise, and select "view more details."

Cruise documents and luggage tags will appear under this toggle, and you can download and print the luggage tags from there.

Luggage tag holders

These tags ensure that porters and cruise ship staff know where to leave the luggage on embarkation day, and that no bags get lost.

To save time at the cruise terminal, guests can print out their luggage tags beforehand and affix them to their larger bags.

When you get to the port, it will be a quick hand-off of the bags to terminal porters.

Do I need my travel documents to complete check-in?

Ready to check in

In order to complete check-in online, you will need your passport, birth certificate, or other ID.

Passengers will also be adding their Crown and Anchor number and a payment method.

Additionally, snapping a security photo will make the boarding process go smoother at the port.

Because of these requirements, it's best to check in while at home where you have access to all your essential documents and a plain white background.

Read more: 15 Royal Caribbean boarding process tips for a fast embarkation

Can I check someone else in?

Matt checking in

Guests can check-in for any other passengers on reservations linked to their account.

The check-in page will list the reservation with all added guests sailing on the same cruise.

You can click on their name to begin the check-in process.

However, keep in mind that you'll need their travel documents on hand, and it's best if the passenger is available to take their security photo.

If these are unavailable, you can enter in some of the information and have your fellow guest complete the rest later.

Do I need a check-in time if I bought The Key?

The Key is an optional, extra-cost add-on that Royal Caribbean offers for embarkation and debarkation day.

Cruisers can purchase The Key before their cruise on the Cruise Planner website and receive special access and VIP perks while boarding.

Here is a list of the benefits you get with The Key:

  • Early access at the terminal (between 11:00-11:30 A.M.)
  • Drop off your carry-on luggage in the Main Dining Room
  • Carry-on luggage is hand-delivered to your stateroom
  • Exclusive welcome lunch in the Main Dining Room featuring the Chops Grille menu
  • Complimentary room service for your entire cruise, along with 25% off all onboard dining purchases
  • Private time at some of our onboard activities such as rock climbing, FlowRider, etc.
  • Priority departure from ship-to-shore at tender ports
  • Early access to shows in the Main Theater
  • VOOM Surf & Stream package, now including high-speed internet, for one device (1 package per guest)
  • On debarkation day, enjoy a private á la carte breakfast and choice departure

If you have The Key, you aren't required to select a check-in time at all. Before the cruise, guests with The Key will receive an email with instructions for boarding day.

The add-on includes a VIP early check-in time that usually runs between 11:00-11:30 A.M., the same as the earliest time available to other passengers.

To take advantage of the free Chops Grille lunch and less crowded amenities, Royal Caribbean does recommend arriving at the terminal before 12:00 P.M.

However, if a guest can't make the early access window, they can arrive during a selected appointment time and still receive priority access to the terminal.

Read more: I tried The Key on an Oasis Class ship to see if it's worth it

5 common Royal Caribbean check-in questions answered

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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