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We are arriving for our cruise on August 15-20 and are cruising on Empress of the Seas. We are flying into Miami Itnl from the mid-west. This is the first cruise we have ever taken and would like any information on Miami Port, the boarding process, what documents are needed at the port, etc. Thanks in advance!

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Welcome!

 

I've put some key points below, and at the end, a link to a great article on the blog that will provide some additional information.

  • Most people cruising out of Port of Miami prefer parking on site, though there are some off site options that are cheaper.  I haven't used them, so I can't speak to them.
  • RACE may assign you an arrival time, but know that you can show up around 0930-1030 and board pretty quickly (assuming they run into no issues with Customs, weather, etc).
  • As far as documentation, you'll need proof of citizenship in the form of passports, or birth certificates (passport recommended for a variety of reasons).  If anyone in your part has a name that is different on your passport compared to your reservation, you'll need name change documentation as well.  You should also bring your Set Sail Pass which you printed after checking in on the RCCL website.
  • When you arrive, you'll check at the curb any bags you don't wish to carry on yourself, you can use the printable luggage tags from the 'my cruises' area of the RCCL website, but the porters can help you if you are short tags.  It's customary to tip the porters here, just as at the airport.  You'll see your bag in the afternoon or evening in your stateroom, so be sure to carry on any medications, documents, or anything else you may need before the early evening.
  • Upon entering the building you'll show your Set Sail Pass and passport, go through security, then provide your documents to an RCCL rep who will provide you with your room key/boarding pass ("Sea Pass"), handle on-board billing, etc.
  • At that point, depending on if they're ready for passengers to board, you'll either board and enjoy the ship, or you'll wait for boarding to begin.  The Empress is a small ship, so generally the boarding process is very quick.

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Are you flying down a day or two ahead of time? Considering all these computer glitches the airlines are having, it might be a good idea.

When you check in, you will have your picture taken for your Sea Pass and it will be taken again as you board the ship, if you want to purchase it.

Have your documents handy for every step of the process, as you will need it several times before you get on the ship.

If you haven't already done so, let your credit card company (s) know that you are going overseas.

There will be a lot of opportunities to have your pictures taken while on the cruise. It does not cost you anything to have the pictures taken and you are under no obligation to buy any of them. But them have very good photographers and since this is your first cruise, you might want to budget a little extra.

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Welcome!
 
I've put some key points below, and at the end, a link to a great article on the blog that will provide some additional information.
  • Most people cruising out of Port of Miami prefer parking on site, though there are some off site options that are cheaper.  I haven't used them, so I can't speak to them.
  • RACE may assign you an arrival time, but know that you can show up around 0930-1030 and board pretty quickly (assuming they run into no issues with Customs, weather, etc).
  • As far as documentation, you'll need proof of citizenship in the form of passports, or birth certificates (passport recommended for a variety of reasons).  If anyone in your part has a name that is different on your passport compared to your reservation, you'll need name change documentation as well.  You should also bring your Set Sail Pass which you printed after checking in on the RCCL website.
  • When you arrive, you'll check at the curb any bags you don't wish to carry on yourself, you can use the printable luggage tags from the 'my cruises' area of the RCCL website, but the porters can help you if you are short tags.  It's customary to tip the porters here, just as at the airport.  You'll see your bag in the afternoon or evening in your stateroom, so be sure to carry on any medications, documents, or anything else you may need before the early evening.
  • Upon entering the building you'll show your Set Sail Pass and passport, go through security, then provide your documents to an RCCL rep who will provide you with your room key/boarding pass ("Sea Pass"), handle on-board billing, etc.
  • At that point, depending on if they're ready for passengers to board, you'll either board and enjoy the ship, or you'll wait for boarding to begin.  The Empress is a small ship, so generally the boarding process is very quick.

 

Documentation is probably the most important thing here.  It can make a difference on getting on the ship or watching it sail off from the pier.  Not trying to scare you but it is vital that your paperwork is correct.  If you dont have passports then make sure your birth certificates have an official stamp or raised seal.  Dont bring photo copies or copies from a printer.  If your name on your birth certificate is different from your current name have the official documents to back it , marriage certificate etc.   Have a good time,  I know you will.   Mike

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Documentation is probably the most important thing here.  It can make a difference on getting on the ship or watching it sail off from the pier.  Not trying to scare you but it is vital that your paperwork is correct.  If you dont have passports then make sure your birth certificates have an official stamp or raised seal.  Dont bring photo copies or copies from a printer.  If your name on your birth certificate is different from your current name have the official documents to back it , marriage certificate etc.   Have a good time,  I know you will.   Mike

 

Exactly Mike ..... my wife and I are going the Birth Certificate route since it's only to Bermuda and back to Baltimore, but just like exactly what you said, since her last name changed when we got married, we had to provide the document "bridge" - to connect the name on her birth certificate to the name on her driver's license, the marriage license does that ...... I even had to make sure Royal Caribbean had the "third - III" on the reservation for me since I'm the "3rd" on my driver's license, just like if your name had Jr. or Sr. after it.

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I thought that passports ARE required - hmmm???

Depends on the sailing.  Cruises that originate and return to a US port allow for guests to sail with a birth certificate.

 

Regardless, everyone should sail with a Passport.  It is in your best interest to do so.

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Depends on the sailing.  Cruises that originate and return to a US port allow for guests to sail with a birth certificate.

 

Regardless, everyone should sail with a Passport.  It is in your best interest to do so.

 

While I agree with Matt wholeheartedly ..... the only reason we went the BC route was because of the simplicity of the cruise itself, AND, even more importantly to us,  the monetary factor ..... We're already factoring the cost of getting our passports into the next cruise so it won't be an issue next time.

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If you do not have passports already, it is too late to get them. If you were going overseas they would be required.  It will cause you the fewest problems to have one for your next cruise. Make sure you make a copy, not for security, but in case something happens to the original.

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Thank you all for the info! We had no choice but to fly in the day of sailing -- we live in Southern Indiana and are leaving out of Nashville, TN, and this was the only flight heading to Miami. We are using the birth certificate route, as we booked this cruise a little over a month ago -- far too short to guarantee the delivery of the passports. 

 

I have done the Online Check-In for the both of us and have printed our SetSail Passes and our luggage tags. Is this all I need from the website to board? We have government copies of our birth certificates. Thanks!

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Thank you all for the info! We had no choice but to fly in the day of sailing -- we live in Southern Indiana and are leaving out of Nashville, TN, and this was the only flight heading to Miami. We are using the birth certificate route, as we booked this cruise a little over a month ago -- far too short to guarantee the delivery of the passports. 

 

I have done the Online Check-In for the both of us and have printed our SetSail Passes and our luggage tags. Is this all I need from the website to board? We have government copies of our birth certificates. Thanks!

 

That is all you need from the website (you can print out bag tagst here if you're checking any bags at the curb).

 

Make sure you have photo ID (DL is fine) and documentation of any name changes if reservation names don't match those on your birth certificates.  Also, confirm that your birth certs have raised seals.

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Something I almost messed up one time is you need to have the credit card you booked the cruise with handy, if you booked online.  I'm sure there are ways around it.  Not sure if you used a travel agent.

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Something I almost messed up one time is you need to have the credit card you booked the cruise with handy, if you booked online.  I'm sure there are ways around it.  Not sure if you used a travel agent.

 

I've actually been told that changing the card you want to use isn't a big deal

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Most birth certificates no longer have raised seals but state seals imprinted in the corners of the multi colored document.  Our originals from the 50"s do but our replacement ones and our children"s born in the 80"s are the new type with the state seals in the corners of the   multi colored document.   In any event they are accepted by the pass port office and social security.   And by all means when at all possible obtain a passport.  They are good for 10 years.  And most of all enjoy your cruise.  

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I've actually been told that changing the card you want to use isn't a big deal

It's not.  They don't even look to see if the card you entered online is the one that you provide at the port.  As long as it's a credit card that can be read through the terminal, they don't really care.

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