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What Does Arrival Time in Nassau Really Mean?

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I am booked on a Nassau Cruise on the Mariner of the Seas this coming November. According to the schedule, the ship is supposed to arrive at 8:00am. What does that really mean? Is the ship arriving at the port at 8 or are people actually walking off the ship at 8? We were hoping to take a tour starting at 9 (through Viator, not RCI) and were wondering if this is a realistic time.


Thanks in advance.



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I was on the Mariner earlier this month, port arrival was probably 7am-7:30a while letting people off was 7:30am-8am or so. I'm sure it varies, whenever they get official clearance to let people off the boat. While I didn't hear the official announcement, I was off the ship by 8:20a as I had an excursion via RCL to Atlantis to meet at 8:45am under one of the canopied wating areas right outside the ship. I guess it depends where you have to meet your excursion group.

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Typically the stated port time is the desired time passengers can walk off the ship.  However that isn't a "guaranteed" time.  Stuff happens. 

One time another ship had difficulty docking and we had to hang back waiting for them to get it done.  We couldn't approach until we were given the green light to proceed.  Not our Captain's fault but we were 'late' arriving because of another cruise line.   Their old ship didn't have azipods so they struggled in the moderate wind.

Most reputable excursion companies understand that ship port time isn't absolute but it would be wise to ask them this question and make sure you understand their policies.

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21 hours ago, stevendom57 said:

According to the schedule, the ship is supposed to arrive at 8:00am. What does that really mean? 

The CORRECT answer by Marinetime standards, which is followed by all cruise lines, the arrival time is an estimated time the ship is due to dock at its destination port. This time changes as ships have known to be given clearance to arrive/dock early OR a delay can occur which pushes the ships arrival/dock time by port and local officials.

Once a ship docks,  port and local officials board the ship to inspect manifests, necessary paperwork, security, agricultural, etc. and any issues that need to be dealt with before allowing passengers to disembark, which usually can be quick or take a little time.

Once the ship is cleared by port and local officials, this is when the ship starts announcing that disembarkation will begin.

Viator has a good handle in scheduling their excursions. I've personally never had issues with Viator and would highly recommend them.


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Like @twangster said, you never really know what can happen. It is not uncommon to arrive a little earlier and thus cleared by customs and ready to get off sooner than later. However, so much can come into play. How close do you meet the tour? If right at the port, I would prob not worry much. However, since I AM a worrier, I would contact Viator and ask them about the situation. They prob have this down and if this tour is geared as a shore excursion, they know the drill. And, be ready early and one of the first in line just in case of any delay. 

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