Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Cruising Suggestions - The ID

My Cruise Photo
As promised I will describe some of my personal observations from the cruise experiences of last week. The ship was the Royal Caribbean, Allure Of The Seas. It is one of four Oasis-class ships which make up a fleet of the world's largest passenger ships afloat; only slightly less in size than the American Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The Allure can carry up to 6,296 passengers and has a crew of 2,300+. What a ship for a first cruise.  

My biggest concern was identification paperwork. As with flying there is very little latitude and passports are required because you are visiting foreign ports. The TSA operates this first tier of check-in, with identification checks, carry on bag x-ray, and radio waves body scanning. Once past this, there is a pre-boarding ship check-in, operated by the cruise company. 

This next level of security involves providing information for your “Cruise Card/Pass” and answering health question. Also the taking of a photo that is embedded in your file and displays most every time you use your cruise card.  The cruise card is your on-board identification, money (voyage charge card), cabin key, and entertainment/dining entry ticket. No paper or cash is used.   

Several weeks ahead I established an online account with credit card and uploaded the photo I wanted on file. That saved time at the cruise check-in counter and meant that I had, on file, the photo and presentation I wanted. "Nice photo" was the agent's comment. I highly recommended doing this ahead of time. At this point, the name on file is my legal (passport) full name. More on that later.  

Your boarding pass is stamped and this provides entry (boarding) much like in airline travel. Once your cabin is ready the cruise card is at the door to your cabin along with your checked bag. This occurred at about 1:00 pm on the day of departure. Embarkation is what boarding is called and occurred about noon.  Even after going through the security and the check-in process, you still have almost a full first day to enjoy the ship. That I did, so arrive early. The ship's departure from the dock occurs at 4:00 pm. 

Your ship entry point is onto a cavernous area, known as the Promenade Deck. This area is very much like a huge enclosed shipping mall that includes, shopping, dining rooms, information booths and a vintage car that is the centerpiece. Located on this deck is “Guest Services” which is very much like the front desk of a “Five-Star” hotel. 

Guest Services

It was at guest services later that first day, I presented in my best look (one that matched the submitted photo) and appealed for a better name representation for the week. I was fortunate to have someone that spoke and understood English well and after a huddle, with a supervisor, I was issued a new cruise card with only my first initial “G” and last name. Mission accomplished and problem solved!  I do believe that the travel agent had alerted the cruise line.  

I am sure that this is not their first request of this nature, so the guest services agent was understanding and knew just what I wanted/needed.

Thank you Barbara!  (see note below) 

From then on I was “Ms. G”. and all port departures and re-entries were uneventful as I watched the photo display. No questions or delays. The only additional security check was in Puerto Rico where I needed to show a photo ID, (driver’s license) and cruise card to re-board the ship. The first name on the DL matched the cruise card initial, so no hesitation or secondary look. 

My bottom line recommendations are these:

  • Upload a photo you want on file ahead of time.  Determine what presentation you want for the cruise and stick with that. Clothing variation can go from dressy, casual, to pool. Suggestion – stick with one gender so as to not confuse your cabin staff or food waitstaff; you will be interacting with them all week. They are friendly and accommodating, so no need to worry.  Be yourself - there is no reason to be concerned.
  • Most important – relax and enjoy the moment. Put on your bathing suit and go the pool; be modest and blend in. Wear your best resort/cruise wear. Formal nights are so much fun.  Stay tuned... 

There is much to see and do. Royal Caribbean and the Allure of the Seas was understanding and wonderful. This was one of my most rewarding and fun ESCAPES.

Why are you waiting?  

My Cruise Card/Pass

Note: Big thanks go to Barbara Muhlbauer, Travel Consultant with Gadabout Travel and Treasure Coast Travel Agency, Vero Beach, FL. Barbara is part of the worldwide FROSCH Travel Agency and handled all of the details for the trip. She was understanding and answered many, many questions. She was super to work with and I highly recommend her experience and professional manner. E-mail: barbara.muhlbauer@frosch.com to book your Escape.  (772.589.0633) Be sure to mention my name. 


  1. This was quite interesting ---I'd love to take a VAC like this but have always been concerned about all the paperwork required beforehand--- thank you for this blog and info Rhonda!!!