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Vancouver Reducing Boarding Time


Since 9-11, “clearing customs” has run the gamut of being everything from a nightmare to a piece of cake for international travelers…more often a bad dream than a sweet treat.

Among other things, and in the interests of making it easier for the masses to navigate their way in and out of the U.S., the complications have spawned trusted traveler programs and, more recently, automated terminals for airline passengers in many airports.

Port of VancouverVancouver’s cruise terminal has 10 machines. It’s the first time U.S.-bound cruise passengers have been able to utilize automated passport technology.

Translation: quicker embarkation.

It’s called BorderXpress, and if you’re taking an Alaska cruise from Vancouver this year, you should make note of it so that you’re prepared. If you’re new to Automated Passport Control (as it’s called), you simply scan your passport, answer questions on the screen, pick up your receipt and then meet a customs officer.

It’s supposed to allow customs officer to process four times as many passengersm — or the same number of passengers four times faster. In theory, if it has taken you an hour to board a ship in Vancouver, you should now be able to embark in 15 minutes…or so.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Director Kurry Pastilong said this:

“The recent evolution of APC for cruise ship passengers is just one more way that the agency is striving to ease the flow of passengers without sacrificing core mission requirements.”

From our experience, it works well in airports. There is every reason to think it will at the Port of Vancouver…and hopefully many other cruise terminals.

In the news…

• Celebrity's Bistro On Five to cost $10, increase of 42%
• Carnival's 'big' news conference set for June 4 in New York 

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Corp. may add 10th cruise line

Holland America Maasdam
7 nights
June 20, 2015
Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, Quebec City, Montreal
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99

Relief for Customs Lines in Florida?

Twice last month we disembarked from a cruise ship at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The first time, there was a short delay in clearing customs. The second time, it felt like we were at Disneyland or Disney World, in one of those never-ending lines that keep moving to think you're making progress.

Yesterday…good news.

Port Everglades is one of 16 partners in a program which allows for additional customs officers when required. As in…when a cruise ship arrives.

It's no surprise to port officials that Customs is often short-staffed when cruise passengers are leaving ships but, until now, there was no solution. Especially in Port Port EvergladesEverglades, where two 6,000-passenger ships — Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas — come and go every week.

Now there is a solution, providing the port's customers (the cruise lines) request and pay for additional service.

Yes, it could have the hint of a "new tax" for cruise passengers…doesn't it? Or maybe it'll just be buried in the cost of your cruise.

Phil Reimer today: Seabourn expanding 2015-16 itineraries

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
November 1, 2014
San Juan (return): BarbadosSt. LuciaAntiguaSt. MaartenSt. Thomas
Inside $399
Cost per day: $57

Speeding Up The Embarkation Process

A dear friend of ours used to say that when America wants to try something new, whether it's a new procedure or a new law, it often happens first in California. If it's successful, that's good enough…and it goes viral, or at least to other places.

Our late friend lived in California, he knew what he was talking about — or so we assumed.

Twice on our cruises customs agents have come onto the ship to clear passengers for going ashore. Now we're not saying it hadn't happened anywhere else, but those are the only times we been part of a process that shortens lines and speeds Yokohamaup disembarkation. It seemed like such a good idea we wondered why customs people didn't do the same thing whenever and wherever a ship is disembarked.

This summer, Japan is going one better.

According to a story in The Japan News, ministry immigration officers will go on board at the ships' home ports to collect fingerprints and facial recognition data. When the ship arrives at Yokohama's cruise port (above), it will still take an hour for passengers to go through passport verification, freeing them to spend at least an extra hour in the port.

For a ship with 3,000 passengers, that's up to another 3,000 hours of spending, so just do the math.

By 2030, Japan anticipates its number of foreign visitors will triple.

With the growth of cruising in Asia, the Japanese want to be ready.

– photo by Aimaimyi

Celebrity Century
7 nights
June 8, 2014
Vancouver (return): Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, JuneauKetchikan
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

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