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So Who Is Watching the Carry-on Bags When Passengers Go Through Security?

News item from Cruise Critic: Two Port of Miami security guards were arrested this month for stealing from cruise ship passengers, then selling the items. As reported by the Miami New Times, the guards were arrested after police reviewed footage showing one of the suspects taking an iPad from a passenger's bag after it was X-rayed and placing it into the rear of his pants underneath his shirt.

800px-VTBS-luggage_screening copy

When we're going on a cruise, we travel with two computers, two iPhones, two cameras and two iPads. You can debate whether as intrepid cruise writers we need all of that equipment if you like, but it's a debate you'll lose.

And as we've been going through airport security, we've often wondered — when we've been delayed going through the human scanner and our equipment has cleared the bag scanner — who's watching?

It never occurred to us the same fear could be applied when boarding a cruise ship.

The basic problem is the same: when you are separated from your hand luggage for whatever reason, nobody is assuming the responsibility of whatever you have in carryon.

Right?

Golden Princess
3 nights
December 1, 2013
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $66
www.princess.com

 

Miami's airport getting it right

Photo by Patriarca12

There's probably no such thing as a perfect airport, is there? Our recent experience in Miami left us thinking MIA comes close.

Here are two examples…

Number one: 

Many people who cruise like to arrive a day or two early, or stay a day or two late, or both. That often means renting a car. If there's any airport in which it's easier to rent a car, we haven't seen it. None of the car rental companies is in the terminal. They have their own building…an entire building, housing as many rental companies as you can imagine. You get there by taking a short ride on a tram. When one leaves, the next one is a minute behind. 

Okay, maybe two.

You go to and from your car by elevator. No struggles with luggage. When you return, elevator up…pay the man…turn the corner and there are the vehicles that shuttle you to the Port of Miami. Take a cab and it's 25 bucks, flat rate.

Number two:

We didn't know airports did this any more, since 9-11, but you can check bags and store them at the airport…just like the old days, except more expensive. It costs about $12 a day (depending on the size of bag), you have to be photographed, bags are subject to x-ray and you have to verify they're yours with proper ID.

So, if you want to rent a cheap car for a day or two before catching your cruise ship, you can leave bags at the airport, rent your car, hit the turnpikes of Florida, return your car, pick up your bags and head for the ship.

There are costs, of course, but what price convenience?


Carnival Conquest
7 nights
February 10, 2013
New Orleans (return): Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $389
Cost per day: $55
www.carnival.com
 

Cutting Bags Tags in the Mail

The fact that Royal Caribbean stopped sending luggage tags in the mail last week isn't likely to make headlines in the cruise industry, or anywhere else for that matter. But for long-time cruise passengers, it warrants a small explanation.

It's a wonder this hasn't happened before now. More people than ever are booking cruises on line. Consequently, the package of documents that used to show up in the mailbox is now showing up on the computer, as e-Docs. Since it includes information far more critical (like tickets for your cruise) than baggage tags, why wouldn't the cruise line include the tags in eDocs?

Royal Caribbean, for one, is now doing that.

The other part of the explanation is a practical one. If a cruise line is only sending baggage tags in the mail, and they're doing it for 1,000 people (or 1,000 couples), you don't need a calculator to figure out what that costs.

Call it fiscal responsibility. Or just call it unnecessary.


Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas
6 nights
November 11, 2012
Bari, Corfu, Santorini, Ephesus, Olympia, Venice
Inside: $276
Cost per day: 46
www.royalcaribbean.com

Small Things for Cruisers to Remember

Time for another look at packing for cruising…

Don’t forget to take these few simple things — some may be on everyone’s to-pack list, but some might be a welcome reminder:

• A small first-aid kit…a few band-aids, antibiotic cream, aspirin, upset stomach relief, all packaged as small as possible. These things are generally expensive on board, and not always available in ports.

• Several bottles of water…especially if you’re prone to stomach upsets.

• Photocopies of all travel documents…as well as of credit cards, debit cards and medical/travel insurance. Have the phone numbers of credit card companies/banks available, in case you need to call.

• Music…load up your iPod or MP3 player with your favorite tunes, and purchase a tiny speaker (I got one online for about $15, and it works just fine).

• Hand sanitizer…while most cruise ships have dispensers everywhere on board, in port it can be a different story.

• Toilet paper…sanitary conditions sometimes are lacking in other countries, and to have a few folds of toilet paper in a pocket or purse may save some anxious moments while off the ship.

• Pocket flashlight…you just never know when it will come in handy, especially if you’re on an evening excursion away from the ship.

• Granola bars…you’ll never need them on board, but finding yourself unable to find a decent snack or meal in port isn’t much fun. A granola bar can tide you over until you either find an eatery, or get back on the ship.

Pack up your troubles…and mine!

My name is Nancy and I’m a luggage monster.

Since travel’s always been part of our lives, you’d think I’d have the packing part under control. As a newlywed, my excuse for overpacking was…inexperience. I knew I’d get better.

Then along came those three little ones. Imagine, three more reasons for luggage overload!

Next it was the dog. How she loved to travel! She became my latest excuse for the excess number of bags.

Now, all these years later, we’re two again. There is no dog. We’re still heavy in the suitcase inventory department, and most of them seem to want to come with us.

We’ve located the culprit.

Me.

I’ve done some research, and no, there isn’t an LA that I can join — as in Luggage Anonymous. That means it’s time to re-think this whole baggage dilemma, particularly with the latest airline rules and regs. And Bob the Baggage Handler is getting tired of carrying and wheeling multiple suitcases. Like everything else, you can only do this for so many years.

Getting everything ON the cruise ship is not usually a big problem. It’s getting the bags TO the ship, because that usually means flying.

So here are the self-imposed (sort of) rules for our next trip.

1. Be tough. Less really is best, so take only what you really need.

2. Pack black! Shouldn’t be a problem for me, since most of my clothes, shoes and bags are black. It’s easy to co-ordinate black (skirt, pants, jacket) and add a little color to make it look different. If black’s not your thing, any neutral color will do.

3. Choose lightweight fabrics, especially wrinkle-resistant ones that dry quickly.

4. Plan on doing a little laundry. Even on ships without laundry facilities, it’s easy to wash out a few things in the sink. Better yet, splurge on laundry service.

5. Roll clothes, rather than fold them. They take up less space, and they’ll look better when unpacked.

6. Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane, in layers that you can remove as necessary.

7. Travel small, as in toothpaste, shampoo, brushes and assorted other toiletries.

8. Match the size of your carry-ons with your carrier. You’d think the airlines would standardize this, but they haven’t.

9. Pack heavier items in the bottom of your suitcase. The lighter items won’t wrinkle nearly as much if they’re on top.

10. Get a new Baggage Handler….did I say that out loud? What I meant to say was remember, you CAN buy almost anything you forget on the ship.

I’m not sure how this will work, but I’m sure the Baggage Handler will let you know. Yes, the old Baggage Handler.

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