How Long Does It Take to Get on and Off a Cruise Ship?

By Anna Duncan

Cruising is a popular way to relax and explore different parts of the world. Most people think of long days spent lounging on the deck, eating delicious meals and taking in the sights.

But one of the key elements of a great cruise is getting on and off the ship quickly and safely. So how long does it take to get on and off a cruise ship?

The answer depends on several factors, including the size of the ship, the number of passengers, port regulations and security procedures. Generally speaking, boarding a large passenger vessel can take between 1-2 hours. This includes waiting in line at check-in, dropping off your luggage, going through security checks and boarding the boat itself.

When disembarking from a ship, there are several steps to follow before you can leave. This includes gathering your luggage from storage areas or designated collection points, queuing up for passport control (if applicable) and finally leaving the port terminal. On average, disembarkation takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on these factors.

Some cruise lines have implemented systems to speed up check-in processes for passengers. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines introduced ‘Faster To The Fun’ which allows passengers to pre-register online prior to their trip and skip some of the traditional queues when they arrive at port terminals. This could reduce boarding times considerably.

In addition to these steps taken by cruise lines themselves, there are also other steps you can take as a passenger to make sure you get on board as soon as possible:

  • Book Early: Booking your cruise as early as possible will help ensure that you get priority access when you arrive at port terminals.
  • Arrive Early: Aim to arrive at least an hour before check-in opens so that you can queue up quickly.
  • Pack Light: Packing light will speed up security screening processes.
  • Follow Instructions: Listen carefully to any instructions given by staff both when boarding and disembarking.

At the end of the day, getting on and off a cruise ship is relatively straightforward but it can be time consuming depending on how busy it is at your destination port or departure point.


Getting on board a large passenger vessel typically takes between 1-2 hours while disembarkation usually takes between 30 minutes – 1 hour depending on various factors such as port regulations or security procedures. Cruise lines have implemented systems such as ‘Faster To The Fun’ which allow passengers to pre-register online prior to their trip in order to reduce boarding times significantly. As a passenger there are also several steps you can take such as booking early or arriving early at port terminals in order to minimise time spent during check-in processes.