“Faster to the Fun” – Convenient Service or Just Another Way to Make a Buck?

“Faster to the Fun” – Convenient Service or Just Another Way to Make a Buck?

Yesterday, Carnival introduced their new “Faster to the Fun” program, which allows passengers to purchase an express boarding pass that not only offers early boarding but guarantees state room availability upon boarding and immediate luggage delivery. In addition, the program gives tender and dining reservations priority through-out the cruise, benefits often reserved to many cruise line’s customer loyalty programs. The new service is offered through their excursion program.

Here are the details from the Carnival website:

Excursion Overview

MAXIMIZE YOUR VACATION FUN WITH CARNIVAL’S FASTER TO FUN PACKAGE. With this upgrade package, you get your own personal express lane to the FUN (and yes, FASTER!).
Excursion Description

CARNIVAL’S FASTER TO THE FUN PACKAGE:

BOOK IT TODAY TO JUMPSTART THE FUN

Here’s what it includes:

Priority Security, Check-in and Express Boarding
Bypass lines & have exclusive security screening lanes. If you arrive after general boarding has begun, you may bypass the General Boarding line & board via the Faster to the Fun lane. The quicker you are on the ship, the quicker you get to hold a frosty drink.

First Access to Stateroom
Your stateroom will be ready for you as soon as you board so you can relax or freshen up for all the fun you are about to have.

Express Luggage
Your luggage will be expedited to your stateroom so you can unpack and don your cruise attire first!

Guest Services
Quickly have any of your questions answered or requests addressed as you will have a dedicated phone & line at Guest Services.

Dining Reservations
Priority Main Dining Room and Specialty Restaurant reservations.

Tender Priority
You will have priority tender from ship to shore (multiple departure times may be possible) so you can explore ashore as quickly as you want to.

Debarkation Choices
We are always sad to see you go. But when your cruise is over, you may choose an early or late disembarkation time upon arrival to your homeport.

Notes

The Faster to the Fun price is not Per Person as listed. The $49.95 price covers all occupants of the cabin so only 1 guest needs to purchase but all occupants receive the benefits. Once clearance is received to start boarding, Faster to the Fun guests will board after our VIFP Club Platinum & Diamond Guests.
Space is Limited.
After purchasing Faster to the Fun package, please remember to re-print your boarding documents so Faster to Fun reflects on your documents. Have FUN!

Initially, my thought was that this program was just another way to make more money for the cruise line, but after some thoughtful consideration, Cruise Talk has come to the conclusion that this program is a response to customer requests and needs. Embarkation day can be a bit harried if luggage doesn’t arrive on time. For the most part we are patient when we board. We usually arrive at the terminal around 11:30, wait a short while to board, and then once on board enjoy a buffet lunch and tour the ship while waiting for the announcement, usually around 1:00 or 2:00, that staterooms are available. However, it can take several hours after the room is available for the luggage to arrive. I have learned to deal with this issue in two ways: wearing dining room appropriate clothing and bringing along a small carry-on. That way I can wear my boarding clothing to dinner or even freshen up a bit should my luggage not arrive in time for me to change. This method, however, is not always convenient since a later arrival time of the luggage doesn’t allow time for unpacking. On one cruise, there was no time to unpack before dinner and that meant that we had to go to bed that night with all of our suitcases for 4 people standing up in the room. I unpacked and consolidated the cases under the bed the next morning.

Carnival has come up with an innovative solution: allow those passengers who wish to have immediate state room availability and early luggage delivery to pay a little bit extra to have those room prioritized. Obviously the crew has to “turn around” all rooms at the end of one cruise and beginning of the next and that process takes a certain amount of time. They just can’t do this for every room. Hence, Carnival has announced that a limited number of these priority passes will be sold per cruise. Only one pass is required per state room, so for a family of 4 traveling in one room, who might have lots of luggage to unpack and kids that are anxious to enjoy the ship, the $49.95 fee may seem like a real bargain. However, passengers on a tighter budget might find the money better spent on their choice of beverages or a true shore excursion. For most of our cruises the rooms were available around 1:00 pm and the luggage started arriving around 4:00, so we probably would forgo the fee and be patient.