Real Cruisers Advice To Avoiding Cruise Queues

October 20, 2015

The team know that one of the things our customers hate most is queueing on holiday! Whether you’re caught in a rush at the buffet, swamped by crowds on an excursion or buffeted on embarkation, cruising can be a little overwhelming at times – if you aren’t used to it!

So to help solve your woes we turned to our cruise community to find out their top tips for avoiding the queues and having a chilled, relaxing holiday instead.

Read on to find out how you can skip the crowds on your next cruise…


Tips For The Airports

If you’ve booked a fly cruise, the first queues you’ll encounter will be at the airport. So what advice did our forum members have for avoiding these?

Annie from Glasgow said: “at UK Passport Control, I use the self-serve terminals.” [Although not all passports have the chip necessary to use the self-service machines. To make full use of this service you’ll need one of the newer passports!]

Whilst Lawnmowerman from Tain had advice about what to do once on the plane: “When in the airport, I am ALWAYS last on the plane! I just sit and watch everyone who has queued for goodness knows how long to get on a plane that is going exactly nowhere until all passengers are on board. So when the last passenger goes past the check in desk I get up and stroll through – not fast mind as they are still funnelling into the long thin tube that is an aeroplane!”

airport queues


Tips To Ease Through Embarkation

The next stop on your journey to the ship is the crowds at the port. What tips did our forum have for staying relaxed during embarkation?

History Addict from Alfreton advised you to: “book a suite or build up your status within a cruise line’s loyalty club. This will often allow you priority embarkation at the start of the cruise which is a great way of starting your holiday.”

Neil Down from Southampton said: “Be calm and polite to everyone but be aware of what is happening and watch for openings. Arrive early or arrive late, the latter being far less likely to have a delay. If you have difficulty walking ask for a wheelchair and assistance, a family can use this shortcut by just following on; don’t do this if you are ambulant though, that’s cheating. Go cruising a lot with the same cruise line and get ‘Priority Boarding.’”

Bigsis from Waterlooville told us: “I know you can’t avoid security queues but getting prepared for the checks can save time. Put watches, wallets, belt & mobiles in the carry on before you get to the conveyor belt and screening.”

embarkation queues


Tips To Beat The Buffet

We’ve all been there on a cruise – you’ve just got on-board after embarkation or after an excursion hungry for your lunch and headed straight to the buffet… only problem is though, hundreds of other people have had the same idea! What can you do to avoid waiting for a table to eat when visiting the buffet?

History Addict from Alfreton gave us a great tip: “Never visit the buffet on the hour or half the hour. Always arrange to arrive at a buffet 5 minutes earlier because everyone who plans their day ahead will plan to arrive on the hour or half hour.”

Hampshire Thorn from Fareham told us: “When boarding, arrive early if possible to find the buffet reasonably quiet. If you can’t arrive early try an alternative to the buffet – Celebrity Bistro on Five, or The Red Lion on Cunard – to avoid the starving thousands that haven’t had a meal since breakfast.”

Bradbury from Coventry agreed with this top tip for avoiding the buffet altogether: “I love Celebrity Bistro on Five on the first day, no lugging the hand luggage behind you round the swarms of people in the buffet. Just park up, sit down and be waited on.”

Val from Wolverhampton advised: “if there is a big queue in the buffet, look for alternative dining options; the ones with a small cover charge will be less busy and are well worth the charge. If you are set on using the buffet and there is a queue, have a look around the ship and come back a bit later, it will still be there.”

Annie from Glasgow revealed: “I never eat on embarkation. I have lunch and then arrive at the port.”

buffet queues


Tips To Survive Excursions

Waiting for tender boats and waiting to get into iconic attractions in port can also be intense. Were there any tips for excursions?

Hawkinsmg thought you should: “Go down to the allocation venue 45 minutes before the time they start to give them out. This way you don’t stand and queue for hours to get a tender that gets off a lunchtime when you’ve got a planned excursion or train timetable to meet. Take a coffee and a book and sit it out.”

Bradbury from Coventry had a lot of advice for this one: “Avoid the queue for the tenders by waiting until all the tours have left the ship and wait an hour until the backlog has cleared… Returning to the ship don’t queue, sit and have a coffee in a nearby bar where you can monitor the queue and join in when it’s fairly quiet.”

“Pre-buy your tickets for major tourist attractions that you want to visit.”

“The Colosseum in Rome has two queues – one for pre-purchased tickets and one for tickets on the day, so planning ahead can save you loads of valuable sightseeing time.”

“We went to Amsterdam earlier this year and the queue for Anne Frank’s house was two and half hours long. If you had pre-purchased tickets in advance you could go straight in at your allotted time.”

excursion queues


How To Beat Those Queues Altogether

Did our cruise community have any tips for just avoiding queues altogether?

Old Sea Dog from Stockport joked: “If you want to avoid queues, avoid large ships.”

History Addict from Alfreton suggested that you: “book longer cruises. On shorter cruises people tend to run around madly trying to experience everything in a short space of time. On longer cruises people pace themselves more.”

Val from Wolverhampton told us that you should: “When the lifts are very busy opt for the stairs if you are able, a good fitness aid as well as quicker.”

And Cornish Girl from Falmouth jested: “If push comes to shove and you can’t avoid the queues then find a seat and send your other half to join the queue.”

avoid queues take stairs


When You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

If there really is nothing you can do to avoid the crowds, what should you do?

Duetto from Staines said: “pass the time talking to the people next to you in the queue, time goes quick and you forget about the queue.”

Carol from Welwyn Garden City told us: “If I’m in a queue, I just switch off and go into people watch mode, I then imagine how everyone (who takes my eye) lives and what they do etc. Probably get it completely wrong, but it keeps me amused while I wait!”

when you cant beat queues


And finally… Andyn from Kensworth offered us a formula you can use to work out how long your queue is going to be. It’s based on the M/M/1 queuing system… If you want to know what we’re talking about –  take a look here! (we can’t promise that it will work though!)

You can read the full thread and all the other advice that our forum came up with here.


So what do you think of our cruisers top tips for avoiding cruise queues? Have you tried any of these tactics before yourself?

Let us know in the comments below!