My response is a generic one based on multiple experiences with a variety of cruise lines.
Disembarkation procedures are very clearly spelled out but you have to pay attention to the instructions when on the ship.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that disembarkation is governed by the port authorities giving approval for disembarkation to commence. If there is some sort of security/customs/immigration problem or even if port authorities are just running late, no one will be allowed to get off the ship until the matter is resolved. This has NOTHING to do with the ship's crew allowing people to get off the ship. It is outside of their control.
- A few days into your cruise (depending on how long the cruise is), you receive an inquiry as to your departure information (e.g., flight, train). The crew uses this information to assign you to a group for disembarkation so be sure to provide them with the requested information.
- If you want to be one of the first people off the ship, there is usually a "carry-off" option in which you keep your bags inside your cabin on the last night of the cruise. It usually costs an additional fee, so don't be surprised by that. You are responsible for getting all of your bags off the ship on your own. This option usually does not work well for someone disabled unless there is another person traveling with him/her who provides that assistance. The crew will not assist you so be sure you can handle all of your own baggage prior to selecting this option.
- Once the crew assigns passengers to disembarkation groups, you receive written documents in your cabin with that information, plus information pertaining to breakfast service on the morning you arrive into port. Pay attention to this. This information includes the location in which you are to report for disembarkation. It is important not to gather in common areas of the ship to await your group being called but to go to the assigned gathering area.
- Most ships are strict about disembarkation groupings. For example, if you are assigned to group F but try to get off in group A, it is highly likely you will be turned away and told to come back when your assigned group is called. This is a hassle so if getting off the ship early is important to you, then go with the early departure option (if there is one).
- Another thing about departing in the proper assigned group is that luggage is often put out for retrieval according to your assigned group. If you are in group F but manage to get off the ship in and earlier group, you may end up waiting for your luggage to be put out in your assigned group. As a result, getting off the ship in an earlier group is not going to save you any time or get you moving any quicker because you have to wait for your luggage anyway.
- You need to have your passport and sea pass card in order to disembark. The crew may also specify other documentation required to get off the ship (e.g., customs form), so again - pay attention. Be sure you do not pack documentation required to disembark if you opt to leave your luggage outside the door for pick up the last night of the cruise. This will cause you more delay.
Hope this is helpful. Happy sails!