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Jason

Federal budget cuts begin to affect cruise ships; passengers furious

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PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Passengers at a South Florida port waited in long lines to get on dry land.

A sea of people were hot and frustrated, and sick of waiting. "Everybody is stressed out," said a woman. "We've been in line for about four hours."

Passengers were ready to debark the Carnival Freedom cruise ship before the long lines ruined what was left of their relaxing vacation. "This was my honeymoon cruise," said Jermaine Lee, "so they had me a little upset."

Many passengers said they never experienced such long lines. "I've cruised many times before and never experienced anything like this," said Mike Hoag.

Passengers blamed the lines moving at a snail's pace on federal budget cuts. They said there were only two or three U.S. Customs Border Protection Officers working. "It's crazy to try and clear 4,000 people off a ship with three agents," said Hoag.

"They said there were only three custom agents because of the budget cuts," said Damon Slone. "They've got less personnel to get people through."

Not only is it affecting the people getting off the ship, but those waiting to get out to sea as well. "It's very frustrating," said Jessica Boggs. "we're hot, we have bags, there are 17 of us in our party and we drove down from North Carolina so we're just ready to get on board and have a good time."

Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement, "The customs and immigration process for debarking guests has taken quite a bit longer than normal. It is out understanding that more than one cruise line at Port Everglades is experiencing similar circumstances. We regret the inconvenience experienced during the debark and clearance process."

From the sea to the sky, passengers at the Miami International Airport also experienced a similar situation just a few weeks ago as they waited in line for hours because of the federal budget cuts.

That cruise ship is still waiting to debark. Passengers are finally on the ship but they did have to wait up to four hours to board.

Several employees at Port Everglades said this has been happening to several cruise lines recently.

Source: WSVN.com

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I guess I will have to stay on the ship longer and arrive a little later to board. This is another draw back of the bigger ships. time to learn a little more patience I guess.

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When we sailed RC Liberty of the Seas recently, we went from our cabin to our car in less than 30 minutes, no lines whatsoever but we had done the early debarkation , taking our luggage. We've had lines to get off before and waited for quite a while on the customs line, but this last trip was our fastest debarkation ever. It was from Port Everglades. I guess it was just our lucky day. That was in February.

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I’ll wait until this appears to be more of a pattern before I worry too much about it. One thing we learned over the last few months: the media sometimes seems to go out of their way to find anyone who’s unhappy so they can get a quote! :laugh:

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Oh my! My travel partner and I are leaving on the Allure of the Seas the 28th of April from Ft. Lauderdale, has anyone experienced long lines there? Of course its such a huge ship I expect some waiting but hopefully not 4 hours. I would appreciate any comments from anyone.

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I'm sure over time, the debarkation process will be fined tuned. Maybe the ships will arrive in the debarkation port earlier as to not to affect the embarkation process of the new passengers. But let's keep in mind, no matter HOW you vacation, you will incur some type of inconvenience . Be it at the airport or on the road, you can expect some type of "line". For me, I'm in no rush to get off the ship! If I'm flying home from the port, I'll just make sure I book my flight home a bit later. All in all, I would rather have a line getting on or off the ship than any other travel mode!! :cool2:

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