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The Bon Voyage Experience is Back: Getting on the Ship to say Good Bye!

Updated on November 30, 2011

Bon Voyage!

Me on the ship's balcony - of my cousins' stateroom - looking at the NYC harbor
Me on the ship's balcony - of my cousins' stateroom - looking at the NYC harbor | Source

My Bon Voyage Experience

Remember back in the day when you could get on a cruise ship and say good bye to your traveling friends or family? Even have a bon voyage party? There was plenty of food and drinks and yes, lots of laughter. Well, of course all this ended in the U.S. because certain folks just would not get off the ship when the time came.

Well, the 'getting on board to say good bye' experience is back on the Princess Cruise Line and thanks to my cruising cousins (who were leaving on their 36th cruise in 8 years), I got to try it right here in Brooklyn, New York City.

The Brooklyn Pier is located less than 4 miles from my home, so my objective was to go down to the pier and wave to them as the ship was leaving. Maybe even run alongside of it.

Ah, but one of my well-traveled cousins (see the hub below for some of their early days of cruising) recalled that the Princess Cruise Line started the Bon Voyage program this year at several U. S. ports and it just so happened on the day of their cruise, the program was in effect for the first time right here in Brooklyn.

This is how it works and what is included:

Princess Cruises has revived a tradition from the early days of ocean travel. The new program, called the "Bon Voyage Experience" allows people to come aboard, as in the past, on embarkation day to see off the passengers. The practice ended over two decades ago due to the need for tighter security (and likely having to fill the brig with stow-aways).

The new program debuted in March 2011 starting in Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles and now New York City. Next will be San Francisco and Seattle. Different Princess ships will offer the program in different ports. My cruise ship was the Caribbean Princess.

What's Included for $39.

- I was able to get on the ship and have a 4 course meal with wine - which was probably better than anything I've had in a long time at that price. What was so great is that my cousins were able to join me in the special dining room to enjoy a meal as well.

- A 5x7 souvenir photo (the three of us posed together and each of us got a photo)

- The $39.00 is applied to a future cruise if done within 3 months (Several days later I did find a short cruise to the Bahamas - but it is not until next year)

- A tour guide was included who was quite personable - even handsome - but we had the option of a self-guided tour. With my cousins there, we opted to tour on our own. They know this ship - having sailed on it before. I got to see every place, everything, including their stateroom. And as an extra benefit, I was shown all the places all over the ship where I could also eat. Did I indulge? Of course. But much of the food I just sampled because I was overwhelmed by the food choices.

We had to be there by 11:30am and I had to leave the ship no later than 3:30pm. I was cooperative.

We boarded before the passengers!

I have to say - the staff was incredibly professional and genuinely kind and helpful.

What is needed:

A boarding pass is needed and must be arranged for no later than six days in advance. I had to bring my driver license as ID. It can all be done online.

About the Ship:

The Caribbean Princess was launched April, 2004.

It was built in Monfalcone, northern Italy by Fincantieri

The Caribbean Princess has room for 3,080 passengers and a crew of 1,200

The big ship weighs 112,894 gross tons

It has 17 decks and 15 are for passengers

It travels at 22 knots (or 25 MPH)

The cruise ship pioneered the "Movies Under the Stars" allowing you to laze in a lounge chair on the deck and watch first-run movies. My cousin told me the staff will supply popcorn and blankets.

The ship has 900 balconies and a deck consisting of mini-suites. (In the photo I am on my cousins' balcony)

In 2009 the ship underwent an extensive refit

Food and more food:

For those of you that like to eat more than anything else on earth, there are Anytime restaurants that are open, with fresh foods 24/7

I ate and sampled foods in 3 locations and the food was excellent everywhere

Would I do this again in the future, say with a fun friend or two?

I certainly would. In fact because this is totally new and this is the first it was done in Brooklyn, it piqued the curiosity of the ground staff. When I left the ship and came back into the terminal several staff members met me smiling, and asked if I enjoyed it. Yes! I showed them my souvenir photo. One staffer even suggested I come back again and bring a girlfriend just to have a fun day. Hmmmm. OK I will.

However, this is a new program and according to the schedule I checked, this Bon Voyage Experience was the 10th of the 11 planned with the next one scheduled for June 1, 2011 in San Francisco. But, yes, definitely when it is offered again in Brooklyn I would love to go with a friend. Especially since I know my way around and where all the great food is located.

Note: You do not have to know passengers who are traveling in order to participate. There were four other people who came for the tour and they did not know anyone traveling. We were all free to go our separate ways. Last I read, they will permit up to 50 people on any one tour.

For more information about cruising see links below:

The Bon Voyage Experience

Would you like to get on the ship to say good bye?

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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I am so glad to hear from you travel_man1974 yay - and best wishes to you and all from Brooklyn, New York City.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I'm back and it's good to know that the Bon Voyage Experience is alive and kicking! Happy holidays, BkCreative!!!

      Greetings from Philippines,

      Ireno Alcala (aka travel_man1971)

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Tillsontitan - it was fun! I'd do it again just as a day out. I'm going to check out your hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Its great to know they've brought the Bon Voyage Experience back and it sounds like they did it with a bang! I certainly wouldn't mind paying $39 for that! Voted this hub up, useful, and interesting, and linked to my hub on Caribbean Cruising.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      There is actually a lot to do here in Brooklyn, Jo. You may just have to get used to seeing 10 billion people while you do it. Whew!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Sounds like fun..........

      We really have to visit BK soon......

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome creativeone59. Good to see you again. I think you would enjoy just such an experience.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you BK,for a fun experience aboard a real live ship. I haven't had the pleasure yet but it sounds like a barrel of fun. Thank you for sharing it. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Great travel_man1971! I look forward to your seagoing experiences. Yay!

      You're welcome TheListLady!

      It is fun Country City Woman. And now I look forward to cruising.

      Thanks for the comments!

    • CountryCityWoman profile image


      7 years ago from From New York City to North Carolina

      I would looooove to do this. Next time it is in NYC I will look for it. What fun!

    • TheListLady profile image


      7 years ago from New York City

      Love this and I will do it. What fun. Thanks for the information!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Thanks for this hub, Ms. BK! I'll be at sea again once I completed my requirements next month (July 2011). I'll be posting new experiences on board sea and also when I go ashore.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello DeBorrah K. Ogans! Although you can try it on your own it was really nice to have the tour with my cousins and to see them off - that did make it special.

      Good to hear from you!

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      8 years ago

      Bk Creative, Nice hub! Sounds like you had a blast! I think this is one tradition that was worth reviving! What a great way to send your friends and love ones on their Bon Voyage or just have a great time! Thank You for sharing, Peace & Blessings!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Fun is good! Thanks Ethel Smith for writing!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Something totally different. What fun

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Fun it was HealthyHanna - and something different - Yay! I think you'll like it!

    • HealthyHanna profile image


      8 years ago from Utah

      I'm ready for my own cruise experience! It sounds so much fun.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true Hello, hello - they enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank must a wonderful experience and a perfect send off to your friends and/or family.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're welcome and thanks for commenting!

    • AngelaKaelin profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      This is a very creative idea! Thanks!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks quicksand!

    • quicksand profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting indeed, BKC, especially with fresh food available 7/24 to top it all. Cheers!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks Philipo!

      You know Veronica Allen I think your children would love it - or if you and hubby want an afternoon getaway and something completely different - this would work too. For an adventurous person like yourself - it is also something new for you to try.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      How cool BkCreative. Talking about taking a getaway on a budget. I'd love to do something like this if they come by way of Savannah.

    • Philipo profile image


      8 years ago from Nigeria


    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Maybe it will come to a port near you AliciaC. I think more cruise lines will see how this can also be a boon to their bottom line. I wasn't too sure about cruising but there are so many things I liked about this ship including sitting on a balcony and watching the ocean.

      There is so much building going on in downtown Brooklyn VioletSun. You've probably heard about the major stadium under construction. In fact my streets and sidewalks are being torn up because a new water main has to be put in.

      I'm glad a Brooklyn Pier is open - it makes so much sense and there is an IKEA near it.

      It was good clean fun and a nice change.

      Thanks for the comments!

    • VioletSun profile image


      8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      This sounds like fun, BK! And how cool you live near the pier, used to hang out there, and enjoyed the restaurants overlooking the water. Good to know about the Bon Voyage Experience!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The Bon Voyage Experience sounds like wonderful fun and a good deal. I live next to a port city. I wish a similar event was held here – I would certainly go to it! I especially like the fact that you don’t need to known anybody on board to go to the event.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much for your input PWalker281. When I think of all the companies who are bankrupt and crying, you can see that they haven't done anything innovative to get our attention (and money) in decades.

      I love creativity - and this works so well.

      As far as docking in Honolulu, I don't know yet where the next ports will be yet - no list has been published.

      It was soooo much fun. Of course when I do my cruise next year, I'm thinking I will board and use the relaxing time to write a great screenplay, novella or such.

      And thanks for the ratings!

      So true Paradise7 - there was once a time of high fashion and elegance - I do kind of miss that. Seems we've become so grungy. Thanks for writing!

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      That really sounds like fun!!! Nothing like a Bon Voyage party. It's a very glamorous blast from the past.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I was thinking the same thing Dexter said as I read your hub, BkCreative -- that it's a great way to advertise a product, show people what they'll be getting when they book a cruise. Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I would definitely do one of these Bon Voyage Experiences. I'm wondering if this boat docks in Honolulu. We lost a cruise company a while back due to the economy, so I'm not sure.

      Anyway, great hub as usual! Rated up and useful.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Ah, I remember the days of seeing folks off at the airport - I could walk almost up to the plane, even take pictures.

      A good day of fun with food and family - yes, a real good deal for $39.

      Thanks Mimi721wis!

    • Mimi721wis profile image


      8 years ago

      Sounds like a really nice deal for $39. I'd do this if I leaved near a port. This reminds me of seeing friends off at the airports. Things have really changed.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Yes, anglnwu - now I know I like this shop and all the amenities. I wasn't too sure before about being stuck onboard for so many days - but it actually felt quite relaxing.

      Lots of fun Shalini Kagal!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      8 years ago from India

      Sounds fun, BK!

    • anglnwu profile image


      8 years ago

      What a neat idea. This is definitely a good way to see what the cruise is all about and you get to enjoy your friends/relatives before they leave on a cruise. Glad you had fun. Rated up.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello again marellen! I think 4 days will be just enough.

      I did find a 4 day cruise on the same ship - it goes to Bermuda and leaves from Brooklyn. My problem with cruising in the past is that I would have to get on a plane and go to another port - like FL. But to leave from Brooklyn - less than 4 miles can I not? Yay!

      It's not until late next year - but watch how fast it comes - and then I will write a hub about it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      BK...going on a short cruise is so much fun. My family and I did a four day cruise and that was just enough and we all had a wonderful time. I plan on doing this again. Plan your trip too.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true Dexter Yarbrough - this is a super marketing tool. Why not better use what you already have - and create something so enjoyable? Made me think of how I can better do what I am doing. Hmmmm. And see I have been thinking of a cruise - and of course this is the ship I want to be on. Yes, I suppose it is better than running alongside the ship!

      I can't tell you how much fun I had. Best of all marellen, this is local so it was so very very easy. And the food is excellent. Clever marketing too because I felt so relaxed on the ship - that I know I want to do this (as long as it's from Brooklyn and a short cruise). Yay!

      Thanks for the comments.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      That was a real treat for you and sounds like so much fun. Wish I knew someone so I could go but like you said anyone can board. Thanks for sharing this fun info.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      8 years ago from United States

      The Bon Voyage experience seems like a great idea as well as a wonderful marketing tool. I am glad you were able to see more than just running alongside the ship! I am going to bookmark this as a reminder. Thanks for sharing!


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