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Cruise Travel: Luggage Tags
Then & Now

Luggage tags then...
...and luggage tags now

by Linda Coffman

Think back to the last time you were issued an actual paper airline ticket. Can't remember? Neither can I. The technology that enabled us to print our own boarding passes and check in online for flights quickly displaced tickets that were traditionally necessary to obtain a boarding pass at the airport. Just in case you are unable to check in ahead of time, or need to check suitcases, kiosks take much of the burden away from airport check in counters.

In much the same manner, technology is overtaking tradition in the cruise industry. For years cruise lines issued a packet of cruise documents that booked passengers either picked up from their travel agents or received in the mail. Some came in swank document holders, but all included the actual ticket, the cruise contract, and usually several forms to complete with personal information, including one to establish onboard credit. The forms were tedious and there was always someone who hadn't filled them in holding up the line in the terminal.

Slowly but surely, cruise lines are catching on to the efficiencies of airline-style ticketing. While only a few terminals feature kiosks for check in, document packets are being replaced by e-documents. Either you or your travel agent can enter all that pre-boarding information online at the cruise line's web site and then print out the documents you need at check in, including luggage tags.

Paper Luggage Tags?
While most passengers have no complaint about printing their own e-documents, luggage tags printed on paper are a cause for concern. As frequent cruiser George Hall said recently, "Someone will have to explain to me how these paper tags stay on through the process."

It just so happens that I've had occasion to print out and use the paper tags a couple times and I have suggestions for how to keep them securely in place during luggage handling.

First of all, paper is flimsy and tears easily, even when folded over into thirds as the instructions indicate. So, to prevent tearing, I "laminate" the middle section of them with wide clear packaging tape before folding. I then staple them on the suitcase handle and reinforce the stapled end with tape. Using this method, they have stayed put without tearing.

However, if you're flying to your embarkation port and don't want to carry a stapler or tape to attach the tags before transferring to the pier, you can still obtain the traditional style tags from luggage handlers at the cruise terminal. Take along some self sticking return address labels so you don't have to fill that part in and have a pen handy to write your phone number (cell phone if you have it with you) and room number on the tags. It only takes a minute.

Many suitcases have more than one handle (one on the side and one on the top) and for even more "security" place a cruise ship luggage tag on each handle. If one is damaged or lost, chances are good that the other won't be.

Finally, always make sure your suitcases are identified with personal luggage tags. Even those can sometimes be damaged or lost, so put a card with your personal information inside each suitcase as well. Lock your suitcases before checking them in pierside and relax until it's time to unpack and enjoy the rest of your cruise.

Strong & Secure, A Better Alternative

Since writing the above, I discovered an even better method of attaching those fragile paper luggage tags without "laminating" them with clear packing tape. Two companies, Favors by Serendipity and WCBS4 Printing have come up with ingenious Cruise Luggage Tag Holders for those printed luggage tags.

We love that cruise lines are going green and we love these luggage tag holders made especially for cruise ship paper luggage tags because they are strong, secure, and reusable. Check them out on Cruise Diva's Blog here and here and at the company's websites linked above.

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Have DUCK Tape, Will Travel  A cruise travel necessity.

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