Throwback Thursday – Goodbye to Cruise Document Packages

Cunard Line Document Holder
Cunard Line Document Holder

Cruise document packages and holders, gone but not forgotten.

Ed. Note:  Progress, economy or going green?  Looking back on my article from five years ago, it seems like the cruise lines, one by one, found a way to save a buck and maybe save a lot of trees by sending cruise document holders the way of the dinosaur.

Getting your cruise document package in the mail was a highly anticipated event. It was proof-positive that you were really going on that cruise.

Do you remember checking the mailbox for your cruise documents?  As Maurice Chevalier sang in the 1958 movie Gigi, “Yes, I remember it well.”

Looking back five years to 2010, here’s when it all began…in my opinion.

One by one the cruise lines are, in the name of ecology, economics and guest convenience, eliminating the time-honored tradition of sending passengers their travel documents in a personalized holder.

Added to the long list of cruise lines opting out of sending documents via mail to their guests, today Cunard, (owned by Carnival Corp.) joined the pack of cost-cutting cruise lines.  According to Cunard, they are committed to provide “excellent customer service” and this is just one of several enhancements to its documentation procedures.

Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon when it comes to change, though it is inevitable.  Yes, there have been times when I’ve questioned the amount of paper that was used to produce some of the mailed documents.  Postage isn’t cheap, either.  I think that what bugs me the most is that it boils down to economics rather than ecology.  Travel agents will have to do more busy-work, clients will have to get used to creating their own pre-cruise excitement. If they don’t book with a travel agent they had better become versed in the art of origami because some cruise lines have eliminated personalized printed luggage tags.  Instead, their website provides fold-by-fold instructions as to how to “make” your own luggage tag out of computer paper.

This morning I received an email from Royal Caribbean, which also owns Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity.  Here are their reasons why they are opting for online tickets:

  • Travel Agency Recognition – our eDocs are personalized with Travel Agency name & phone number to reinforce to the guest that we are working together to deliver their vacation.
  • Best in Class – our interactive format will be more engaging & visually appealing than most other industry documents.
  • Cost Savings – no more need for our Travel Partners to incur shipping expenses to forward printed documents to their clients.
  • Less Admin time – we’ll do the work for you. Just provide us with your client’s email address at time of booking and we’ll send the eDoc notification link directly to your guest & cc: your agency.
  • Choices – in cases where eDocs simply won’t do, we will still provide a printed document option.
  • 24/7 access at the guest’s convenience, once the eDoc is issued.
  • Each guest on a booking can have their own set of documents at no extra charge.
  • It’s easy for the guest to email their itinerary to family and friends.
  • There is no charge to have eDocs reissued.
  • Guests may print selected pages or the entire document either in it’s original format or a printer-friendly version.
  • eDocs make it easy for guests to navigate all pre-booking activities via hyperlinks.
  • eDocs is a more environmentally-friendly option.
  • eDocs have already become the preferred format for a majority of travelers.

Going to e-ticketing is the future.  Cruise lines know that they have a lot of beds to fill and finding new passengers is their main objective.   The cruise lines also know that new passengers won’t have a clue as to what they are missing.  The loyal past passengers are the ones who’ll be the most upset at the passing of an “era.”  Travel agents may have to charge their clients for time spent assembling a packet of documents.

If the cruise lines are looking for a little extra revenue, why not design a classic document holder that can be purchased on their website?  It would make a great bon voyage gift that travel agents could purchase in bulk to use to present the documents to their clients.  Just a thought.

Losing the cruise document holder is very sad.  Past passengers are already reminiscing about pre-cruise excitement when receiving their travel documents, even if only in a cardboard envelope. Hopefully, the truly luxury cruise lines will stay the course with their unique cruise document holders. Some with a zipper or snap closure, brushed suede or pleather/leather document holders.  We loved them all.

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5 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday – Goodbye to Cruise Document Packages”

  • Hi Genevieve, Thank you for your comment and I’m so glad to learn that you have kept the Cunard document holder. It’ll be a collectible some day at this rate! Happy cruising!

  • Hi Diane, I totally agree with you! The “origami” luggage tag with stapler is so disappointing. DIY cruising…so true. Thank you very much for reading the article and taking the time to comment.

  • While I do miss the pleather folder what I absolutely abhor is making a luggage tag and getting a stapler. The luggage were a nice small collectable memory after the trip and something to be guarded before the voyage.

    Your post brought so many memories of days gone by as compared to this do-it-yourself cruising.

  • Having now been a regular cruiser with my husband since taking our first trip on Cunard’s QM2 in 2009,


    I definitely miss the delivery of the documents by mail. My email inbox gets a little full and things can get missed and opening the special envelopes was a treat indeed. However I have kept my lovely cruise documents holders (as seen in your photo above) and continue to use them for our holidays.

  • Thanks for taking the time to comment. I totally agree; getting the documents, even if for your clients, is always fun and great PR for the cruise lines. The end of an era, eh?

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