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Jan115

Solutions for a Smooth Flight to Your Port of Embarkation

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You’ve been hard at work researching cruise vacations and finally found the one of your dreams. Have you thought about how you will get to the ship? If the port is in driving distance, outstanding! You’ve just saved yourself some time, money and aggravation. However, if you need to fly to port, this should be a priority in your planning process, especially if you are considering booking the least expensive, non-refundable air you can find, because once you lock it in, it’ll cost you if you want to change that flight.

Should you fly the same day of your cruise, or should you fly in the day before?

Let’s look at the benefits to flying the day of your cruise departure:

  • Save money – no hotel needed.
  • Keep it simple. Fly, arrive at your destination, collect your luggage, grab a taxi (or the ship’s transfer), and off you go to your awaiting ship. But wait …

Even the best-laid flight plans can go amiss, leading to delays, missed connections, and possibly bidding a fond fare-thee-well to your ship as it sails away – not a good way to start a vacation. As most seasoned cruisers will point out, flying in a day or two in advance is the only way to even consider reaching your port of embarkation. As you can see, the benefits are many:

  • Stress-free travel
  • Allows for a wide variety of available flight options
  • Spend a fun “night on the town” or simply relax at your hotel
  • Awake on the day of departure rested and worry-free
  • You’ll arrive to your ship relaxed and ready to sail
  • Gives you an opportunity to explore your city of embarkation
  • Allows for a mini-land vacation before the cruise vacation

However, some travelers simply don’t have the time or money to fly in days before a cruise. Perhaps work or family obligations simply don’t allow for the luxury of a pre-cruise holiday, thereby necessitating a same-day flight to the ship. If this is the case, several steps can be taken to minimize delays and increase the odds of getting to the ship on time.

  • Take the first flight out of the day. The earlier you fly, the more time you will have to play with should your plane be delayed or canceled.
  • Allow ample time between landing and the ship’s departure – five hours or more – to allow for weather-related or any other type of delays, as well as traffic once you’re on the ground.
  • Fly non-stop! Layovers increase the chance of delays and missed connections.
  • Take an overnight flight. You’ll arrive to port in the early morning hours, before later flights have had a chance to become backed up.
  • Book the cruise line air/transfer package. There's no guaranty you'll reach the ship in time, but the cruise line may offer assistance.
  • Pack light … carry-on only. I know, it’s difficult, but not altogether impossible, especially if the cruise is 7 days or less. I once met a couple getting married on the ship, arriving on board with only a carry on between the two of them – including the bride’s dress on a hanger. As frequent travelers, they had carry-on travel down to a science.
  • Check-in on line in advance of your flight – especially if you’re not checking any luggage – anything to reduce time spent at the airport.
  • Be sure to follow all the rules for security regarding shoes, liquids, laptops, jewelry, etc. You don’t want to be delayed one second longer than necessary.
  • Be sure the cruise line has your flight itinerary in their system (usually required when registering and completing the immigration information in advance on your cruise line’s website), and be sure you have the ship’s contact information. If it looks like you’re not going to make it on time, at least they will have a record of you travel plans. Although it’s unlikely they will hold the ship for you, they may be able to instruct you further on how and where to meet your ship on the itinerary.

If your cruise involves an international flight, don’t even ponder the question. At the very least, always fly in a day before your ship departs in a foreign country.


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I'm one of the people who've had a bag not arrive when I did. Thankfully, we had flown in the day prior, and the bag arrived before our ship departed. We'll always get to the port a day early when flying.

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I'm one of the people who've had a bag not arrive when I did. Thankfully, we had flown in the day prior, and the bag arrived before our ship departed. We'll always get to the port a day early when flying.

Excellent point, and another great reason to fly the day before!

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Wonderful information, Jan.

We have to look at the cost of the air vs the cost of the hotel and food when we cruise out of Florida. Most of the time we like to arrive at least one day in advance, sometimes more. (Totally depends on how much we are saving by flying mid-week.)

When there were "red-eyes", we always opted for them. Slept on the plane, arrived in Fla, ate breakfast, walked around and boarded the ship.

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Wonderful information, Jan.

We have to look at the cost of the air vs the cost of the hotel and food when we cruise out of Florida. Most of the time we like to arrive at least one day in advance, sometimes more. (Totally depends on how much we are saving by flying mid-week.)

When there were "red-eyes", we always opted for them. Slept on the plane, arrived in Fla, ate breakfast, walked around and boarded the ship.

We also did red-eyes in our younger days, when we were more alert and didn't require much sleep. Now if I were to try that, I would look like one of those zombies from Walking Dead. :0

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Wonderful information, Jan.

We have to look at the cost of the air vs the cost of the hotel and food when we cruise out of Florida. Most of the time we like to arrive at least one day in advance, sometimes more. (Totally depends on how much we are saving by flying mid-week.)

When there were "red-eyes", we always opted for them. Slept on the plane, arrived in Fla, ate breakfast, walked around and boarded the ship.

We also did red-eyes in our younger days, when we were more alert and didn't require much sleep. Now if I were to try that, I would look like one of those zombies from Walking Dead. :0

Zombies.jpg

"We want our sail-away drink and we want it now!"

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God tips Jan!

We had some very close calls just making the ship on our first two cruises so for many years we always got to the embarkation port the day before – sometimes even if it was only a three hour drive away!

Now we’re in a situation where days off from work are very hard to come by. We still recommend to others the peace of mind that comes with getting there a day early – but, for us, we get the best travel insurance we can and often fly same day. We’ve done Florida to Vancouver the morning of departure and we’ve done red-eyes to Europe and went right to the ship a few times.

Regarding luggage: the airlines have lost some of our bags in the past but we always each pack half our stuff in each bag. That way we’ve got enough things to last until the missing bag catches up to us. Worst case, we buy a few things and the insurance covers it. Anything vital is always in a carry on.

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