When Should I Arrive for My Cruise?

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Your cruise is booked and now you are thinking about the specifics such as your flights and excursions.  You keep reading that many people recommend that you arrive to your port city the day before your cruise. Why?

Let’s face it – you want to have the best vacation possible. One way to do this is to make sure that you actually arrive for your cruise. When flying into your port city or flying anywhere for that matter, you are relying on the airlines to get you from point A to point B without issue. Anyone that flies on a regular basis knows that flight delays and cancellations are a possibility and you should absolutely plan accordingly for this. If you were to leave the morning of your cruise to fly to the cruise port city and there was a delay, you could miss boarding your cruise and possibly miss your cruise altogether.

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What I recommend is something that I do myself, which is to arrive to the port city the day before or if you have the time, even a few days before. You start your cruise vacation relaxed and stress-free because you aren’t rushing around trying to make connections or wondering if your bags are going to make it on the cruise with you. Find a hotel that fits you, your lifestyle, and budget to make sure your pre-cruise hotel stay isn’t only a place to park your bags before your cruise, but a fantastic start to your vacation. This past April we planned a family vacation on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas during one of the busiest travel times of the year. For whatever reason, we just missed the cutoff for checking our bags and we were told that we could not board the plane. We tried to get on another flight that day, which was the day before the cruise began and the employee at the ticket counter told us he might be able to get us on a flight the next morning. I immediately panicked thinking we would miss the cruise. This is when you become your nicest and instead of screaming or yelling and we were able to get on a different flight that night. If we had taken a flight the next day, I don’t know if we would have made it on the cruise at all.

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There are hotels that offer pre- or post-cruise hotel packages and many offer free transportation from the airport to the hotel and packages that include breakfast and transportation to the cruise port. If you live near your cruise port, there are hotel packages where you can leave your car parked there for the duration of your cruise without having to pay the high parking prices at the cruise port. If you are a frequent cruiser, stay at the same hotel brand each time to accrue points that you can later use on a free night for the next time you cruise. This is especially great if you travel for business and can use the points from your job toward your vacation. I know people that will use Priceline to find the least expensive hotel in the port city, but cheap doesn’t always mean best location or best value. You might get a cheap hotel, but transportation from the airport to the hotel and then to the cruise port might not make it the best overall value.

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Before you head off on your next cruise vacation, think about whether you would rather rush around in the airport, sweating while dragging your bag from one gate to the next, or if you would rather arrive, take a dip in the pool, and relax. Now sit back and enjoy the in-flight entertainment on our flight and of course, the screaming baby in the seat in front of you.

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