Cruise Travel: How Do I Get to My Port of Departure?
Who doesn’t love the appeal of a cruise? From the beautiful oceanic views to the fun adventures to the all-you-can-eat buffets, there’s plenty to get excited about. Before you get lost dreaming about all of the possibilities your trip may bring, let’s make sure you know how you’re getting to the boat. Cruise travel is nothing to take lightly, especially not during the planning process. Making the wrong choices about how you’re getting to your port of departure could cost you serious time and money. Here are some of our tips on cruise travel as it pertains to getting to your port of departure.
How Far Are You Traveling to Get to Your Port?
Which method of transportation you choose to get to your port depends on distance and how much you are willing to pay. We can’t all live right by the ocean, but if you do, you may have a much easier time getting to your destination. Those who live in or near Florida won’t have to worry too much about getting to their port, as Miami is the busiest embarking point for cruises in the world, while Tampa Bay and other nearby ports are growing in popularity.
For our North American friends living in, for example, Nebraska or Minnesota, the journey to a port will take a little more effort. The two most popular ways to arrive at your port of departure is by driving or flying. While each person is different, we imagine guests who are farther than 1000 miles or so from their intended port are likely going with flying as the most convenient transport.
Book a Flight
We think this is an excellent way to get ready for cruise travel. If you have an exceptionally long flight, you may find even the smallest boat cabins to be luxurious and open-spaced. What are some of the benefits to flying? You don’t have to keep your hands on the steering wheel for hours on end, the bathroom is never more than 75 feet away, and in most cases you’ll arrive several hours earlier than you would have driving. Flying isn’t a perfect choice, however, as you will have to deal with luggage fees, arriving early at the airport, and other inconveniences that pop up in air travel.
Part of what makes flying such an ideal option is that most major seaports have a large airport not too far away. Even in some of the worst travel routes you could fly to an airport and only be an hour or two of driving away from the city you desire.
Rent a Car and/or Drive Yourself
Whether you have a fear of flying, don’t want to pay for a plane ticket, or you just enjoy the open road, you may prefer to drive to your port of departure. You’re certainly not alone, as many cruise passengers consistently choose this option. Although you’ll still have to consider whatever luggage parameters your cruise line has invoked, driving allows for you to travel however you please with unlimited rest stops, a personally planned arrival time, and you can sing along to your favorite music without being judged by 100+ random strangers. With this option we would, of course, recommend an early start as unknown traffic patterns or detours can be troublesome to your cruise travel plans.
As far as renting a car goes, we know not everyone has a luxurious and gas efficient vehicle they trust to cross state lines without breaking down. Renting a car can be expensive, but it may also give you some peace of mind, so there’s no judgement from us either way. If you trust the guy at the car rental service to give you something really cool, you might even get to drive the car you’ve always wanted to buy.
Try to Avoid Slower and Less Reliable Transportation
Planes and cars may have their own issues, but we believe they are the most reliable means of arriving at your port of departure. Buses can be great when you’re getting to work in an urban environment, but traveling across the country on a Greyhound is a miserable journey you will likely want to avoid. A trip from St. Louis to Miami, FL would take longer than 24 hours and include several bus transfers. Meanwhile that same drive in a car could take 10 hours less if you’re able to switch off driving with others in the car. Nevermind the fact that such a bus ticket would cost the equivalent of a 2-3 hour plane ride. When weighing your options between driving, flying, riding, or whatever else you can come up with, pick whatever is most trustworthy, takes the least time, and costs the least money. You’ll probably have to sacrifice a little here and there to find the perfect journey, but only you know what’s best for you.
Plan Ahead for Cruise Travel
Don’t let the date of your cruise sneak up on you. No matter how you plan to get to your port of departure, start thinking about how you’re going to achieve that goal now. Are you driving? You may want to check out hotels in the area and see where you can safely leave your car for the right price. Are you leaving out of Port Canaveral in Florida for a 5-day cruise? Get ready to pay $100 for parking at the port. Maybe you have a friend in the area who wouldn’t mind you leaving your car at their house. Then you could just Uber to the pier and save some money. Regardless, we encourage you to think through these things before you are boarding the plane or packing up the car so that you won’t be surprised with fees or conditions.
What Should I Do About Getting Home?
Planning ahead also means thinking over the return trip during your cruise travel. You may not want to deal with a 12-hour drive following a week on the boat, so perhaps a flight makes more sense (obviously you would want to fly or take a rental car on your way to the port if this were the case). In the off-chance your cruise is delayed getting back by weather conditions or something similar, you’ll want to be flexible with your schedule and mindful of what can be done to rearrange your traveling plans.
We hope this answers some of your questions regarding ports of departure and cruise travel in general. An important asset to your preparation is visiting the cruise company’s website and finding out more information about the port. There is a wealth of information here that can get you well on your way.
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