I typically like to arrive at the embarkation port of my cruise at least the day before. You never know what issues you might encounter, especially when traveling with a family during a busy season. But sometimes you may not be able to extend your vacation and must arrive the same day your cruise ship leaves. If you are traveling a distance, the only choice may be to arrive at the port destination early in the morning.
So with more than a few hours before your embarkation time, what can you do?
Cruise Sponsored Excursions
Many times, cruiselines offer excursions in the port cities either before or after the cruise. These are a fantastic way to ease your transition until you can board the ship. It will typically include an airport transfer, which means a cruise designee will meet you upon arrival at the airport and quickly whisk you away for an exciting adventure. It's ideal since they'll even safely hold your luggage while you are out enjoying your activity.
They usually offer extremely fun tours and activities. This is your chance to see historical highlights in a new city or maybe visit sights on both land and water with a Duck Tour, just to name a few. Then once it's time to board the ship, they'll make sure to get you back to the port on time.
To find what port city excursions your cruise line offers, check the excursion section on their website or ask your travel agent.
Hotel Day Pass
Do a little research and find a hotel or resort close to your cruise terminal. Often they have day passes available that allow you to be a guest for a day, or even for just a few hours.
For example, in Fort Lauderdale only a short taxi ride away from the airport and cruise terminal, is the beautiful Atlantic Hotel and Spa. For just $40/per person (based on availability), you can purchase a day pass to have full access to the spa, restaurants, pool, and beach. You'll be provided with a locker to store your belongings, as well as towels and other amenities you'll need to enjoy your visit.
After being up early traveling, who wouldn't love to relax at a spa?
Or claim a sunny spot at the pool or beach.
Also, the Atlantic Hotel is only a mile away from the Galleria Fort Lauderdale for fantastic shopping. If you realize you forgot to pack something, this is a great chance to grab it before you head on the ship.
Virtual Hint: If you plan for a hotel day pass. or the city tour option below, I recommend you be extra cautious and get to the ship absolutely no later then your embarkation time assigned, preferably even before. Since these are not cruise line sponsored activities, the ship will not wait for you if you are late.
Another option is to pre-reserve a reputable car service to take you on a city tour. This is a great experience! Request for a pick-up directly from the airport. Then, with a large trunk or cargo area, your luggage will be secure while you tour the city. Since transportation drivers are usually local residents, they'll know all the best scenic areas to take you. Before researching a car service, estimate the total time from when you'll arrive to when the ship departs. Then make your reservation for the specific number of hours. That way the driver will wait while you get a bite to eat or stick your feet in the ocean at a nearby beach. (If you are going on a cruise, isn't there usually water around?!)
When departing from Miami, Florida, there are so many unique areas to see. A few suggestions of what you can do:
Head to the Ship
This might seem silly since you are hours early from the time you were told that you should arrive. But often you are actually able to check-in and board early depending on the timing of the cruise before. If the immigration checks, health inspections, or other cruise ship requirements finish up early, they will let guests on the ship. While you are waiting at the cruise terminal, they typically have plenty of chairs for you to relax and spend some time to get familiar with the signage of where you'll need to head for check-in.
It's such an exciting moment when you are actually boarding the ship. Once you step through the doors and are greeted with a smile and a cocktail, you'll know that your cruise vacation is about to begin!
My Virtual Vacations Blog
About the Author
Thanks for cruising by! Along with creating this website and blog, I work in an office full-time and as a mom to two energetic teenage boys. With our family's busy work and school schedule, we look forward to traveling during holidays. Although it seems that our family can never agree on anything, we do when it comes to vacations. We typically travel on cruises or stay at luxury hotels. We enjoy upscale dining, beautiful decor, excellent service, and spacious accommodations. However, with a family including two teenage boys, we still need family friendly and comfortable.
Virtually escape and start planning your next luxurious cruise vacation on land or sea with My Virtual Vacations. Contact me for any specific questions or recommendations. And don't forget to keep checking back for the latest blog posts and information. There are always more family vacations in our future!
About the Photos
Our beautiful photographs are creatively captured by my talented freelance husband/photographer located in Baltimore, MD. Click here to explore more of his work.
Time flies! We are quickly moving into warmer months and that means summer is on the way. We are SO excited to announce we are planning some incredible summer adventures. First, we are heading to south Florida and then we'll be expanding our travel to luxury destinations in the west. Visits to Scottsdale and Sedona, AZ are in the works. If you have suggestions for My Virtual Vacations to visit, reach out to us on our Submission Form. We'd love to hear from you!
Be in the know!
Sign up for our email list and you'll receive a sneak peek when we have an update or new blog post.