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Cruising 101: When to arrive

16 Jul 2010

After you decide on a cruise vacation, one of the first decisions to make is when should you arrive.  Assuming you don't live within driving distance of the port where the ship embarks,  you're going to need to fly down for your cruise.  There are two options: arrive the day of the cruise or arrive at least one day before your cruise departs.  Choosing which option can depend largely on you and your circumstances.

Advantages of arriving early

If you choose to arrive to port a day or more earlier than your cruise, you're all but guaranteeing that you will be able to make your cruise.  Even if your flight is delayed or cancelled, more than likely you will have enough time for the next flight to get you down in time.  Circumstances like weather, plane problems or airline scheduling changes can all occur without warning and by arriving a day or more early for your cruise, you can have plenty of time to deal with it without missing the ship.

Arriving a day or more early for your cruise also starts your vacation earlier and gives you more time on vacation.  It's generally hard to argue with that!

Advantages of arriving on the day your cruise leaves

If you arrive on the day your cruise leaves, you won't have to spend more money on a hotel, rental car, food, etc that would be necessary if you flew down a day or more in advance.  If you're on a budget for your vacation, you may simply not be able to afford to spend a day or more in advance of your cruise.  

If you're worried about missing your cruise due to outside circumstances, cruise insurance can often alleviate those fears.  

Things to check for before deciding

  • Check airfares for arriving the day of your cruise versus arriving early.  You may find significant savings for one option over the other.
  • Research hotel rates for your stay and figure out if there's an option that works for you to arrive early. If you're going during a busy time of year or during a local event, hotel space at a reasonable price may not be available.