One of the most common mistakes a first time cruiser will make is to fly on the day of your cruise.
Booking a flight for the same day your cruise begins seems like it would not be a problem, but it could result in missing your cruise vacation completely.
While most flights are going to be on time and without incident, travel delays do occur with some frequency and if you end up on the wrong side of a delay, it could create a giant fiasco.
Even though you are able to board your Royal Caribbean cruise in the early afternoon (and later arrival times could be coming soon), planning to fly in the same day your cruise departs is just too risky.
Having a tight schedule of landing, collecting your luggage, and then getting to the port leaves little wiggle room for any kind of delay.
Flight delays or cancellations, bad weather near your house, car breakdowns and a variety of other unforeseen possibilities can wreak havoc on your schedule.
Also consider how airlines have severely cut back on the number of flights they offer due to weaker demand for air travel, and you leave yourself few choices if your flight is delayed.
If your delayed travel plans cause you to miss embarkation of the cruise ship, you either have to pay to meet the ship at its next port of call, or simply give up on the trip completely with no refund for missing it.
Royal Caribbean (nor any cruise line) will not refund your money if you miss the cruise due to a travel delay. Trip insurance might pick up some of the tab, but it will not allow you to actually go on the cruise vacation you planned and dreamed about.
Fly in a day early
The way around this potential travel nightmare is to fly into the city your cruise departs from at least one day ahead of time.
Flying in on the day of your cruise is just too risky. Even if you manage to arrive with no travel delays, you are just plain lucky because airline delays are too common an occurence.
What you should do instead is plan to fly in at least one day early. Not only will arriving a day or two before your cruise departs provide more than enough buffer for travel delays not to impact your cruise vacation, it will also start your vacation a little earlier.
In addition, flying in early means significantly less stress for everyone. The last thing you want to do is start your vacation worrying every minute until you arrive in your embarkation port that a travel delay could appear. Just the lingering thought of a delay is enough to make your vacation anything but relaxing.
What to do if you have to fly the same day
Some people may not be able to do fly in early, due to work schedules or crippling high airfare prices. If you have no choice but to fly in the same day, make sure you take a few critical steps (including packing plenty of patience).
Try to book the first flight of the day. Ideally, you want a flight where the plane is already at the airport from the night before, so there are no potential delays related to your aircraft coming from somewhere else. This may mean a super early flight, but early morning flights have less delays since storms tend to occur later in the day and your plane is ready for passengers.
You should also consider buying your airfare through Royal Caribbean. The Air2Sea program offers guests assistance related to travel disruptuons. The Air2Sea team can provide air re-accommodation, or hotel and ground transportation if needed. The Emergency Travel team will work with you to find accommodations on the next available flight. In some instances, same day viable flight options may not be available, and in those instances Air2Sea will accommodate you to the next available port where you may legally join the ship.