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Port Canaveral- Orlando Airport (MCO) vs Melbourne (MLB)


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We are a family of 4 booked on the Wonder, December 24, 2022 leaving from Port Canaveral. I know it is safest to fly the day before but unfortunately we don't have that option as my husband must work the 23 until 6 pm and we wouldn't make it to the airport on time for any available flight after that.

So our options are:
1) Fly to Orlando nonstop, arriving at 9:45 am: $260 p/p ($1,040 total)

-Pros: more transportation options, more flight options if anything happens

2) Fly to Melbourne nonstop, arriving at 11:15 am: $195 p/p ($780 total)

-Pros: very small airport so we would be out fast. Flight is cheaper, direct and first in the morning so hopefully no issues?

Any other things I should keep in mind when making this decision? What would you do? I'm leaning towards #2

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Defiantly option 1.  But you didn't mention where you are flying from or if they were both non-stop flights leaving from the same place.   For example, we live right next to Cleveland airport.  In December, weather can delay and cancel flights.  The more stops, the more chance of delays and canceled flights.

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We tried just one time, flying Oregon-to-Florida, on a redeye, landing early morning the day of our cruise.  The flight was cancelled, we lost our cruise, and it took nearly a year to be recompensed, both with the airline and the cruise.  I will never take that chance again. 

Add to that, flying to a regional airport, if a flight is cancelled or late, there a fewer choices for an immediate replacement flight.

So, since you have no other choice, I would choose choice #1.🤔

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4 hours ago, Sherezada91 said:

We are a family of 4 booked on the Wonder, December 24, 2022 leaving from Port Canaveral. I know it is safest to fly the day before but unfortunately we don't have that option as my husband must work the 23 until 6 pm and we wouldn't make it to the airport on time for any available flight after that.

So our options are:
1) Fly to Orlando nonstop, arriving at 9:45 am: $260 p/p ($1,040 total)

-Pros: more transportation options, more flight options if anything happens

2) Fly to Melbourne nonstop, arriving at 11:15 am: $195 p/p ($780 total)

-Pros: very small airport so we would be out fast. Flight is cheaper, direct and first in the morning so hopefully no issues?

Any other things I should keep in mind when making this decision? What would you do? I'm leaning towards #2

Keep in mind it is Christmas eve which  could be very full, I would fly into Orlando as there may be more flights in case anything happens.  Which airline?  

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#1 is through Southwest, #2 through American. Leaving from DCA. American has several other non-stop flights to MCO that same morning- I'm assuming they can rebook me on one of those if they cancel the Melbourne one?
I will get travel insurance for the whole thing (flights/car/hotels/cruise).
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49 minutes ago, Sherezada91 said:

#1 is through Southwest

You don't have to pay for checked luggage with Southwest, so that cuts down the cost difference a little bit.

49 minutes ago, Sherezada91 said:

American has several other non-stop flights to MCO that same morning- I'm assuming they can rebook me on one of those if they cancel the Melbourne one?

Possibly, but you'd be banking on those flights having room to get all of you rebooked.  I only see 2 possible later flights from DCA to MCO that would get you there in time and one of them would be cutting it SUPER close.  All aboard is 90 minutes before sail away and you'll need to account for travel to Port Canaveral as well which can be 45 minutes to an hour.

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How about driving? DCA to Port Canaveral is about 13 hours. We've had success often renting vehicles one-way to FL during Christmas. If you leave sharply at 6pm, you can get to Florence SC around midnight, which is roughly the halfway point. There are several hotels along I-95, or take turns driving if that's an option.

After a few hours of sleep, travel the remaining six or so hours to Port Canaveral. Weather of course plays a role, whether or not you fly or drive. Might want to check into getting insurance that would cover those kind of delays. Good Luck

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Flying in the day of the cruise has tremendous risk regardless what airline or airport you pick.   If you fail you can't second guess your choice because either one could end with you missing the ship.  This coming from someone who has missed a ship when attempting to fly in the day of the cruise.

MLB will be much easier to fly back from after the cruise.  Vehicle traffic and security at MCO can be a zoo on a good day.  MLB is rarely a zoo.

Orlando traffic relies heavily on a limited access toll road.  When it has an accident you have nowhere to go.  MLB has I95 or surface roads that can get you get to and from the port if I95 is backed up which is rare compared to issues on the Orlando toll road.  

Also look if there are rocket launches on the morning of your departure.  They restrict airspace and the FAA routinely cites launches for delays into all Central Florida airports.  If there are flight restrictions on your day then flying in that morning is even more risky.  

On 9/10/2022 at 4:58 PM, AshleyDillo said:

Possibly, but you'd be banking on those flights having room to get all of you rebooked. 

That argument applies equally to MCO flights as well, so it's a moot point when comparing MLB vs. MCO.   Southwest has no more space at the last minute compared to any other airline.  Flying in the day of the cruise is rolling the dice at either airport.

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