Surferlou
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

Lesson Learned: Tight schedule + bad weather + United Airlines = missed embarkation

Our third cruise (aboard the Norwegian Getaway) and we missed our connection to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

We chose to fly from Phoenix to San Francisco and take a red-eye out of San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale, where we had arranged for shuttle service direct to the Miami cruise terminal. It was all going to be perfect, except our flight to San Francisco was delayed due to bad weather in San Francisco. We arrived in SF 10 minutes after the connecting flight took off. Thanks United Airlines, for delaying us in Phoenix 3 hours, but God forbid the connecting flight be delayed 10 minutes for us to make the flight. Totally screwed, with no way to get to Miami in time for check in. We spent the night in the SFO airport trying to figure out how to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. We decided to fly to Orlando, where Jet Blue operates direct flights to Montego Bay. The Getaway was scheduled to dock in Ocho Rios the next day. Another nifty surprise courtesy of United Airlines: they lost my bag. Good thing it was mine because if it was my wifes bag...game over. :) We rushed to Target, picked up some shorts, tees, and toiletries and made the Jet Blue Flight to Montego Bay. We hired a driver to take us to Ocho Rios, and we spent the night. We met some cool locals, and enjoyed the best jerk chicken I've ever had.

 

In the morning, about 8:30 am, it was a glorious sight to see the Getaway gliding into the port. NCL made us wait until the majority of passengers got off the ship for their excursions, then we were escorted on board. NCL graciously gave me complimentary clothes washing privileges to help me stretch the few clothes I had with me as long as possible.

 

Though we missed two days of our cruise, it was an adventure, and we still got to experience every port the Getaway stopped at...in fact, we saw a bit more of Jamaica than we otherwise would have...so it was almost like another excursion...only much more expensive but oh well.

 

Another thing that happened was since we got on board at a port, NCL made us get off the ship and clear customs early, and I mean EARLY Sunday morning in Miami. We had to carry all our own bags off the ship. The positive was we were literally the first passengers off the ship. The negative was needing to be up at 5:00 am to get ready, packed, and meet in the theatre by 6 am sharp (there were a dozen other passengers in similar circumstances to ours)

 

So what did this experience teach me?

 

1. For starters, NEVER fly United Airlines again. There's a reason Fortune magazine lists them as one of the top 5 WORST US airlines in terms of customer service, on time performance, and lost bags. I hit the trifecta. I fly a lot, I'm NOT an inexperienced traveler.

 

2. I won't ever schedule a flight to arrive same day as my cruise again. Arrive a day earlier. That way IF there are any delays, there's still time to get to the port.

 

3. Carry on bags. I usually reserve my carry on bag for electronics and valuables I want to keep a close eye on. Now, I'll also include some clothes as well.

 

4. Stay positive. Whining, bitching, and moaning isn't going to change anything. Instead, figure out what to do and make the best of it.

 

It was still a great vacation, even though it didn't start out under the most ideal circumstances.

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12 Answers

Johngold
Moderator
Contributor Level: Captain

I like your attitude. On our first cruise we had booked the airplane with our Travel agent and she had everything set up with Princess. We had the first flight out of Edmonton to Los Angeles and there was someone from Princess waiting for us at the gate.

Since then we have travelled into the demarcation port a day early just so we don't have any issues. Carry on bags have become a science for us, learned from lessons taught before we even started to cruise.

Staying positive is always the best recourse, and a lot easier on the blood pressure as well.

Johngold
Moderator
Contributor Level: Captain

When we cruised on Princess through the canal and up to Vancouver, there was a passenger who had flown to Florida that morning for the cruise. We met her on board. The airline lost all her luggage and she barely made the ship because they were at the airport figuring out what to do. We felt sorry for her at first, but after three days of her whining and bitching to everyone who would listen it got old fast. The Island Princess folks did what they could and she spent some tine shopping with a crew person in Aruba,

But we had three weeks+ of what went wrong.

Attitude is everythingHappy

Surferlou
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

Thank you Johngold. I promised myself a long time ago I'd try very hard to NEVER be "that guy".  :)

kbilleck
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

[Ever since our very first cruise we have flown to whatever port a day early just in case.  At first my husband thought I was crazy, but it only took once to realize that only one thing has to be late to screw up the whole trip  It costs a night in a hotel, but we almost always have time to see at least a little of the port city on that day.  This time around, we're staying a day on the other end as well!

 

Johngold
Moderator
Contributor Level: Captain

If you go to Boston to cruise to Bermuda..... You MUST go the Cheers..... Where everybody knows your name....... They actually have pretty good food.Yummy

Auntierobin
Contributor Level: Deck Hand

We have always flown in a day early, and we stay a day or two at the end, just in case. We live in Chicago and you can never ever count on the weather. I cannot tell you how many times we've changed our flights to a day earlier. One of the tricks is to watch the weather in the city that your flight is originating from to give you an idea if it is going to be on time for your flight. Haven't missed a cruise yet (knock wood), and hope to never miss one. Plus those added days give you time to explore some interesting cities, Seattle, Vanvouver, San Diego, New York, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale all cities that are worth a visit or two or three or four. So, bottomline save yourself some stress and anxiety and fly in at least a day early and start your cruise relaxed and ready to go.

PS.  We always fly United, and so far no major problems (knock wood again).

GTVCRUISER
Contributor Level: Captain

I like to get to the port a day ahead of time , you never know what could happen with the airlines

BDRebel
Contributor Level: Captain

I like getting to the port city a day ahead -- just a much more relaxing start to the vacation.

Surferlou
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

Until this trip, I too never had a problem with United airlines. As much as we travel, it was bound to happen sooner or later I guess. I was frankly surprised though at how little help we got from United after all the years of loyalty. Very disappointed. On a positive note, I won $2,000 at the casino on the last night of the cruise....so it basically washed all the extra expenses. Good karma paid off. :)

Surferlou
Contributor Level: Cruise Director

That is on my list. I loved Cheers when it was on TV.  I've never visited Boston before. My wife is a huge baseball fan so it shouldn't be too hard of a sell to time a cruise when the Red Sox are playing so we can arrive early, and see a game and visit the Cheers bar. :)

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