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.