Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of the Monday Mailbag. This week I have a couple of questions concerning deadlines and cruising. The first question is about arriving at the cruise port at the last minute while the second is about booking a “true” last minute cruise. Hopefully, these user submitted questions prove to be helpful to you guys and remember to keep the questions coming.
How late can I arrive at the cruise port?
I will be sailing out of New Orleans on the Norwegian Spirit this coming June. My ship leaves at 5p.m. but my plane doesn’t land until about 2 p.m. Will I be able to make the ship on time or should I try to schedule an earlier flight?
This is a tough one because although I would love to, I have never sailed out of New Orleans. What I can tell you is that ideally you will want to arrive at the cruise terminal no later than 1.5-2 hours before its time for your cruise to sail. Although you can show up a little bit later 2 hours is a good time to aim for.
Now assuming it takes about 45 minutes to get from Louis Armstrong Airport to the cruise terminal that means when your plane lands you will have about 15-30 minutes to retrieve your bags before you run up against that 2 hour cap. However, like I mentioned you can get there later but depending on weather or any other unanticipated delays you are cutting it extremely close. If it were me I would try to fly down the night before, but if that isn’t possible the latest I would want to land would be somewhere in the noon to 1 o’clock range.
What is the latest I can book a cruise?
I heard that the cheapest way to book a cruise are the last minute cruises they sell at the cruise port on embarkation day. Is it true that you can buy those last minute cruises pennies on the dollar?
Unfortunately as far as I know you cannot buy last minute cruises at the cruise terminal. In the past driving to a cruise terminal with a trunk full of luggage with plans on taking a cruise may have been an option, since 911 happened that option has changed.
While it is still possible to book cruises with as little as 24 hours’ notice the true drive up option seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird. While there is a myth going around the internet that the deadline to book a cruise is 3 days prior this is nothing more than the internet version of an urban legend.
While my admittedly limited research shows there was a time period following 911 where homeland security indeed required a 72 hour cutoff time, since then this deadline has been relaxed. I have heard of people booking a cruise as close as 48 or even 24 hours prior to sailing time but this all depends on the individual cruise line. My advice would be to call around to the cruise lines you are considering to see what the actual cutoff time would be.
While it is true that booking at the proverbial 11th hour will probably net you the cheapest price possible, this is really only an option for those that live within driving distance to a cruise port. Those of us who need to fly to cruise terminals would be absolutely killed by the cost of booking a last minute flight to the cruise port.