Hey Allen, Can you find a flight that goes to Long Beach airport? Jet Blue airline flys to Long Beach. It is a great airline. You can take a shuttle from the airport to your hotel. Some hotels have free shuttles.
Yes, it is best to fly in one day early. There is going to be a VTG pre-cruise party in Long Beach. I will make a list of hotels in Long Beach that have shuttles from airports/cruiseships.
If you fly into LAX.... just look for a super shuttle that takes you to the cruise ship. It takes 45 minutes or 30 minutes to get to the Long Beach port.
I will do my research today and post hotel info for Long Beach.