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Old February 27th, 2011, 08:09 PM
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Question Driving to the Port, or How Far Would YOU Go??

Hello all. Just wondering if a lot of you guys drive to your ports when you cruise? Gas prices are climbing steadily, and I'm sure flight prices and fuel surcharges are right behind them, so I'm worried that my planned budget for this trip will be seriously skewed by the time it actually gets here.

My boss and his wife like to drive to their cruises, because they enjoy the drive, and they stop in a few coast cities and enjoy the beaches along the way. I don't have a lot of time for that. I'm just a little employee; they are the bosses! I only get a week and a day or two off work.

See, here's the thing. I'm from Southern Oklahoma. We're cruising out of Ft. Lauderdale. They assure me that it's super easy to drive from here to there- you just need a GPS and you're fine, you're good to go. But... (whining) I am such a chicken!!! I am just barely brave enough to drive in OKC, and not a snowball's chance I could handle Dallas. (Are you kidding me?! It's scary just riding through that traffic as a passenger! Or maybe that was just my ex-husband's driving. Anyway...)

So who has driven from TX or OK to FL and lived to tell the tale? Is it easy? Is there any chance a big wuss like me could handle it ok without causing an international incident? I know it would save a big amount over flying, but you have gasoline, extra food, possibly extra hotel and parking.

I'll tell you a secret- I've even considered taking my kids on the BUS!! Round trip it would be less than air, but so unlikely to be worth it! I've considered taking the bus down there and then flying home. Again, not a huge savings on flying both ways, and not worth the long hours on the bus.

My mom said this afternoon when we were talking about this issue, "Well, if me and your dad go..." And even though I'd love to take a trip with them, and I'd love to save $$ on air by having Dad drive and riding with them, part of me just went, "Noooo!! This is my trip! Mine, mine, mine! My time with my kids to celebrate the girls graduating, and even if we end up hitchhiking stowaways on a garbage scow, I want this to be our own adventure!" But of course I didn't say that, because I was the one telling her all about the ship and how awesome it was and in a moment of insanity, I was all, "You should totally go with us!"

I don't think she's really considering going, and I wouldn't mind too much if she did, I guess, but they have this way of not treating me my age, not at home and NOT on vacations. And I have this way of reverting to high school when we're together and they (mainly Dad) start telling me what to do and not do. It just drives me bonkers.

So ANYWAY! I'm just hoping the flight prices don't change too dramatically in the next "However long it is until I should book" (when is that, anyway?) and all the worry will have been for nothing.

Thanks!
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Old February 27th, 2011, 08:20 PM
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The furthest we've driven is 45 minutes .
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Old February 27th, 2011, 09:17 PM
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We will be driving to our crusie from Charleston this Oct. and that is the farthest we have driven for a cruise.

Our daughter and her husband drove from Tampa to Ok City twice with not much trouble, they preferred the Northern route to the Southern. And my S-I-L is directionally challanged when driving. Both times they made one overnight stop each way.

Hope this helps.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 10:42 PM
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Thanks, Nancy! I'm somewhat tempted to try it, but I'll wait and see what gas prices and airline tickets are doing when it gets a little closer. I really am such a chicken when it comes to driving, but the other part I forgot to mention is that my car may not really be up to the trip. It's... um... old. Yeah. It's a '98, and I'm not sure it would hold up for that kind of road trip. But I guess we'll see.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 12:59 AM
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I'm pampered living in Central FL. 5 cruise ports all within easy driving distance.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 01:24 AM
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Ok
My opinion is when driving in the winter through snow states then be prepared for the unexpected which means you are comfortable driving in snow and spending extra nights in a hotel.
Expense wise you also have to add on the parking charge at the cruise terminal whichh is probably a $100 plus for seven days.

No way can the gas, hotel, parking and expected overnights plus food be less than your plane flights.
PS: I just saw your blip about a '98' car and read part of your blog who, are you wanting to prove you can beat all the odds.
Thought your prime goal is to celebrate with your kids and cruise then stay away from needless stress.
If possible, at least fly in one day earlier so you do not miss the ship because of bad weather.

I vote to fly

Have a great cruise in 2012
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Last edited by robh; February 28th, 2011 at 01:36 AM.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 08:38 AM
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We have driven coast to coast - but when "going" on vacation we usually fly. Calculate the cost of food & hotels when you look at driving. If you have the time great, but if not fly. BTW if you drive you need to add the cost of parking to your expenses.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:05 AM
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the furthest we would drive to a cruise port would be 2-3 hours that would put us at either Boston or New York. As the others have said, consider the wear and tear on your car, on yourselves, gas,tolls,restaurants, hotels, snacks for driving, and parking. And you said that you are not comfortable driving thats stress that you and your kids don't need to deal with, my vote is to fly in the day before, so you are there! you arrive at the ship all rested, raring to go and in cruise mode!!
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:18 AM
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You guys who live within 2-3 hours of your ports are so lucky! Even driving to Galveston for us is, what, 6 hrs?

Oh well. I was always pretty sure we'd fly. I just start reading threads that talk about airline ticket prices and fuel surcharges, etc. and I get antsy, worrying that by the time my cruise actually gets here, everything will be much higher than what I'm planning for right now! (I know, stay out of those thread, then, dorfus!)

So let's talk timing. With a cruise in late May (2012), when is the ideal time to book flight and pre-cruise hotel?
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:30 AM
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Okla...

PLEASE read this article I did about driving to cruises:

Drive-to Cruises Are More Practical Than Ever

It notes all of the good and bad about driving and even gives a link to a great web site where you can calculate how much a drive will cost.

Bottom line - the more people you have the more sense it makes to drive - you can carry five people for the cost of fuel for one - but flying gets more expensive as you add people. Plus if you have more adults you can share the driving chores.

Hotels do not charge by the person (but they may charge for extra beds) but you can usually get two queen beds on one room for relatively little.

In the end - driving can be a lot cheaper - but OKC to Fort Lauderdale is a LONG drive and let no one tell you differently. 400 miles (10 hours of driving easily) is in the state of Florida alone.

Here is what Travelmath.com gives you...

Fuel Cost of Driving from Oklahoma City, OK to Fort Lauderdale, FL

It is 1429 miles (!) which for me would mean two overnights. The roundtrip fuel costs are $329. I would stop in (probably) Memphis, Birmingham or Gainesville. Remember you have to reach the ship by 2:00 PM or not much later. You have to pay to park at the pier about $10 or $15 per night.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:33 AM
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As far as booking a flight - I would start watching fares right away. You never know the right time to book a flight, but often it is "the sooner the better."

I also have to wonder why you didnt book out of Galveston. That port has so many interesting ships now and even more coming next year; Carnival Dream, Mariner of the Seas, etc.

New Orleans is also a great port with lots of good ships.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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Unhappy Driving to port

From where we are in Central California it is a five hour drive to Long Beach, the only really effective port we can drive to. With a car full of four people it is cost effective this morning, but where gas prices will be by this afternoon gives one pause!

We have looked into driving from here to Seattle for an Alaska departure. That would be a two day trip, effectively three days if we plan to arrive the day before for safety's sake. Gas, hotels, meals, parking -- it just doesn't pencil out. Airfare, even with airport parking, is still a better deal.

Now it depends on how you travel, of course. My dear aunt had friends all over the country. I bet she could have packed some sandwiches and apples and chocolate bars in her bag, taken off in the car and found a friend or relative to stay with every night! If you like to travel that way it might work out. But why travel on the cheap to a cruise where you plan to "play rich"?
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Old February 28th, 2011, 11:52 AM
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Default Fuel Surcharges

Paul is right in you should book your flights early as it allows you to KNOW your travel is booked and paid and airlines nornally honour the price at the time, no surprises.
It is possible the ship might impose a fuel surcharge on your daily charge but the main NA ones have not yet though in UK and Europe they have started to place a surcharge.
Either in the price or not

In terms of driving you have to remember that one does not drive at 60 mph average in snow country such that you can cover 8-10 hours a day, certainly not in my part of the country. You also have to ensure you do have a hotel to sleep in which means your drive has to be planned for that time of year
You have to factor in costs and stress to make the right travel decision.
Sure, people travel across the country to get to a ship but to my knowledge they are the exception and unless you live in an area where weather is not a main factor I certainly not drive across the mountains in the winter though I have at time, an adventure for sure but not needed if possible.

Cheers
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Old February 28th, 2011, 02:20 PM
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OklaCruiserMom, do you have any discount airlines like Southwest that fly out of an airport near you? that would be the place to start checking airfares, if i am not mistaken airline tickets are only good for 1 year from date of purchase, might want to check into that one, you sometimes can do better if you "bundle" your airfare with a hotel stay using one of the internet travel sites like hotwire, travelocity, expedia, or even better contact a local travel agent and let them do all the work for you, shouldn't cost anything to use a ta , maybe even worthwhile to transfer your cruise booking to an agency, deals and perks
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Old February 28th, 2011, 02:51 PM
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Paul, thanks for posting that article. I have saved the fuel cost site. It will come in handy when we are getting ready to drive to Charleston.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 09:42 PM
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Hello again, all! Thanks for the responses- I'll try to answer them somewhat succinctly; you already know I tend to ramble:

Paul- Thank You! for the article. I just read it. I'm still considering everything, and that TravelMath site will definitely help. Re: why not cruise out of Galveston- It would have been too easy! Seriously, we just got our hearts set on Allure. The schedules I could see on RCI website didn't seem to allow for going out of Galveston when I wanted to go. Allure had Dreamworks, as well as all its other perks, and we just fell in love with it.

Mike- that's exactly why- travel cheap so you can play rich! We too would definitely be the 'WalMart bag with chips, bread, and cookies; bologna and soda in a small cooler' travellers. Inexpensive hotel (not too awful, but basic functional place to put your head down for a few hours), etc.

Rob- we're talking Southern US in late Spring. No worries about snow here. My only concern about driving is just getting around in big cities- merging, exit ramps, ON-ramps!, multiple lanes, cloverleafs, etc. Toll roads I can handle, if it's clear where you are supposed to stop and pay, etc.

Lisa- I have three main choices of airports, I think: DFW, Dallas-Love Field, and Will Rogers in Oklahoma City. I could even drive to Tulsa to fly out from there if I had to. I think my problem is that it's so far out right now- it's still 15 months away. I actually do have a TA, so I don't even know why I'm worrying about anything- she can help me with booking air and hotels and all of that, if I decide to fly. I'm just obsessing, as per usual.

I think my boss and his wife told me that it could be driven in a day and a half of solid driving- The cruise leaves at 5pm on Sunday, May 27, 2012. If we left like, Friday morning early, I could drive all day, find a motel and stop late Friday night, get up and start again and drive the rest of the way straight there, get there late Saturday night, stay in a motel in Ft. Lauderdale, get up and be on the ship by 11:30 at the latest.

Not sure. Gotta think about it for a while. I've got a lot of time to obsess. I'll probably drive myself nuts, at least!
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Old March 1st, 2011, 01:09 AM
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Ok Mom....I know it might not be fair, because both my wife and I are professional truck drivers...but...We drive from home near Chattanooga, TN to Miami/Ft.Lauderdale (700 miles) on our cruises. We enjoy the drive because we can take our time and see what we want to see, not like when we are working and can't stop.

I am sure you can travel down to Dallas, hop on I20 east to I49 south to I10 east to I75 south to the Florida T/P right down to Ft.Lauderdale/Miami.

It's not a hard trip, you should be able to drive it in 2 days.

If you need any help, let me know! I'll be more then glad to advise you.

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Old March 1st, 2011, 08:57 AM
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Hey, Tim- Thanks! I appreciate it. As I said, my boss and his wife said it was perfectly easy and I should be able to handle it, and I'm beginning to believe it, but now I'm just wondering about the time- a day and a half to two days on each end of the cruise- I may not be able to take off that long. Also, I think after the cruise, I'd just want to be able to hop on a plane, lean back, close my eyes and re-live every minute of the last week rather than wrestle three kids into the car and drive again for two days. I'll probably make up my mind when it gets close enough to book the air, and if I can't fly all 4 of us, (me, two 18yo and 1 11 yo) for a maximum of $1200. I estimated my total trip cost based on comparable dates for this year as opposed to next year on SpiritAir. It was $1009. So if it goes over $1200, we will look at other options.

Thanks again for your advice- if I decide to drive, I'll probably be asking you for route-specifics!
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Old March 1st, 2011, 10:11 AM
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another possibility to consider might be taking a train? don't know any of the logistics about that, might be something for you and your TA to look into. i know, i know one more thing to think about lol
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Old March 1st, 2011, 12:30 PM
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Oh!!!!

I didn't realize you were going on Allure - Yes, it is worth going to Ft Lauderdale for that ship.

You are going to have a great cruise. Enjoy!
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Old March 1st, 2011, 01:36 PM
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I live in Boston, so going to the NYC area would be the extent of my driving to a port...
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Old March 1st, 2011, 03:16 PM
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Talking Live cheap or travel cheap

Quote:
Originally Posted by OklaCruiserMom View Post
Mike- that's exactly why- travel cheap so you can play rich! We too would definitely be the 'WalMart bag with chips, bread, and cookies; bologna and soda in a small cooler' travellers. Inexpensive hotel (not too awful, but basic functional place to put your head down for a few hours), etc.
-- now for us, "playing rich" starts when we leave the house. We don't like to travel cheap -- so we live cheap at home! We have a very simple lifestye. Our newest car is five years old, our TV is ten years old with basic cable, and we have boxes of mac cheese in the pantry! But as soon as we set foot out the door, all the money we saved on living expenses goes for limos, nice hotels, good tours, and appropriate tips.

Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MercedMike View Post
-- now for us, "playing rich" starts when we leave the house. We don't like to travel cheap -- so we live cheap at home! We have a very simple lifestye. Our newest car is five years old, our TV is ten years old with basic cable, and we have boxes of mac cheese in the pantry! But as soon as we set foot out the door, all the money we saved on living expenses goes for limos, nice hotels, good tours, and appropriate tips.

Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.
Merced Mike - I have to say I am impressed. Most people who are "cheap" at home tend to try to travel the same way.

Mostly - however, I am impressed because most people who have to budget choose to spend money on "things." But you choose to spend it on experiences that create memories. As I said, most people do not think that way, so I find your approach very interesting.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 06:34 PM
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MercedMike, I like your pictorial of all your cruises; done very nicely and lots of memories.
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Old April 14th, 2011, 01:27 AM
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I live outside Atlanta Ga, Miami is 11 hours which is the farthest I have to drive. I can reach the other ports (Charlston, Jax, Port canaveral, Mobile, etc) for 8 hours or less drive. Flying is ok, providing you play your cards right. I went on a cruise out of Miami one year with some friends from work. I drove and they flew. On way home, i had to carry some large items for them they bought in jamacia, I left ship by 8.30 and by 4PM, I was in South Ga a couple hours from house, and the others with me were still waiting for there flight, when i dropped them off at airport on way out of town..(they sat there all day). They got home about 1 hour ahead of me, which isnt much when you compare a 11 hour drive to a 1 1/2 hour flight to same place. We also try to stay in a hotel where they will let you park for free if you book one night, which can be worth it for a 8 day cruise. The same thing happend to us when my Sister had the bright Idea to book us on a "standby" flight for 11AM the same day we got off ship..As you guessed it, We could not get on because it was full, so we hung around Miami untill 5pm untill we could catch another flight. After all said and done we didnt get home untill 10PM that night...same time if we drove...Id rather be in a vehicle making time, instead of sitting around a airport all day.
You can always take a cruise out of galveston, which shouldnt be that long of a drive from OK City. But your choices are only western carribean.
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Old April 14th, 2011, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
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another possibility to consider might be taking a train? don't know any of the logistics about that, might be something for you and your TA to look into. i know, i know one more thing to think about lol
taking a train would be cool, but its not a quick trip. Its just like a bus, its going to stop at every Hick town on way, and may take 2 days or more to get to where your going. I took a bus from Atlanta to Kings bay ga which is 340 miles and approx 5 hours. the bus stopped at every town on every back road and took about 9 hours to get there. I will never take another bus anywhere, unless I take it for the senery, then i would take a train.
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