Just wondering what you frequent cruisers think regarding what ports are best to depart from. I've only been to Port Everglades. I hear New York is a nightmare and very slow. How about Tampa, Port Canaveral, Miami, San Juan, New Orleans, Texas, etc? DId you find things move quicker or are more organized in certain ports?
I've noticed going through Miami and RCL seems very efficient, also the departing. Last trip we flew AA and we were able to check in at the port and check-in luggage, very convient, I loved it. I find when leaving Ft. Lauderdale, if you have to fly and there are quite a few ships coming in, the airport there is a nightmare.. Have had no real problems in San Juan, just lack of seats in some areas, but OK otherwise. We will be cruising out of Pt. Canaveral in Sept. and only cruised out of there years ago, will be interesting to see the changes.
New York was actually an easy port to use. Although not easy to use, Venice has got to be the most beautiful port to sail from. Of the Florida ports, I prefer Port Canveral. Easy parking and just a short trip.
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New Orleans is one of my favorites, close parking, nice hotels, (and Casino),
The riverwalk is lots of fun and a nice vantage point to watch the river, and your ship.
This is one of my most favorite "day early, day later" ports.
Galveston is well organized, and even though the traffic looks like a mess,
the local police (or port authority ?) do a very good job moving people to and from.
Houston used to be, and probably still is, very efficient, but is in the middle of a
chemical / industrial area, and doesn't smell very nice. This only lasts as long as it
takes to get out of port.
I haven't been out of Florida lately, and have never used the upper east coast,
so I cannot comment on them.
Whichever port you use, go a day early, do some research on the area and activities, then let the fun begin.
Have a great cruise.
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I have sailed out of my homeport Tampa now three times and I feel it is fairly quick and simple and well organized. This last time back in December was the most painless embarkation I have had even when compaired to the cruise when I was in the Skipper's Club. I will sail out of Ft. Lauderdale for this first time this December, so I can't say anything about it. Sorry I am not of much help but since no one mentioned Tampa I thought I would chime in. We have a wonderful airport to fly into which isn't too terribly far from the port as well.
Being from Florida I can only comment on the ones here. Tampa can be quite busy if there are several ships in port. The parking is great $10.00 per day,but off sight is cheaper. Port Canaveral is short distance from Disney and the disney line does a great job with the travelers.
Ft. Lauderdale is huge, lots of lines and very busy, easy to get to. Just remember... don't stress out by trying to make your cruise on the same day. Go early and enjoy the sights before.
I just cruised on the Legend out of Fort Lauderdale it was ok, long lines to get on the ship and the people who did not print their Carnival fun pass got on much quicker then those of us who had, so that was kind of annoying. Other then that it went ok, I guess I took Carnivals transportation next time I will just take a cab, also quicker cause you don't have to wait for them to unload a bus full of peoples luggage. I did think it was cute all the people who lived near the port ran out of their houses to wave at our ship when we were leaving that was cool.
The next time I cruise I will fly in a day before and maybe spend a day after I was exhausted on the first and last day of my cruise because of all the travel. I also have to start pricing airfares to other ports to see if I can save money by choosing somewhere else. Im curious about Norfolk Virginia also. Id love to go to New Orleans and I like Texas alot. Thanks for the info for all who answered my posts I will keep checking back to see what else gets added, surprised no one else asked this question.
In evaluating ports of embarkation, I don't just look at how quick the check-in process is. I'm more concerned with the overall interest of the port's location (e.g., New Orleans is far more interesting than Port Canaveral), as well as general ambience and sailaway interest. Put another way, I think an embarkation port is much more than the place where you check in. It's your first opportunity to visit a location, and the worthiness of that location is a major factor in the "quality" of the embarkation experience.
To me, one Florida port is pretty much like any other. I've sailed out of all of them, and I suppose one could argue that Port Everglades is the most convenient if you fly into FLL, but I think there's very little to separate them. None have much by way of sailaway features except for the condo owners honking their airhorns at Port Everglades.
Long Beach (Los Angeles) is an efficient port, but rather out of the way. Best deal is to come in a day or two early, rent a car, enjoy the area, then drop the car in downtown Long Beach and grab a cab to the port.
Dover (London) is excellent, because there are good fast trains from London every half hour. Quick easy cab ride from Priory station to the port. Sailaway is stunning with excellent views of the white cliffs. The port facilities are absolutely world class.
Southampton (London) is also good, and a legendary port, but less by way of sailaway interest. Also can be reached by train from London, although I know that most people take cruiseline transfers from the airport and skip London which, of course, is usually the most interesting city on the itinerary.
Genoa is really fun if you stay the night before at one of the hotels near the train station, because you can see the harbor from many of the rooms. We woke up and looked out the window and saw our ship waiting.
Honolulu is a piece of cake. The port is virtually downtown.
San Francisco is great fun mostly because the sailaway past Fisherman's Wharf and under the Golden Gate is spectacular. The piers at the Embarcadero are quite convenient.
Vancouver is great, especially if you have a pier at Canada Place. Couldn't be more convenient. Plus a great city to spend some time in.
Baltimore is unpreposessing as a port, but the mechanics are as efficient as anyplace else, and it's a city worth seeing for a day or two beforehand if you've never been there.
Ensenada is probably the worst embarkation port. They don't have good check-in facilities, and the only reason anybody uses the port is to comply with the stupid rules about having to stop in a foreign port. The piers in San Diego are five minutes from the airport at which most people arrive. But it's a two-hour bus ride from there to Ensenada and its uninteresting, inferior port. A real Chinese--er, Mexican--fire drill.
San Diego. Couldn't be more convenient. Nice city too.
New York is a perfectly fine port for those who know, love and understand New York. For others, it can be frustrating and intimidating. I love it. And for the value of the sailaway, it can't be topped by anything anywhere.
San Juan isn't as convenient as it could be, but it's a nice city to visit if you haven't spent time there before. It's worth two or three days pre or post-cruise.
Venice. Forget the inefficient port. Just be happy you can spend time in this unbeliveable place. And think about the fact that we're possibly the last generation that will have full access to it. As you cruise the Grand Canal on the vaporetto and see the water lapping up against the historic buildings, you sense the fragile nature of the place, and count yourself fortunate to be there.
We have departed from Baltimore & NY. Baltimore was organized, helpful, quick and easy. NY was a total nightmare. There were no signs, no cruise line staff, we just stood for 2 1/2 hours, with no idea what was going on.
Twice we have cruises out of Miami and I remembered why I had sworn NEVER to cruise out of Miami again.. We have cruised out of NYC and found it extremely well organized by the longshoremen and NCL and of course Boston where the longshoremen actually welcome you. I would think ports that don't have many cruise ships would be much more welcoming than Miami in which I felt like an intrusion and we were treated very rudely. Were kept on the bus from our hotel for more than TWO hours and let off minutes before the ship was due to sail.. and then reminded by the luggage people "dont forget your luggage carrier"..
Tampa was pretty easy. We were visiting relatives there before the cruise so they picked us up and dropped us at the ship. Last year we did Bayonne, NJ. It was great especially because we live in NJ. This year we are going out of Port Everglades. (It had the best airfares for Fl ports.)
Port Everglades has been the most simple port / transfer we have ever used on the East coast. New York is by far the worst.
On the West coast...Vancouver gets my vote.
I have wanted to sailed roundtrip from San Francisco for a long time, but still haven't made it yet.
I really like Ft. Lauderdale. The airport is close to the ships terminal, there are lots of great hotels to choose from that are 5 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the pier.(17th Street) very convenient, grocery stores to pick up last minute items, nice restaurants.
Miami is a total zoo. like herding chickens
San Juan can be zooey trying to get home Sunday with all the other cruise ship passengers
I am going out of the Norfolk port on June 5th. Can you tell me anything about your experience--what it is like, how long in line--this is my first cruise and I am going to the Bahamas. My ship departs at 7 PM. Anything you can tell me would be appreciated.
I've sailed out of Mobile twice since Holiday began leaving from there. The terminal is new with a parking garage on site. You can see the ship at the pier as you drive along the interstate which adds to the excitement. I've also cruised out of Tampa and New Orleans... both have some fun things to do and worth an extra day before/after the cruise.
We cruise over New Years (and this time Christmas and New Years) so a pretty busy time. We used RCI's airport transfer the first two times. The first time was out of Ft Lauderdale and the airport was such a nightmare. They were not equipped to handle the hoards of people coming back from cruises. The lines to check in were out the doors and wrapped around inside. You couldnt get through with your luggage. Some employees were screaming at people to make a path, but no one listened. I think it took us over an hour to check in, and we were middle of the line. So I will avoid that airport at all costs in the future.
The next time was out of Miami and what a breeze. Coming back, we were taken around the back of the airport to a special check in area just for RCI I believe. We walked off the bus, grabbed our luggage and walked a few more feet. There was only one or two people ahead of us and we were checked in within 7-10 minutes. We then entered a side door and got in line for the security check. We only spent about 15 minutes here (this is where you meet up with everyone else flying out). Much better equipped for handling the masses.
Last time we drove to Port Canaveral, so no airports to deal with. Boy that was nice. We got there around 1 or 2 as usual. My husband dropped my son, I and the luggage off at the door, then parked the car in the garage. We pretty much walked right on board (I think every time we go to the port we pretty much walked on board except at Ft Lauderdale which took longer since people didnt have forms filled out, etc). Coming back, we disembarked in one of the first groups and were out of there heading to Disney World in no time.
So I would say Miami and Port Canaveral are the better ones in FL that we have used. Avoid Ft Lauderdale if you can!
I felt the same was as Alison about Ft. Lauderdale. The airport is just too small to handle a few cruiseships coming in, what a nightmare. This next cruise we are flying in and out of Orlando and our past expierence there was no problem, hope that holds true again.
Well, you pay your money and you take your choice.
Lots of people hate Miami airport because of its size, and mostly its sprawl. It was built like Topsy, and literally nothing is convenient in the whole place. Others, obviously, hate FLL because it gets stressed at peak traffic periods. On the many times I've gone through there it's been fine, but I can see how it would be tough on busy days.
Frankly, if you fly anywhere over holiday periods, you've got to expect airport crushes. Cruises may well be part of the issue, but hey, Florida at Christmas is about as peak as you can get. When you combine the high volume with a high percentage of infrequent flyers, it's got to be a nightmare. It's part of the price you pay for flying at those times, cruise or no. Nobody builds airport capacity that's only used 10 or 15 days a year
Seems to me that because an airport in a resort destination is a mess over Christmas and New Years is not a good reason to "avoid it in the future" except maybe at those times.
Living in Central Florida, we drive to all the Florida ports. Most of our departures have been from Miami and Port Canaveral, both of which we found easy to cruise from. In 2003 we departed from Jacksonville on Zenith, and the embarkation was a snap. So was the disembarkation until we reached the curbside, where the traffic control was horrendous. We assume that the port authority has gotten that situation under control by now. Except for that, we really liked Jacksonville.
As for European ports, we've found Dover and Barcelona to be our favorites.
New Orleans is my all time favorite. i hated LOS ANGELES! Port Canaveral was ok too. Trying Miami first time next April. But N.O will always be our favorite. place... Food Hotels.. Great embarking.... Jsut a relaxed atmosphere all the way around. Happy sailing.
Being from Boston we thought the Black Falcon Pier was the greatest.. We had sworn off cruising because of our Miami experiences.. Then we went to NYC and I must admit it was the most organized and efficient experience. Almost as bad was getting to Harwich, UK and finding multiple lines snaking out the areawith people in wheelchairs, crutches and canes not being pulled out of line.. Trying to get off the ship back in our port was a nightmare, because of RCL and their system. There was a severely handicapped teenager in a motorized wheelchair whose father asked if they could get off early and they were told "wait your turn"...
I've seen a wide range of opinions about the NYC port. I've lived & worked in NYC for the last 10+ years & am thrilled to be leaving on our next crusie so close to home. I'm booked on the Norwegian Dawn 10/30 sailing. Any tips on navigating the port from those of you who say that it's not so bad? We'll be having a family member drop us off & pick us up.
the last "new" airport to be built was Denver about 10-12 years ago (and they will never have to worry about being a cruise port ) so common sense dictates, virtually no airport was built nor could have anticpated the explosion in cruise traffic (nor the success of southwest airlines)..compound that with cruise lines building bigger ships and you have the perfect formula for a mess...give credit to the cruise lines and their home port program which takes some pressure off the big cruise portsbut think about a nightmare if RCI moved the Freedom of the Seas to Mobile
the good news is that the Mayor of New Orleans announced a major port expansion (we will be able to double the amount of ships we can handle) and a proposal to build a new airport in new orleans, so New Orleans will be the best cruise departure port in the world (next to Venice) (VBG)