Hi, sailing The Victory on 4/25/04 w/ my wife and 2 boys ( 7&10 ) I am concerned about an early return flight ( 11:15 AM ) to NYC on 5/2/04. Will I be able to carry off my own luggage ,or get off the ship with help of the Purser being notified of flight time. in order to make this flight ? I know it will be tight but I really had no other options .. Thanks RS
Robert, I think that may be cutting it close. The airport is only about 15 minutes from the cruise terminal, but some things will be out of your control. We just returned to Miami on the Spirit. We docked about 7:00 am., but it was not until about 9:15 that they started disembarking passengers starting with the upper decks. It was supposed to be about an hour earlier, but they kept paging several passengers to go to Immigration and I assume they wouldn't let anyone off until they had cleared the non US citizens through Immigration. It was very frustrating for everyone. We had a 1:30 flight and we didn't get to the airport until 12:30. We waited until our deck was called so maybe if we had insisted that we would miss our flight unless they let us off, we might have gotten off earlier. In fact, they weren't checking our "color" code when we disembarked so we could have probably walked off with the others and no one would have been the wiser. I don't think you can carry off your own luggage because they bring the Customs agents to inspect it with their sniffer dogs on the pier before they let the passengers claim it. If your luggage is waiting for you, then you should be able to clear customs and grab a taxi pretty quickly. Waiting for the Carnival arranged transfers also added to the delay.
You would be cutting it EXTREMELY close! They were experementing with express debarkation on the Carnival Triumph, where you went to the main show lounge and they let you off starting at 7:00 a.m. I don't know if they are doing it on other ships, though. Theyre were two catches. You must be a U.S. citizen, and you must carry all your own luggage. If the ship runs late, you may end up missing your flight. If they don't have express debarkation, then you can request early debarkation. However, MIA is a madhouse on weekends when thousands of cruise passengers are busy looking for their flights. Get off the ship and get a cab ASAP.
My wife and I were on Sprirt as well. As I recall there was a "VIP" group which I believe consisted of passengers with early flights. Caroline is correct as far a Carnival provided transportation--Pay $20 take the cab--it will drop you off at the correct airline door--and you could possibly do curbside check-in.. We did that and were drinking a beer before Caroline got to the airport. ))