Each ship will be different depending on which cruise port it leaves and comes back to. I know Tampa and Miami allow self-debarkation. The Victory will be sailing the Western & Eastern Carribean route this summer from Miami so I know S/D will be allowed then.
You do not put your luggage out the night before. The announcements will call for S/D as soon as the ship clears "customs", meaning U.S. Customs checks out the ship and all people who are from other countries, etc. They will usually announce that all people gather at some point, maybe a main lounge, with their luggage and you will be lead off ship. On the Victory, the gangway is not located on a passenger room floor so you will need to go to that level (remember elevators will be full) so consider bumping your luggage down or up the stairs. You roll your suitcases off, go down the gangway, hand papers to customs people and you leave. One of the things that they stress is that you must be able to remove all of your own luggage in order to self-debark, you must be a citizen of the United States also............We just stayed in our room on the Inspiration, opened the door and listened for announcements rather than go to the lounge and then have to come back down again. They usually call for S/D around 7:45 a.m. and you must go then, not leisurely go eat and leave later...................Hope this helps. Remember you do not leave your luggage out the night before........you take it with you. Some folks had left their luggage out and then self-debarked. They still had to wait for luggage to appear in the big room before they could leave the cruise terminal.
I understand, we're GA folks too. We just usually always drive rather than worry about fooling with airline reservations. For Miami, we'll leave the day before and drive about to Orlando and then go on in the next day. If it's Tampa, Port Caneveral or Jacksonville, we'll drive down that day. Never sailed out of New Orleans, but we'd probably drive that too. We have the opposite problem, husband will fly, but as a private pilot wants to fly his plane. Won't carry all four of us plus our luggage so rather than fool with Atl airport, we drive...............
Columbus Ga. We always says there's no easy way to get there from here since we aren't close to any major interstate going through FLA!!!! I definitely know where Loganville is. Have family in Stone Mountain. I'm grew up between Atlanta and Macon. While daughter #2 was a competition cheerleader, we competed at Loganville High School twice. Wonderful place-the Inferno! We usually go over and hit 75 and then whatever interstate goes to Miami, is it I-10...........? We leave the day before and go about to Orlando because it's only about 4 hrs from there. We'd have to leave in the middle of the night if we tried to drive it all in one day.............! It's easier coming back because you know you're coming home, but more difficult going down........
I was wondering if you were going to ask "Where's Loganville?" I'm not sure if you ever saw a local car dealer's commercial. He coined that phrase, and it has been a thorn in our sides ever since.
My husband says we will get on 75 in Forsyth and go from there. He has a plan...and a map. I think I'll just trust him. Our ship doesn't leave until Sunday, but we are going to drive down Friday night, and early Saturday and stay on Miami Beach to get some rest from the long marathon drive we'll be facing...oh and we'll be facing it with an active 3-year-old!
Thanks for the info. Hope you have a wonderful cruise!