I have read a lot about the Ports in Galveston and Miami, but what about Tampa? Can DH and I board early, like at 9:30am? We would also like to enjoy as much of the trip as possible and getting on board early would be an excellent start. We don't mind waiting in line. We are getting to Tampa the day before after driving from Columbus, OH (also staying a day in Atlanta the day before that).
Is boarding procedure pretty much the same in Tampa as it is at the other ports?
Dbaby, I have never cruised out of any port other than Galveston, but I have read a lot of reviews, and it sounds like the procedures for every port is just about the same. Instead of getting there at 9:30 and waiting in line, why not stay at the motel an extra hour, and relax a little, before you get on the ship, and go non stop for days. You will have already taken a very long road trip, so you don't want to be to tired to enjoy your cruise.
I have sailed from Tampa a couple of times. I have never known of anyone getting aboard ship at 9:30 a.m , regardless where you cruise from. At that time there are still a lot of people aboard that have to get off. The cruiseline has it's hands full trying to get everyone off, through customs-immigration, etc. without allowing other people to come aboard before the ship is cleared. Try to get there around 11-11:30 am . If the customs-immigration officials don't hold up disembarkation for some reason, you should be able to get aboard by noon or so.
I sailed out of Tampa on April 29th. We were kept waiting in the port until about 12:45pm. They let us board and we had to wait to go to our cabins until 1:30pm. I wouldn't arrive at the port any earlier than 11AM unless you want a long wait!
I've cruised out of Tampa three times and have never boarded before noon. If find if you get there at about 11:00 a.m. the line isn't bad and you don't have too long of a wait to get on board.
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Thank you all so much for your replies. We are so excited about this being our first cruise, sometimes it fails that we use "common sense". The Carnival website stated 1:30pm for boarding, so getting there between 11 & noon will give us a chance to relax at the hotel a little longer, get a good spot to park our car at the terminal and still be in a pretty manageable line. Sometimes, I think the anticipation can be just as good as the real thing when it comes to a vacation! (Well, maybe not! )
We sailed April 2nd and I agree, 11am is a fine time to arrive. We arrived at that time to find I'd say only 30+ people in line -which is indoors. We had Skippers Club and checked in right away, but had to wait to board until around noon. Cabin access at 1:30.
Be sure to not miss going to highest point on deck and stand and watch as ship passes under the SinShine Skyway Bridge--it is a quick trip under, but awesome sight. It looks like the ship barely clears. I think on our trip it was 6:10pm. There is a webcam of this posted somewhere I 'll see if I can locate it and post. It is neat to watch the Miracle do this while at home prior to the cruise.
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Carnival Miracle April 2005
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