We are booked on the Grand Princess 4/8/01 Eastern cruise. We have not cruised out of Ft. Lauderdale and want some input on the Princess provided air travel. Does Princess normally fly us "west coast" folks in a day prior? What hotel does Princess use? For us Californian's the Princess air rate is better than we can find.
Our travel agent tells us we will probably have to go out on the "red eye" but my brochure states differently. Anyone else booked on the 4/8/01??
I live in South Florida so air is not a problem for me when I sail from here. I have always used air deviation when I fly to another cruise port. that way I can choose my flights and not be bothered with non direct flights (a possibility) and red eyes. Princess usually uses the Airport Hilton in Ft. Lauderdale. Unless you have yjr vpnvierge floor, it's not much hotel. I would suggest staying at either the Amerisuites or the Embassy suites, both are close to the pier. they will pick you up at the airport and take you to the pier in the morning. That way you don't have to worry about missing the first day of your cruise. Air deviation costs $35.00 per person, plus the additional fare the flights you chose might cost.
We are going on Princess March 10, 2001 I was told that us west coast people do not fly out the day before, because the ship leaves at 7:00 pm and they think that is more then enough time to make it to the ship. I was told that they change the time that the ship leaves so they don't have to put people up the night before. We have booked the red eye out of Sacramento and arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 8:30 am. I understand you can board as early as 11:30 am. Why waste a whole day flying when you can be on the ship early.
When I boarded MV Sun Princess in Costa Rica last month, many of the people coming from the West Coast who arranged their air travel through Princess did leave home on "red eye" flights. I don't recall very many people on prior cruises arriving in either Florida or Puerto Rico on "red eye" flights, but it depends to a large degree on which flights are available to get you to the ship in time.
If there are a lot of passengers from one area who are taking the same cruise, Princess may arrange a charter flight to accommodate those passengers. In such instances, the timing of the flight is controlled largely by the availability of the aircraft and flight crew.
Since Princess has to provide overnight accommodations at no additional charge if they arrange a flight on the day before embarkation day, it's a pretty safe bet that the cruise line will do anything it can to prevent such an occurrence.
BTW, the practical alternatives from, say, Los Angeles (LAX) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) are:
>> a "red eye" flight to the airline's hub, connecting with an early morning flight to Fort Lauderdale (which will give you two or three hours to kill at the airport prior to transfer for embarkation) or
>> an early morning departure, connecting through a hub and arriving in Fort Lauderdale in the late afternoon or early evening.
The serious drawback to the latter is that there's little chance for recovery if your flights get snagged, though the ship may wait for you if you booked your flights through the cruise line.
We're from San Francisco and got the surprise of our lives last year when we discovered Princess was going to fly us in on the same day. Most cruise ships leave around 4:30 to 5:30pm, making it difficult to fly West Coasters in on the same day. But the 7:45pm departure time of the Grand Princess makes all the difference in the world. They had booked us on a Delta "milk run" flight leaving at 6:00am, arriving in Ft Lauderdale at 6:00pm. No way were we going to spend our first day of vacation worrying our way across the skies!
Luckily, at that time, we saved nearly half by purchasing our own airfare over what Princess was charging. We did things right by flying in the day prior and booking a hotel.
My advice is to continue pricing airline tickets between now and your final payment date. If and when you can obtain comperable airfare on your own, then go for it. If not, then pay the deviation fee to either fly in a day early or on a red eye. We will never fly the same day to Florida from California. Good luck!
Beav is right on. Also don't forget the option of flying into Miami and catching the Princess shuttle to F.L. the next morning at the airport. We are catching the Sea next Easter and have made all our resers the day before at a very good but inexpensive hotel by the Miami airport. We can then fly non-stop L.A. to Miami and avoid any mid-country weather that time of the year. I would say Princess air red eye would be my last choice.
Thank you everyone for your quick response!! Lots of imput!! We will be checking those airline fares to arrive on Saturday before our cruise. Any suggestions where to stay??? What is the boarding time??? Thanks again, everyone!!
The Grand usually starts to board around noon time in Ft. Lauderdale and Princess has a very good boarding program by stateroom number. Like others have said, watch your airline rates for prior day arrival into Ft. Lauderdale or Miami. Both Amerisuites and Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale offer airport and port transportation as well as breakfast as part of their price. Call the hotels directly and ask for their Manager's Special rate. We are booked at the Amerisuites on 3/17 at $129 per room. By booking our own air, we save the $100 deviation fee and the cruisline air was more than $400 each for air from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale (our tickets cost $305 each). Our taxi from the port to the airport (about a 5 minute ride) will be additional, but the savings we get and peace of mind arriving a day early is worth it.
The airport in Fort Lauderdale is only about five minutes from Princess's terminal in Port Everglades, so you probably will do about as well booking a hotel near the airport as anywhere else -- especially if it's just for one night. If you ask the hotel nicely, they might arrange for their airport shuttle to take you to the pier on embarkation day since it's so close. If not, the taxi fare should be pretty reasonable.
Stayed at Amerisuites - booked it through their internet site for $69/night. Also - the earlist you can board the Grand is at 11:45 - don't bother showing up before - you will just have to sit and wait.