Transportatoin/Luggage Valet for 11:29AM FLL departure to LAX
I know RCI rule for their transportation is no flight earlier than 11:30AM, and I read on this board that 11:30AM was the earliest time you could book a flight for luggage valet for FLL with Allure as well. I am looking into a Jet Blue FLL departure flight in June at 11:29AM (next available nonstop isn't until 7:19pm...3yo and 6yo kids). I was told by a couple of phone operators that I could just tell them to enter 11:30AM into the system to get transportation (but no definitive response about luggage valet) while a couple of others said I shouldn't book the 11:29 flight if I want RCI transportation/Luggage Valet because the computer system won't allow it. Can I book this flight and still do transportation and luggage valet? Also when requesting luggage valet with guest services, can I just tell them my flight is 11:30 like the other operators said for transportation or will I not be allowed to because flight and time will be printed for boarding pass showing 11:29AM? Thanks.
First, this is why you want to use an agent - let them do all the work for you so you don't have to worry about. Plus, they can be invaluable when answering all your questions about the many details.
Normally, they begin disembarkation as early as 7:30am for those who have signed up for the early off program and take their own luggage off the ship with them. They will then start disembarking everyone else as early as 8:00am. Obviously, these times can vary based on alot of things, such as how soon the ship clears customs, how fast they can get all the luggage off the ship, etc.
When you get on the ship, you can talk to the Customer Service desk and let them know you have to be one of the first off the ship as you have an early flight and they will work with you. Under normal circumstances, you should be able to get off by about 8:30am - 9:00am without any problems. It only takes about 15 minutes to get to the Ft. Lauderdale airport as it's less than 5 miles away.
Personally, I would bypass doing the cruise line transfers and do my own thing. They'll have luggage handlers to help you get your bags and take them to a taxi - there are plenty there and readily available, so you won't have to wait. This way you'll insure you're at the airport in plenty of time.
Whereas if you do the cruise line transfers, you have to wait until the bus is full. These are 45 passenger buses, so it can take a while to load all the luggage and get everyone onboard. Then you have to wait and get all these people off the bus at different locations around the airport along with their luggage. This whole process can take a while.
You'll find it much quicker, easier, and a whole lot cheaper ($12 per taxi) to do your own thing. But if you decide to go with the cruise line, then just simply tell them your flight is at 11:30am - one minute is not going to make any difference.
Just keep in mind that under normal circumstances, you'll be able to make your 11:29am flight without any problems. But if there are any hitch-em-ups in your git-along, such as the ship arriving late, then you can be waiting a while for your next flight. Plus, when traveling with small children, I would highly suggest purchasing travel insurance - just don't get the one offered by the cruise line - talk to your agent about independent insurance. It'll cost less and provide better coverage.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Luggage Valet can be a pain, even though it is supposed to be something to make things easier. Since the ship's Guest Relations staff will be printing off the boarding passes for you, along with the luggage tags for the airline, they will see the flight time is 11:29am and not 11:30am. I don't know if their system has an automatic flag for flights outside their set times, or if it is just a judgment call by whoever happens to be performing the luggage valet processing on your cruise. You just won't know since you have to sign up for luggage valet on the ship, after the cruise has started.
You really don't have to mess with Luggage Valet and RCI transfers when cruising from FLL. As Pete said, it is really simpler to do it yourself and just grab a taxi. Trust me. You'll have no problem making an 11:29 flight and you'll save the money you'll spend on Luggage Valet.
BTW, Customs does require the ship to randomly select guests using Luggage Valet for a hand inspection of all their luggage. It keeps people honest. If you draw the lucky number you won't know it until your try to leave the ship and the security desk alarms when you enter your seapass card for that final time. They'll then hustle you off to a holding room on the ship until they gather up some other lucky guests, and they'll then escort you ashore where you'll find your luggage has been sequestered at a special Customs screening area. It can add 30 to 45 minutes to your debarkation time. I know. It happened to me. Almost missed my flight because of Luggage Valet, which is why I don't use it anymore. I'll put up with the regular inspection line.