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Old March 6th, 2015, 12:44 PM
bayzing bayzing is offline
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Default Cutting it close... will I miss my ship?

I will be cruising with my wife later this month on the Norwegian Jewel - seven day cruise set to sail from Houston. My wife and I are NOT veteran cruisers and we're concerned about arriving at the cruise terminal in time for departure.

Cruise is set to sail at 4pm. Our flight arrives in Houston (IAH) at 1:25pm. Drive from IAH to the cruise terminal via taxi is approximately 40 minutes (relatively low chance of heavy traffic because you don't drive through central Houston). Add 20 minutes to wait for baggage. Realistically we will arrive at 2:30pm.

The agent who sold us our package was a very eager sales person and she made it seem like there would be no problem arriving on time. However, all of the literature and some other customer service folks we have spoken with at Norwegian suggest we need to arrive NO LATER THAN 2PM.

How early do I need to be at the cruise terminal to check in for my cruise? If I arrive at 2:30pm will they let me on the ship? I realize that while on the cruise, when the ship is docked in a port, you can stroll up just a few minutes prior to departure and it's no problem. My question is about the initial check in process... how long does it take (assuming all of our Passports and documentation is ready to go)? Is there a "hard" cut off time, like some of the airlines have?

I realize we're cutting it a bit close (our airfare options and other obligations prevent us from getting to Houston any earlier). What is the latest time I can expect to arrive at the ship terminal and still be allowed to cruise? 3:00pm? 3:30pm?

A couple of other notes.... we are taking a DIRECT flight (less chance of delay)... and it's a flight that I've taken many times before... it usually arrives 20 minutes early.

Thank you!
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Old March 6th, 2015, 03:17 PM
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Actually, strolling up just minutes prior to departure in a port-of-call is not a good idea either. But for embarkation day, NCL strongly recommends you arrive at the terminal no later than two hours prior to the scheduled departure. In U.S. ports, the usual rule for all cruise lines is you have to be checked-in at least 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time - this means if you show up 60 minutes prior you will not be boarding because you have not been checked-in. The ship has to transmit the final passenger manifest to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (or maybe it's the Coast Guard, or both), which is why they have to comply with this time limit.

The official language from NCL's Passenger Contract states:

Guest acknowledges that it is Carrier’s policy that all Guests must be onboard the vessel one (1) hour prior to the departure time noted on their cruise documents for the port of embarkation as well as one (1) hour before departure at all ports of call and agrees that it is the Guest’s responsibility not to miss such final boarding time.

In other words, your flight arrival time is indeed cutting it close. I'd get an earlier flight. If you managed to arrive at the pier at 2:30pm you probably can board in time but you'll definitely be in risky territory.

Also, the time to get from IAH to the port, again from NCL's website: George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the Bayport Cruise Terminal is approximately $110 - $125 (approximately 1 hr / 45-50 miles depending on route)
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Old March 6th, 2015, 03:54 PM
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That time frame is cutting it way too close, no room for any delays along the way, weather, air traffic, etc. Any chance you can fly in the evening before? I would play it safe and find an earlier flight or go in the day before if at all possible.

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Old March 6th, 2015, 07:35 PM
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We sailed from Galveston once, arriving in Houston as well..honestly, I remember the ride, being longer then 40 minutes...I agree you are cutting it close, with airport security, the possibility of an accident along your route, etc, I would be nervous.

As far as coming back from a day in port....if you do a non ship excursion,and ship happens, you are ship out of luck, as the ship will sail without you..if a bus load of a ships excursion passengers has issues, they will wait.....As far as an early flight home...they suggest flights not be booked before 2 pm, at least when we sailed that was the suggestion.....you may want to rethink things...

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Old March 6th, 2015, 08:10 PM
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Don't know who your 'agent' was, but they obviously either worked for the cruise line or were not a Cruise Specialist, otherwise they would not have done this to you.

First, based on the times you provided, you are definitely cutting it close - too close for a hassle-free experience.

When the cruise shows a departure time of 4:00pm, they need to have you on the ship by 3:00pm because TSA requires them to submit their final passenger manifest 60 minutes prior to sailing. Normally, they want you there 90 minutes prior to sailing to make sure you're checked in an on the ship in time, but if you've done your pre-cruise check-in online, it usually only takes about 10 minutes to check in at the pier.

Bottom line is, anything can happen to slow up the process, whether it be the plane leaving late, luggage taking longer, traffic jam on the highway, etc. and this can cause you problems.

I would definitely suggest making sure you have the phone number for the cruise line just in case you're running late.

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Old March 6th, 2015, 10:42 PM
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That would not work for me. It would be too stressful for my taste.
Flying in the day before is what I would find relaxing.


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Old March 6th, 2015, 11:21 PM
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I think you are underestimating the time to the port
It can take 30 minutes some days just to get to the Beltway
For US ports I believe you need to be checked in & onboard 90 min prior to sailaway... 60 min for sure

Take a carry -on bag & pray there is no traffic do not waste time getting out of the airport ...no pit stops etc...

Good luck

Enjoy Houston
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Old March 8th, 2015, 12:02 AM
geekyvegan geekyvegan is offline
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I think you're cutting it WAY too close.

And I say this as someone who has lived in Houston 10+ years and made a lot of trips across town. Whoever told you the drive was 40 minutes long was extremely optimistic. I've made it in 45 minutes a few times, but it typically takes closer to an hour or longer; 90+ minutes isn't unheard of, especially during rodeo season. (Rodeo this year is March 3 - 22.) And traffic jams don't only happen in the center of the city. You may find this site helpful: Houston TranStar - The Greater Houston Transportation and Emergency Management Center

Also, if your flight arrives at 1:25, that means that 1:25 is the time the plane's wheels are scheduled to touch the runway, not what time you can expect to be in the seat of a taxi enroute to port.

Realistically, you will not arrive at the port at 2:30pm unless you're very very lucky that day.
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Old March 8th, 2015, 08:28 AM
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We always fly the day before. Even if the flights are on time, we still have 24 hours to solve any luggage problems.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 12:50 PM
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Hopefully the taxi driver knows where the port is and can drop you off; but there is no way you should be arriving that late. Book an earlier flight
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