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Obviously, 1st time cruisers. We are going on a family trip to alaska on the royal carribian ovation of the seas august 12-19. the ship leaves Seattle at 4p. trying to find out if we can take a direct flight from the washington Dc area to Seattle on the day of departure. There are flights that get to seattle in the 10:30a-1p range. How late can we arrive and still reasonably make it to the cruise?

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A warm, Spring welcome to a very new member of Cruise Critic!

 

Flying to a port on the day of embarkation is not recommended by experienced cruisers.  There is always chances that something can go wrong with either your travel arrangements and/or luggage.  That being reality, it's understandable when some have no other choice.  

 

Checking the Alaska Airlines web site just now, there is a flight leaving DCA at 8:00 A. M. and arriving in Seattle at 10:49 A. M.  It is a non-stop.  That probably would be a safe flight for you to book.  

 

I would not want to book a flight that arrived in Seattle any time after 12:00 P. M.  The earlier arrival to Seattle, the better, in my opinion.

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Posted (edited)

If your circumstances permit, I would agree with those recommending flying in the day / night before - especially as you have a cross country flight.  To many opportunities for delay or flight interruption.

 

Also, it isn't a matter of how late you can arrive as RCCL has pre-assigned boarding times issued when you check in to your cruise, which typically occurs 45 days prior to your departure date.  There also is a requirement that you be on board at least 90 minutes prior to the ship's departure time so they can close their check-in with a final manifest for the Dept. of Immigration. 

 

Coordinating your arrival time day of would be risky and potentially difficult with your cross country flight.  And if you are late for any reason and miss the 90-minute boarding cut off they will not wait for you and you will miss your cruise with no refund.  (That is with most, if not all, cruise lines).

 

I would also suggest booking your flights through RCCL Air2Sea flights program as you have the flexibility to change or cancel your flights, as well as reprice at a lower fare if available prior to cruise final payment without penalty. And they do not require any payment due until the final payment date for the cruise.  They also will assist with any issues encountered with flight delays to help avoid missing your cruise departure.

 

As this is your first cruise I would also suggest working through a travel agent as they will act as your advocate and can walk you through all of this.  There is not a charge incurred in working with a travel agent.

Edited by leaveitallbehind
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It sounds unanimous to not fly in the day of your cruise :).    While you can likely find a cross country flight that would get you to Seattle in sufficient time, that is completely dependent on the flight being on schedule, no checked luggage going astray, etc.  Just follow the news and you will read about all kinds of airline problems including cancelations, serious delays, etc.   With most Alaskan itineraries, if you miss the ship at embarkation it will be difficult to catch-up.  

 

Seattle is an interesting city (or at least it used to be) and flying-in one or even two days early would not only take away the anxiety that happens with day of embarkation flights, but would also give you chance to enjoy some of the city such as Pike Place.  It also means you get on your cruise after a good night's rest ready to enjoy the experience from the moment you step aboard.

 

Hank

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I just read a sad story recently regarding a family of six that were flying from Baltimore to Miami for a same day twelve day sailing on an MSC ship. The day before departure they were advised that Southwest canceled their flight along with a second flight scheduled to leave two hours later. Even though their flight was canceled they were hoping for a miracle to get them there. The poster explained her entire family were first time cruisers and her family of four had insurance but her parents didn’t purchase it. She thought that if many passengers were arriving late they would hold the ship or possibly leave on Monday. She never posted again but I’m sure she missed the sailing. No way would I fly from from Washington to Seattle on embarkation day. Fly out a day earlier, have a nice dinner in Seattle and a great nights sleep. Get up refreshed and ready to start your cruise vacation.

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Try typing this into Google - "How many days per year does seattle get severe fog".  There are also sites on the WEB that tells you how often your specific slight is delayed.  You have a very small window of flight delays before you miss your cruise.

 

DON

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I realize that not every passenger has the luxury of being able to fly in the day before their cruise, due to time or financial constraints, but if it possible, it really benefits you.  First, it will be a lot less stressful.  As a passenger, you have no control of weather, mechanical issues, or even availability of arrival gates at the airport. And for those east coast passengers, or those who have to take a couple of flights to their cruise embarkation port, getting up at 4 AM to catch a 7 AM flight will leave you tried and very cranky and probably hangry  ;  )

 

As someone who has checked in cruise passengers, I can always tell who flew in that day.  Instead of being relaxed and excited, some (and not all) are cranky, grumpy and irritated.  Sometimes it's directed at staff, sometimes towards spouse/partner or traveling companion.  It's not fun.

 

So if possible, do try to arrive the day before.  You will be that much happier!

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On 3/20/2022 at 4:31 PM, lissie said:

How much would it ruin your cruise if you missed the ship and had to fly to the next port to join it? Fly the day before 

Many of the cruise lines now have a policy that you miss your ship, you miss your cruise because of Covid protocol. I would not fly in the day of.

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On 3/22/2022 at 9:03 PM, Ferry_Watcher said:

or even availability of arrival gates at the airport

It could even be cluttered airspace!  My flight from BWI to Miami 2 weeks ago was delayed due to excess air traffic in Florida.  Had I chosen to fly in the day of the cruise it's possible I would have missed the cruise.  I flew in the day before and was able to have a 12 hour overnight in a hotel before heading off to the cruise port.

 

An alternate story - my flight for my April 2019 cruise got delayed in MDW, I was supposed to arrive at a time that would have been sufficient to make the ship if I was flying in the day of, but I ended up arriving 3 hours late and would have missed the ship if it had been the day of the cruise but I planned for that and flew cross-country the day before the cruise.  For my October 2019 cruise I was in LA before noon, MORE than enough time to make the ship but, again, I flew the day before.

 

I also pack a change of clothes in a small duffel on the off chance I am separated from my main luggage...

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Posted (edited)

You do have to worry about flight delays due to any number of reasons.  There are WEB sites out there that will tell you the on time performance for your selected flight.  Check them out.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc
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On 3/20/2022 at 3:48 PM, 1025cruise said:

No way would I fly cross country to catch a cruise same day.

Agree with all to fly in at least a day before. You won’t regret it.

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My daughter was planning to fly from Fort Myers, FL to Houston, TX yesterday.  Weather hit, she spent last night at a nearby seedy, run-down motel, got an 11:00 AM flight to Denver today - expecting to connect to a flight from Denver to Houston this afternoon - getting her there early evening.  
 

Good thing she was just going home from a Spring beach visit with us - and not planning on a cruise sailing either yesterday or today.

 

Sure:  very unusual — but very unusual does happen now and then.

 

Anyone using the macho cliche: “Flying the day before is not an option” — should recognize that he is also saying “Missing my sailing is an option”.

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If you can't fly in the day before (which I also recommend) then I would recommend having good travel insurance in hand. I actually recommend that anyway, but it is a stronger recommendation when risks are higher. We're actually planning to arrive 2 days before our next cruise, but we're sailing out of New Orleans and would like a day to take in the city. Not sure if we'll be able to actually be able to but it is the tentative plan. (On our last cruise, in February, we actually flew home the day after the cruise because we've been substantially delayed returning to Baltimore twice and didn't want to worry about a missed flight home.)

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Our first Alaskan cruise is booked for August also, I originally booked the flight the day of.....after much consideration I changed it to the day before because I didn't want the worry of making it in time and also not looking forward to flying around 8 hours then getting on the ship and falling right to sleep 🤣

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  • 2 weeks later...

For the first two cruises taken in 2003 and 2005, my mother and I had same-day flights from Sacramento to Los Angeles and San Diego respectively. It was a miserable day as we had early morning flights (6-7 AM), meaning we had to wake up early and have a friend drive us to the airport. By the time we boarded the ship and got to our room, we were extremely tired, and really couldn't enjoy the first evening on board ship.

 

Flash forward to September, 2018, and my first solo Caribbean cruise. There are no non-stops from Sacramento to Miami, so either you transfer in Houston or Washington DC, thus it's a all-day flight. I did arrive on a Monday evening for a Friday departure partially because I wanted to sightsee in Miami beforehand. Oh, and there was this hurricane named Florence that was wrecking east coast flight schedules north of Florida just prior to the cruise departure on September 14th. 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Plenty of people fly in the day of the cruise. It's not a problem... until it is.  And you have to ask yourself the question, how much do I want to not miss the cruise? 🙂

 

Of the 4 cruises we've done that did not depart from our home port of Sydney, the least time we've allowed ourselves is flying into Ketchikan one day before our honeymoon cruise.  The other three times we've flown/driven into the departure port a few days before (once each from Vancouver, Singapore and Canaveral). This approach has always allowed us to spend a relaxing morning before boarding.

 

The longer your trip to the port on the day, the finer your margin of error becomes. A massive traffic jam can delay you by an hour. A cancelled flight or bad weather can delay you by half a day for a local flight and a day or two for international.

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I'm pretty sure I'm the outlier on this subject as I have done a lot of same day flights to a cruise.   However, I would be hesitant to do a cross country flight with a connection somewhere.  A couple hour delay and things could get dicey real fast.  I cannot advise the latest you could arrive at SeaTac and feel safe.  

 

I guess it is still unanimous - best go the day before.   

 

 

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On 4/17/2022 at 7:44 AM, Z'Loth said:

 

Flash forward to September, 2018, and my first solo Caribbean cruise. There are no non-stops from Sacramento to Miami, so either you transfer in Houston or Washington DC, thus it's a all-day flight. I did arrive on a Monday evening for a Friday departure partially because I wanted to sightsee in Miami beforehand. Oh, and there was this hurricane named Florence that was wrecking east coast flight schedules north of Florida just prior to the cruise departure on September 14th. 

 

 

 

Even with a Sacto/Miami nonstop, we on the west coast would be hard pressed to do a same day flight for a Miami cruise.  Time zones just work against us.   But, I have done red-eyes to Miami.  Not good unless you can sleep on the plane and of course there is still the "same-day-flight" concern with a red-eye.   

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On 5/4/2022 at 12:19 AM, ldubs said:

I guess it is still unanimous - best go the day before.   

 

As the President of the United States Senate at the end of the debate on a Bill says:  

 

"All in Favor say Aye.  All opposed say No."  The Ayes appear to have it.  The Ayes do have it.  The Bill is passed."  

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would never fly on the day the ship leaves. Fly in a day early and be safe. I have had delayed and cancelled flights. They have also lost my luggage, but it was delivered to my hotel at 11 am. the next day.

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Posted (edited)

Lots of airlines are cancelling or rescheduling flights now because of "operational" issues.   VERY BAD idea.  Also just remember that if the ship departs at 4:00 PM, you have to be on board 90 minutes before departure at 2:30 PM.

 

DON

Edited by donaldsc
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