Driving to the Port

As the cost of oil continues to affect the rest of the world, especially the world of travel, some cruisers consider driving to the port a realistic alternative. The option isn’t only because of the cost of oil, but because of the effects that the oil industry. Look at how the airlines are cutting routes and seats. Some of these cutbacks resulted when several airlines went belly up – Frontier Airlines, Aloha Airlines, ATA Airlines and Skybus. I sure hope that cruisers with seats booked on those airlines had travel insurance.

Recently, several airlines suspended flights due to maintenance issues. How many cruisers missed the ship when their flights were suddenly canceled? How many had enough time to hop in the car and drive to the port?

The cost of fuel, the wear and tear on your car and the long hours of travel might not make automobile travel seem ideal. But, consider the control you gain. You will depart at your convenience and won’t have to go through security before starting your journey. You can get right into the car and need not worry about arriving in your car an hour before your departure. In all likelihood, your car is just a few steps from your front or garage door. And you my take all the luggage you want. You may carry more than three ounces of liquids and you don’t need to worry about a screeching kid sitting next to you – unless you have one of your own.

Some cruisers schedule their flights to depart a few days before the cruise starts so they have the option of driving to port if anything happens to their flight. There are certainly disadvantages to driving including the extra time, which might eat into vacation time or result in unpaid days off from work. Not everybody has the freedom to leave work a few days early, not to mention returning a few days late.

Driving may require an overnight stay along the way and a few meals. Staying alert and awake for a long period of time can be a challenge, but switching drivers may help with this situation. We drove from Albany NY to Fort Lauderdale, mainly because we were in Florida for more than just the cruise. We left early and made it almost to the Florida state line the first day. From that point on, we still have a great enough distance, but having covered the majority of the distance the first day was a relief. Although reaching the border seemed like an accomplishment, we didn’t forget how long Florida is.

One of the shockers for us was the cost of parking at the port. In Fort Lauderdale, the exact same parking lot charges different rates for cruisers and air travelers, with cruisers paying the higher rate. We considered parking right at the port, but we drove an Astro van, which they consider an oversized vehicle. We respectfully disagree, but weren’t willing to pay an additional $4.00 per day above the already high rate. The van is no longer than a car and even if we parked outside, we would still have been forced to pay the oversized vehicle rate.

I suspect that more people will be driving longer distances to the port because of the condition of the air transport industry. Cruisers want to be in control and don’t want to miss their vacation. Even with trip insurance, which I recommend, the disappointment experienced from having to cancel a trip cannot be remedied with compensation.

And if you have reservations to fly? Check them frequently and be ready to execute plan B if necessary.

Sail Away.

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