If you are taking a flight to your cruise, it is always recommended that you add a pre-cruise stay to your cruise itinerary. There are many reasons for this recommendation:
- Possibility of flight delays — With the increase in security measures and the fickle nature of airline travel, flights are often delayed. Add that to the unpredictability of weather, and you’ll have a sure recipe for stress. This is especially true for pre-cruise flights. If your flight happens to get delayed and you miss the boat…well, you are up a creek without a paddle.
- Possibility of misplaced/missing luggage — If you have the unfortunate bad luck of having your luggage get delayed, and your flight arrives the same day as your cruise departs, you will have to do without whatever you’ve packed in that piece of luggage during the duration of your cruise.
- Start your vacation right — When you arrive the day before your cruise, you have a chance to relax and be ready for your vacation before boarding the ship. You’ll be able to arrive at the port refreshed and ready for the total experience of the cruise.
- Know what to pack in your day bag — Arriving the day before gives you a sense of what the weather will be like. You’ll be better prepared with your carry-on day bag without having to either carry too much or not enough with you. It’s convenient to have some necessities with you while waiting for the rest of your luggage to arrive at your stateroom. Some of the items to consider are any medication you might need for the following 24 hours, a swimsuit (arrival day is a great day to take advantage of the swimming pools onboard), a possible change of clothes especially if you have early dining, phone or camera chargers, and anything else you could possibly need if there is a delay getting your bags up to you stateroom. If you are bringing any type of beverages on Disney Cruise Line, those will have to be hand carried with you as well.
A post cruise stay is not as essential, but would be a great way to explore the area before departing for home. What better way to complete your trip than to take the day (or two) exploring attractions close to the port to ending your vacation? Many of the destinations Disney cruises sail from are vacation areas in their own right. Port Canaveral includes Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a short distance to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. Miami offers beaches and all the culture Miami has available, as well as a short distance to the Everglades and the Keys. Galveston is a great seaside escape, Vancouver has more things to see than you could do in a week. The list goes on and on, if your cruise ship is leaving from there, there are many tourist and relaxation options available to you. Any of the Europeon ports almost scream for an extension to your cruise, and some opportunities are available through Adventures By Disney to coincide with your cruise.
The two common areas for pre/post cruise stays are either near the airport or near the cruise port, although anywhere in between would be good possibily as well, however keep in mind transportation availability. (A good idea would be to make your vacation a land/sea vacation and visit Walt Disney World prior to cruising if you are sailing from Port Canaveral.)
Airport area hotels generally have complimentary shuttle service to/from the airport, so that you will not have to pay for one extra leg of travel if you are not renting a car. Cruise port area hotels give the added excitement of being near the port and some have special pre/post cruise deals as well. Many hotels close to the cruise port will offer some sort of transportation to the ships at a nominal fee. Be sure to check with the hotel before making a reservation to see what your transportation options are.
Pre/Post Cruise car rentals are something you can consider. If you are planning on staying at a hotel not offering transportation options, consider renting a car, depending on the port, returning it on cruise day can be very easy (or in some cases not so easy, it really depends on the port). Port Canaveral is very easy to return or pick up a car, Miami is more difficult due to the location of the car rental agencies.
When planning your cruise, take into consideration a pre/post cruise stay for those days before and after in order to help alleviate some stress of travel. Also, overall you are getting more value from the airfare this way. 🙂