I hate day-of travel, but it was a requirement for this trip as all of my papers and projects were due the day before. This meant a 6 AM flight out of Indianapolis on 12/11 with a connection in Atlanta to Tampa. I now seem to live in fear of the flight cancellation with Delta, but chose them because I had many miles to use and, since I have their credit card, I don’t have to worry about baggage fees. As it turns out, the flights all went without a hitch and we actually arrived in both Atlanta and Tampa 20 minutes early. The only real complaint I have is that the 757 to Tampa was incredibly cramped with about the smallest aisle I’ve ever seen in my life. People could hardly move through it when loading, so I don’t want to imagine such a small aisle in any type of emergency situation.
Off the plane and with baggage collected, we headed for the seaport. This is a flat-rate taxi fare from the airport of $25. There were shared-ride options (SuperShuttle), but honestly, unless you are traveling alone, the taxi is the fastest and most economical route. We arrived at the port at about 11 AM and were greeted by one of those lovely porters who gleefully tells you that he is the last person you will see your bag with (I really wish these guys would just work instead of running their mouths for extra tips … if you want to impress me, do your job well, don’t threaten).
Check-in at the Port of Tampa is on the second floor, which requires an escalator or elevator ride. Once on the second floor, there is a security checkpoint where they match your SetSail Pass and passport information. They really seemed to be taking their time at this point, so make sure your IDs match everything on your travel documents. After that, it is off to the metal detectors and baggage screening. I was asked to remove my iPad from my bag (not even required in airports) and quickly shuffled through the metal detector. Once clear of security, we entered the terminal proper and were asked to fill out the now-requisite health forms (checking for symptoms of norovirus). Paperwork finished, we were directed into the almost empty check-in lines.
Check-in was quick, and once over, we were directed past the super-special waiting area (Diamond Plus) to the special waiting area (Diamond) with a colored priority boarding tag. The waiting area had cookies and juice available, though our wait wasn’t more than 20 minutes or so as, at around 11:30, they began boarding with mostly unintelligible announcements over the PA in the terminal. There were four kiosks set up to take security photos before boarding, so the lines moved quickly and by 11:45, we were once again onboard Radiance.
Chris's guide for budget travel - Made for conferences (may make a cruise version some time) but airline, shuttle, Priceline, and Hotwire tips should remain the same
Cruise Albums on Flickr