For those of you that need to fly into port, please look into getting in the day or at least night before and get a hotel. There are too many variables that can cause you to miss a flight and perhaps even the cruise. Esp traveling during the winter, planes coming in from snowy areas can be cancelled or delayed and impact your flight. So our first problem. Totally MY fault. Booked Spirit air, never flew with them before and my fault for not researching (booked thru Priceline) They charge for carry on bags, and if you do not prepay, and show up at the gate with an unpaid carry on bag, you will be charged $100. If you prepay, it's $40 (yes for a carry on bag!). A prepaid checked bag will cost you $35. (You do however get a free personal item but this was too small for us.) So since Princess allows the one bottle of wine per pax, we brought two bottles to put in our checked bag. Now here was our problem. We were late getting to the airport. Traffic in LA on a Friday afternoon was worse than usual! We got to the check in counter about 25 mins before the flight was to take off. Checked bags must be checked in at least 45 mins prior to take off. We were too late for this. The counter people were nice enough though, and since we already checked in online prior (if you check in at the counter it costs $10) told us since our bag was small enough to be considered carry on, we could go ahead and try to make the flight, but we would have to throw out our wine. We ran upstairs and TSA was actually pretty quick. We told people in front of us we were going to miss our flight and they let us ahead of them. I also forgot my belt here (but didn't need it as somehow my clothes got smaller on the cruise ). We ran to the gate and yes! they were still there. We literally sat down and not five minutes later they closed the doors. Whew! I don't want to ever go thru that again!
We landed in Houston around 10pm. We stayed at the Hampton Inn which was about 5 mins from IAH airport. $76 a night, free wifi, free cont. breakfast, free airport shuttle. Not bad! Hotel was clean and modern, and very quiet. No complaints. Morning shuttle back to the airport you have to sign up the night before. Their shuttles are small vans, so they fill up quickly. The hotel is walking distance to a Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, and a gas station has Church's chicken, however these were all closed by the time we got there. So it was pork rinds and beef jerky for dinner. There is also a liquor store (overpriced and small selection) about a 5 mins walk just past the Red Roof Inn. but they don't open until 10 and our shuttle was at 10. Well what do you know, we were late again to our 10am shuttle and they left without us. So we went to the liquor store to look. Like I said overpriced and poor selection. We got the 11am shuttle and were at the Bush airport in a few mins.
We got Princess transfers to Bayport. It was again my fault for not looking to see how far IAH was to the port. I am used to sailing out of FLL and everything is close. Houston is actually about 50 miles fr the ocean. A cab would have run about $100. The transfers were very reasonable at $24pp each way. (You need to book the transfers in advance thru your TA.) The bus is very large and comfortable. Our issue was with the reps telling you when to get on the bus. We got #50-51. The first bus was up to #48-49 so we had to wait for the next one. We sat there for about 20 mins and no one said anything. Bf noticed people with our same colored passed (blue) going outside. So we went outside and there was a Disney rep standing by the bus. So we assumed it was for a Disney ship. But finally we went up to her and asked and she said yes it was for Princess, but she was helping out bc a lot of the Princess reps were new and didn't know what to do. Not only that, but now the bus was almost full and they needed a head count to see if they had room. They were calling out number past 100 now. I said we were 50-51 so they let us on. Whew! almost missed the bus! Are you guys seeing a pattern here now?
So the bus ride takes about 1 hr. The Hobby airport is closer, but it's a smaller airport. I didn't even know to look at flights out of Hobby, so better check both in case.
Next post: check in. LONG line!
Caribbean Princess--W. Caribbean 7 nts, Nov 2013 Full review here or Cozumel/Tulum, Roatan/Maya Key, Belize/Goff's Caye here. Plus post-cruise trip New Orleans
Allure--E. Caribbean 7 nts, Mar 2013 Read my review! Nassau, St. Thomas, St, Maarten. Pictures are missing
Monarch--Bahamas 3 nts, Feb 2012 Nassau, Coco Cay
Celebrity Century--W. Caribbean 7 nts, Nov 2001 Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Cozumel, Key West
Carnival--Mexican Riviera 7 nts, Mar 1993 Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta