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Iseaster

Early Arrival in Ft Lauderdale and early embarkation

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Hello! This is our first cruise EVER on HAL Nieuw Statendam in March.  We're flying overnight to Ft Lauderdale from Victoria, Canada and arriving at the airport at an ungodly 0530!!!  Can anyone advise/recommend what we should do (i.e. stay at airport until embarkation or ?) and how early can we arrive to board the ship?  I have images of trying to sleep in airport chairs for hours while waiting to board...

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The airport will offer clean restrooms, many choices of food, free wi-fi, and shelter.

 

Arriving at the pier too soon may leave you exposed to the elements.....looking for restrooms a distance away......and eating from a catering truck.  

 

Your choice.

 

David

P.S.  Your Boarding Pass will inform you when to arrive at the pier.

Edited by DAllenTCY

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40 minutes ago, Iseaster said:

Hello! This is our first cruise EVER on HAL Nieuw Statendam in March.  We're flying overnight to Ft Lauderdale from Victoria, Canada and arriving at the airport at an ungodly 0530!!!  Can anyone advise/recommend what we should do (i.e. stay at airport until embarkation or ?) and how early can we arrive to board the ship?  I have images of trying to sleep in airport chairs for hours while waiting to board...

Hi!  Which day are you sailing?  Did you join the roll call on the boards here?

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@DAllenTCY - ...when you put it that way. 🙂  Thanks for that perspective.

 

@Cybergoth - we depart on March 17th.  I'll look into the roll call - but wasn't really sure what it was about.

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We discovered 2 weeks ago that Terminal 2 at FLL is a food desert. So if you arrive there, consider what may be a short walk to an adjacent terminal for food,

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There are a few options I can think of, but none of them very good.  Or if better, not cheap.  

 

When we arrived early at the airport on the day of embarkation (only once) we hung out at the airport, each of us taking turns staying with the luggage while the other walked, used the restroom, etc.  As said above, it's a good place to stay for access to facilities and food, plus it is sheltered and has chairs near check-in, or softer but backless seating in the baggage claim area.  Good WiFi.  

 

You could try for a day room at a hotel and considering that you will have flown all night, that might be attractive, gives you a place to clean up, nap, generally rest a bit.  You don't have to be the first one in line to get on the ship, so if you had a day room you might want to sleep until noon - have an alarm set.  The Crown Plaza, Dania, offered day rooms in the past but that may depend on their level of booking, but worth a shot.  I'm sure there are other hotels you could try; ask on the Florida Departures forum...  see if this works... https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/386-florida-departures/ 

 

Or, could you fly in the day before?   

That's all that comes to mind....  m--

 

Another thought... Once when I arrived by train at 0500 to visit family, I got a taxi to an upscale hotel, had the bellman check my luggage and had an excellent breakfast at their restaurant... made my breakfast stretch until a human hour to be picked up.  

Edited by RMLincoln

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2 hours ago, Iseaster said:

@DAllenTCY - ...when you put it that way. 🙂  Thanks for that perspective.

 

@Cybergoth - we depart on March 17th.  I'll look into the roll call - but wasn't really sure what it was about.

Roll calls here: https://www.cruisecritic.com/rollcalls/

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Never thought of going to a hotel to have breakfast; however, after you go to the bother of retrieving your luggage, getting a taxi (and paying for it), paying for breakfast, getting another taxi to the port (paying for it), wouldn't it be cheaper just to stay at the airport for a while, get breakfast, and pay once for taxi to pier?

 

OP, do what works the best for you, but I don't recommend going to the port before 10 a.m., as you're simply going to stand around when you're already fatigued from your flight.  The area where you stand may be covered, but if there's a driving rain, you could get wet.  Restrooms at all the FLL piers we've used are close by, but some required a little bit of a walk, while others were beside where passengers lined up.  In all the dozens of times, we've sailed from FLL, I've never seen a food truck.  Maybe I wasn't observant enough because all I'm focused on at that point is getting checked in and on the ship.

 

I don't envy that early arrival time.  Is it possible to change your flight to the day before, so you can enjoy the benefit of resting the night before embarkation at a hotel?  Whatever you do, come back and let us know how it worked out for you.  Enjoy your cruise.

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Or rent a car for a few hours. That way you have a place to store your luggage. You can drive to the beach.

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5 hours ago, sevenseasnomad said:

I've never seen a food truck

 

You won't. I think some call at the industrial piers, but not at the cruise terminals. Because who would want to buy food before they get on a ship full of food?

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Thanks everyone for you great responses and suggestions.  I think we will take our chances with camping out at the airport, taking advantages of shelter, restaurants, washrooms and free Wifi!!!  It seems like the terminal opens for boarding around 1130 so we'll probably head over and get in on early embarkation (do we have to register for this or just "show up"?).  Thanks again for all your response.  Much appreciated!

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We like to leave our hotel around 10:30 and get to the terminal by 11 -- go through security -- check in.  Boarding does usually start around 11:30.

 

Just make certain that you have all your information  filled out on line at HAL's site -- run off only the boarding pass and as many luggage tags as you need.

 

HAL usually has cabins ready by 11:30 so that you can drop off your carry ons and then do whatever you want to do.  Like eat lunch -- explore the ship.

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@Krazy Kruizers - Wow thank you so much for your helpful and encouraging post!  This is exactly what I was hoping we could do.  We've already done all the paperwork, completed to online check in and printed our baggage tags!  Thanks so much!!

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There are definitely food trucks at the pier.  A month ago as I was being dropped off my shuttle driver who recommended a truck beside Terminal E where the steak and rice were especially good.

 

When I worked at Miami 3 years ago there was a truck at Terminal G.

 

Limo, Taxi, Uber drivers all have a place to use a restroom and get a bite or a cup of coffee.

 

Terminals A & B are still a bit of a construction area, but soon they will have a spot also.

 

David

 

 

 

 

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First, I'm actually impressed that no previous response has admonished the OP for flying in the day of the cruise departure.  I applaud everyone's civility.

 

That being said, last March we flew from NJ the morning of departure.  We took the first flight out at 6 a.m. and just our luck, the flight left a few minutes early, it was a very calm ride down with no head winds and we arrived in FLL early at 8:20 am!!!  

 

Here's the catch, and this is important, once you leave the TSA secure part of the terminal area to get your luggage - you can't go back again to the gate area where the restaurants and food vendors are located.  But in the luggage area there is some seating, a bar that served breakfast, and a Starbucks and of course restrooms.(United terminal).  By the time we got our luggage, used the restroom, and slowly sipped our coffee it was past 10 a.m. and we took a taxi to the cruise terminal where we could begin the boarding process.  

 

 

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@baggal - I actually booked the flight through HAL and am departing Victoria the day before, flying all night and arriving at "0 dark stupid" the day of the cruise (which leaves at 5:00) so I figured I was safe.  But thanks for catching the "civility" of the other posters.

 

You bring up a really good point, which I noticed once I checked the airport website.  I'm thinking that we might be fine with just the Starbucks, washrooms and free wifi...especially since we'll plan to hit the terminal and board the ship as soon as possible and eat there.  But thanks so much for your concerns...

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If you have a Delta Visa card, you can make use of the Delta Lounge at the airport for, I think, around $25/person.  They do have snack and breakfast items but not a hot made to order breakfast, a bar and coffee bar available, comfortable seating, and places to recharge electronics, and maybe free wifi (not absolutely sure about that).  It was well worth the $$ when we had long waits for the flight back home!

 

 

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On 2/9/2019 at 11:12 PM, DAllenTCY said:

There are definitely food trucks at the pier.

But you're talking about SD.  OP is talking about FLL. I've never seen a food truck inside the main gate there.

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Done one too many red-eyes to FLL from the West Coast USA to have learned the hard way to NEVER do one again.

 

FLL had virtually no amenities once you left the baggage area. So either you stay inside the airport and let your baggage languish on the carousel or you are left in a very austere setting with only some really bad boxed food at one location and hard chairs and crowds. Now we plan to arrive the day ahead of time, overnight and make a much saner connection to the ship.

 

The worst possible option is to do a HAL transfer for those early arrivals - an agent may or may not show up to greet you, you are not told were to meet, no one shows up until 8 or 9am somewhere in the terminal and you can't leave your luggage and do anything other than sit and sit and sit hoping there will  be some sign of a HAL connection.

 

Then once you make your HAL connection 4 hours or so after your early morning flight arrival you are told to wait again until there are enough people to fill the bus and then haul your luggage across the access roads and airport parking lots to finally get to the bus. 

 

Saving money on the west coast red-eye and avoiding an overnight in FLL  - never, never, never again.   However, with that in mind do consider some of the other more productive suggestions others have offered if you think they would work for you. 

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1 hour ago, DAllenTCY said:

I''ve been talking about the Port of Miami, not SD. 

 

David

Port of Miami has no bearing on the question asked .

There are no food trucks at FLL or Port Everglades.

 

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1 hour ago, OlsSalt said:

Done one too many red-eyes to FLL from the West Coast USA to have learned the hard way to NEVER do one again.

 

FLL had virtually no amenities once you left the baggage area. So either you stay inside the airport and let your baggage languish on the carousel or you are left in a very austere setting with only some really bad boxed food at one location and hard chairs and crowds. Now we plan to arrive the day ahead of time, overnight and make a much saner connection to the ship.

 

The worst possible option is to do a HAL transfer for those early arrivals - an agent may or may not show up to greet you, you are not told were to meet, no one shows up until 8 or 9am somewhere in the terminal and you can't leave your luggage and do anything other than sit and sit and sit hoping there will  be some sign of a HAL connection.

 

Then once you make your HAL connection 4 hours or so after your early morning flight arrival you are told to wait again until there are enough people to fill the bus and then haul your luggage across the access roads and airport parking lots to finally get to the bus. 

 

Saving money on the west coast red-eye and avoiding an overnight in FLL  - never, never, never again.   However, with that in mind do consider some of the other more productive suggestions others have offered if you think they would work for you. 

Thanks for your honest feedback from what sounds like some previous horrible experience.  It sounds like we are "hooped" according to your experience as we have booked the flights through HAL and really don't feel like we have any options other than to pay the exorbitant fees to change flights but we're both working the day before so we can't actually leave much earlier than this.  I guess we'll have to suffer through this experience and learn better for next time.  Good thing I grew up in India - so I have lots of experience camping out in airport (probably much less convenient than FLL).  Anyway... I'm sure we'll be wasted by the time we get on the ship and will enjoy a nice nap in the afternoon after our lunch on the NS.  Cheers.

 

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14 minutes ago, Iseaster said:

Thanks for your honest feedback from what sounds like some previous horrible experience.  It sounds like we are "hooped" according to your experience as we have booked the flights through HAL and really don't feel like we have any options other than to pay the exorbitant fees to change flights but we're both working the day before so we can't actually leave much earlier than this.  I guess we'll have to suffer through this experience and learn better for next time.  Good thing I grew up in India - so I have lots of experience camping out in airport (probably much less convenient than FLL).  Anyway... I'm sure we'll be wasted by the time we get on the ship and will enjoy a nice nap in the afternoon after our lunch on the NS.  Cheers.

 

 

Bring your own snacks, something for entertainment and nice seat pillow. Knowing it will be a long grim connection up front does make it easier to endure, and heaven sent if a HAL agent is actually there to help run interference for you.

 

But nothing can ease the pure time gap between flight arrival and ship's embarkation without some sort of serious intervention planned up front. You would think the airlines would offer better west coast  connections to FLL knowing what a cruise ship departure port it is. It is such a weird topsy turvy time difference for us - even though it is only three hours.

 

You have a great attitude up front, and yes it will be better than camping out in Indian train stations, but those still probably have better local food options. Did India by Rail for two weeks once - trip of a lifetime.

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