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Just booked my first ever Cruise!

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Hi everyone


I am new to the forum after just booking our first ever cruise.  We will be sailing with Royal Caribbean from Miami on 8th July 2021.  We are flying from the UK on 7th July and then driving to Orlando after our cruise.  I have a few questions regarding the cruise and hoped you lovely people will be able to help 🙂


If we pick up a hire car at Miami Airport is there parking at the Port and what are the costs involved. We will also have quite a bit of luggage as we are coming for more than two weeks, do I take all my luggage on board or am I best to leave it in the car?


We will need an overnight stay in Miami the night before our cruise, can anyone recommend a good hotel suitable for a family not too far from the Port.


My travel agent stated that I will get access to Royal Caribbean's planner to add extra's on, like drink packages etc.  When will I receive this and should I just keep an eye on it for special offers?


I have only booked an Inside Cabin for the four of us, I am not sure if I will upgrade the closer we get to the cruise, is this something I will have the option to do? 


Thats all I have at the moment but I am sure that the questions will keep coming over the next year.


Shona 🙂 

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Welcome to Cruise Critic, and to cruising.  A couple of suggestions:  For information about Royal Caribbean, visit the forum here for RCI:  https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/51-royal-caribbean-international/.  Lots of experts there to help you out.  For information about hotels and parking, visit the Florida Departures board, under North American Homeports:  https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/386-florida-departures/


My personal advice is NOT to leave luggage in the car.  In fact, I would wait to hire the car until after your cruise.  There are not any/many hotels close to the port.  They are either downtown or around the airport.  Most hotels have a complimentary shuttle from the airport.  Ask if you can leave excess luggage there.  There might be a small fee.  Then take a taxi or shuttle (fee) from the hotel to the pier.  After the cruise, get a taxi to either the airport rental car area, or direct to the rental car center.  Folks on the Florida board can help you with that.  EM

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I would also recommend waiting to rent the car after the cruise.  Why pay the car rental fee for it to sit in the parking lot during the cruise.  Overall a taxi or shuttle to the hotel and port should be cheaper.  I would go to a rental car center versus the airport rental car companies.  The airport rental car companies will have additional fees that the rental car centers should not have.  As mentioned earlier I would check with the hotel you stay in about leaving luggage with them during your cruise.  Thee could be a fee but it should be a lot cheaper than a rental car sitting in a parking lot.  Also, some hotels might have a rental car center close to them.  Your travel agent should be able to help you with finding a hotel that also has rental car centers close by, if they makes a difference to you.  Also note that some hotels might offer fee shuttles to the port.  But not sure about Miami.



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Welcome to Cruise Critic!  


I join those who suggest that you delay renting a car until after your cruise.  Parking fees seem to differ depending upon the garage.  I parked at J garage and I have discovered that I paid somewhat less per day than those who parked at the new Royal Caribbean garage.  There was a Royal Caribbean ship docked behind my ship whose guests could have used my garage.  It's a crap shoot as to where your ship will be docked.  However, if it is one of their biggest/newest ships, I'd put a bet on that it will be docked at their newest terminal/garage complex.  


If you have never driven in Miami, I also recommend that you NOT try to navigate the insane traffic into the Port on sailing day.  Hire a taxi or a Uber/Lyft, whatever, and let them deal with the chaos.  

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Glad you corrected to 2022 —- this year there will still be problems getting a rental car to begin with.  That said, there is no point in paying several days’ rent on a car so you can pay for keeping it in a garage for those days.  Local ground transportation is cheap enough for it to make sense to taxi or Uber —and an out-of-towner who is used to driving on the left does not need to cope with Miami area traffic just after getting off a trans-Atlantic flight.

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Posted (edited)

I think you've already gotten the drift on collecting a rental car AFTER your cruise.😉


US rentals from the UK are usually cheaper via agencies (consolidators) like https://www.holidayautos.com/ or  https://www.carrentals.co.uk/ rather than direct from the rental companies. 


Beware add-ons. (this applies to much of life in America, not just car rentals)

US rentals are cheap, but the agency clerks make their commission on add-ons like upgrades to a bigger or better car, insurances (even personal insurance 🙄), sat-nav,, fuel deals (stick to collect-full, return-full), etc. Know what you want & what it costs before you go, and avoid being up-sold when you collect. 

All rentals include CDW (effectively "comprehensive") insurance, but most have high excesses (typically $1500 to $2000) and some will charge YOU for pre-existing damage not noticed when you collected the car. Some include zero-excess insurance (with conditions), but if zero-excess isn't included do check the cost of it as an add-on, & the excess terms.

You can buy excess insurance from insurance companies on the web (google "car rental excess insurance") - this is dramatically cheaper than the rental agency's zero-excess add-on, but the big drawback is that they're not recognised by rental agencies and you'll have to pay the excess for any damage and collect reimbursement from your excess insurer. And the joy of renting with the agency's zero-excess is that when you collect you don't have to go over the car with a fine-toothed comb & take photos (often in poorly-lit multi-storey parking lots), and ditto when you return the car.

So your best bet by far is an agency offering zero-excess as standard.


Collection at a down-town depot is usually cheaper than at an airport (which has a premium location charge.)

Most agencies don't levy a one-way charge when the car is returned to a different location within Florida, as is the case for you.


Miami and Orlando residents can perhaps answer this..........

Cars rented in Orlando have fixed to the windscreen a "go-box" (automatically pays toll charges, so you don't have to stop at the toll-booths). You probably won't even be told about it, let alone the cost, but the norm. is for the renter to be charged a big chunk (?$15/$20/$25?) the first time it goes thro a toll sensor, then a little more than the standard toll every time. We collected from Orlando airport, stopped to pay at two tollbooths then set out on a 4-week road-trip around SE States & same tollbooths on our return. As well as us paying the approx $10 cash tolls, we were charged about $25 by the agency for the go-box rental and the tolls 😟

Rant over 🙄

I don't know if there are toll booths in Miami, or in the Orlando area other than on the Beeline. But it's something you should know - and if the car has a go-box that you don't want, get the staff to disable it, or cover it.


Can't help with RCI cabin upgrade but I suspect that like most, it will depend on circumstances. 

We upgraded on-board once (not RCI) because it was offered for a silly-low premium - clearly the ship wasn't sold-out. But if demand is high & supply is low the premium for an on-arrival upgrade may be a lot higher than the brochure price.

I think it'd be safer to decide NOW whether to upgrade.

I suggest that a choice to upgrade to balcony should be based primarily on cost, but also how many days at sea / how many days ashore (same with drinks packages), how gregarious you are, how quiet and private you want to be, how crowded the ship might be. Asking on the RCI page https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/51-royal-caribbean-international/ and naming your ship might be worthwhile. 

The following is just our personal  choice - we've endured inside cabins on cross-channel ferries and find the difference between inside and ocean-view far greater than between ocean-view and balcony for a number of reasons .......

We find inside claustrophobic, no natural light, can't tell if its morning noon or night, can't tell whether we're in port or at sea, can't tell which direction we're travelling, can't tell what the weather is like. Some folk with inside cabins leave their TV switched-on, sound muted, tuned to the mast-head camera - good idea, but not good enough for us.

So we wouldn't choose inside. That's our opinion - but it may not be yours.


All first cruises are great, have a good one. 


JB 🙂

Edited by John Bull
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  • 2 weeks later...

There are several budget hotels located within minutes by cab from the Miami cruise pier. 


The Courtyard Marriott Downtown is a modern 4 star Tripadvisor rated hotel just an 8 minute car ride to the cruise pier. Rooms here would run approximately $200 to $300 a night. 


The Hyatt Regency Miami is another reasonably priced hotel within ten minutes of the cruise pier. 


The Novotel Miami Brickell - Is a 4.5 star rated hotel with very reasonable rates $144 for July 7, 2022. Beautiful looking place with rave reviews and great pictures on Tripadvisor. 


Have a wonderful cruise. 







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