If you book your own flight, RC does not guarantee you will make your flight. We booked our own flight, but booked the airport shuttle through RC. Once we got our luggage we went to the RC desk, they took care of our luggage from that point until it was delivered to our ship. The shuttle took us to the terminal in time to meet our ship. The shuttle runs up to 30 minutes before the chip leaves (but that's cutting it close). We were concerned that we might miss our ship because of the storms that were forcasted for Miami the day that we were flying in. I called RC and was given a phone number that I could call if we missed the boat due to our flight not arriving on time or if the airport was closed due to the storm. They said we could fly to Nassau (our 1st stop) and meet the boat there if the Miami airport was closed, the added cost was our responsbility. Although American Airlines said that they would help us if the airport was closed, I'm not sure if that meant helping us find a flight to Nassau or covering the cost, but I felt like both the airlines and RC were willing to work with us in the event that the hurricane closed the airport. We were lucky, the storm had no effect on the airport or our flight.
Always fly in one day before the cruise starts. Not only you can miss the flight, the airline can also loose a part or all your luggage.
2 years ago all our luggage was in Chicago, we were in Jacksonville, FL. Our luggage arrived at the airport the following day, 2 hours before the ship left the port.
So, book a nice hotel close to the port and arrive one day earlier.
I whole-heartedly agree with both Uwe and Oppis. Fly in a day or two earlier. Especially if your are sailing during what we locals call 'the season.' If you are sailing from Miami, The Holiday Inn is minutes from the port and offers good rates for your pre or post extension.
Definately book your own flight for the day before your cruise. If I sail out of San Juan I go two days before. Not only will be make your ship on time, but you will also be well rested for your first day on board. Also check the price for airfare through RCCL. I think you will find it more expensive. Here is a good site to check airfare price and schedules www.kayak.com
I agree that you should fly in a day early if you book your own air. I have a group cruise planned for late October, and I haven't book air for the cruisers yet, but I suggested that they book their own and fly in early.
The least expensive self-booked air fare at this time is $234 RT. The hotel cost is about $127, and the shuttle is $36 RT. Of course, if they want to take a risk of not having delays, they'd save the hotel cost if they don't fly in a day early.
However, we had a meeting the other day, and many asked me to check to see what the cruiseline would charge. The cruiseline is charging $359 plus tax for flying in the day of embarkaton, and that includes the shuttle to and from the port. So, it ends up being less expensive. . . . .
So, you might want to check into the cruiseline's cost. . .
We are flying to the cruise the day before. We are going out of Port Canaveral. I booked the Radisson Hotel which I know is very close to the port. Someone mentioned airfare of $234 RT at this point. Where were those rates found? I cannot find them leaving from NJ going to Orlando. Additionally, where would I find the number to book the shuttle from Royal Caribbean? If I buy the shuttle round trip from them, will that make a difference in them making me get to my flight on time?
I always book my own flight. From my experience, if you let the cruise line book your flight, it will be a little more expensive (or at least you will not save any money). But more importantly, if you allow cruise line to book your flights for you, u are almost guaranteed to get the flight you wont want, such as red-eye or multiple connections. That's because cruise lines can purchase these at lower prices and make a little more profit on you.
So, book your flight, book a flight that's a day or two early and enjoy your vacation. Dont rush your vacation or let a missed flight/connection ruin your long planned vacation.