I received several e-mails from Royal Caribbean last week informing me that since the Navigator is arriving from cruising abroad on my embarkation date in New Orleans, that there would be a delay in boarding. The message specifically asked guests to not arrive at the terminal prior to 1:30 pm.
My family and I usually try to arrive just before 10:00 am and find that we are often some of the first guests on the ship. The way it stands, we plan on running a road race in Biloxi at 9:30 and then leaving for New Orleans at around 11:00 am which would put our arrival at around 12:45 pm.
My question is...do you think the terminal will be a total zoo at that point? Should we skip the road race and go earlier as originally planned?
I haven't been in New Orleans since last March, 2012 to board the Voyager. The entire area THEN, was under construction (the terminal area), and at BEST, I would consider boarding and actually GETTING to the terminal as slow (we used RCL's bus to get there from the airport). Once inside the terminal, the lines were SLOW and long, since, at that time, they only had two or three metal detectors. On an earlier post I had said that it felt much like a cattle drive. The people helping us get through were nice and helpful, but didn't have much to work with, and seemed over whelmed at bit. Not currently knowing how the build has gone, or if it is even finished, I can't give you great advice. If someone else on here knows that the construction is finished, I'd listen to RCL (probably because the ship has gone from a long international cruise and needs to fully clear customs) and arrive a little earlier than they say, maybe 12:30 or so. If it's not done yet, I'd arrive early like normal. In March, we got on the bus around 9:30 at the airport, and didn't even come close to the ship until well past 11:30 due to construction. Not sure if I helped here, but at least it's a little info to help you decide. BTW, the first maybe 7 hours of the cruise is going down the river to get to the ocean, and the sights are sometimes pretty cool. On the way back, you will get a chance to see too all the oil well platforms in the gulf-strange but interesting.
Jim, I appreciated your response. We will be on the Navigator in a few weeks. We have never been to New Orleans and are excited to see a new port.
I imagine that by the time we sail, it will be getting dark and we won't be able to see much of the river portion of the cruise. Hopefully, we will see it on the return trip.
We have an early flight on debarkation day, so I was interested in the long commute to the airport. We plan to inform RCCL upon our arrival of our need for early debarkation. We have never done this (early flight) before, but it was our only choice for that day.
Thanks, again, for the info.
Brad, have a great cruise! You will love the Navigator. We cruised on her last February and fell in love with the ship and it's amenities. Bon Voyage!
Actually, we cruised out of New Orleans twice this summer on the Carnival Elation, so we are certainly familiar with the Mississippi River portion of the trip. It was really neat standing up top during the sail away as we got to see the river for about an hour before we had to go get ready for dinner. We weren't out of the channel and into the gulf until about 12:30 am!
Well, I sure hope the construction is done, but having lived on the gulf coast for about 5 years now, I can tell you that no one seems to be in much of a hurry to get anything done, but we will see.
Nadine, I'm gonna say that the bus ride, once we got on the bus and left the airport, took about 25-30 minutes to get to the pier. Just to be safe, I try to never get a flight home before 3pm; I may have a few more options than you, since I live half way between Milwaukee and O'Hare/Midway airports in Chicago and can fly into either. I'd say that probably the earliest you can get off the ship would be maybe 7am? I'm never in a hurry to leave the ship, so I wait till late. Might want to think about taking your own bags off the ship with you instead of leaving them outside the cabin the night before, for speed purposes too. Also, I don't know what time the first RCL bus leaves the port for the airport, so you may want to look into a private service or a taxi cab. Also, now rremembering that the river portion fs the cruise was much longer than I first mentioned, and that yes, we were in bed before the ship cleared the river out, and it was in the river before we went to bed on the rerturn. We did get to see much more then, since we went in March; little more sunlight then.
Thanks again, Jim. I typed a response a couple hours ago, but it appears to be lost in cyberspace!
Anyway, when we were on the Navigator in February, they had a service where they took the luggage from your cabin and delivered it to the airport; they printed our online boarding passes also. It was so convenient. If they offer that again, I'm sure that's the route we will take. Otherwise, we will probably try to save time by handling our own luggage on debarkation day.
I just want to get on that ship and sail away for a week! Can't wait!
I just received an email from some friends who are driving around New Orleans in an RV. I had asked them about the port area construction, and they stated that basically almost all of NO is under construction at one place or another. I today also found out that a girl I work with and her entire family will also be on Navigator tomorrow for their FIRST time cruising. She did not say, however, that they had received anything from RCL about not getting to the ship too early. I know that in the past, we have been told that we couldn't get on the ship before noon, 11:30 at the earliest, but that has never been the REAL case, and we have been allowed to board earlier. What COULD delay things would be if they do not start processing the new people until they want. Due to the mess that is probably still happening around the port, I'd still try to arrive at the pier around 11:30. Have a great time!
Turns out that a close friend of mine went on this same cruise; the first one since Navigator's arrival back from Spain. It was also her FIRST time ever on a cruise ship!! She totally LOVED the cruise, cruise ship, food, and ports. However, she stated that the port is still under construction, and the "cattle call" way that the passangers were subjected to was very similiar to the feelings that my wife and I got back in March. I'm not too sure what the other problems are down there besides the construction, since to ME, it did not look like there was any construction INSIDE the terminal; more like the drive-up area and the roads leading into and out of the terminal area. I'm hoping I'm wrong, and that they are trying to speed up the process for getting passangers into the terminal and up to the desk area to get your seapass cards, because the security area is WAY too small and cramped and SLOW; or I should say it was in March this year. I know I may be starting to sound like a broken record since I also wasn't pleased with Miami when we last sailed from there on Liberty, but I almost feel like I was correct since RCL basically left that port.