Getting to the port: Parking for cruises out of Fort Lauderdale

I was no stranger to Port Everglades, the giant cruise port just a few miles from Ft. Lauderdale airport (FLL). In fact, I’d cruised out of it many times, and I could tell you in one sentence how to get to that port from the airport: Land, pick up your bags, get in a taxi (or Lyft/Uber), go to the port. But that wouldn’t be much of a blog post, would it?

Because I’m taking some time off work right now, I was lucky enough to go on not one, not two, but three cruises out of Port Everglades in just a couple of months’ time. Rather than make three plane trips, my husband and I decided to take some time as “temporary snowbirds,” and we drove our car down to Florida. Hey, it was February and March – we wanted some warm weather!

We tried three options for parking, and the good news is that I felt like all of them were pretty good options that I would use again.

  1. Park N Fly at the Fort Lauderdale airport was a great experience. We prepaid and used a deal on my American Express card to get $15 back on our reservation. Using the lot was simple: We entered and were directed to the side of the lot where cruisers were parked, then a van shuttle picked us up right at the car and delivered us to the cruise terminal. When we came back from the cruise, we called the number we’d been given and a shuttle came to the terminal and picked us up, then dropped us right back at the car.
  2. We arrived at the Park N Go at the airport on a particularly busy day – there were 7 ships at Port Everglades, including the Royal Caribbean mega-ship Harmony of the Seas. On that day, they were using a valet-type system where you dropped off your car at a central location, then hopped on a shuttle to the appropriate cruise ship’s terminal. When we returned from our cruise, the shuttle picked us up and dropped us right off at our car, which had been parked in the lot. One quirky thing about this lot is that an area next door is populated by monkeys, which are pretty darn cute! (but don’t feed them – for your own safety!)Photo Mar 04, 8 25 51 AM.jpg
  3. On one of the cruises, we talked to some folks who sang the praises of the on-site parking at Port Everglades, so for the final of the three cruises, I decided to give it a try. The price is a little bit higher, $15/day versus $10-$13 for the other places, so it made more sense for a shorter, 5-day cruise. My experience here was a mixed bag: Our cruise ship went out of the inconveniently-placed Terminal 29, for which we had to take a shuttle to and from the midport parking garage. However, if we’d been out of one of the closer terminals (18 and 19 are especially close), this garage would have been incredibly convenient. Here you can see the Celebrity Summit docked at terminal 19 in a picture I took from the garage where I parked our car.Photo Mar 10, 10 28 48 AM

If your cruise is leaving out of Port Everglades, you can use the Cruise Terminal app (link will take you to the Apple store) to determine what terminal your cruise will be departing out of.

Majesty of the Seas Live Blog: Day 5

Day 5 was a study in the need for (extreme) patience when we put our fate in the hands of the airlines — and mother nature.

Remember that wintry weather I mentioned on my Day 4 blog? I called Delta as soon as I was back in cell range, but didn’t have any luck getting put on earlier flights. Nevertheless, I hustled to get my bags ready and get off the ship with the “self-assist” disembarkation group, which left at 7:45 am. This is the term for when you take your own bags off the ship rather than using the ship’s luggage assistance (when they collect your bag the night before you depart and deliver it to you in the terminal building). If you have an early flight or just want to get off the ship early, self-assist is the only way to do it.

Just as in my last experience at Port Canaveral, I was off the ship quickly and on a shuttle to the airport around 8 am. When I arrived at 9 am, I asked again about earlier flights, but nothing was available. I decided I had no choice but to hope for the best. I checked my bag, went through security, and settled in at the Delta Sky Club, a perk I get from my American Express Platinum card (while its annual fee is rather pricey, this card certainly has some advantages for frequent travelers like myself).

It started innocuously, with a 20-minute delay to my first flight (Orlando to Atlanta). But as time wore on, the situation worsened quickly. First, the flight was delayed for 90 minutes, as was my connecting flight from Atlanta home to Greensboro; then the delay went to over two hours. I had a small bit of hope that I might make it as far as Atlanta when they actually boarded our flight (about an hour after we were originally scheduled to depart), but that hope was short lived.

Through a long sequence of events (that would make this post infinitely long if I detailed them all), my flight from Orlando to Atlanta was cancelled. I jumped on my phone and hustled to find a hotel room in Orlando for the night; fortunately, I was able to get a room at the same DoubleTree we’d stayed at when we came for our Majesty cruise in August. With the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to sleep in the airport, I was able to rest much easier while I waited in line (for quite some time) to find out what flights I’d been reassigned to.

Here’s where the story has a funny ending, albeit a happy one. You see, I live right in between two airports – Raleigh-Durham (RDU) and Greensboro (GSO). It’s about equidistant to drive to both, but for this trip I’d chosen Greensboro. Well, when Delta reassigned my flights, they had me routed from Orlando to RDU to Detroit and then back to GSO! Fortunately, I was able to talk to an agent and they easily changed my schedule to the first flight only (Orlando-RDU), and I talked the hubby into coming to pick me up at RDU since my car was parked at GSO. (This was very nice of him, seeing as how I’d left him at home while I went on this cruise by myself!)

As a bonus, I looked at the boarding pass the agent handed me for my flight the next day – and I had been put into first class! What a treat!

So while I thought that Day 5 would be the last day of my vacation, it turned out that the travel gods had another plan for me. So here I am in a hotel room in Florida, while it snows back home – I’m a little disappointed to miss the snow, and not looking forward to clearing off my car (parked in a surface lot and not a garage, sigh) when I get home. But I do remember that ultimately, I will get home – even if it’s a day later than I’d intended. I just wish I’d remember to pack an extra pair of underwear….

Read (unexpected!) Day 6’s blog here.