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Flying to San Juan Day of Cruise - Ok to do?

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The cruise on the Celebrity Summit doesn't leave port until 8:00 p.m. Saturday evening.  (Cruise is late April 2020).  We were planning to use Celebrity's Choice Air to fly non-stop from Newark to San Juan on first flight of the day (this flight is usually really early in the morning) but have read pos and cons re flying same day of cruise.  We were wondering what experiences other Celebrity cruisers have had with flying into San Juan to catch the cruise which leaves port at 8 at night.   Thank you.

 

 

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Not a risk that I would be willing to take, but others might. First, the ship sails at 8, but the all aboard will be at least 2 hours earlier so they can get the muster drill out of the way. What time does that first flight arrive in San Juan? Does the airline also have later flights that could still get you there in time if your first flight ends up cancelled for some reason (weather/mechanical/crew issues)? Is there a reason you don't want to fly in the night before?

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Not a risk I’m willing to take either. I’m flying January 2020, to get on the Summit and I’m flying in the day before. I’ve been to Puerto Rico before, but always have a blast. I’m looking forward to spending the evening in old San Juan, then I plan on boarding around lunch time the day of departure.  I also, bought trip insurance just in case, but even with that I’m too nervous to go same day. 

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OP - I don't expect you to get a lot of support on these boards of flying into SJU on departure day even if your sailing time is 8pm.  In April, the odds are that snow will not be a factor, but you never know.  Of course if all goes according to plan, you should be fine....but if not, you will have one stressful day!

 

PS:  In January our Summit sailaway was 8:30pm.....the mandatory muster drill was at 4:45pm.  

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Posted (edited)

Maybe a non-stop red-eye flight....

 

Of course there are passengers who always fly in on day of sailing regardless of when the ship departs, and never had an issue, until they do.

 

There is a current post where someone departed to arrive on departure day in South America and just did not make it due to delays at their home airport which landed them at the Int'l airport five (5) minutes before departure of the international flight... guess what, they missed.

 

At your peril and risk, you might not have any issues, then again????

 

I say, if you feel comfortable arriving departure day, go for it. Let us know how you made out.

 

bon voyage

Edited by Bo1953

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Only if really necessary and would require 1) Non Stop  2) Flight arrives by noon time SJU time  3) There is another flight by same carrier arriving before 3 pm.

 

The first time we cruised out of SJU we had a connection in Miami (flying from NC).  There were thunder storms in Miami and after circling we were going to have to land in West Palm Beach to refuel which would have caused us to miss connection and the cruise.  Thankfully at the last minute we were able to continue to Miami and make our connection.

 

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We always see a one/two night stay in a port prior to a cruise excellent value no matter where in the world...

 

Firstly it is a ‘mini break’ in its own right, book a nice hotel and meal.

Secondly it take all the stress out of possible travel issues.

Finaly you board already relaxed and in ‘holiday’ mood.

 

When we were both working it was often difficult to ‘slot in’ those extra days and frequently we went for 10/12 night cruises rather than fourteen...never regretted it...

 

OP, if you do go for flying in on the same day you probably will be fine but is it worth the worry?

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We will be taking our third cruise out of San Juan in March and have already purchased same day, Non-stop air tickets from ORD just as we have done the previous two trips.  We have 5 1/2 hours between scheduled landing and scheduled departure so that leaves plenty time to claim baggage, transfer to pier and arrive before the 90 minute pre-departure cut-off.  They now do the Muster Drill very early to avoid conflicting with dinner so there must be some accommodations for guests not yet on board, but I can't speak to that as we have always been there in time.  

 

Unlike many others, traveling the day prior is not an option for us normally.  My wife is a teacher typically we cruise over Spring Break and there are very strict policies about taking the Friday before break off.  If we didn't travel on departure day we would not be able to go. As PelicanLvr said, I doubt you'll get many supporting same day flights, but 1000's of people do it at ports all over for cruises every week.  One thing we do for the San Juan departures is purchase trip insurance with a 3 hour delay/missed connection clause.  With the plan we select we know the insurance will kick in before the scheduled departure so if we do have a long delay and miss the ship, we will be covered for our cost to "catch-up" to the ship in the next port which is usually the next day at a close by island.

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We've done it both ways, day of and day before.  

 

A lot less stress and more relaxing to spend a day and a nice evening at a beach side hotel before boarding the next day.

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As I thought,  most here say day before.   Since we're doing a B2B for two weeks, I'm trying not to take an extra day off from work (already over accrued vacation time and had to get permission for these two weeks). We do have trip insurance through Celebrity in case of problems.  Plus we only take non-stop flights which for this flight the airlines leave EWR anywhere from 6 to 8 am

so hopefully lessen problems.

Thanks for everyone's input.  Have some time to decide what will work best for us.

 

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We’ve taken the first nonstop to SJU on cruise day departure and never have had a problem.  If you have insurance or use Choiceair you’re covered if something happens.  Look to see if the day after departure is a sea day or a port as that may make a difference.  Of course, you’re more rested and can enjoy the afternoon of boarding day on the ship if you come in a day early.  However, hotel rates are not cheap in San Juan so you’ll be paying for it.

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We have been in this cruise game for over forty years and follow a simple formula.  As a general rule we always fly-in one or more days prior to any cruise.  If that is not possible (like the situation laid out by the OP) then we try to get the earliest non-stop flight the day of the cruise.  Also have a Plan B..as to what to do if you miss the ship.  Using cruise air gives you some protection (not as much as folks are led to believe) and buying some kind of decent travel insurance makes sense.  

 

Hank

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We always fly in a day early. My daughter almost missed her cruise flying the day of. It was a sunny day in May, they boarded the plane, sat on the runway for 2 hours and then were told everyone off the plane.  There was a problem, couldn’t get the part for a few hours!  What a hassle!  They had to get their luggage off that flight( after much complaining) switch airlines and got to Miami with no time to spare. Her mother in law scrambled to find a car service to pick them up at the airport and the driver got them to the port with no time to spare.  Thanks to a kind admin who happened to be there at check in she let them board. Lesson learned!

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Posted (edited)

We always fly in at least a day early.  No matter the embarkation port. No worries. 

Edited by davekathy

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Posted (edited)

After a bad scare years ago we always fly in a day early and treat the hotel charge as cheap travel insurance.

 

Can't see a flight schedule for next April yet, but in March UAL is running an 8pm non-stop from EWR to SJU that arrives at midnight.   Might be a touch late, but avoids skipping work and allows for a full night's sleep and a day of pre-cruise sightseeing.  Jet Blue also has late night non-stop service from JFK and EWR to SJU.

Edited by Baron Barracuda

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Not a problem at all, Did it about 6-7 times, from Baltimore and Philadelphia airports, Book a am 

flight and will be there by 3 easily .

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7 hours ago, garyl62 said:

We will be taking our third cruise out of San Juan in March and have already purchased same day, Non-stop air tickets from ORD just as we have done the previous two trips.  We have 5 1/2 hours between scheduled landing and scheduled departure so that leaves plenty time to claim baggage, transfer to pier and arrive before the 90 minute pre-departure cut-off.  They now do the Muster Drill very early to avoid conflicting with dinner so there must be some accommodations for guests not yet on board, but I can't speak to that as we have always been there in time.  

 

Unlike many others, traveling the day prior is not an option for us normally.  My wife is a teacher typically we cruise over Spring Break and there are very strict policies about taking the Friday before break off.  If we didn't travel on departure day we would not be able to go. As PelicanLvr said, I doubt you'll get many supporting same day flights, but 1000's of people do it at ports all over for cruises every week.  One thing we do for the San Juan departures is purchase trip insurance with a 3 hour delay/missed connection clause.  With the plan we select we know the insurance will kick in before the scheduled departure so if we do have a long delay and miss the ship, we will be covered for our cost to "catch-up" to the ship in the next port which is usually the next day at a close by island.

Aren't there any Sunday departures?  You could fly in the day before.

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The only time we came close to missing a cruise was flying into San Juan the same day.    We had a connection in Dallas.    There were thunderstorms and our first flight wouldn't even take off from San Diego until they knew they could land in Dallas.   Then, Dallas was totally messed up with further delays.   We arrived in San Juan about an hour after the ship was supposed to depart and thought we were really out of luck.   

 

Waiting for our luggage and trying to decide what to do, we saw a sign identifying a cruise line representative and a group of people clustered around her.    We learned that there was a group of cruisers on the flight who had their air travel arranged by the cruise line.    There was a bus waiting for them and they were holding the ship for their arrival.    We asked if there was any way we could get on the bus with them and luckily there was room on the bus and they allowed it.   They literally pulled up the gangway as the last person entered and rushed us to a 'make-up' muster drill as the ship sailed.    We were exhausted, hungry, and sweaty - no way to start a cruise.   We learned our lesson that day and have never again flown anywhere the same day of the cruise.    

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29 minutes ago, mek said:

Aren't there any Sunday departures?  You could fly in the day before.

I believe all currently scheduled 7 day trips out of San Juan leave on Saturdays. I've never seen a 7 day Celebrity cruise departing from SJ on a Sunday.

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33 minutes ago, garyl62 said:

I believe all currently scheduled 7 day trips out of San Juan leave on Saturdays. I've never seen a 7 day Celebrity cruise departing from SJ on a Sunday.

Didn't realize it had to be X.

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We also usually fly in a day early but we did fly from Newark ( drove to Newark from upstate NY the day before and stayed at an airport motel) on an early morning flight and had no problem.  

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Posted (edited)

More people make it than don't but you really need to be prepared with a Plan B.  The idea behind going a day early is to give yourself maximum flexibility should something go wrong with your original flight plans.  Waiting until the day-of often does not give a lot of wiggle room. 

Edited by bEwAbG

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I flew same day from Baltimore to Vancouver for a same day cruise & made it with no issues. Lol.I will never do that again. It was too stressful.

 

We are flying in 1 day ahead for our Puerto Rico cruise but I think you will be completely fine going same day.

 

We booked a way over priced hotel that I wish was not non refundable. We will still have fun. 

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