Cruising, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Symphony of the Seas

Inaugural Sailing on the Symphony of the Seas (Pre-Embarkation)

Arriving in Miami

One of my biggest pieces of advice for my cruise clients is to arrive the night before embarkation. Unlike many types of vacations, you cannot arrive late – the ship will leave without you. By planning to arrive a day early, you allow time for flight delays, traffic, and other mishaps without having to stress about whether you’re going to literally “miss the boat.”

Even though I live in Florida, I didn’t want to chance it, so I booked a hotel near the cruise port for the night before the cruise. I drove the 4 hours down and somehow managed to arrive in downtown Miami at the exact moment a Drake concert let out, two blocks from the hotel. I always joke that I make travel mistakes so my clients don’t have to and this was one of those moments! It took me over an hour to get through the concert traffic so now, if there’s a concert venue nearby, I’m going to check what time the performance ends!!!

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Once I finally made it to the Holiday Inn Port of Miami-Downtown, it seemed quite nice for the price and the view was beautiful. From the hotel window, I could see the the cruise port and ships from several different cruise lines. I was initially pretty happy with the hotel, given that it was less than $200 for the night, had a great view, and was so close to the port.

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However, the following morning changed my opinion about this hotel. In the daylight, the carpet was a bit threadbare. While I was getting ready, I noticed there was a painted over band-aid stuck to the wall of the bathroom – not sure whether it was stuck there to cover a hole or if they just painted over it to cover that someone put it their, but it was janky. As we were checking out, I asked for the password to the lobby business center computer so I could print my ship boarding pass. The desk clerk rolled his eyes at me and rattled it off so fast I couldn’t make out what he said and he turned away from me. I had to wait in line to ask someone else and finally got the password. After I printed the pass, I went to collect my car from the valet (the only parking option at the hotel). Not only did it take him more than 10 minutes to locate my car, but he couldn’t figure out how to unlock it or how to start it – he kept telling me the key fob was dead. I wasn’t allowed to do any of it “for legal reasons,” but I had to stand next to my car explaining to him how to do everything so he could pull my car out of the lot.

Overall, checking out and leaving took more than an hour, when 15 minutes should have been more than sufficient. To top it off, my GPS took me to the Royal Caribbean headquarters, not the cruise terminal! Luckily, I was not late for my arrival time because the hotel was so close and I had planned to get there early.  All of that is to say, arrive the day before your cruise, leave early for the terminal, and follow the directions in your cruise confirmation – no matter what the GPS says!

To read about embarkation and my first day on the cruise, check back soon.

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