Let's face it no matter how you look at it that last morning of your cruise just stinks! Number one it means vacation is over and you have to go back home where nobody is cooking all your meals and magically making your bed. It also means an early wake up. There are a few things you can do to help make this rough morning a little easier.
Post cruise transportation
Before that last morning make sure you already have all your plans set up for when you get off the ship. This could go back as far as when you are booking flights and be sure to book flights that depart with enough time to get off the ship and get to the airport. If you are heading back to the airport make sure you have your transportation all set up and you have a good idea where you are going to find it when you are off the ship. It can be a little chaotic out there with all the guests getting off the ship and then new guests arriving to board. The cruise lines usually offer a shuttle for a fee or you can use a car service. There will be different spots for the cruise buses and things like taxis and Uber. Another option is to get a rental car.
I noticed something very important when I got off my most recent cruise in Miami which is sort of what inspired me to write this blog. It is important when booking your rental car to find out where the rental location is and if they offer a shuttle that will pick you up at the ship. In Miami I saw first hand quite a few people that thought they could just board any rental car shuttle to get back to the Miami airport rental car building or worse people that thought they rented from the airport location but they had not. I had booked with Alamo which does require you to show your reservation in order to board the Alamo bus to the airport. While I understand why they require that it does slow the process down a bit. It also cannot be fun for the bus driver to keep telling people sorry you didn't book with Alamo so you cannot get on. I saw quite a few people get pretty angry so I am sure they deal with that alot. The Miami airport isn't far from the port so at least those people could grab an Uber for about $16 (about half the cost of a taxi) but these are things they might not know and just are not ready for. This is why I say make sure you pan for that day.
The other option for that day would be if you drove you own car to the port. If you parked in the cruise port lot you have the easiest option of all since you will just walk over to your car and off you go. If you saved a little money and used a parking lot a little bit away from the port just be sure you know where and how often the parking lot shuttle will run.
The last morning onboard
Now let's back up a bit to when you are still on the ship. Most likely your ship is back in port around 6 am but it does have to wait to be cleared by the coast guard before guests can start getting off. This process can be a little noisy so you might be woken up even earlier than you wanted but either way you will start hearing the get up and get off messages announced early. Most ships, especially the mega ships, need to start moving people off in groups in order to make sure there are not huge back ups in the luggage and customs areas. If you have an early flight you might want to take advantage of the earliest option which requires you to carry all of your luggage off yourself. For everyone else you will have put most of your luggage out in the hall the night before so that will be transported off the ship in the morning and waiting for you when you get off the ship. You might have a couple options for breakfast so be sure to check that out. If you are not in a rush and are in one of the later groups for getting off the ship the buffet is usually your best option if you are tying to stay onboard as long as possible. I always try to leave whatever bags I am carrying off the ship in my room while I go grab breakfast which makes the buffet easier. Then when my group is called I just pop back to the room and grab them.
The night before your last morning
Backing up even a little further to that last night there are few things to do. The first is packing up your stuff. If you are putting your bags out in the hall so they can be taken off the ship for you then you will need to remember to not pack certain things like clothes and shoes for the next day, your ID, and any medication or valuables. Also make sure you have a carry on type bag left to pack all of these things in for getting them off the ship with you in the morning. After many cruises I have seen plenty of people that forgot to leave out clothes before putting their bags out so they were either in evening wear or pajamas getting off the ship. I have also seen plenty of barefoot people that packed all of their shoes the night before. Be sure to double check the safe for anything you might have stored in there. Also now is a good time to check your account and be sure all the charges on there look correct. Unless you directed otherwise the ship will automatically charge the card on file at the end of the cruise. Most likely there won't be any charges after that last night so checking now is good. Keep in mind there are a few last minute things that could show up on there that last morning though. Two possibilities are minibar charges if you have that option and towel charges if you ship charges for pool towels that are not returned to the proper place. One other last morning charge that is possible is if you choose to make any last minute photo purchases as that is usually the only thing still open that last morning.
Just a little pre-planning will help your last morning go smoothly so even if you are not happy about your cruise ending at least you won't be feeling stressed on top of that.
2 weeks ago I was onboard the Azamara Pursuit that held about 700 guests and today I am on the NCL Bliss which holds about 6000 guests. As you might guess there is a huge difference! Personally I like the smaller quieter ships but for this cruise we are sailing with extended family so the bigger ship that offers more options made sense. It is also Thanksgiving week so this ship seems to be full of extended families all traveling in large groups. Sailing on such contrasting ships within a month really makes it clear that there is a ship for everyone and also every occasion.
For our Mediterranean Cruise a small ship was perfect since we were visiting ports everyday and were spending all day exploring on land. A smaller ship can get into smaller ports which is a big advantage in Europe. This cruise is in the Caribbean which tends to have more sea days so a ship with more things to do onboard is helpful. The Bliss has 20 decks and includes things like go karts, laser tag, water slides, kids clubs, multiple dining locations, and lots of activities. If you are traveling with kids they will love this ship. If you are looking for a romantic quiet vacation this probably isn't the right ship. There are some adult only areas but this is one thing I think they need to improve on. NCL offers some options to pay more for some private locations on the ship such as the Vibe, a private area on the sun deck, and the Thermal Suite, a private area of the spa. You can buy a length of cruise pass for these. If you really want a private experience you will want to consider booking a room in the Haven. The Haven is like a ship within a ship where you will have your own private decks that include a pool, restaurant, and lounge. The Haven comes with all the pampering you can imagine like a butler and priority embarkation and debarkation.
If you are looking for a floating resort where the ship really contains everything you need for vacation full of activity then one of these mega ships, like the Bliss, are for you. If you are looking for a quieter more relaxing vacation where the ports are the highlight then I recommend the smaller ships. If you want something in between the two there are ships perfect for that as well. No matter what you are looking for there is a ship just waiting to take you sailing away!
I would be happy to help you find that ship and itinerary that is the best fit for your vacation.
Need a quote for traveling anywhere? Click here to start.