Why You Should Choose a Home Port Cruise

Sailing from a close-to-home cruise port can help shave hundreds off your trip. 

By Erica Lamberg, ContributorMarch 4, 2016
By Erica Lamberg, ContributorMarch 4, 2016, at 11:47 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

Why You Should Choose a Home Port Cruise

Harbor of cruise ships, Virgin Islands

Selecting an itinerary from a nearby port can help you save time, money and aggravation.(Getty Images)

With diverse itineraries, innovative amenities and onboard activities geared toward travelers of all ages and interests, a cruise can make for a relaxing and budget-friendly vacation option. After all, when you consider that most cruises include accommodations, meals and most onboard entertainment in one all-inclusive rate, taking to the high seas can offer a more affordable and stress-free choice than a land-based getaway. But with rising flight prices, not the mention the hassle of unexpected flight delays and the added costs associated with staying at a hotel in a port city the night before a cruise departure, travelers are toying with the idea of taking a cruise from their home port to maximize savings and minimize stress. From the chance to drive to the pier on the day of your cruise to starting your cruise from day one, here are four key selling points for planning a cruise from a popular home port near you.

You Can Skip the Airport

It's no secret that severe weather can cause flight disruptions and detours and ultimately, spoil a cruise vacation. "If you are flying to a port and your plane gets delayed because of bad weather in another part of the country, you might be out of luck and miss the boat and have to reschedule everything. That doesn't happen when you can easily commute to the port via car. There is a much smaller risk of having a mishap ruin your trip," says Tanner Callais, who operates GalvestonCruiseTips.com, a cruise travel site based in Galveston, Texas.

Less Stress

Sailing from your home port isn't just less expensive – it saves you time and helps you dodge unnecessary headaches. "Most first-time cruisers are surprised at the boarding process for a cruise. A cruise is completely different," Callais says. "You put your bag through an X-ray machine and walk through a metal detector. Then you check-in and board. The entire process can take as little as 15 minutes and is so much less stressful than an airport," he adds. In addition, there are fewer restrictions than airport security. "There is no 3-ounce limit for a cruise. There are also no bag fees like you see when you are flying."

Plenty of Choices

Carnival Cruise Lines offers 17 different North American home ports along the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, providing consumers with a convenient and cost-effective means to get to and from their cruise. "Not only does driving to your port of embarkation save money, it's also hassle-free. No rushing through airports – just pack your bags, load up the car and you're on vacation that afternoon. It's estimated that roughly half the U.S. population is within a day's drive of a Carnival home port," says Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for Carnival.

Locals Can Score Last-Minute Deals

Local residents who have the flexibility to embark on a spur-of-the-moment cruise can benefit from last-minute offers. "The secret that most people don't know about is that cruise lines will release special offers often to the local market when a ship is not full," says Steve Griswold, founder of Pixie Vacations in Atlanta. "These last-minute offers are usually amazing deals. The cruise line industry releases these first to residents close to the port because they know they are more likely able to get up and go. They can drive to the port – 30 minutes to a few hours away –  and jump on a ship and go. It's better to sail with some reduced rate staterooms in the final weeks then sail with those staterooms empty," he says.

Erica Lamberg, Contributor

Erica Lamberg has contributed to U.S. News & World Report since 2015. In addition, she has ...  Read more

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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