We were so excited about going on a cruise that we really didn’t think about one little detail: How do we get there? I mean, we had our plane tickets and our ship boarding passes, but what about the in-between? How do we get from Orlando International Airport to the ship in Port Canaveral?
We were working with a travel agent from RCI to get everything arranged. Being that it was our first cruise, we wanted to make sure we dotted all the i-s and crossed all the t-s. My first call in arranging transportation was to Kay, our friendly travel agent. Her response:
Norwegian has transportation between the airport and the cruise ship (both ways) but only on the day of departure and arrival back in Port Canaveral. Since you are flying in the day prior to your cruise, the best thing to do would be to get a hotel near the airport in Orlando that has its own shuttle between the airport and the hotel. That way the hotel could pick you up from the airport & take you to their hotel and then on Saturday, they could shuttle you back to the airport where you would catch the NCL shuttle to the cruise ship terminal in Port Canaveral. The price for transfers roundtrip is $70 per person (about a 45 min. trip) and this includes return transfers back to the airport after the cruise as well. If you’re interested, I will need your complete air schedule itinerary including air carrier, flight numbers, and departure and arrival times, etc.
So, let’s add that up. It’s $140 each plus we have to find a hotel in Orlando that will shuttle us back and forth to the airport, even though we had a flight coming in at 11 p.m.
We were a little put off by this plan. I mean, shuttle to a hotel, spend the night, get up, load our stuff up again, shuttle back to the airport and then shuttle over to the cruise location. We thought there had to be a better option.
I inquired of people who had been on cruises before. They had varying reports. They either took the shuttle, paid for a limo service or rented a car and left it in the cruise lot.
Car rental? Ding, ding, ding!
But to rent the car, pay for parking with the cruise and then take the rental back seemed awfully expensive. So I started doing some searching. Avis, Budget, Enterprise…all of those. Budget turned out to be the cheapest. We could rent a car from Orlando and drive to Port Canaveral and spend the night, we could sleep somewhere along the way or we could sleep in Orlando. We could take our time driving to Port Canaveral in the morning. We could stop for any last minute items. Yes, this seemed like a great, great plan.
We went online and reserved a Ford Focus for $45.02 for the trip to Port Canaveral. Then I called the Budget at Port Canaveral and found out they would shuttle us the 5 minutes to the ship. This meant we were getting a car for cheaper than the shuttle, we could sleep where and when we needed to and then we could return it and not incur any costs while we were gone. Awesome.
So, I also booked another Ford Focus (or similar) for the trip back at a price of $58.98.
We flew into Orlando and got in around 11 p.m. My husband went to baggage claim while I went over to the Budget rental counter at the airport. Line. Line. Line. It took forever, but we finally made it up to the counter. I seriously could not believe how many people were renting cars at 11 p.m. and how many were there without reservations! The agents had to help find them a car and wait for them to make a decision. They need kiosks for those of us in a hurry and with a reservation.
Once up the counter, we were told that they had a great Nissan Altima for us. My husband had arrived by that point and was not having it. As an employee of a company that supports the automotive industry–the American automotive industry–he wanted an American car. The agent said they didn’t have any American cars left, though they were offering a Chevy Camero and a Ford Mustang to the international travels next to us, but whatever. I understand those cost more.
So the agent went over to the Avis counter and was able to (with manager approval) hook us up with a Chevy Impala. At that point we were so tired and while he made it out like he was doing us a favor with this “luxury car,” we felt like he was just providing the service we were paying for. The fact that they didn’t have any compact cars (even the Nissan Altimate was a “step-up”) wasn’t our fault. We had a reservation! It’s like the old Seinfeld episode.
We took the keys and headed out to the parking lot and acquired our car and headed to the hotel.
Renting a car was the best decision ever. We left our luggage locked in the trunk for the night so that we didn’t have to haul everything up to our room. The next morning, we made a run to Walgreens for a razor for my husband, some sunglasses and batteries. Then we took our time getting over to the ship.
We easily found the Budget location in Port Canaveral, returned the car, hopped up the shuttle and we were there in no time.
The car was clean, the drive was easy, though we think we should have paid for the toll road pass in the car.
On the way back, we were one of the first groups to disembark and we made it out to the shuttle for the ride back to the Budget location. When we got there, I raced inside while my husband dealt with our luggage. I was third in line. I got up to the counter and the agent was helpful. Thankfully, they had a compact American car so there were no issues. We got ourselves a Chevy Cruze, a car my husband helped build and that we were considering buying. We were in and ready to go before some of the people were even off the shuttle. Kidding. I think.
We drove around a bit. We had a flight at 3 p.m. and we were off the boat early so we had some time to kill. Having the car allowed us to drive around near the Kennedy Space Center, search for crocodiles (we saw some) and get to the airport with plenty of time to get through the INSANE security line and have some lunch before our flight.
Budget was easy to work with (minus the Orlando airport fiasco) and the cars were in great shape. We would definitely rent from them again. In fact, we might do so again in March when our family takes a little journey. Hopefully Budget will be running specials or have some good deals on cars for the entire family.