Does your car really deserve a vacation? You may think not, especially if you are embarking on a 14 day cruise and parking costs $20+ per day. That’s a $300.00 expense you’ve never thought about.
The Home Port Advantage
If you live in or near the city your ship calls home, this is a great benefit. Let’s look at your options for getting yourselves and your massive amount of luggage to and from the ship.
- A friend or relative drives you. It’s the best of all possible worlds. There’s no cost. Your only concerns are their reliability, (Was it today?) their driving ability, weather conditions and the luggage capacity of their car.
- Hire a car with driver. A professional picks you up, ideally in a Chevy Suburban or something equally big. It seats four, if you are bringing friends or family. They should be reliable. They know where they are going. Your only concern is the cost, which might be a couple of hundred bucks each way.
- Uber, Lyft or something similar. Another good option, similar to the two alternatives above. Trunk space might be an issue. Ditto surge pricing if it’s a busy time.
- Take a taxi or car service. If you live in a big city, it’s been the default option for years. Your risks are getting stuck in traffic with the meter running and getting a taxi back home when a thousand other passengers are disembarking.
- Use public transportation. It’s probably the cheapest option if a friend isn’t available. You need to lug your bags to the bus or train and get from the stop closest to the pier over to the pier itself.
- Ask the cruise line. They probably have a house to pier service, arranged through a local limousine or car service. Although it won’t be cheap, the advantage is the ship arranged it, so they likely won’t sail without you.
- Drive and park. Personally, it’s reassuring to look over your balcony on arrival and see your car parked exactly where you left it. This will cost some money. (I think the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal chares $25 for the first day and $20 per day afterwards.) It’s a nice luxury.
- Online parking services. Assuming parking at the pier isn’t the only game in town, try using one of the online services that show many of the parking garages in the vicinity of the pier and compare prices for the length of time you need.
You Are Flying and Sailing
If you are flying to a distant city, sailing for a week or two, then flying home, it’s the same scenario as above, except it’s an airport instead of a cruise terminal. Let’s assume you are using the ship’s transfer service to get you from the airport to the ship upon arrival. In this situation, you have two scenarios:
- The airport is your point of departure and arrival. Your parking options are greatly expanded. You’ve got parking both on and off the airport property at different price points. Driving your own car might make sense. If you stay overnight the prior evening, your hotel might offer extended parking at an attractive price. If either of you has a handicapped parking pass, you may discover the airport authority offers a significant discount on parking. I believe JFK Airport has a handicapped rate of $18/day for long term parking at your terminal building vs. about $35+/day at the regular rate. (1)
- Fly out, sail back (or vice versa). Think transatlantic crossings. Personally, I find it easier to park the car at the final destination. If we are sailing Southampton to New York, we park at the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal and take a taxi to JFK. If we are sailing eastbound and flying home, we park at JFK and taxi a taxi to the cruise ship terminal.
There are many ancillary expenses involved with vacations. This includes pet sitting, travel insurance and stuff you don’t think about. Parking is a cost where you can do some advance planning.
Story courtesy of Bryce Sanders.