Handling your cruise luggage, there are options

For many cruise passengers, carrying around luggage can be a real drag, especially if they are flying in to the port of embarkation. Claiming, transporting and getting it on the ship can be a big job with multiple checked bags. After sailing, passengers with late outbound flights often rent a day room at a hotel, mainly for some place to put their luggage while they kill time. Now, several different options are available to make all of that much easier.

A new service, Bags To Go, offers a solution for a reasonable fee when sailing from Port Everglades in Florida. Arriving at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport (FLL) Bags To Go offers a Claim and Delivery service that picks up passenger luggage and delivers it to the ship for, get this: $6 per bag. Pretty reasonable.

Passengers driving to the port using Park ‘N Fly can drop off bags at the parking center and have them delivered directly to the ship too, also for $6 per bag.

Got some time before your flight departs? You can also store bags securely at the airport before check-in. Again, just $6 per bag does it. The service is offered in Fort Lauderdale now but will be rolling out to Miami soon.

That seems like a great price, especially considering what you might tip a porter at the pier, usually a dollar or two a bag. But you have to get there with your luggage first and odds are you may have paid an excess baggage fee to an airline.Another service, LuggageForward.com, offers door-to-door service, picking up luggage at your home, delivering it to the cruise line, then bringing it back home to you after the cruise. It’s more expensive with an average size bag pricing out at about $99, so do the math. But if convenience is a top priority, this is a good, reliable way to go. One more company that does this, luggageahead.com, also a great way to avoid airline fees, works in a similar way.

Interestingly, these services often use FedEx, UPS or some other carrier to handle it all for them. Check with carriers directly too for another option to explore.

Crystal, Princess, Cunard, and Regent Seven Seas, among others, also sponsor similar programs called “Luggage Valet” with domestic rates starting about $90 per bag and $250 for international handling.

Luggage freaks: If you are into luggage in a big way and worry about it being mishandled, there is another service available too. SecureWrap.com can help ease your mind. Their “Baggage Protection Service” wraps your luggage in plastic after you certify there is nothing restricted inside and sends you and it on your way through normal check-in procedures. If all goes well, your luggage arrives in pristine condition on the ship.

This would pretty much be the ultimate way to fool friends into believing your knock-off designer luggage is the real thing. Who would shrink wrap anything but the best?

Flickr photo by sun dazed