I’ve never had my bags lost indefinitely, never to show up be returned again
But I have travelled and had them go AWOL (as in to some other place than the city I am in)
And I’ve had them not make a flight I’m on (or be delayed in my transfer city)
So I’ve gone on more than one occasion a day or two without my baggage. And it sucks (and it causes me unneeded stress / worry)
And ya, that is why I never pack anything valuable in my suitcase… and have some necessities to get by for a day or two in my carry on… especially so if I am doing a flight with connections (an extra set of clothes, undies or two, pjs etc)
On the bright side the Airlines will usually bring the bags to you… than you having to go back to airport to pick them up
When it comes to Cruises, whether they forward the bags onto you (and your next port of call) depends a lot on a few elements:
1- Which airline and if they fly to the next port of call (some airlines don’t give a damn, some are better than others in this regard)
2- If you bought your airfare thru the Cruise Company (ie Royal Caribbean uses Choice Air Group)
3- And if you bought Travel Insurance that included Luggage Protection (read your policy)
Agree with @howsweetitis: this is precisely when we cruise we pack our stuff intermingled… his & mine between two suitcases, and not just one each designated as HIS & MINE
As well, to be perfectly honest, as an experienced cruiser, just like Horseradish I prefer to not fly on the same day I depart… I like to fly / get in a day ahead of time. For so many reasons… and this is one of them. If something goes amiss, I have 24 hours aprox to get things back on track
As for what will happen if your luggage and you don’t catch up until the end of the cruise …
Well as stated, the airlines normally won’t do much for you.
You have things a bit better if you have Travel Insurance and are able to at least be covered for some expenses.
There are stories on Cruise Critic about Cruisers this whole scenario has happened to… attitude is EVERYTHING in each case.
You have to be able to laugh it off to a great extent !!
Ships have very little aboard to choose from if you need to rebuild your wardrobe… and what they do have is expensive (captive tourist audience). Ashore in port you’ll end up focussed on this… versus out having a good time… and that sucks too. And again, anything bought on a small Caribbean Island for example is going to be expensive, and relatively little choice.
Hope this helps,