Depending on where you live there are times when you have to book a cruise that sails out a few hundred miles from where you live. If you live in a state such as New Mexico and the nearest cruise port to you is Houston, TX or New Orleans, LA then you will have to find transportation to the cruise port.
Also, you may choose to sail from a port further away from where you are located in order to go to a different destination. For example if you live in Houston, TX and want to go on an Alaskan cruise, then you may have to sail from a port in Seattle, WA in order to go on visit Alaska if your cruise port in Houston doesn’t have sailings to Alaska.
The quickest and easiest way to get where you’re going is to fly (and some of the time it’s cheaper than driving).
A lot of cruise lines will offer Air/Sea travel packages. This is when the cruise books airline tickets for you and incorporates that cost into the cost of your cruise package.
When the cruise line offers you Air/Sea packages there are some important questions that you should be sure to ask:
- Do I have a choice in the airline that I travel with?
- Can I get frequent flyer miles when booking through the cruise line?
- If I miss the ship because of air delays, do you ensure that you will get me to the next port at no charge?
- Are transfers from the airport to the ship included in the cost of the ticket (and vice versa when you get back; transfers from the ship back to the airport)?
- If I have to cancel the trip, are there any penalties (charges) that I have to pay? Would I get a refund?
- Is there an additional fee that you charge to book the flights for me?
The PROS to booking your flights through the cruise line are:
- The cruise line takes care of making your airline reservation
- The transfer of your luggage is a much simpler process
- The transfer service will usually take you directly to the dock hassle free–you don’t have to worry about parking etc.
- If you are delayed in getting to the port because of an airline issue; most cruise lines WILL make sure that you make it on board the ship
Some CONS of booking your flights through the cruise line are:
- Some cruise lines do NOT let you choose the airline that you are flying with, change air schedules, or upgrade your tickets if you book through them.
- Cruise line air tickets are NOT always the best rate.
If you decide not to book your airfare with a cruise line and opt to do it yourself; please remember the following things:
- Ask the cruise line if they have any flight guidelines for you telling you the latest flight time that you can have and still make it to the ship; and the earliest departure flight time when the ship comes back. Your ship may not leave until 4PM on the day of departure, but if your flight comes in at 315 PM then you are definitely NOT going to make it to your ship.
- Understand that booking your own flights does NOT give you the same protections that booking flights with a cruise line can. If you don’t make it in time to the ship, you will probably lose your money (unless you are protected by a travel insurance plan).