Take time to compare the advantages against the disadvantages.
It's possible that you may be able to find a better deal on your own.
How confident and competent are you on making it to the ship on your own ? If you are going to fly in a few days early, you'll be sure to be there on time and can be more flexible on what flights to choose. Just remember that you will be alone and probably won't be met by a cruise line rep.
The cruise line will be more accommodating if the airline that they booked doesn't get you to the ship on time. If they made the reservations, they will be better able to track your late flight and could possibly delay the ship if they're sure that you’ll only be a little bit late. If it was their arrangements, they may even pay for an over night stay or the flight you may need to catch up with the ship at its first stop. Airlines are independent contractors and their rules are separate of the cruise lines. Cruise conditions of carriage state that clearly and cruise lines rarely assume responsibility for failure or delay of the contractor’s services. This is good reason why a trip insurance package is always a consideration.
If you made your own arrival arrangements and you don't make it on time, you are on your own. Don’t make the mistake of missing your cruise because of a few dollars saved or frequent flier miles that you want to accumulate ! You can probably join the ship at another port, but you will have to find and pay for another flight to the ship. In the long run, is it worth it considering the additional cost and hassle ?
Whichever option you choose, avoid any problems by booking a flight that arrives with more than sufficient time to get you to ship on departure day and back to the airport upon returning to port.
Cruise lines buy tickets in bulk from many airlines. They will determine where you are originating from and book you from a nearby airport to the closet one to the ship’s departure point. Every cruise line has a separate policy on dealing with airline tickets. Below are some questions you'll want to ask :
How much are the tickets if booked with the cruise line ?
If I must cancel, are there different refund policies for the plane tickets than for the cruise ?
Does the cruise line charge a fee to issue the airline tickets ?
What choice of airline do I have, if any ?
Will I still get credit for my frequent flier mileage ?
Can I fly nonstop or must I accept what ever they choose ?
How will I get from the airport to the ship’s departure point ?
Is shuttle service available at the arrival airport ? Will I pay extra or is it included ? Is the service included if I don’t book the air with the cruise line ?
Where do I meet the cruise line representative ?
How will my luggage be handled ? Must I claim it at the airport or will it be automatically transferred to the ship ?
What protection do I have, if the airline booked by the cruise company is late and I miss the ship ?
Every airport’s site is different and many contain layouts and information that can save you time and make your visit safer. It also lists many airport codes that can help when making airline reservations and assure that your luggage is being sent to the right airport.
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