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The Pros and Cons of Cruise/Air Packages

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You’ll find that when you are about to reserve and make a deposit on your cruise, you will have the option of purchasing a round-trip air add-on from the cruise line. While an air/sea package might avoid the hassle of finding and booking your own air ticket, be aware of the pros and cons of these convenient add-ons.


If you purchase the air/sea package, most likely your transfers between the airport and the ship will be included in the price.

It’s the ultimate convenience. The cruise line will claim your luggage for you and carry it to the ship, and all you'll have to do is board the bus.

If your flight is delayed, the cruise line will be aware of your delay and may be able to hold the ship for a few hours. If not, they will make every effort to get you to the first port to board the ship (not necessarily at the cruise line’s expense, however).


While cruise air booking has improved in recent years with added ability to choose your own flights (though somewhat limited in airline and connections), some lines (Carnival and Norwegian, for instance) remain steadfast in choosing your flights for you and only making you aware of them just weeks before you cruise.

Generally speaking, cruise/air tickets are consolidated – or bulk - tickets, purchased by the cruise lines months in advance, and carry strict rules different from published rates. Most likely, everything will go smoothly with your flight, but in the event your flights are delayed or canceled, re-ticketing or rescheduling may not result in the flights you desire.

Arranging your own flights:

If you decide to purchase your own tickets, you might be able to find a better deal, flying nonstop with an airline you prefer while earning frequent flyer miles. For instance, Southwest has awesome deals (and bags fly free!), and can only be booked through the airline directly.

Enlist the help of a travel agent, especially if you booked your cruise through one. They may be able to find the exact flight you’re looking for at a great price. An agent can be particularly helpful with complicate itineraries, using some creative ways to get you from Point A to Point B that you would not have thought of yourself.

Keep in mind the time of your ship’s departure. You’ll want to be on the first flight out of your home city, and preferably non-stop, to avoid any delay in getting to the ship. If at all possible, fly in at least a day before your cruise to allow for delays, mechanical failures or flight cancellations.

Also remember that will have to find your own transportation to the cruise terminal and claim your luggage and carry it with you. For convenience, however, cruise lines offer cruise/air transfers for independent flyers. In some cases, depending on the distance from airport to cruise ship, cruise ship transfers are worth it. If, however, you’re flying to Miami for a cruise from the same city, a taxi is quick and cheap.

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Very good. Also we book our own air for the reasons you have given. We once booked air thru Princess and then the route was not revealed until a few weeks before we left and it was awful. We flew Chicago to Salt Lake, then to LAX, then to Tahiti and back the same way.

However we plan a cruise on the Sapphire next Feb. and now Princess air gives you options for flights. From what I saw the prices are competitive too.

Now we always take precautions when we book. Go in a few days or at least one day early so you practically eliminate missing the ship and always buy travel insurance.

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Good reminder about travel insurance - something I forgot to mention in the article. Yes, Princess EZ-Air now lets you pick your flights from the moment you book your cruise, as does Celebrity/RCI's Choice Air, and they offer refundable options which sometimes are competitive with the non-refundable rates on your own.

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We always use to book cruise/air through the ship, until we felt comfortable with booking our own. We usually leave Tucson at least 1 day in advance, if not 2. This gives us plenty of lee-way in the event of something happening. We also purchase trip insurance.

As for transfers: waiting on a bus until it fills to capacity is not our ideal. We are too much in a hurry to get there. We have also found that taxis are much more economical (especially if you are sharing with other travelers). The last time we were in Ft Lauderdale, the hotel offered transportation to the ship and their charge was much more reasonable (per person) than the taxi or the ship's transportation.

Bottom line, you have to feel comfortable in doing a lot of the arrangements on your own and expecting what happens (or does not happen)

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