How to Book a Cruise Including Flights
Spend more time anticipating your future cruise vacation and less time on the planning when you book your flight along with the cruise itself. There's no need to plot connections – your cruise line offers up options that work best with your cruise's departure port. Catch a cruise deal on airfare and the move might also save money on your vacation budget, leaving more for souvenirs and fun along the way. Additionally, receive some protection against cancellations and get the best price on your flight, cruise fare, and even some perks when you let your cruise line take care of your flight travel plans.
Advantages of Booking Flights Through Your Cruise Line
Imagine sitting at the airport because of a flight delay due to weather or mechanical issues, or you were bumped from a flight, risking you missing your embarkation time. Trying to make alternate plans to get to your cruise on time could be overwhelming and potentially cost more, interrupting your getaway. When you book the flight along with your cruise ship, most cruise lines guarantee to get you to the next cruise port at no cost to you and supply a complimentary hotel stay in the meantime. Additionally, cruise lines often offer the lowest rate on base airfare. They can do this because they negotiate bulk contract fares with certain airlines. However, some cruise and travel agents say that fares for short flights usually compare to what you'd get if booking yourself, with the most savings on long-haul flights.
Considerations for Booking a Cruise Including Flights
Not all flights included with cruises are the same. Some flight packages have a tight connection or arrival time that can make you nervous about getting on board in time to sail. Carnival and Princess offer protection guarantees that will get you to the ship at the next port. Choice of travel time may also be limited, which could mean red-eye flights that leave you bleary-eyed and weary at the start of a vacation. Those wanting a more flexible schedule to enjoy the origination city for a day or two might want to pass on cruises that include flights to have more of a say in their air travel.
Finding Cruises With Flight Packages
Several major cruise lines in the U.S. make it easy to connect with your cruise with options to book your flight for any cruise with cruise packages:
- Carnival: The Fly2Fun air program lets you book your flight between 4 and 321 days before your ship sails in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and Central America. The cruise line offers two products: With Flexible Fares, you don't pay airfare until making your final cruise payment; the lower-priced Restricted Fares requires you to pay when booking the cruise.
- Holland America Line: FlightEase offers competitive pricing from multiple airlines, late arrival guarantee and booking up to 330 days before your departure date.
- Princess Cruises: EZAir promotions advertise that flexible fares are sometimes even lower than restricted fares. The company offers late arrival protection and flight changes within 45 days with no change fee
- Royal Caribbean: The Air2Sea program guarantees the lowest price on your choice of airlines. If they miss the mark, they'll credit back 110 percent of the difference as credits onboard your cruise. They also give you your choice of flights from those that will work with the cruise departure time. The company guarantees you'll make your cruise on time if booking through them.
Book airfare after you've reserved your cruise and received a reservation ID number. Cruise lines with a flight program have online reservation functions that let you enter your cruise information to search various flights and airlines.
Check whether transfers from the airport to the dock or hotel are included with your airfare. Some cruise lines offer separate transportation packages that must be booked between two and five days prior to your travel date. Others, like Regent Seven Seas have all-inclusive packages that schedule your transportation as a matter of course at time of booking your cruise travel.