Unless you’re fortunate enough to live within a few hours of a cruise departure port, most of us cruisers must consider how to get to the port. If you are planning on flying in to the departure port, there are pros and cons of booking your flight with the cruise line.
Pros to booking flights through the cruise lines
The cruise line does all the work for you- Having cruise and flights all available in the same place simplifies booking and planning your cruise vacation. When your airfare is included with the cruise line you can rest assured the arrival/departure times will coorelate with the ships schedule. Once your cruise is booked, you can view flight options and book your air anytime.
The cruise line will assist you with travel disruptions - Travel disruptions are never fun to deal with, but they do sometimes happen. Flights can get delayed due to weather or issues with airline mechanical problems. If the delay lead to you missing your ship, the line will make arrangements to get you to the next port of call.
If your cruise ends unexpectedly early due to weather, mechanical issues or an illness outbreak. The cruise line’s air department will rebook cruise passengers who booked their flights through the cruise line, but independent travelers will have to reschedule their own flights.
You may get an exclusive deal on the price - Some occasions the cruise line and air line will have lower airfare options as a booking perk when booked together. Some cruise lines may have an option to upgrade to a higer class when booked together.
You could still earn points and miles - Buying a cruise line air package is similar to purchasing flights through a travel agent. You can add your frequent flyer number to the reservation to earn miles and access your elite perks — but watch out for extremely discounted fares that might not qualify. Plus, if you pay with a rewards-earning credit card, you’ll also get points or miles for your purchase.
Book now pay later - When booking your airfare at the time you book your cruise, you will have the option to pay for airfare when you make the final payment on your cruise. This will give you the option to book your airfare early in the cruise planning process and avoid the airline change fees if you need to make changes.
Cons to booking flights through the cruise lines
You have less flexibility choosing your airline, schedule or flight route - When you have the cruise line schedule your flights you could have the schedule you would not choose, such as tight connection, red eye flights and/or close arrival times. Most cruise lines will make sure you are able to arrive at the port on time.
You can't book paying with miles - This benefit is only available when booking through the company where you are earning the miles.
If you make your own flight arrangements
If you plan on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that your flight is scheduled to arrive at least 4-6 hours prior to the ship's scheduled departure time, and depart no sooner than 4-6 hours after the ship's scheduled return to port.