Hello PC Guy. I book my own flights for cruises and always save money. Usually I come in at least a day early since the ship will not guarantee they will stick around due to weather delays or airline issues if you do not book with them. For a $1,200 savings, I would make the drive and come in at least a day early...you are money ahead and get to enjoy the port city for a day or more!
We almost always book our own air. Even when factoring in the extra night hotel stay, we come out ahead with our party of three. (And yes -- I highly recommend that you arrive in San Juan a day early, even though your cruise won't depart until evening.)
Booking our own air also allows us to schedule the itinerary. When the cruise line does the booking, you have no control over the route, time between connections, airline, etc.
The only time in the past few years that we let the cruise line handle the air was when we were on an itinerary that started and ended in different ports -- but that is not the case here.
We too book our own fair. For a family of four we more than save the cost of a hotel night which allows us to do the "day early" thing and not have to worry about loosing the safety of a ship booked flight. (Them getting you to the ship if your flight is late)
I have never seen a cruise line booked airfare that is cheaper than self booked, but I have seen them be very close.
I just had a second opinion with another travel agent, they tried to see the air out of
Buffalo and Toronto separate and through carnival - there wasn't much difference on their
system. The websites show some great deals - but they leave too late to connect with the ship
or too early returning.
So it looks like I will be doing the air through Carnival. It really saved me during my aborted
Imagination Cruise that was wrecked by Hurricane Wilma!! (Like Cruise Happy said)
I would have book this trip several months ago - but needed confirmation from work (still waiting
to see what will happen to my contract - but I told them in January I want to travel in May)