I am trying to book our flight for our Christmas Cruise. After looking at airfare on my own (as Royal CAribbean is sold out with their flights for the day before my cruise), the prices are quite high. I then contacted Royal Caribbean Air Department to see if I could get a deviation (hoping something showed up by now) and they said that thety can fly us the day OF the cruise at 8:45 and get us back much earlier on the return than the flights that I had found on my own (as I'm guaranteed to get off of the ship on time if I book the airfare with RCI, correct?) The airfare should I chose to book on my own will wind up costing me the same as Royal Caribbeans (if not more) because I will need to shuttle five of us back and forth from the airport AND pay for a hotel for the night before.
I know that everyone recommends flying out the day before, but if I take Royal Caribbeans airfare, don't they guarantee that you'll make it to the ship!
ALSO, when investigating airfare, there are MORE seats available on the 24th than on the 23rd, so I'm wondering if the airports may be LESS Crowded on the 24th. PLUS, the airfare is lower on the 24th.
ANYONE THAT CAN HELP , I'd appreciate opinions. I am so confused about what to do at this point!
Suite, if the price of Royal Caribbean's airfare, which includes transfers, is around the same price as what you're finding on your own, I'd go with that. Are you coming from a place where December weather could be a factor? Leaving your home city on cruise day at 8:45am should work fine. The cruise line guarantees they'll get you to the ship. If there is a delay in your air, they may hold the ship as long as they can. If the ship has to sail, they will get you to the first port of call where you can then join the ship. Just be sure to get to the airport very early, as lines for security may be very long the day before Christmas.
That being said, I'm sure the reason that flights are less available and more expensive on Dec. 23 than Dec. 24, is that Dec. 23 is on a Saturday this year. Folks traveling for Christmas figure they may as well go Saturday instead of waiting for Sunday. If Dec. 23 were on a week day this year, I'm sure Dec. 24 would be the busier, and more expensive, travel day. That's likely the reason that Royal Caribbean can't accommodate you with a day-prior deviation.
On the return, they'll get you to the airport in time for your flight.
Is driving an option? Is flying out earlier an option? Since there are 5 of you, you might consider driving. We've opted to go that route for our Christmas cruise because for the $800 in air fare, I calculated we could still save money by driving. Even if we stay in $200 a night hotel rooms and gas is $4.00 a gallon. However, if you could fly out on the 22nd, say on a red eye, you might save some money. Good luck!
SANDY--weather could definately be a factor coming from NJ but not terribly. The reason that I am so worried is because we booked a cruise in August 2 years ago and Hurricane Charlie hit (turned the way that they said it wasn't going to) and CLOSED orlando airport on the day we were to fly. They couldn't guarantee us a flight the next day because of all the flights that were cancelled. Our T/A even tried to get us out of a different airport, so we started driving in the hopes that she would be able to find a different airport for us to stop in and take a flight. That never happened and we drove 17 hours STRAIGHT! I would prefer NOT to drive like that again! I really like the idea of taking their airfare (especially because the rates are comparable--although JETBLUE Is still less a bit but by the time I factor in the hotel and shuttles it's about the same) because I feel safer PLUS they'll get me off of the ship in time for an earlier flight!
PENNY--Driving isn't really an option if we don't have to because we have three children in school (two in college) and one also works full time so taking the time off is not always easy either!
Suite, you should also look into cancellation insurance, through a company that will cover you for weather related delays. Check with Royal Caribbean, too, and see what their insurance costs (it varies, depending on the length of your cruise) and if it covers weather delays or cancellations due to weather.
The insurance won't be cheap for 5 people, so you'll have to balance your anxiety over a possible repeat of your weather problems vs the cost of insurance and what it covers.
Check with Royal Caribbean, too, and see what their insurance costs (it varies, depending on the length of your cruise) and if it covers weather delays or cancellations due to weather.
FYI - There is a post on this board that strongly recommends NOT buying insurance from the cruise line but rather through your travel agent - this way you are assured the premium was paid, the policy was issued AND it covers what you need.
The main reason folks recommend buying cancellation insurance from a third party is because if the cruise line goes out of business, the insurance is worthless. I doubt Royal Caribbean will go out of business between now and Christmas, which is why I suggested checking out their insurance, too.
I assume that whether someone buys insurance from the cruise line or through a travel agent (who may then be buying the cruise line's insurance), the premium will actually get paid and the policy issued. As for covering what you need, that's why I suggested checking with different companies, to see who covers weather cancellations/delays at the best price.
I know for a fact that the cruiselines insurance is CONSIDERABLY higher! I always take the insurance with the T/A and they send me the certification/written policy in a few days via e-mail. I will definately take it this time as well.
I've decided to take the cruiselines airfare. They're actually offering a nonstop on a major (and good) airline! I can always cancel it too as long as it's before final payment if I find something better! The transfers included and the earlier flight home are definately a key factor PLUS we really didn't want to leave the day earlier for MANY reasons! Hopefully the weather will be on our side this time!
Suite, I'm glad you took the cruise line's airfare, as that seemed to be your best option.
As for the insurance, if you're comparing the price of a cruise line's insurance to the insurance your travel agent sells, make sure you're comparing apples to apples. Let me say first, that when I sell travel insurance to my clients, I don't usually suggest the cruise line's insurance for several reasons, including possible default of the cruise line, payment in cash instead of cruise credits, and other things. However, there are several different types of insurance that a travel agent can sell. Some insurance is "secondary" insurance that pays you after you've exhausted any other insurance (credit card insurance, etc) that may help you recoup your non-refundable expenses. Some insurance is "primary" insurance that pays you right off the bat, and offers higher payments for things like emergency medical evacuation. To compare the cost of the cruise line's coverage to a 3rd party insurance company, you have to make sure you're comparing the same type of policy, inclusions and exclusions, and benefits.
By the way, cruise lines use insurance companies, too, like Berkeley Care insurance. It's not actually the cruise line itself that issues your policy.