We have booked our cruise and have tentatively included airfare thru RCCL. I have been told by RCCL that if we book the airfare thru them, we are guaranteed to be transfered to the ship even if our flights are delayed or cancelled. But the airfare thru them is astronomical. One booking agent even suggested I check prices to book flights on my own because of how much I could save. Does anyone have any suggestions on this topic? (We are going next January, so the weather could be bad for flights)
We used RCCLs air on our first cruise and never again. We book on our own and buy trip insurance. If you travel regularly using this system if my delay is a circumstance not covered by insurance and I have to fly to a port of all to catch a ship, I have saved enough money over RCCLs fees for air in the past to pay out of pocket to get where I need to be and still be money ahead. You should get trip insurance even on these so-called guaranteed flights. The weak link in the chain might be you: a car breakdown, health problem, etc.
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When flying to a cruise it is usually best to do the following:
1. Book your own air.
2. Fly to the port a day early.
3. Stay in a hotel that night.
4. Take a taxi or shuttle to the ship the next morning.
It is rare that cruise line air is a good deal, especially within the U.S. They buy bulk seating which means you can get the least popular flights. Nothing quite like getting off a cruise ship at 9am and your flight home is at 7pm. Of course you can pay them even more for custom arrangements.
Flying down a day early means if weather gets in your way you have an extra 24 hour window to get to the ship. It also means you don't arrive all frazzled at the pier. You get to sleep, eat a nice breakfast, and take a cab or shuttle to the pier. Well worth the price of a hotel room.
I also recommend looking into booking your own flights. By doing so, you can get the flight times you want - although these aren't necessarily locked in as schedules frequently change,but you're still in control. Whether you book the air on your own or through the cruise line, please get there a day early. I've had flights delayed even in good weather.
It comes down to comparing the costs and convenience. Traveling within the U.S., it almost always makes more sense to book air and hotel on your own. International can be a different story.
Another thing is that while the cruise line promises to get you to the ship if there are delays, it might not be on embarkation day. They can only hold the ship in port for so long. What this means is that they would try to fly you to your first port of call...but you'd be missing part of the cruise that way.
Related to this topic, do you have passports? Under the current government implementation dates, you will need them for your cruise. I say this because even now, if someone missed their cruise and had to fly outside the U.S. to catch up, they couldn't board the plane without a passport.
We've been tossing around the idea of going down a day early, and now (based on everyone's suggestions) I definitely think we will.
We do not have passports yet, but I stopped at the post office and picked up the applications. I need to get them filled out and bite the bullet on paying for 6 of them. I've heard the new passport credit card is quite handy but not accepted for everything, so we'll probably get the old fashioned passport book.
I don't see the passport card as being worth anything unless someone lives on the Mexican or Canadian borders and drives across the borders often. You are correct - it is best to get the full passport and not limit yourself.