Airfare can be a large part of your vacation cost if you don’t live near a cruise port. While there are many avenues where you can purchase your airfare, here are benefits of purchasing your plane tickets directly through the cruise line.
Many cruise lines have access to bulk fares with airlines. These cheaper fares are not available to the general public and can really save you quite of bit of money. This is especially true on flights to Europe. If you are flying across the Atlantic for your cruise, you can save hundreds of dollars.
On my last European cruise, the airfare through the cruise line was $300 cheaper than booking directly through Delta, my airline carrier of choice. Not only did I save $300 per person with the cruise line’s bulk fares, but I received a bunch of other benefits that can be found below.
Royal Caribbean’s AIR2SEA program guarantees you the lowest price on plane tickets. You’ll get the lowest priced fare on your choice of airlines, or they’ll credit you back 110% of the difference to spend onboard.
When cruise lines do not have bulk fares, sometimes the cost is more than you would pay than booking it yourself. However, just because the cost is higher, doesn’t mean that you should rule it out. The extra perks you receive can be worth their weight in gold.
Some cruise lines offer free transfers from the airport to the cruise port if you purchase airfare through them. This can save you anywhere from $40 to $200 depending on how far away the airport is. If you are cruising from Civitavecchia (Rome), this cost savings can be substantial.
Not only are you saving money, but it makes travel a lot easier. A representative will meet you at the airport, guide you to the bus, and then take you to the cruise port. It doesn’t get any easier than that. You will appreciate this benefit even more if you are cruising out of a foreign country .
Guaranteed Arrival to the Ship
This is the biggest benefit of booking airfare through the cruise line. If your flight is delayed or canceled for any reason, the cruise line will take care of all costs to get you to the ship.
You won’t miss your cruise if you book your airfare through the cruise line. This gives you added protection and peace of mind.
On my Mediterranean cruise with Viking Cruises, we were delayed arriving back in Barcelona due to weather. The port was closed due to high winds so we were unable to disembark the ship on time. We ended up having to stay on the ship an extra night. This caused not only us to miss our flight home, but also a majority of the passengers on the ship.
Viking automatically re-booked our airfare for the next day and took care of everything. I didn’t have to do a thing. I just logged into the Delta app on my phone, saw my re-booked flights, and went about my day.
I was never so glad that I chose to book my flights through the cruise line and not on my own. It would have been a major headache trying contact the airline from the middle of the Mediterranean trying to change flights at the last minute. And I don’t even want to think about the change fees I would have had to pay.
Yes, most travel insurance will cover you if there are delays. However, isn’t it better to have the cruise line do all of the work of re-booking your flights so you don’t have to?
What to Avoid
If you do choose to book airfare on your own, stay clear of the discount airlines. Yes, they often offer fares that are cheaper than the legacy carriers (Delta, United, American, Southwest), However, they will charge you for everything, including carry-on bags. When you factor in all of the extras you have to pay, the difference is often minimal.
The biggest reason why you should avoid the discount airlines is reliability. The discount airlines have a track record of delays and cancellations. Yes, all airlines have delays for mechanical reasons. But the discount airlines have far fewer flights which gives you less options when there are delays. Many of them offer just one flight a day to a destination. When you need to get to your cruise, you can’t afford many, if any delays.
I hate hearing about cruisers who miss their cruise because they decided to save a few dollars by booking a discount airline.