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Airfare and booking directly with Cruise Line

Airfare and booking directly with Cruise Line

Old Oct 2, 19, 8:41 pm
  #16  
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If one books air through the cruise line, can one pick the airline, route, times, etc. freely (subject of course to arriving reasonably in advance of the scheduled cruise departure)? Do these plane tickets earn full FF benefits and credit?
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Old Oct 2, 19, 10:11 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
If one books air through the cruise line, can one pick the airline, route, times, etc. freely (subject of course to arriving reasonably in advance of the scheduled cruise departure)? Do these plane tickets earn full FF benefits and credit?
From what I've read at Cruise Critic and heard from fellow pax on ships, I'd be wary of cruise-arranged flight tickets (not all but some/most).

From my understanding:

1) generally only premium cabin tickets earn miles (YMMV)

2) You're last to be accommodated as far as IRROPS go

3) No weather waivers! I was on a cruise that started in October 2012 just as the big hurricane struck the metro NYC area. We talked to some pax who joined the ship a few days after the cruise started (they'd missed the departure in "Rome"). They knew that the hurricane was coming and that airlines were allowing weather waivers for people to leave early. They asked the airline and they were not allowed to depart earlier due to the nature of the cruiseco-sourced ticket. Of course, YMMV.

3a) On the other hand, if the ship arrival is late, your return flights will (or should) be taken care of by the cruise line. Had an experience earlier this year where the ship arrived some 10 hours behind schedule (ship leaving late (change in schedule, not due to mechanical or anything) from the 1st port didn't help and there were no port of calls to miss/shorten to make up lost time. Had to deviate due to rough weather and unfavorable currents (small ship so to speed is limited) made me think the ship would arrive late. I ddi a rough calculation ~100 hrs before scheduled arrival and estimated arrival delay at various speeds. Got it right. A fair number of passengers missed their onward flights. The cruiseco didn't arrange flights for any pax (just for the crew including the captain who was rotating off).


4) Generally, the flights are arranged so that you have to arrive just before ship departure and leave shortly after ship arrival. Arriving earlier or later, or from airports other than the closest to port requires paying for a "deviation" (all $$$ in the cruiseco's pocket IMO).

5) You may be given a choice of airlines and routes.

From what I hear, the premium cabin fares are generally very attractive.

Last edited by YVR Cockroach; Oct 2, 19 at 10:18 pm
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Old Oct 3, 19, 6:11 am
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
If one books air through the cruise line, can one pick the airline, route, times, etc. freely (subject of course to arriving reasonably in advance of the scheduled cruise departure)? Do these plane tickets earn full FF benefits and credit?
Yes, no, and maybe. Some cruise line flight programs are a lot like booking directly with the airline. Some, at least in my opinion, are more the ďyouíll get what we give youĒ approach and you have little or no control. While more and more programs allow you to earn airline miles and get FF benefits some do not. The other thing Iíve run into is the various programs run the gamut of being a bargain and lower than you can book yourself to being higher than you can arrange on your own. Many flight programs are also tied to embarkation and disembarkation dates. For instance the fare is quoted for travel the day of the cruise start and if you ask to fly in a day or more earlier all of a sudden there is a fee. I know in one case I researched they wanted $150 per person more just to fly in a day earlier. I assume thatís an administrative fee as I canít imagine the airfare is higher. I kind of see that as the cruise line just trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of you.

Bottom line for for me is that we have not been successful trying to use cruise line arranged air. I keep asking and researching when I do book a cruise but my experience is they either want more than I can book myself or the arrangements are too cumbersome or troublesome. Iím not going to fly from SAT to ORD in the middle of the winter to catch a connecting flight to FLL.
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Old Oct 3, 19, 9:04 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
If one books air through the cruise line, can one pick the airline, route, times, etc. freely (subject of course to arriving reasonably in advance of the scheduled cruise departure)? Do these plane tickets earn full FF benefits and credit?
This can vary with the cruise line (and here I'm including working with a TA who books it all directly through the cruise line also, vs. getting the air separately).

There can be a separate fee to request a specific date/time, rather than waiting to see what you've been assigned, including the possibility of a couple of connections, long layovers, and also arrivals not all that far in advance of the ship's boarding time.
That might mean a fee for the service as well as extra charges for the higher fares.

Once, about 5 years ago, we asked our TA to ask the cruise line "how much to get <this particular flight on this particular date in this particular class (J)> and when we found out that it was indeed less than we'd have to pay if we booked it ourselves, we told her we'd take it. We were then also able to select our seats, pretty much as if we'd done the booking ourselves.
Because we've *never* allowed the cruise line to "select our flights for us" (!), I'm not particularly familiar with how seat selection/etc., would work under those conditions.

But bottom line, there is NO way that we are willing to arrive at, say, 10am and then sail that afternoon. Too many chances for a "miss". I do not think all cruise lines actually promise to get you to the next port if there is a "miss", but I'm not 100% sure. But even if they did, we don't want to be flying around chasing the ship (especially if there are major flight disruptions), when we could have been on the ship from the start.
So we always fly in at least one day in advance, and often two. If it's a new place that we want to enjoy, we'll plan a mini-vacation prior to sailing, which then also provides a very nice buffer.

GC
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Old Oct 3, 19, 9:06 pm
  #20  
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
From my understanding:
I would avoid any cruise line where any of these items (1-5) are true, though the comment about premium cabins aligns with my experience.

Though I usually book my own air, I've had very good luck with cruise air for a couple of recent cruises. Rates were significantly lower than those offered by the airline, with full FF benefits, and reservations were fully flexible up until final payment. I've even been able to rebook a couple of times to take advantage of exchange rate fluctuations. The only problem so far is the inability to select seats on some airlines because the reservations aren't ticketed until shortly before the flight.
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Old Oct 4, 19, 8:05 am
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I always ask the TA (or cruise company) about flight costs and thus far it has never been a better deal than I can get for myself (and with my personal control issues, it would HAVE to be a good deal to allow someone else to do it ;-)
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Old Oct 5, 19, 9:35 am
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post
I always ask the TA (or cruise company) about flight costs and thus far it has never been a better deal than I can get for myself (and with my personal control issues, it would HAVE to be a good deal to allow someone else to do it ;-)
Same. I've long given up on even pricing out TA/cruise company flights....I'd start again if I thought people were getting better deals than public ally available.
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Old Oct 5, 19, 9:42 am
  #23  
 
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Would the generalizations about seat selection, early arrival, late departure, and so on vary by cruise line? If so, it would be useful if reports mentioned which cruise line had what policy or service.

In particular, does anyone know what Cunard does if a passenger for a crossing misses the boat because the Cunard-arranged flight or airport transfer is late?
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Old Oct 5, 19, 9:55 am
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I'll never have TA/cruise line book my flights again. I did last time. Big mistake. I needed to reroute due to funeral. If I had booked direct
with airline I would have had more flexibility even if I had to pay change fees. Zero flexibility with cruise line/TA booking.

TA/cruise line booked me flight from Jax to Philly then philly to athens to cruise ship

I was in Maryland due to funeral and wanted to just drive to Philly. After numerous calls to TA not an option.

I had to get a Southwest flight from BWI to Jax, overnight in Jax (2 hours from my home) and then get my original flights
in order to keep my Philly to Athens leg.

I will never, never, never book the flights through TA/cruise line even regardless of price.
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Old Oct 6, 19, 4:16 pm
  #25  
 
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Cunard

Originally Posted by serpens View Post
Would the generalizations about seat selection, early arrival, late departure, and so on vary by cruise line? If so, it would be useful if reports mentioned which cruise line had what policy or service.

In particular, does anyone know what Cunard does if a passenger for a crossing misses the boat because the Cunard-arranged flight or airport transfer is late?

Yes-the programs vary greatly in terms of price and quality. Cunard and Princess share a system, and it is generally regarded (at least by me *grins*) to be the best of the cruise line airfare programs. Very flexible and usually better than published fares. Cunard's program is described on this link. https://www.cunard.com/en-us/the-cun...rd-completeair

As you can see, the late arrival protection is not applicable on transatlantic sailings.It's why I always stay at a hotel the night before
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Old Oct 6, 19, 4:32 pm
  #26  
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Originally Posted by serpens View Post
does anyone know what Cunard does if a passenger for a crossing misses the boat because the Cunard-arranged flight or airport transfer is late?
Cunard would take responsibility for getting you to the next port, and I assume would also cover food and hotel costs until the ship arrives. I'm not sure what they would do in a case like a transatlantic, but I would expect them to take some responsibility.

Last edited by mahasamatman; Oct 6, 19 at 4:40 pm
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Old Oct 7, 19, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by gretchendz View Post
Yes-the programs vary greatly in terms of price and quality. Cunard and Princess share a system, and it is generally regarded (at least by me *grins*) to be the best of the cruise line airfare programs. Very flexible and usually better than published fares. Cunard's program is described on this link. https://www.cunard.com/en-us/the-cun...rd-completeair

As you can see, the late arrival protection is not applicable on transatlantic sailings.It's why I always stay at a hotel the night before
Interesting that Cunard and Princess share a system and I wonder if it actually applies to all the lines under Carnival Corporation. Since we gave up on Holland America years ago I havenít tried their Flight Ease program but it gets pretty consistent high marks from passengers. It actually was my way less than acceptable experience trying to book air through Holland America back in the late 1990s and early 2000s that turned me off of booking air with a cruise line. Lots has changed since then though I had a similar unsatisfactory experience with Silversea just in the last couple of years. Despite advertising great discounted airfares their final offer was $2,000 more than I could book myself.

In all honesty there are a lot factors into the apparent disconnect, some are circumstantial and some due to our preferences. One, our local airport despite being labeled an International airport isnít a gateway to Europe. We have had to fly to DFW, ATL, or PHL to catch a flight to Europe and that cost more. Second, even for US based cruises we fly in the day before and for Europe based cruises we fly in at least two or more days ahead. That has always incurred some additional fee. Third, we have preferred airlines and routes. As mentioned before we really arenít excited on say UA to Chicago or Detroit to catch International flights and certainly donít want to do that in the middle of the winter to catch a Florida based cruise. Invariably that means an additional cost from the cruise line because our preferred airlines are not ones theyíve negotiated the best fares with. As an aside I hope that now Silversea is part of the RCCL family theyíll have access to better fares. I always ask for a quote but so far no luck but maybe that will change.
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Old Oct 7, 19, 8:20 am
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Originally Posted by gretchendz View Post
[...] Cunard's program is described on this link. https://www.cunard.com/en-us/the-cun...rd-completeair

As you can see, the late arrival protection is not applicable on transatlantic sailings.It's why I always stay at a hotel the night before
Thanks for reply and link. I am preparing for my first shipboard experience of over 24 hours, and almost all my flights in the past two decades have been international, so I am very much a novice and appreciate any bits of knowledge.
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Old Oct 10, 19, 12:25 am
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A new wrinkle to Seabourn booked air: United is giving me reward miles as if I had booked myself but is not giving me credit for spending any money with them. Of course, this is only relevant if one cares about earning status with United.
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Old Oct 10, 19, 1:34 am
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Originally Posted by jonsail View Post
A new wrinkle to Seabourn booked air: United is giving me reward miles as if I had booked myself but is not giving me credit for spending any money with them. Of course, this is only relevant if one cares about earning status with United.
Worth a try to call UA customer service and petition for PQM?
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