There are typically two ways to get to your cruise ship. If ports are within driving distance, you save the cost and aggravation of air travel. If not within driving range, you must fly to your departure destination and there are important decisions to make.
You may select a fly/cruise package where the cruise line books your air travel, meets you at the airport and transports you to the ship or a pre-cruise hotel. The advantages of a fly/cruise package are convenience and personal service. It’s a great feeling to enter the baggage claim area and see a cruise representative holding a sign welcoming you. Once bags are claimed, you are transported directly to the ship or hotel. If you stay at a cruise hotel overnight, you are met around noon, escorted to the ship and will be among the first passengers to board. Also with cruise air if your flight is delayed, the ship is more likely to wait a reasonable amount of time for you or help you “catch up” to the ship at the next port.
Sometimes cruise airfare specials cost less than booking your own travel; sometimes it cruise air costs more than booking independently. Booking your own air travel for a cruise offers more flexibility. You can fly with the airline and at the time of day you prefer. However, if you book your own air travel, you really are on your own. No cruise representative will meet you at the airport. You must arrange your own transportation to the ship. This is usually not a problem in major cities where the cruise port is nearby. However, when cruise ships depart from ports that are far from the airport (such as Southampton for London) cruise transfers are helpful. Finally, if you book your own air travel and your flight is delayed and you miss the ship, it is completely up to you to make arrangements to board at a later port. (On a transatlantic cruise, there is no next port and you are out of luck.) Avoid problems by arriving at your departure port a day or so before your cruise.
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