If you’re in the process of booking a cruise and see an option to add on airfare, it’s tempting to take the easy route: Just a few more clicks and you’ll be done, your trip planned from start to finish.
However, you should think twice before booking your airfare through a cruise line, as you may pay more than you should.
“I’d say that 99 percent of the time, you’re better off making your own arrangements,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor for Cruise Critic. “Cruise lines charge a premium for air/sea arrangements, so if you’re looking for a good deal, you should shop around on your own.” In addition, Brown notes cruise companies don’t typically accommodate special requests (seat assignments, preferred airline, etc.) and may impose extra fees.
There are a few cases where choosing the airfare add-on may offer peace of mind. “If, for whatever reason, you are delayed and miss your ship, the line will help you get to your next port,” says Brown. Transfers from airport to cruise port are often included as well.
In short—in case something goes wrong and you don’t want to (literally) miss the boat, you may want to spend extra for the cruise-line-provided airfare arrangements. But if you’re a bargain hunter, have some flexibility, or are loyal to a particular airline, purchasing your own airfare often gets you the better deal.
(Editor’s Note: SmarterTravel.com is published by Smarter Travel Media LLC, a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, which also owns Cruise Critic.)
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