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How can I get the best deal on airfare for my cruise vacation?

SmarterTravel

Dear Editor,

How can I find cheap airfare for a seven-day cruise that sails from Montreal to Boston? We’re flying from St. Louis.

B.B.

Dear Reader,

If you’re booking airfare yourself, you simply need to shop for two one-way flights. In the past, booking one-way flights was difficult and expensive because most carriers required that you book round-trip or pay inflated rates for a one-way flight. However, with the growth of low-cost carriers that sell tickets in one-way segments, it’s much easier and cheaper to go on a trip that involves flying into one airport and out of another.

With enough planning, you should be able to find affordable one-way fares from Boston to St. Louis using an online travel agent like Orbitz or Travelocity. You can also try these sites for one-way fares between the U.S. and Canada. But, keep in mind that these U.S.-based travel sites may not list fares from Canadian low-cost airlines. For cheap fares from St. Louis to Montreal, try Tango, the low-cost counterpart of Air Canada.

You can also purchase an “open-jaw” ticket that allows to fly into one city and out of another. Major airfare booking sites including Expedia, Orbitz, andTravelocity have a “multi-destination” option (in addition to round-trip and one-way) that allows to book flights like this.

Another matter that requires careful consideration is whether you should arrange your own airfare or book it through the cruise line. By arranging your own flights, you can often find better deals; you can also choose when you fly and with which airline. When booking through the cruise line, you often have no choice in the airline or when you fly, and making changes can be difficult or impossible.

However, booking your own flights does involve some risk. If your flight is delayed and you miss the ship, you’ll have to make arrangements to get to the next port on your own. (If you book airfare with the cruise line and are late, the cruise line will either hold the ship or assist you in getting to the first port stop.) You can avoid this trouble by arriving the day before embarkation or as early as possible on the day the ship sets sail. You can also purchase travel insurance that covers the cost of transportation should you miss embarkation or need to cancel your trip entirely.

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