You can buy an ‘Air/Sea’ package direct from the cruise line that includes airfare or you can arrange flights on your own – through a travel agent or online. We recommend either a TA or the ‘on your own’ option – as both almost always result in greater choice and lower fares. In this article you will find out how to:
* Find the Best Deals
* Plan for Contingencies
* Work with a Travel Agent
* Book with Frequent Flyer Miles
* Drive to the Port of Departure
* Plus Learn the Background & History of Cruise Air
Finding the Best Deals Online –
Pros -The fare display is extremely flexible and user friendly. With Kayak.com it is very easy to limit results to a particular airline, to specific departure and arrival time frames, to scan multiple dates or to return to the original input form for modification.
Cons – Kayak.com is a data aggregator and does not actually sell tickets – once you have chosen the flights you want – you are directed to another site – often the airline’s own proprietary site – to complete the sale – you don’t know who you will be dealing with until you are ready to purchase.
Pros – Like Travelocity and Expedia, Tripfinder is a true online agency – and well suited for all your ancillary cruise booking – airfare, pre/post cruise hotel, car rental, etc. Deeply discounted hotel packages are automatically offered as an option to air itineraries – a real convenience and time saver if you are going to be looking for a hotel deal anyway. The user interface is as friendly – or more so – than any other online reservation service. Plus, Tripfinder offers a hotel ” Best Rate Guarantee”.
Cons – While excellent for domestic travel and trans-Atlantic flights, Tripfinder is weak when a multiple destination itinerary is required.
Orbitz.com, Fly.com & Hotwire.com
We are still accumulating data on these systems, however, we do know that Orbitz.com tends to get high marks from consumers for consistently low prices – while Hotwire.com seems to be the front runner in the “User Friendliness” category. The newest of the three is Fly.com which, like Kayak, is an aggregator of information from other sites but has the added convenience of displaying premium fares (first and business class) next to economy. This is a real time saver for people wanting to see at a glance just how much extra it would cost to ride up front in comfort.
Pros – Specializes in international airfares and is especially good for visually oriented searches – one can just click at a location on a map rather than type in city names or airport codes. Nice.
Cons – No advantage over other sites unless you are just thrilled by seeing a map with flight paths superimposed. Plus, you cannot purchase a last minute ticket on Vayama.com. Travel must be five days out or more.
Plan for Contingencies –
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