Hi, I'm planning my first cruise with some friends - just for 3 nights. I'm not sure if the best option is to buy a flight/cruise package through the cruise line or schedule my own flight? 3 of us are flying from Atlanta to Miami, one is coming from the DC area.
I'm concerned about not having enough time to enjoy the ship earlier in the day if we can't pick our own flight schedules.
Whatever flight option you choose, you won't be able to board the ship until around noon or so, maybe even later.
Of all our 50 cruises, we have only ONCE booked thru the cruiselines, and only becuase they were the cheapest option.
I fly out of the DC area. I always book my own air - it is always cheaper. I usually fly in the day before. Even with the hotel, it is cheaper than the cruise line fares. In addition, I do not have to worry about bad weather in the winter.
2 Royal Caribbean
1 American Hawaii
Holland America 1/15/11
You can use the cruiseline, but the cruiseline will pick the cheapest flight they have available. That might mean you arrive and get to the port at 3pm, or in the case of my last flight to Miami from where I live (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) my journey started at 1am the day before I boarded the ship (but I was in Miami at 1pm their time).
IMHO they can sometimes get the cheapest flight, but some cities in the US you can find a cheaper flight. From where I live, no flight will be cheaper thant he one they choose for you, but it will also be a truly horredous flight schedule. Not only that, they might pull the stunt like fly you in the day of when they should fly you in the day before because of distance. The shortest flight to Houston from where I live is 6 hours, but the longest is anywhere from 10-11 hours. We booked cruise air and hoped they would get us on a decent, short flight...no, didn't happen. We ended up cancelling and booking on our own to get there the day before. I don't see how they could get a flight as cheap as they did because I checked and we paid around $30-50 more than the cheapest, and we still ended up with airfaires over $750 (with taxes)....
Book it on your own, it will be easier!
2007 Victory & Triumph
2008 Conquest & Liberty
2009 Valor, Freedom, and Splendor
2010 Glory and Liberty
You'll always find cheaper flights booking on your own, and get to choose the flights, and select your seats. For Caribbean cruises I'd never use cruise air.
I made the mistake once of using the cruise line to book my flights, and all I can say is "never again!" I had the most inconvenient flights imaginable, and paid a premium for them. Yes, I realize you can pay an added charge to select your own flights with the cruise line's air, but then why should I pay for something that I can just as easily do on my own to begin with?
I'm with you. The only possible way I would ever use cruise line air again is if the itinerary I was doing was so exotic as to make the cruise line's air arrangements the clearly cheaper option. And, personally, I think that's a relatively rare situation that would only occur if you had to board in some distant foreign country, and fly home from another. Otherwise, booking air on your own, via one of the large air considator's sites, will always be the cheaper option ... way cheaper.
Your best bet will be ATL-MIA on AirTran. They usually have sale fares every few weeks. You can sign up on their website to receive email notification of sale prices. Flight 501 gets you into MIA about 10 in the morning and you are on the ship for lunch. Also I would not reccomend using cruiseline transportation to the ship. For 2 or 3 people a taxi will be cheaper and much less hassle. Cost is $24 plus tip.