I am sailing on the Valor May 2005. Its a large group, about 20-25 of us. We have booked our cabins and so on. My question is when should we book our flights. Our group opted to book our own airfare. We have all traveled enough to know the pros and cons to this. My sister in law and I are both heading up this trip, but I have handled all the arrangements so far. The sister in law likes to be in charge but is very slow. She wants to fly into FT LLD and shuttle over to Miami for our cruise the next day thinking she will save money if we fly jet blue. But, that means extra $$ for hotel and shuttle. I would prefare to search airlines and get a good deal to miami and stay at a hotel near the port. I am just worried that since this is a large group, we should start thinking about these arrangements now so we all can get the same flights and rooms. Any thoughts???
I usually book my flights about four months in advance. I've found if I book too early the flight times can change. I once booked a non-stop US Air flight that became that landed before noon that became a two stop flight that landed early evening. It seems as if I wait until closer to the sailing date the price increases, or the flights I want get sold out. A always fly in the day before just in case. Hope this helps.
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We usually go a day ahead if we have a major cross country flight or if its a time of year when bad weather can delay or cancel flights.(winter). You made no mention as to how far you are traveling from to get to Fla.
I f we are flying in the same day as the cruise we usually book an early morning departure so we have more options if flight delays or cancelatioins happen.
The month of May should be fine for flying and not many flight delays.
Given the size of your group you should be able to get a bus to transfer you to/ from the port of Miami without a big deal. Just contact some of the transportation companies in Miami or Ft L.
Personally... I would rather stay in Ft L if I am going in a day early rather than stay in Miami, but thats just me. I have done both at least dozen times each.
Thank you all for your comments. I am flying from Boston to FFL or MIA the day before. I see some great airfares out there now but I am concerned that the times may change. But if its the day before maybe it will not matter that much.
David you mentioned that your prefer FFL, can I ask why? Is the port in Miami near South Beach? I was thinking of checking into a hotel there to see what all the fuss is about at SB. Thanks.
Just remember to calculate the cost of transporting the group between FLL and Miami when looking at the price of the airfare. A difference of a few dollars could easily be erased in transportation cost. It is about 30 miles from FLL to the Port of Miami ($60 cab fare). It is about 10 miles from Miami airport to the port ($20 cab fare).
If everyone is coming in on the same flight you may want to check into hiring a bus.
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I too would rather just stay in Miami and not have to shuttle, hopefully you can find decent flights and airfare to there, much less hassle after a flight to have to drive any more distance than you have to. Always a good idea to start checking flights, you'll notice the price fluctuates a lot from day/day and week/week... Be sure to take out some travel insurance too.
We flew into Ft Lauderdale and sailed out of Miami last January. There were six of us and I found airfare much cheaper to FLL . It really was no hassle. We stayed in Miami the night before the cruise and then FLL the night after the cruise. You have to consider the cost of transportation when deciding if it is worth it. For us hotel is not a deciding factor because hotels are around the same price in Miami as FLL. We always try and stay a night before and a night after cruising. We have time in case of weather delays ( thunderstorms cause just as many problems as snow storms)and also avoid a long day at the airport on the cruise departure day.
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Trying to play travel agent / den mother for a group that size is a thankless job that seldom comes to good. It's like trying to herd cats. Since you say your group "voted" to book airfare separately (not in itself a bad idea), maybe you should send them a note that says:
"As you all know we have our cabins and the embarkation time at Miami is _____. The airlines that go from BOS to FLL are (list), and those that go from BOS to MIA are (list). Have a great flight down and see you on the ship!"
Those who voted to book air independently and did so because somebody else would do the work and they would save money can always switch to cruise air if they prefer.
Remember, if you continue to do all the work, anything that goes wrong will automatically be your fault. It goes in the category of "no good deed goes unpunished."
personally, with a group of that size i would hand the booking over to a travel agent. They could get you a group rate at a hotel, a group rate on a bus (if you choose to fly into FLL) and they could even possibly get you a group rate on flights.
I have flown into FLL airport also because I could get a good airfare on a nonstop flight, which I generally can't do into MIA airport. It's really quite simply and inexpensive getting to Miami. When you get to FLL airport, you take the Tri-Rail from the airport to the Miami Tri-Rail/Metro-Rail transfer station and the Metro-Rail takes you into downtown Miami, all this for $2 or $3 and you get there as quick as a taxi since you're on rail with no stop lights and you get a free sightseeing tour in the process. And when your ship arrives back from the cruise, you can get a airport transfer to FLL airport on the ship for about $20. What more can you ask for? Of course, all this is assuming you have no more luggage than you can handle without help.