Hi, We are booking our 2nd cruise with Celebrity (1st one was on the Galaxy, this one on the Century) through a Travel Agency for July, 2005, there are 13 of us going. We will need airfare from BWI to Fort Lauderdale. I was wondering if anyone can give me any info on, should we go with the Travel Agent for airfare or find it ourselves? I am really confused on this. She said she can get us a group rate with $40 deposit per person, but wouldn't know the exact amount until 3 months before departure, to get us the best rate. Also, if we do go with the Travel Agents airfare, we would have transportation from the airport to the ship, but if we book airfare ourselves, we would be on our own for transportation to the ship, is this correct? I would really appreciate any info anyone would have to help me decide. Thanks!!
Group rates from a TA are usually very good, and it saves you the hassle of shopping around. Try to get a ballpark figure for your air from your TA. I think its a good idea especially with a group, you would all be on the same flight, and you wouldn't have to worry if anyone did or didn't make the flight. Ground transportation being included is a great idea, otherwise you would either have to buy the cruiselines transfers, grab a few cabs or rent a van.
Its always a good idea to shop around yourself for the airfare and get an idea of price. Even if you do get your own airfare, you can still purchase the cruiseline transfers, although sometimes taking a cab is cheaper and faster, so think about that too. I've found in most cases by purchasing my own air, saves quite a bit, just depends on the cruise and where you are flying out of.
1. You will be bused to the ship.
2. There is no hassle for you in trying to find air for 13 people.
3. Everyone will probably be on the same bus from the airport to the port.
4. The cruise line will work with you if the flight is delayed. They may hold the ship for a short period or assist you in getting to the next port.
5. You can give everyone in the group the TOTAL cost of the cruise right away without waiting to see how much air is.
Negatives of going with TA (Cruise line) air:
1. The majority of the time you can get air for less if you do it on your own.
2. A taxi from Fort Lauderdale Airport to the Port is $10 per cab.
3. Your group may not be on the same flight.
4. If you want to fly in the day before or if certain members of the group need different flight times or want to choose their airlines they will need to pay a air deviation that will run an additional $35 to $50 and any increase in price over the cruise line's air price.
You do not have to book the air with the TA at the time you book the cruise. You can add it on later. Ask your TA how late you can do it. It is usually up to the final payment date.
Some more things to consider.
I usually book my own flights but with a group of 13 it may be easier to go with the cruise line air or have people do their own.
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Is the airfare something that the agency bought a block of seats, or is she using the cruise lines air? Cruise lines look to purchase the cheapest routes, nine times out of 10 it won't be a direct flight and you will be routed all around the place.
If the agency is buying a block of seats on a particular flight, then that would be a good way to go.