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Paul Motter November 5th, 2012 02:21 PM

Three Vital Cruise Purchase Tips
 
Three Vital Cruise Purchase Tips
by Paul Motter

Hurricane Sandy shows us how cruise, insurance and airfare purchase decisions can have consequences.


11.05.12

http://www.cruisemates.com/images/CM...eachdollar.jpg
A severe storm can wash away your entire vacation investment


Hurricane Sandy shows us how cruise, insurance and airfare purchase decisions can have consequences.

Remember the days when buying a car meant doing battle with a salesman at a dealership? You had to do your homework to negotiate the best deal; sometimes with difficult personality who had a few tricks up his sleeve.


But today's consumer experts say it is best to buy a car on the Internet and then go to a local dealership to pick it up. You never haggle with a salesman, and you are shown the exact retail price, the cost of every option and then the final market price with any discounts they are prepared to offer. You can go to a car maker's web site, like Ford.com, to buy a car, or you can go to a web site like CarsDirect.comand compare many different brands. Either way you can pick it up at a local dealership.



Trackypup November 5th, 2012 04:05 PM

In reading this I think you should make it very clear that booking through Choiceair, EZAir, or whatever, you're buying an extremely restricted ticket and you don't have the same rights as buying through the airline directly. That may bite you if something goes wrong. An airline saying they will "Work With You" to get you to the next port, doesn't really promise anything. People need to read the fine print of what they're buying.

storybookcruises.com November 5th, 2012 08:53 PM

I agree with Trackypup! While I personally like to use websites like kayak.com for researching flights and prices, I always book directly with the airline. They will notify you immediately if your itinerary changes and try their best to assist you should that cause you any problems.

As for travel insurance, I definitely agree with that one! I could list a hundred reasons to purchase travel insurance, but only one reason people may not purchase it and that's the price. If they can afford to loose the money they spent on their vacation should problems arise, then they don't need the insurance. But since most people can't afford to loose that much money, it makes sense to get it. As you said, it's always best to purchase an independent policy as you'll usually pay the same or less, but get alot more coverage for your money.

Also, keep in mind that there is a big difference between travel insurance and travel protection and it's important to make sure you know what you're getting. I started a post about this here; http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/all...rotection.html

Pete

Donna November 5th, 2012 09:05 PM

All, some great tips...Especially with Sandy last week and the havoc she played in travel throughout the entire country...I have always purchased travel insurance, there are just too many things that can happen and you want to protect your vacation dollars...I also check around for airfare and always book directly with a major airline with flights that fit with a bit of wiggle room, just in case there is a delay for any reason...

green_rd November 6th, 2012 08:16 AM

Makes me wonder how traveler insurers dealt with the drastically shortened cruises last week.

Paul Motter November 20th, 2012 03:12 PM

Interesting - I am not expert in air tickets and their restrictions. And in all honesty even though I have purchased tickets directly through an airline I have not found them to be especially helpful -

Last week I had to change a ticket I bought directly from US Air, and encountered a $150 change fee. Can you clarify what the limitations are on ChoiceAir or EzAir?

I did look up the EzAir program before I wrote this and found there are two levels - one says that changes are allowed up to 45 days out, the other says charges are allowed - minus applicable fees - same as I encountered with the airline.

http://www.princess.com/learn/faq_an...formation.html

What am I missing here?

Donna November 20th, 2012 05:01 PM

Paul,
I encountered something like this with Amerian Airlines last year....Checked the price a few weeks after I bought the tickets and they went down a great deal, but after the $150 per ticket to change, ended up with useless voughers that were only good for a year....I was hoping to just get the money back, yea right....

Trackypup November 20th, 2012 05:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul Motter (Post 1455821)
Interesting - I am not expert in air tickets and their restrictions. And in all honesty even though I have purchased tickets directly through an airline I have not found them to be especially helpful -

Last week I had to change a ticket I bought directly from US Air, and encountered a $150 change fee. Can you clarify what the limitations are on ChoiceAir or EzAir?

I did look up the EzAir program before I wrote this and found there are two levels - one says that changes are allowed up to 45 days out, the other says charges are allowed - minus applicable fees - same as I encountered with the airline.

Air Travel: Princess Cruises

What am I missing here?

Cruiselines buy in Bulk. They're not technically consolidator tickets, but they CAN come with a bunch of restrictions that you don't really know about until it hits the fan. If everything goes fine, you wouldn't know the difference between someone buying through the airline and someone buying through Choice Air...but when things start to go wrong, you could be in for a shock when you find your highly restrictive cheap ticket can't be assigned to any other route or any other airline which a regular airline bought ticket can.

And... with the Princess air that is changeable, that's the flex fare... small print on the flex fare, you may not get when you picked. The don't actually buy the ticket until 45 days before so if the routing you picked is now a higher price or sold out, tough, they'll give you what they can.

Mike M November 20th, 2012 07:15 PM

This has been discussed a number of times here.

If you book standard cruise line air the cruise line takes no responsibility and acts only as an agent to the airline. Whatever they do in the event of a problem is basically a "favor" to you.

Here are the exceptions: Royal Caribbean's/Celebrity's Choice air program. With Choice air they will do most of what people thought they did with standard cruise air. With Choice Air Plus, and an additional $35, they will provide "concierge" style service in selecting your flights and helping with problems.

Here is the link to the ChoiceAir page on RCI. Air Travel Programs - Royal Caribbean International

Here is the full FAQ for ChoiceAir: http://www.cruisingpower.com/choicea...Air.do#Assured

ChoiceAir is the best "cruise air" program. Other cruise lines are not obligated to do anything other than get your flight.

Here is Holland America's policy:

"Holland America in arranging for the transportation of guests to and from the ship, does so with independent contractors and only as a convenience to the guests.
Holland America is NOT responsible for incidents such as airline cancellations, reroutings or any disruption of scheduled services or accommodations."

Take care,
Mike

Paul Motter November 23rd, 2012 01:34 PM

I am aware of the rules, which is why I did not say they will get you to the ship at their cost. What I did say is that they will take care of dealing with the airlines to get you to the ship, although the cost is your obligation.

But there is still some benefit in that.

I never said or implied that buying air through a cruise line is any different, I just said that the cruise line (or travel agent, assuming you used a real one) will assist you in getting those tickets changed at your cost - still a worthwhile convenience if you are sitting in an airport.

And, some cruise lines do offer a premium service where you can change the flights without a penalty.

As far as I know, though, the top tier Princess air program is the same as Royal Caribbeans. Neither one will pay to get you to the cruise - but they will assist you in making those arrangements.

Trackypup November 23rd, 2012 02:33 PM

"But if you book your air through the cruise line's premium air program they will make sure you get to the ship."

This is what you said and it is simply not true. The small print the cruise lines use is they will "work with you". No guarantees. Having a good TA, absolutely, they can work and try to rearrange things, but having a ticket without the restrictions of being assigned to another airline, is priceless. This I say from experience.

A lot of people are very comfortable letting the cruise line take care of the details and that's great. But please don't tell people that they will get you to the ship, as thats simply not true. The PVSA plays a big part of not being able to meet the ship if you miss the first port. You're better off having the airlines on your side to start with.

Paul Motter November 23rd, 2012 02:43 PM

Let's not take my comments out of context, OK? This is what I said...

----------------------

An airline has no legal obligation to make changes to get you to your destination on time. If your flight is delayed by weather or even technical difficulties, the airline's only obligation is to make sure you get to your destination eventually. But if you book your air through the cruise line's premium air program they will make sure you get to the ship. This is not to say they will pay all of the resulting fees or differences if you have to fly to the first port of call, that is your responsibility, but they will do the work of changing the flights and cover some change or cancellation fees - depending on the program you select.

-----------------------
I didn't say anything about guaranteeing the first port of call, etc. I didn't say it will always be feasible, I didn't say "at no added cost." I just said they will find a way to get you to the ship - that is what they promise - even if it is going to cost you $10,000 and gets you there on day 7. This is what the programs promise - that will find a way to get you to the ship but YOU have to pay the fees. If they did not offer this it would not be worth paying any extra fee.

If you choose to pay full fare for unrestricted air tickets you still have to pay the difference if you change your destination, you just don't pay the change fee. So, I don't get your point about having 'the airlines on your side."

The airlines don't care who you are or where you bought your ticket - they only care what kind of ticket you bought.

Paul Motter November 23rd, 2012 03:03 PM

My point is that I said "depending on the program you select."

From the Princess Web site: Air Travel: Princess Cruises

"If you miss your cruise embarkation due to an airline delay or service disruption, Princess will work with the airline to provide flights to the next appropriate port at no cost to you."

I saw the words "will work with you" So I also contacted the cruise line to see what that means. I was told "We will find a way to get you to the ship but we do not guarantee that it will be at no cost."

In other words - the words "will work with you" refer to finding the flights, a service they provide for no additional cost. However, I never said they guarantee those flights will not have an additional cost. I said they will cover "some" change or cancellation fees - depending on the program you select (the ones with unrestricted air tickets, obviously).

I used the same language the cruise lines use, and I made it clear that you have to choose the right program to get unrestricted ticket changes.

Trackypup November 23rd, 2012 04:57 PM

Paul, believe what you want to believe. But until you examine the fine print on your ticket, you really don't know what you're buying. A very specific example was a plane load of Princess passengers missed a connection in Frankfurt coming home from the cruise. I had a ticket through Lufthansa, the rights on my ticket gave lufthansa the power to assign my ticket to Air Canada on a totally different route to get me home same day. Friends who were travelling home with us bought cruise air. Their cheaper ticket was only good on Lufthansa on that route, it wasn't assignable to an other airline. They had to wait until the next day to fly to Vancouver as Lufthansa only flies once a day.

I as well as Cruise Planner are only trying to point out to people that it's buyer beware and don't fall for all the cruiselines marketing hype of what they will do incase you run into trouble.

If you build in enough leeway and Choiceair is going to save you a lot of money, then sure, i'd book it too. People just need to know what they're buying.

Paul Motter November 23rd, 2012 05:50 PM

"Believe what I want?"

I am fully aware of what the cruise air programs offer and all I said is that if you use them they will take over the process of finding you alternative flights, including getting you to the ship if that is what you choose to do - but that the COST of any option they give to you is your responsibility based upon the air ticket restrictions of whatever program you select. Their web sites clearly spell out the costs and restrictions, it isn't rocket science.

You took what I said out of context and claimed I said something I did not say.

That may be an honest mistake on your part, but repeating that same mistake is just not necessary.

Paul Motter November 23rd, 2012 05:56 PM

And just to be clear - when I say "I contacted the cruise lines" to clarify what was included, I don't mean I just did that. I did it last year when Princess announced EzAir. This isn't my first rodeo with cruise line air programs.


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