I was booked on Northwest Airlines which I have since researched and the majority of people hate it. HOWEVER, most people don't have anything nice to say about a lot of airlines these days everyone hates to fly. Also, I figure it is 6 hours(I am flying from Seattle to Honolulu) out of my life. I am going to think of it like labor. And frankly, I bet the flight will be easier than any labor and when I arrive in Honolulu I won't have to do any diapers!!!
You can get better rates with Hotwire.com (I saved 170.00 pp round trip), but you have to be willing to travel the day before and return the day after cruising, as the airline and itenerary is not provided you until you pay the quoted amount. You only have one hour after viewing the quote or calling and receiving via the phone, to place the reservation, so price shop to compare before contacting them.
I enjoy traveling the day before for the peace of mind in not having a hurried stressful day of travel and hoping nothing goes wrong and then boarding the ship. Each time I've booked air with the cruise lines, they got me to the departing city only an hour or so before the ship left the port and I've missed the departure lunch, etc.
The only advantage to booking w/ the cruise line is that if there is some airline delays and you should miss your ship altogether...they will fly you to the first port of call, but if you go on your own the day before that is not a worry you have to consider.
For first time we booked air through CCL because we were not booking a true RT ticket (Orlando to Honolulu then Vancouver back to Orlando). We requested that CCL quote us for First Class (due to long flights) and they came out $800 cheaper per person(including the deviation fee) than had we booked ourselves and I spent days looking on at least 10 different websites and my TA, The tickets also only have one connection both ways. You can have the cruise line research and tell you what it will be - ccl gives 72 hours for you to give them an answer - then research and see if you can find lower. Also, if you book your own, I suggest flying in the day before due to the reasons that My2cents gave.
I chose to have Carnival book my air on my cruise back in March. I was put on Northwest and flew from DEN to MIA with a connection in MSP. My routing on the way back was better, MIA to DEN via MEM. The scheduling wasn't bad (1 to 1 1/2 hour connections), but my first flight was delayed leaving DEN and I wound up missing my connection in MSP. Therefore, next time I will book an air deviation to avoid connecting flights. As for the cost, it was almost the same as if I booked my own air.
We've purchased airfare from CCL and from Celebrity. The CCL seats (in 2000 and 2001) were unassigned -- even as frequent flyers, we were unable to get seat assignments prior to arrival at the airport. We ultimately received fairly undesirable seats at the back of the planes, but found that everyone around us were also going on the cruises. . . we were, needless to say, a festive bunch! CCL's air arrangements gave us enough time for connections, and CCL scheduled our arrival at the ships early in the afternoon so we didn't feel that we were missing anything. In the San Juan airport, CCL had "greeters" at the gates with big Carnival signs, who directed passengers through the airport to the transportation pick-ups. Getting transportation through CCL made the whole process very painless, at a cost that we felt was comparable to making our own plans.
Celebrity's travel arrangements, on the other hand, were a nightmare. Their airfare on an Alaskan trip gave us minimal time for connections, which meant that we worried constantly, ran through the Saint Lous airport, and our luggage never made the connection (we got it after 3 days, in Juneau). With Celebrity's own arrangements, even if everything went perfectly, we would have arrived at the ship just as it sailed! Since all of the flights were late, we ended up being stranded in Anchorage waiting for buses to Seward at 10:00 at night (2:00 a.m. E.S.T.). Although the ship was held for us, everyone on our flight was exhausted and cranky. We missed an entire first day of being on the ship, even though Celebrity opened the dining room for our bus of passengers "provided we got to the diring room within 15 minutes of boarding."
We learned that it is definitely worth paying extra to ensure that you get to your port a day-ahead of time, or to pay extra for flight arrangements that you are comfortable with, to ensure that you don't have to worry. Based on our experiences, we would consider using CCL airfare again if the price is right -- but we'd never trust Celebrity's travel arrangements gain, at any price..
We are flying into Miami for a 4 night cruise that sails Monday May 6th. Airfare thru Carnival was $515.00 each person round trip from Chicago. I thought that was outrageous and did some checking. We are now flying ATA into Miami for $146.00 per person. Some people want a bigger airline, but I have flown ATA several times and been pleased with the service! Carnival offered to fly us on United, which may I say, out of the 5 times I have flown with them I have been delayed more than 6 hours each flight and had them even cancel one flight on us. We decided to fly in a day early and even with booking a hotel room for the night we saved $663.00 and have the piece of mind of arriving early and not having to count on on time flights. If leaving a day early is an option you can definately begin your vacation more relaxed that way!
We each paid $170 one way to Hawaii from Seattle, and part of the flyaweigh pkg includes our transportation (bus) from Vancouver back to Seattle. Our travel agent is also kindly providing transportation from Olympia to the airport which will save us time, parking fees and other aggravation.
I travel VERY frequently for business and I will tell you that among the 'cheaper' airlines, Northwest is, by far, the best of all. Granted - you don't receive the same service as on United (at 3 times the cost), but for what you pay - they do a great job.
There are always exceptions, but all in all, for my money I like Northwest.
Depending on the Cruise line flight quote, the itinerary, and the time of year, I will look at all options. Our last cruise was on Carnival to Orland from Boston. Knowing that the transfer would take an hour each way and cost an unknown amount, Carnival came up with a great fare of $159 pp and we ended up on non-stop flights both ways with perfect transfers. Waiting until the actual tickets arrived was a little stressful, but I decided to let Carnival be responsible for our journey this time especially with all the new airport check in procedures, etc.
The price carnival gave you at $159pp had they already quoted you a price when you booked the trip? We have booked at cruise on Triumph for Feb. 2003, and we asked for Carnival to provide the airfare, but they are quoting us $489 per person round trip from Boston to Miami. They cannot guarantee us this far out if it will be a direct, non-stop flight. So I have done some checking on all of the about listed websites as well as Orbitz, etc, and have come up with some better deals if we fly into Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami. I just thought $489 per person was a lot. If Carnival can get it cheaper for us when the time get closer will they reduce that rate? I have been on a cruise for 15 years, so this is all very fuzzy to me. Any help anyone can give would be great.