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Is there an advantage/disadvantage to booking a cruise through an airline website?

Jan 30, 2018
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I am a first time cruiser, my wife has been on 3. We have planned a once-in-a-lifetime cruise via a repositioning between the US and Italy, with a week or so in Italy. I have saved my American Airline miles to (hopefully!) cover the airfare because repositioning cruises are pretty inexpensive. My question is, would there be an advantage to booking via American Airlines website is the cruise price is comparable? I am thinking if there is flight trouble not of our making, would the airline make it right - fly us to the next port, etc.? We will have flights to the embarkation port and the ending port.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Are you talking about booking just the flights with your miles? Make sure you arrive in Italy and at least a day or early- then you don’t have to worry about flight delays that can cause you to miss your cruise. NEVER fly to a cruise the day it’s supposed to leave. That’s the best way to insure that you won’t miss your cruise. The airline will not be responsible for getting you to the ship

Book the cruise directly with the cruise line . Booking it through the airline has nothing to do with getting to the ship. The only way that the cruise line would help you get to the ship is by buying the air from the cruise line- not using your points.

And buy travel insurance. That’s what will help you with flight cancellations and delays.
 
May 30, 2019
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would there be an advantage to booking via American Airlines website is the cruise price is comparable?
The only "AAdvantage" to booking a cruise through American Airlines is an occasional offer of bonus AA miles.

I am thinking if there is flight trouble not of our making, would the airline make it right - fly us to the next port, etc.?
False. If there is flight trouble, regardless of the reason, the airline's only obligation is to get you to your flight destination when it can. The airline would have no obligation to get you to the next port -- and AA will not help you. If you miss your cruise departure because of a flight delay or cancellation & you don't have insurance, you are on your own. This applies both if you book only the flight through the airline or the flight + cruise through the airline.

We will have flights to the embarkation port and the ending port.
Some suggestions:
  1. If you don't have enough miles for all of the flights, use miles first on the Italy / home leg. International 1-way flights are expensive to purchase but have more value using miles, while domestic US 1-way flights are half or sometimes less the cost of a round-trip.

  2. Plan to fly in to your embarkation port the evening before the cruise, maybe even earlier. This minimizes the risk of missing the cruise. You can often find a cheap hotel near Port Everglades with a shuttle to the cruise terminal (or use some AA miles to book a hotel room).

  3. Don't trust AA. If you book your flight well in advance -- using miles or cash -- check on it every few weeks. AA is still dealing with limited capacity due to 737 MAX jets being offline and is frequently changing up its schedule and equipment. (Another reason to respect suggestion #2).

  4. Be wary of an offer through the cruise line to book your flight. The cruise line will book a flight that gives you only a few hours to get to the cruise ship. If there is a flight delay, the cruise line will help you meet the ship a the next port, however you'd miss several days at sea.

  5. Off-Topic ... Budget extra money for your cruise. Your stated cruise fare may not have included the semi-required daily cabin gratuities, drinks, that fantastic portrait of you & your wife on formal dinner night, etc. There are also porter tips, shuttle to the cruise terminal, and similar costs.

  6. A bit less Off-Topic ... Check out cruisecritic.com for useful details about your specific ship; how early your can, should, and must check-in before the cruise; and other nuances specific to your itinerary.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
21,109
20,969
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
The only "AAdvantage" to booking a cruise through American Airlines is an occasional offer of bonus AA miles.


False. If there is flight trouble, regardless of the reason, the airline's only obligation is to get you to your flight destination when it can. The airline would have no obligation to get you to the next port -- and AA will not help you. If you miss your cruise departure because of a flight delay or cancellation & you don't have insurance, you are on your own. This applies both if you book only the flight through the airline or the flight + cruise through the airline.


Some suggestions:
  1. If you don't have enough miles for all of the flights, use miles first on the Italy / home leg. International 1-way flights are expensive to purchase but have more value using miles, while domestic US 1-way flights are half or sometimes less the cost of a round-trip.

  2. Plan to fly in to your embarkation port the evening before the cruise, maybe even earlier. This minimizes the risk of missing the cruise. You can often find a cheap hotel near Port Everglades with a shuttle to the cruise terminal (or use some AA miles to book a hotel room).

  3. Don't trust AA. If you book your flight well in advance -- using miles or cash -- check on it every few weeks. AA is still dealing with limited capacity due to 737 MAX jets being offline and is frequently changing up its schedule and equipment. (Another reason to respect suggestion #2).

  4. Be wary of an offer through the cruise line to book your flight. The cruise line will book a flight that gives you only a few hours to get to the cruise ship. If there is a flight delay, the cruise line will help you meet the ship a the next port, however you'd miss several days at sea.

  5. Off-Topic ... Budget extra money for your cruise. Your stated cruise fare may not have included the semi-required daily cabin gratuities, drinks, that fantastic portrait of you & your wife on formal dinner night, etc. There are also porter tips, shuttle to the cruise terminal, and similar costs.

  6. A bit less Off-Topic ... Check out cruisecritic.com for useful details about your specific ship; how early your can, should, and must check-in before the cruise; and other nuances specific to your itinerary.
Re # 4- you can often pay a deviation fee and choose your own flights when booking through the cruise line. But OP wouldn’t be able to use Points- he has t book through the airline directly.

Arrive at least a day, possibly two before the cruise. I would recommend a few day’s before so you an enjoy Italy.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,592
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@Neil Maley ........not enough coffee this morning?!? Usually I can decipher a bit of typos but this sentence is challenging me:

Make sure you arrive in Italy and bleary a day or Then you don’t have to worry about flight delays that can cause you to miss your cruise.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
3,440
4,182
113
the United States
The idea of booking air and cruise through the airline can be an advantage when it comes to cancellations. You MUST read the terms-and-conditions carefully though to be sure of the limitations.

But what you gain in that area, you often lose in selection and quality. You will have greater choices when you book separately as I have seen over and over in my travels. This is similar to booking airfare as a "round trip", which I did in my early traveling days. But using the multi-city option offers more choice in layovers and connecting airports.

The one thing you DO want to consider strongly is to book the airfare on one reservation (PNR). When their is missed connection caused by the airline, they will find alternatives at no charge. This is not so when you book flights separately.
 
Sep 20, 2015
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And the other thing to do is buy trip insurance. This will cover you for many of the issues that you are concerned about.
 
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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
The only "AAdvantage" to booking a cruise through American Airlines is an occasional offer of bonus AA miles.


False. If there is flight trouble, regardless of the reason, the airline's only obligation is to get you to your flight destination when it can. The airline would have no obligation to get you to the next port -- and AA will not help you. If you miss your cruise departure because of a flight delay or cancellation & you don't have insurance, you are on your own. This applies both if you book only the flight through the airline or the flight + cruise through the airline.


Some suggestions:
  1. If you don't have enough miles for all of the flights, use miles first on the Italy / home leg. International 1-way flights are expensive to purchase but have more value using miles, while domestic US 1-way flights are half or sometimes less the cost of a round-trip.

  2. Plan to fly in to your embarkation port the evening before the cruise, maybe even earlier. This minimizes the risk of missing the cruise. You can often find a cheap hotel near Port Everglades with a shuttle to the cruise terminal (or use some AA miles to book a hotel room).

  3. Don't trust AA. If you book your flight well in advance -- using miles or cash -- check on it every few weeks. AA is still dealing with limited capacity due to 737 MAX jets being offline and is frequently changing up its schedule and equipment. (Another reason to respect suggestion #2).

  4. Be wary of an offer through the cruise line to book your flight. The cruise line will book a flight that gives you only a few hours to get to the cruise ship. If there is a flight delay, the cruise line will help you meet the ship a the next port, however you'd miss several days at sea.

  5. Off-Topic ... Budget extra money for your cruise. Your stated cruise fare may not have included the semi-required daily cabin gratuities, drinks, that fantastic portrait of you & your wife on formal dinner night, etc. There are also porter tips, shuttle to the cruise terminal, and similar costs.

  6. A bit less Off-Topic ... Check out cruisecritic.com for useful details about your specific ship; how early your can, should, and must check-in before the cruise; and other nuances specific to your itinerary.
"Be wary of an offer through the cruise line to book your flight. The cruise line will book a flight that gives you only a few hours to get to the cruise ship. If there is a flight delay, the cruise line will help you meet the ship a the next port, however you'd miss several days at sea."
This is a repositioning cruise. The next port is probably in Europe.
 
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Jan 30, 2018
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Thanks so much for all the helpful info. I think travel insurance and arriving early are givens. My other thought is even if I use my miles for the flights and bought the cruise through AA it might not be seen as a vacation "package" which if it were may nudge AA to help keep things on schedule if they screw it up. But, it sounds like buying directly from the cruise line will probably be best. I will definitely check out CruiseCritic.

One other question: With the possible complexity and my inexperience cruising, is using a travel agent a good idea? I've traveled around Europe several times and always made my own arrangements. Never bought a cruise for myself, much less a long one way one.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
21,109
20,969
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Thanks so much for all the helpful info. I think travel insurance and arriving early are givens. My other thought is even if I use my miles for the flights and bought the cruise through AA it might not be seen as a vacation "package" which if it were may nudge AA to help keep things on schedule if they screw it up. But, it sounds like buying directly from the cruise line will probably be best. I will definitely check out CruiseCritic.

One other question: With the possible complexity and my inexperience cruising, is using a travel agent a good idea? I've traveled around Europe several times and always made my own arrangements. Never bought a cruise for myself, much less a long one way one.
It is usually two separate things. Unless booking through AA guarantees getting to the ship if anything happens- it’s two separate trips they are booking.

Usually only when the cruise line books your air will they help you get to the port. But arriving a few days early is your best bet.

If you are not comfortable doing this yourself- use a travel agent. But many don’t book air with points but will help you.
 
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May 30, 2019
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@choo2drivr As @Neil Maley mentioned, because you are going to use miles, AA will likely treat it as separate bookings, complete with 2 different departments that don't speak with each other.

As I understand cruise bookings, the cruise lines charge the customer the same price whether you go through a low-service TA like AA or full-service TA that might specialize in cruise bookings or trips involving Europe. While I wouldn't recommend booking through AA, however you might find a TA or full-service agency that might work for you.

Are you starting the cruise in the US?
 
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RLB

May 28, 2019
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If you do end up booking entire vacation with AA using miles, be sure to get any 'assurances ' on flight trouble, coordination with cruise etc, in writing like a screenshot of mobile chat, email, etc. I've seen numerous posts about problems where the writer was promised xyz by someone over the phone with no documentation of the promise.
 
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My wie and I hav e taken many cruises, have used our own purchased air, cruise line air, and airline points. First of all: arrive at least one day early in the cruise port and try to find a hotel providing some access to the cruise terminal ( taxicab, port shuttle, pblic transportation, etc,) Cruise lines offer a bus from the airport to the ship only on departure days, which will be usseless if the plane is delayed too much or the flight gets deviated or cancelled.
also, book with a large travel agency that specialises in cruises, or with the ruise line itself. Many travel agencies offer substantial discounts or amenities ( such as all gratuities included, perhaps a free drink package, etc.). We use Vacations to Go (agent Ben Curran)but there are many cruise travel agencies, some offering more assistance ( such as help with cabin selection, dining times, etc.) than others. Make sure lyou hae all needed documents required for YOUR cruise ( Passport, credit card, possible visas).
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,039
9,725
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San Francisco
So much good advice and insight here. My contribution is based on the last few blissful years using an excellent travel agent to book cruises. I still do all other travel independently (my agent will occasionally ask me an airline question). Booking a cruise through an airline means booking a cruise through an online service with a tiny connection (if any) to the airline. If there are cruise problems, you're dealing with some entity that may or may not be helpful ... could easily be very unhelpful. AA will not book your cruise, it's just a marketing scheme.

Booking good air through a cruise line is not for the faint of heart, but it's possible if you know exactly what you're doing. BY ALL MEANS, use a real travel agent, a cruise expert, to book the cruise. I just booked a Med cruise with so many extras I can't even count them. They're paying ME to cruise over the 2020 holidays. Haunt cruisecritic. Don't be in a hurry, ask lots of questions, do lots of research (quite pleasurable actually), and you may find you get a much better deal than you could do on your own. Personally, I wouldn't book a repositioning cruise unless I like lots of R&R ... which I do, but my husband would go insane with more than 2 days at sea. Be sure you're not blinded by the good price, but are considering exactly what the experience will be like..
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,039
9,725
113
San Francisco
So much good advice and insight here. My contribution is based on the last few blissful years using an excellent travel agent to book cruises. I still do all other travel independently (my agent will occasionally ask me an airline question). Booking a cruise through an airline means booking a cruise through an online service with a tiny connection (if any) to the airline. If there are cruise problems, you're dealing with some entity that may or may not be helpful ... could easily be very unhelpful. AA will not book your cruise, it's just a marketing scheme.

Booking good air through a cruise line is not for the faint of heart, but it's possible if you know exactly what you're doing. BY ALL MEANS, use a real travel agent, a cruise expert, to book the cruise. I just booked a Med cruise with so many extras I can't even count them. They're paying ME to cruise over the 2020 holidays. Haunt cruisecritic. Don't be in a hurry, ask lots of questions, do lots of research (quite pleasurable actually), and you may find you get a much better deal than you could do on your own. Personally, I wouldn't book a repositioning cruise unless I like lots of R&R ... which I do, but my husband would go insane with more than 2 days at sea. Be sure you're not blinded by the good price, but are considering exactly what the experience will be like..
Let me update yesterday's post. This morning my TA emailed me with a huge reduction in the Med cruise fare, plus an extra $100 shipboard credit. How did she do that? She decided to chase down a cruise I took with NCL about twenty years ago and presto! We qualify for a returning guest discount. A cruise expert TA is worth her weight in gold!