Eyjafjallajoekull slowed air travel here and abroad
New Cruise Line Air Programs
Most cruisers have to book a flight to and from their ship and the constant concern is make it on time. As we witnessed with the recent volcanic fallout, you never know when something unexpected will happen. In the past it was a common misconception that if you missed your ship's departure the cruise line would fly you to the next port of call, at their own expense, to join the ship.
Unfortunately, that has never has been true. If the fault lies with the weather neither the airline nor the cruise line will be responsible. If the cruise line caused the problem that is different, but that is not likely to happen; Ships almost never leave a port ahead of schedule.
The best protection against air delays is to purchase travel insurance that will reimburse you for any additional expenses in flying to the next port of call. If you booked through a capable travel agent they can also help a great deal, but the expense is still your own.
Last year, Royal Caribbean started an air booking program called "Choice Air" where they give you the following guarantee:
Before you travel:
If you need to make changes to your itinerary after booking, we'll work with the airlines to make the changes for you, with no additional fees other than what the airlines may impose.
We'll monitor flights to make sure that air travel disruptions don't ruin your vacation. If your scheduled flight is changed, we'll work with the airline to get you on another flight that gets you to your cruise on time.
While you travel:
We'll continue to monitor flights to identify air travel disruptions that could jeopardize your timely arrival at the ship. If any flight disruptions or delays occur, we'll be prepared to assist you. In the event of a delay that causes you to miss your ship, we'll work with you and our airlines to find a reasonable alternative so you can meet up with your ship at the next port (when feasible).
There is a $15 service fee per person to use the Royal Caribbean choice air program, which you can book over the telephone or online. If you read it carefully you will see it doesn't come close to travel insurance, but assuming they do everything as promised it could be very handy when the unexpected happens.
Just today, Princess Cruises announced their own brand new air program they call eZair. Okay, it's a bit of an odd name but I like it. It is pronounced "easy air" but it looks like "e-Zair" which rhymes with éclair and has "flair."
Here is what eZair from Princess Cruises promises:
For the first time, Princess passengers will have access to real-time pricing and flight availability, immediate flight confirmation, competitive airfares, and something no major online air booking website offers - next port protection in the event of flight delays.
Unlike air purchased through other online air booking websites, the line will assist Princess eZAir passengers with re-routing to the next port of call should they experience a flight delay that causes them to miss the ship's departure.
Now, this doesn't mean they will pay the difference if it is the fault of the airline, but they will be there to help you catch up with the ship.
Princess air flights can be booked through a professional travel agent or by calling 1-800-PRINCESS. Passengers can choose from two different air options - flexible and restricted.
Flexible Air Option - Passengers choosing the flexible air option will have the benefit of a fully refundable air ticket that can be changed without charge, giving them full freedom with their travel plans. Tickets are refundable up to 45 days before the flight.
Restricted Air Option - Passengers also have a choice of a typically lower-priced restricted option which is not refundable, and is subject to change fees. In addition, restricted air tickets must be paid for at the time of booking air to lock in the schedule and lower rate.
Are these programs worthwhile? Well, they certainly cannot hurt and so far I don't believe Princess charges a service charge. These days only a small percentage of cruisers book their air through the cruise line and it appears they are trying to win some of those sales back.
new feature articles
You Should Interview A Travel Agent As If You Were Hiring An Employee
Let's make it clear from the beginning; I believe EVERYONE who books a cruise should use a professional Cruise Travel Agent.
Join CruiseMates on Norwegian Epic
Join the first CruiseMates group cruise with a culinary theme, Chef Matt Sigel's Cruise with CruiseMates to sail on Norwegian Epic, October 30, 2010
Norwegian Epic Show Reservation System
Norwegian Epic's online reservation system makes the ship's many entertainment options more easily accessible to guests.
Mariner of the Seas Leaving California
This ship is leaving California in January 2011 - book it while you can! Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.
Voyages to Antiquity Preview
A new destination-oriented cruise line with a purpose emerges from the founder of Orient Lines with an incredible value proposition.
Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer Park West Loses
A Michigan jury rules in favor of Fine Art Registry who claims cruise ship art auctioneers have been selling fraudulent works.
Read about CruiseMates
NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"
NEW CRUISEMATES CRUISES!
Chef Matt Sigel's Cruise with CruiseMates
Join Chef Matt Sigel's on Norwegian Epic, Halloween Cruise, Oct 30, 2010
Travel from Miami to Costa Maya, Roatan Honduras and Cozumel - 7-days
Let's Get Lei'd 5.0
We're doing yet again - for the fifth time (because these cruises do so well) - We are going to Hawaii on a Princess ship, this time the mega-Sapphire Princess. We sail from Los Angeles and return to the same. Eight days at sea and five beautiful ports of call - four of them in Hawaii, plus Ensenada. February 26, 2011.
Allure of the Seas
Join your CruiseMates on the newest world's biggest cruise ship on January 23rd, 2011, on the sister ship to Oasis of the Seas slated to debut in early December of 2010. We have great prices and plenty of onboard fun in store for you!