Is it Really Cheaper to Book Flights with a Cruise? Debunking the Myths and Revealing the Truth

Ever wondered if it’s cheaper to book your flights with a cruise line? You’re not alone. We’ve all been tantalized by those package deals that seem too good to be true – like Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises offering free airfare as part of their booking perks.

In this article, we’ll debunk myths and reveal the truth about these offers, taking you through the advantages and disadvantages of booking flights with cruise lines versus going it alone.

So let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

Booking flights through a cruise line can potentially offer competitive airfares and perks like assistance with travel disruptions, “book now, pay later” options, and no additional booking fees.

However, there are also disadvantages to consider, such as the inability to use airline miles or redeem rewards-earning credit card points towards the flight cost, limited control over your itinerary, and potential service fees for changes.

It’s important for travelers to carefully weigh their options and compare prices before deciding if booking flights with a cruise is truly cheaper in their specific situation.

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Exploring Cruise Line Flight Packages

happy family cruise ship

Let’s dive right into the nitty-gritty of cruise line flight packages. Major players like Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are leading the pack with enticing offers. For instance, free airfare is a booking perk they offer, with Oceania providing economy flights and Regent offering business-class flights to Europe at no extra cost.

Royal Caribbean goes one better, pledging competitive airfares and a 110% refund of any price difference should you find a cheaper alternative elsewhere.

Cruise lines pull out all the stops to provide value-added services that go beyond mere travel arrangements. In times of flight delays or disruptions due to weather or technical glitches, their dedicated travel departments step in to assist passengers by rebooking flights – turning potential travel nightmares into manageable situations.

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And wait till you hear about how flexible these packages can be! With options such as ‘Book Now Pay Later,’ passengers get the convenience of settling their flight costs only when making final cruise payments – a feature notably absent when booking independently.

But let me caveat: there’s always more than meets the eye with airline-cruise deals—understandably so because businesses have to make profits too. Therefore it behooves us (the consumers) not just to lap up whatever deal is on offer but dig deeper for underlying catches.

“As an expert cruiser, I would never select the included free airfare perk that cruise companies offer since you will lack control of arrival and departure times, seat location, connections, etc. The only responsibility the cruise line airfare partner has is to deliver their human cargo to the cruise port in time to get on the ship – not your comfort or stress. This can include not even telling you what seats you’ll be assigned until the night before the flight.”

James Hills,

Some key watch-outs involve restrictions on flight dates and itineraries where deviation fees could apply for flexibility; or even unanticipated additional charges for those flying from smaller airports not part of the free airfare deal.

That said, seasoned travelers looking forward to leveraging rewards-earning credit card points on independent bookings might want to reconsider this route, as a few caveats apply here too.

Advantages of Booking Flights Through Cruise Lines

cruise ship people

Booking flights through cruise lines offers several advantages. Travelers have the potential to find good airfare deals, receive assistance with travel disruptions, book now and pay later, and avoid additional booking fees.

Potential for Good Airfare Deals

As an experienced traveler, I can attest that cruise lines are often able to secure competitive airfares. By buying in bulk, renowned brands like Royal Caribbean and Oceania Cruises have the prowess to negotiate better deals with airlines.

In fact, Royal Caribbean even assures a 110% refund of the price difference if you stumble upon a cheaper flight elsewhere. This could mean significant savings for your wallet.

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However, it’s crucial to understand that ‘free’ airfare offered by cruise lines such as Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises usually isn’t entirely free—the cost is typically embedded in your base cruise fare.

Look beyond just the price tag; calculate all potential expenses to assess whether these packages truly grant you good airfare deals. Booking flights through cruise lines might be a smart move when planning your next sea voyage, especially if they strike favorable agreements with airlines that result in lower fares.

Assistance with Travel Disruptions

Air travel isn’t always smooth sailing – as flight delays and cancellations are common. But booking your flights through a cruise line’s air transportation program, like Royal Caribbean’s Air2Sea or Carnival Cruise Line’s Fly2Fun Air Program, provides you with an extra layer of protection against these disruptions.

These programs take care of rebooking arrangements if the unexpected happens – weather issues, mechanical problems, or even illness outbreaks on the ship. You won’t have to navigate the airline customer service labyrinth alone; the cruise line’s travel department steps in to assist you.

“This [free flight perks] is a question that I face on a daily basis as a travel advisor that specializes in cruise vacations. For some folks, the free airline fare deals are the only way they can afford a vacation for the whole family but I find that typically this ends up being a bad experience for everyone involved. However, some luxury cruise lines do offer their own charter flights or offer first class options that are better than what you might get assigned as part of Norwegian’s “Free At Sea” bundled offer where you might not even know what your flight is until the last minute. As a result, you might have hoped to arive in Los Angeles in the afternoon of the night before your cruise so you could sleep in the next day. Instead, you have a red-eye flight and have to race to the cruise port … making your first day of vacation far from the luxury experience you were hoping for.”

Heather Hills,

Plus, they keep tabs on your flight status and coordinate with their embarkation and disembarkation schedules accordingly, ensuring seamless transitions between your flights and cruises.

It’s benefitting from hidden perks included in cruise line air bookings that can make your trip smoother.

Ability to Book Now and Pay Later

When booking flights through a cruise line, one of the major advantages is the ability to book now and pay later. This means that travelers can secure their flight reservations at the time of booking their cruise without having to pay for the flights immediately.

Instead, the payment for the flights is typically due when the final payment for the cruise is due. This provides convenience and flexibility for travelers who may not have all of their funds available at once or prefer to spread out their payments.

It also allows them to secure their desired travel dates and avoid missing out on any limited-time promotions or deals that may be available. By taking advantage of this perk, travelers can enjoy peace of mind knowing that they have secured their flights without having to worry about immediate payment.

No Additional Booking Fees

Booking flights through a cruise line comes with the added perk of no additional booking fees. Unlike when booking independently, where you may encounter extra charges for using certain online travel agencies or third-party websites, cruise lines do not impose any fee for booking your flights through their air departments.

This means that you can save money and avoid any surprise charges that could inflate the overall cost of your trip. With no additional booking fees, you can enjoy a straightforward and transparent process when securing your flights for your upcoming cruise adventure.

Disadvantages of Booking Flights Through Cruise Lines

tired cruise ship man

Booking flights through cruise lines has its drawbacks. First, travelers may find themselves unable to use their airline miles or redeem rewards-earning credit card points towards the cost of their flight.

Second, they have limited control over their itinerary, as cruise line air bookings often come with restrictions on flight dates and routes. Lastly, should any changes need to be made to the flight reservation, travelers could potentially face service fees from both the airline and the cruise line for making those adjustments.

Inability to Pay with Miles

Unfortunately, when booking flights through a cruise line, you won’t be able to pay with your hard-earned airline miles. This means that you won’t be able to use those miles you’ve been diligently collecting to offset the cost of your flight.

So if you were looking forward to cashing in your miles for a free or discounted ticket, it’s important to keep in mind that this option isn’t available when booking through a cruise line.

However, don’t worry! There are still plenty of other ways to earn and use miles during your trip. By adding your frequent flyer number to the reservation and paying with a rewards-earning credit card, you can continue earning points and miles even when booking through a cruise line.

Limited Control Over Itinerary

One important factor to consider when booking flights through cruise lines is the limited control over your itinerary. While it may be convenient to have everything taken care of in a package deal, you might find yourself with less flexibility when it comes to choosing flight times or making changes.

Some cruise line air bookings come with restrictions on flight dates and itineraries, meaning you may not have as much control over your travel plans as you would if you booked independently.

It’s essential to evaluate whether having more control over your itinerary is worth the potential trade-off in convenience and other perks offered by booking through a cruise line.

Possible Service Fees for Changes

One important factor to consider when booking flights through a cruise line is the potential for service fees if you need to make changes to your flight arrangements. These fees can vary depending on the cruise line and the specific changes you need to make.

It’s essential to read and understand the terms and conditions of your booking before making any adjustments, as these fees can add up quickly. Remember, it’s always a good idea to purchase travel insurance in case unexpected circumstances arise that require you to modify your travel plans.

Comparing Cruise Line Flight Packages with Independent Booking

people looking at cruise ship

Let’s dive into a comparison of booking flights through cruise line packages versus doing it independently. The following table outlines key factors to consider:

CriteriaCruise Line Flight PackagesIndependent Booking
PricingOffers potential competitive airfares with the guarantee of a 110% refund on price difference like in the case of Royal Caribbean (Fact 2). The apparent ‘free’ airfares offered by cruise lines like Oceania and Regent are factored into the increased base cruise fare (Fact 9).While independent booking might initially seem cheaper, it may not include perks like free airfare.
Dealing with disruptionsCruise lines provide assistance and rebooking options in case of disruptions (Fact 4).Travelers must manage any disruptions and rebooking independently.
Payment FlexibilityTravelers can pay for their flights when the final cruise payment is due (Fact 5).Payment is required at the time of booking.
Service FeesNo additional service fees for booking, only the airfare and applicable taxes and fees (Fact 6).Potential service fees depending on the booking platform used.
Travel FlexibilitySome restrictions on flight dates and itinerariesdeviation fee may apply for more flexibility (Fact 8).Travelers have complete control over their flight dates, times, and airlines.
Use of Airline RewardsCan still earn points and miles by adding frequent flyer number (Fact 3).Depends on the airline and booking platform used.

As you can see, both options have their pros and cons. It’s up to you to weigh these out and decide which booking method suits your travel needs best.

Tips for Booking Cruise Line Flight Packages

people on a cruise ship waving

When booking cruise line flight packages, there are several tips that can help you make the most of your travel experience. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  1. Research different cruise lines: Take the time to compare the airfare deals offered by various cruise lines. Look for perks like free airfare or competitive pricing that can help you save money.
  2. Check for restrictions: Before booking, carefully review any restrictions on flight dates and itineraries. If you need more flexibility, be prepared to pay a deviation fee to have more control over your travel plans.
  3. Consider loyalty programs: If you’re a frequent flyer, make sure to add your frequent flyer number to your reservation when booking through a cruise line. You can still earn points and miles by paying with a rewards-earning credit card.
  4. Take advantage of assistance services: One of the advantages of booking flights through a cruise line is having access to their travel department’s assistance services. They can help with rebooking options in case of flight delays or disruptions.
  5. Be mindful of hidden fees: While many cruise lines do not charge additional service or convenience fees for booking flights through their air departments, be aware that there may be other fees associated with your booking. Read the fine print carefully before making your decision.
  6. Compare with independent bookings: It’s always a good idea to compare prices and options with independent booking channels like online travel agencies or airline websites. This way, you can ensure you’re getting the best possible deal for your flights.

Frequently Asked Questions About Whether It’s Really Cheaper to Book Flights with a Cruise

Are flights cheaper when booked with a cruise?

The cost of booking flights with a cruise can vary depending on various factors, such as the destination, time of year, and availability. While some packages may offer discounted rates for combined bookings, it is not always guaranteed that flights will be cheaper when booked alongside a cruise.

What are some myths about booking flights with a cruise?

There are several myths surrounding booking flights with a cruise, such as the belief that all-inclusive packages always provide the best value or that last-minute deals are always the cheapest option. It’s important to research and compare different options to determine what truly offers the best value for your specific travel needs.

How can I determine if booking flights with a cruise is cheaper?

To determine if booking flights with a cruise is cheaper, it’s recommended to compare prices separately for both components (flights and cruises) and then compare them to package deals offered by various travel agencies or directly from cruise lines. Additionally, consider any additional benefits or perks included in package deals that could enhance overall value.

Is it worth considering other factors besides price when deciding whether to book flights with a cruise?

Yes, price should not be the sole determining factor when deciding whether to book flight and cruise packages. Other considerations include convenience, flexibility in itinerary planning, quality of accommodations and services provided during both flight and onboard the ship, customer reviews and recommendations regarding particular airlines or cruise lines, etc., as well as personal preferences regarding travel experiences.


In conclusion, while booking flights through a cruise line can offer some advantages, such as potential airfare deals and assistance with travel disruptions, it is important to consider the disadvantages too.

Lack of control over itineraries and possible service fees for changes are factors to be aware of. Additionally, “free” airfare perks offered by cruise lines often come at an increased base fare.

It’s crucial for travelers to compare prices and weigh their options before deciding if booking flights with a cruise is truly cheaper in their specific situation.




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Jason Batansky

Jason Batansky, a 34-year-old entrepreneur/blogger, has built three successful online businesses, granting him the freedom to travel and work remotely across South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Currently residing in Miami Beach, Jason thrives on the challenges and rewards of his dynamic lifestyle.

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