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Dealing With Flight Changes When Cruising

If you’re flying to your cruise then we recommend that you plan to arrive the day before your cruise, reserve one of our convenient and inclusive Fly Snooze Cruise packages. Let our transportation partners whisk you from the airport to a hotel near port canaveral where you enjoy a night’s stay, start off the day of your cruise with a complimentary breakfast at select hotels, then let the shuttle take you away to Port Canaveral to enjoy an incredible cruise vacation.

We recommend this for two reasons.  The first is that we strive to make your cruise easy and carefree.  The second is that it is important that you allow yourself plenty of time to get aboard the cruise ship.  The ships leave Port Canaveral between 3 and 4 PM and exceptions are incredibly rare.  While air travel is safe and the quickest way to get somewhere it isn’t always as punctual as we’d like it to be.  If you have no choice and have to fly in the same day as your cruise departs then a delay may mean missing your cruise.

Airline Delays and How to Handle Them

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It is no secret that airlines are subject to delays.  When it happens as part of business or regular vacation travel it’s a headache.  When it happens as part of a cruise vacation it means that you’re in danger of the ship you’ve booked nonrefundable passage upon sailing without you onboard.

One of the reasons this may happen is an overbooked flight.  In order to prevent aircraft taking off with empty seats airlines may sell more seats than are actually available on the plane.  If everyone shows up for the flight then there just aren’t enough seats, and someone is going to have to stay behind.  It’s an especially infuriating way to have your vacation interrupted, or ruined if you’re cruising on a tight schedule.

Fortunately in these circumstances there is something you can do.  US law requires that airlines ask for volunteers to miss their flights before they start involuntarily bumping people from their seats.  When you hear the request for volunteers come over the PA it should be your cue to immediately inform the front desk that you have a cruise ship waiting for you and will brook no delays.  Informing the reservation desk of your situation should do a lot to remove you from consideration for the bump.  It isn’t guaranteed though.  Whether you want to start loudly declaiming this to other passengers in the hopes they’ll volunteer is entirely up to you, but it couldn’t hurt

Unfortunately, this is probably the only time you’ll have this much control over the situation.  Planes are more usually delayed by safety considerations from weather or maintenance than they are by bull headed choices on the part of the airlines.  In these circumstances your options are limited.

Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate

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The first step when your flight is delayed due to unforeseeable circumstances is to take yourself to the airline’s service desk and find out what they’re doing to get passengers to their destinations.  Once again informing them that there is a cruise you’ve spent a considerable amount of nonrefundable money on waiting for you.  It may open doors that would otherwise remained closed.

Your second task is to call the cruise line you booked your cruise with, and that is only second in the sense that you should be calling them while on your way to stand in line at the airline customer service desk with the 100 or so unhappy customers who were supposed to be on your flight with you.

While cruise lines are under no obligation to refund your money they’re usually good for a credit to your next cruise.  In the case of shorter cruises sailing out of busy ports you may be able to catch the same cruise a day or two later, or one with a similar itinerary.  If you booked your air travel through the cruise line they will actually cover the expense of flying you to a port-of-call to meet the ship.  Whatever the consideration that might be extended to you is getting in contact with the cruise line early will help you, and speed the process.

Similarly, if you booked your cruise through an agent you should get in touch with them immediately.  They know the travel and cruise industry better than you do, and if there are alternatives available they’ll be the ones that can help you find it.

Finally, when you’re cruise is departing out of Port Canaveral there are three different international airports within an hour’s drive of the cruise terminal.  Orlando International Airport (MCO) is far and away the largest, but the nearby Sanford Orlando International (SFB), and Melbourne International Airport (MLB) (which may be changing its name to Orlando Melbourne soon) are major airports in their own right with relatively quick, easy travel to the port.  If any one of these are closed than it may be possible to find a serendipitous flight to one of the other two.  It is worth informing the parties you’re dealing with when trying to find another flight.

A Big Choice

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If all else fails and you’re ship has left without you then you’re left with a choice between two unpalatable options.  The first and likely cheapest option is to give up on the cruise entirely and return home for a staycation.  The second is to play catch the cruise ship as it heads from port to port.  Depending on how many bases you covered in advance this can be an expensive proposition.

If you bought a travel insurance policy you may be covered.  Trip cancellation and interruption is one of the primary coverage areas that travel insurance covers, but not always.  When buying a policy it is a good idea to read it thoroughly and ensure it covers everything you want it to.  If you’re flying cross country or internationally to board a cruise ship you will want to be sure it covers delays and cancellations.

Even if it does whether or not you can continue may depend of the company’s mechanism for coverage.  Some insurance companies pay for you, others reimburse you.  If it is the latter, and there isn’t enough money left in the kitty after paying for your cruise, the flights to get to it, the excursions, and all the rest then you may be out of luck.  Circumstances, that quite frankly, are heart-breaking just to think about.  It is for these reasons, and others, that it is advisable to bring a credit card that will at the very least cover the cost of a flight.

Missing a cruise due to flight delays does happen.  It is one of many reasons that the watch words for planning a cruise vacation are “know before you go”.  In cases of extreme bad luck it may not help you make your cruise, but it can be the difference of being able to try again and have an incredible vacation in the future, or having made big plans that nothing came of.

Your best guard against it is planning to arrive the day before your cruise departs.  It builds in plenty of time to recover from flight delays and cancellations.  We specialize in taking care of your accommodation and transportation needs before and after your cruise. We take extreme pride in our high level of customer service and no one has ever missed a cruise or a flight when they booked with us. If you’re planning to fly into Port Canaveral for a cruise our Fly Snooze Cruise packages start at just $95 and include everything you need for carefree cruise travel; hotel night, round-trip airport shuttle and cruise ship transfers for all members of your group.

 

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