Friday, July 27, 2012

Three Hints on how to cope with flying when you’re going on a cruise

Most people don’t associate Cruises with flying. It’s understandable, how can you fly when you’re in the middle of the sea? Quite clearly you can’t, yet there’s a growing trend in the world of cruising towards something called “Fly-Cruises”. Sound a bit complicated? Don’t worry it’s not. It simply means that rather than heading to your nearest port to catch whatever cruises are available, you jump on a plane to the area you want to cruise around and then get on the ship. Simples really!

The growth of this type of cruising though means that there are new issues to be dealt with. After all, catching a plane to another country can be complicate din itself. Throw in a cruise time table and everything becomes very messy very quickly if you aren’t prepared!
To help with these problems, here are three relatively easy and simple tips for you to consider before jetting off to foreign shores:

1      1)      Pack your bags carefully and only bring what you need.

We’ve all been there. Struggling to close our suitcases due to taking too much stuff and having to make that agonising decisions about whether our favourite shirt or dress is with taking out to fit in our toiletries. Normally this isn’t an issue with cruises. There aren’t any weight limits, and you can just shove everything in your car, park up at the cruise terminal long term parking hop aboard with your stuff and you’re sorted! Fly-cruises mean you have to get on a plane though, and that means there are weight limits. So what do you bring?

Here’s where you need to do some research, as it all boils down to bringing only what you need, and what you know you’ll wear. You may love your favourite hoody, but if you’re cruising the Caribbean are you really going to wear it? Answer: No. Take it out of the suitcase. Make sure you pack for the climate of the place you’re going. I’ve been on cruises where I’ve seen middle aged men wearing Hawaiian shirts; fine if it’s the Mediterranean in the middle of summer, not so good when it’s around the Baltic Sea at Christmas.

The second thing to consider when packing for your fly cruise is what sort of cruise is going on? Take a look at this picture.  Seems quite swanky doesn’t it? It is, and if you’re travelling on the ship that dining room is on, you need to have smart clothes (we’re talking Top hat and tails smart, not just a tucked in t -shirt and a tie). So make sure you do some research on the cruise line and look into what sort of dress code they have. Some cruise lines, like NCL, are really relaxed about dress code and couldn’t care less, others are stricter. So do some research on the cruise lines and find out whether you need to pack a suit. After all, why bother bringing one if you aren’t going to need it?

1       2)      Consider booking your flight so you’re in the country of departure a few days before you need to get on the cruise.

One of the downsides of cruises is that you might not get the opportunity to see as much of a place as you would otherwise like. With only a day (or two if you’re lucky) to spend you’re almost certain to miss out on something.  So why not consider flying out a few days before you’re due to set sail?

Fly-Cruises let you start your vacation somewhere exotic, so why not take the time to actually explore the city you’ll start your journey from? You still won’t see everything, but a few busy days of tourist activities will mean you’ll appreciate the luxury of your cruise ship that much more as you kick back and relax on the deck side pool.

The other issue that flying in early can solve is the risk of flight delays meaning you miss the cruise. Can you imagine that? Forking out all that money on a cruise only for some bad weather, dodgy engine or something birds on the run way making you miss the cruise? It doesn’t bear thinking about, so why take the risk? Fly in early, enjoy the sites and casually make your way to the ship when the departure date arrives. Genius!

1     3)      Book the flights yourself. Don’t go with the cruise line.

When it comes to fly cruises there are two options. Do you book the flights yourself or do you let the cruise lien you’re travelling with do it? Answer? It depends. Personally I prefer to do it myself. It works out cheaper ( the cruise lines will put you with a company like British Airways even if a cheaper Easy jet Flight is available) and gives you the opportunity to explore the city you’re leaving from.

There are strong arguments to letting the cruise lines handle the flights however. For instance, my advice of arriving early and sating a few days before the cruise assumes you’ve got the money to do so. If you don’t then going with the cruise lines is the best way forward. You’ll arrive on the same day as the cruise, but often transport to the cruise terminal will be provided. There’s also the added insurance that if the worst happens and your plane is delayed  and you might miss getting onto the cruise ship on time, they’ll either delay the departure of the ship ( if you’re on a charter flight they’ve specifically booked) or provide you with flights to one of the other ports where you can board the ship later on in the cruise.

Steven Haynes Works in the Cruise Industry, and spends pretty much all of his time at work writing, reading and learning about cruises. 



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