Canceled flights: Don’t let them make you miss the cruise

If your plans for an upcoming cruise include flying to the port in the next few days, odds are your flight could be delayed. With the massive storm crippling travel throughout the US and canceling thousands of flights, service could be disrupted for several days. What hurts is knowing that at the end of the day you could be in sunny Florida or some other fair-weather area, if you can only get there. Savvy travelers know a few golden rules of doing a cruise vacation in the Winter that can increase the odds of making it to the port and keep you confident of your travel plans should a storm develop.

Buy travel insurance and know how to use it. Travel insurance on flights only is cheap but just one step towards what you need. The problem here is not that you are unable to make the flight, but that you might miss the ship. Carefully consider your insurance options. The best option is not always the cruise line insurance. Every insurance company has a toll-free 800-number to call with your “What if?” questions. Do that. Make sure you understand what happens if you miss the the ship and what your options are. In most cases, travel insurance reimburses you for covered expenses. You will need to have funds available to cover those expenses as they occur. If you thought ahead and bought travel insurance, you might be covered as many policies include protection against flight delays. Finding another flight might be a different story altogether though.Have a back-up plan. A good idea when flying during a time when flight delays are likely is to have backup flights already planned. It’s easy enough to do too. If you book your own airfare, make note of those other fights that didn’t seem quite so convenient compared to the flights you selected when you bought them. Later on, if your flight is delayed or canceled, those you passed on the first time may look really good.

Fly in the day before. This is a good idea no matter when you fly and from where. It gives you a huge cushion of time to absorb flight delays or cancellations. Consider the time of year you are flying too. Wise cruise passengers traveling this week might have arrived at their embarkation city two or more days in advance if their schedules could swing it. Doing that also puts what can be a long travel day behind you and allows you to wake refreshed and ready to board the ship. That first day on any ship can be a long one. Get the most out of it by being fully energized before boarding.

Know the route, driving. As a last resort, a long drive to the port, made longer by bad weather is another option. I know of cruise passengers who drove from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Miami last year, 23 hours straight through, when all flights were cancelled without any sign of relief until after their ship would have sailed away. These are hearty people who just would not accept “No cruise for you” in any shape or form.