Ask almost anyone what the least appealing aspect of their recent cruise vacation was and you are likely to hear something to do with air travel. Either you or your shipmates had a miserable time waiting in long lines at the airport, flights were delayed, or maybe your luggage was lost. There's so much confusion in the skies that many cruisers are willing to forego the "convenience" of flying and brave the Interstate system to get to their Embarkation Ports
Even with the price of gas creeping higher every day, hitting the road can still be less expensive than air fare for a family that needs to get to port. We've been road tripping for several years now and from our home in east-central Georgia we've driven to Norfolk, Baltimore, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, and even New Orleans. All things considered, we've found it doesn't take much longer to drive than fly. Since we always arrive at our embarkation port a day ahead of sailing, we've already factored at least one night in a hotel into our travel budget. While we probably wouldn't take to the highway if we were embarking in Los Angeles or Seattle, there's a lot to be said for eliminating the hassle factor of flying. I've seen numerous comments online in the past few days from others who feel the same way we do. It's no surprise that they report plans to drive to Florida from northeastern states and from the midwest to Galveston.
However, not everyone's in a position to drive and then there are those European cruises we'd all like to experience. Unfortunately, we can't drive to Italy or Spain. Overseas flights are long and uncomfortable and getting more expensive by the day, especially with all the add-ons that drive up the cost. It came as no surprise to us that Carnival Cruise Lines is pulling Carnival Freedom from European service next summer and deploying it year-round in the Caribbean. (For details about Carnival Freedom's new itineraries, see CruiseDiva.com's Cruise News.) While we don't view that move as an industry-wide trend, we do think Carnival may be ahead of the curve regarding their North American sourced market. Airlines are grounding planes and those still in the air are flying full. Fewer seats means higher fares for the ones still available, perhaps too high for many Americans' wallets.
Airlift has always been an important component of a cruise vacation. However, with "homeland" cruising we can still enjoy our vacation even if there are fewer air options to get to port.
Cruisers, start your engines.