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Should I book the cruise line’s airport transfers?

by Mat Probasco | July 26, 2016

You've booked your plane tickets and your cruise, and you've made your in-port plans. Now, you're going through your last checklist of things to do, and you wonder ... Should I take a taxi from the airport to the ship? Or is booking a transfer through the cruise line the better way to go? Here, four questions to ask before you make your decision:

Are you worried about the stress of figuring out your transportation on the spot? 

With all of the possible variables that could go wrong in flying to meet the ship, the idea of having a dedicated transfer ready and waiting can be reassuring. That said, even the biggest cruise lines don't offer transfers from all airports near a port, and some don't even have a list on their websites. Call and ask what your line offers. In addition, be aware that most cruise lines' transfers generally stop in the early afternoon. Travelers on later flights are on their own and will need to hustle to get to the ship on time. A similarly small window of operation — a few hours after arrival — is true on the return trip.

Which option will save you money? 

It varies port to port and line to line, but cruise line transfers look pretty good for a solo traveler, so-so for couples, and maybe a bit pricey for groups.

For example, Carnival Cruise Line offers a $30-per-person ride from JFK Airport to the Port of New York, one way. The taxi fare is roughly $52. However, New York law allows up to four people in most cabs, so letting the cruise line handle your transfer saves solo travelers money but costs a family of four a lot extra. 

Royal Caribbean International, by comparison, doesn't offer transfers from JFK. Instead, it refers passengers to a car service with rates that range from $101 for the classic in-airport pickup by a driver holding a sign with your name on it, down to $69 for someone to just meet you outside. That's more than the cost of a taxi. 

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) only offers transfers to the Port of New York from LaGuardia Airport. The dedicated shuttle is $40 per person, one way.

The prices go down, of course, on the most frequently traveled routes. NCL's shuttle in Miami, for example, is just $16 per person. It's 50 cents more for Carnival's.

Mat Probasco

Mat Probasco is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for the Associated Press.

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