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CRUISE PLUS: FLIGHTS
growing cruise market. And that
means more Australians than ever
before are flying to cruise destinations. More
than a quarter of a million passengers flew to
favourites like Europe, Asia, Alaska and the
Caribbean last year. And the trend has not
gone unnoticed among the airlines servicing
the holiday sector.
Qantas is one. Along with a new
partnership with Emirates since April 2013,
the Flying Kangaroo dipped its toe into the
world of cruising in early 2014 with a new
service in conjunction with CruiseGuru.
com.au that allows customers to book cruise
holidays through the Qantas website – and
to earn frequent flyer points when they do.
With the Mediterranean ranking as the
top long-haul destination for Australian
cruisers, Emirates is also benefiting. It is one
of the world’s fastest-growing airlines and
the world’s largest operator of the Boeing
777 and Airbus A380. Its Dubai hub is
emerging as the stopover of choice for many
travellers en route to Europe to cruise.
Between them, Qantas and Emirates
offer 14 flights a day from Australia, with
onward connections to a growing number
of key destinations including London, Paris
and Frankfurt, and cruising hubs such as
Barcelona, Venice and Amsterdam.
But Singapore Airlines is a major
competitor and the preferred partner of
many cruise lines, particularly those with
ships on European rivers.
Asia has rebounded in popularity.
Cruise lines are expanding itineraries from
Singapore and Hong Kong, and Royal
Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas will make
Shanghai its home port from May 2015.
Following the launch of the new Marina
Bay Cruise Centre two years ago, Singapore
is aiming to become the top fly-cruise hub
in Asia, with more than a little help from its
Conveniences already in place for cruise
passengers include direct baggage transfers
between Changi Airport and Marina Bay,
cruise check-in facilities at the airport and
check-in counters at the cruise terminal
for passengers with departing flights on
Singapore Airlines and its regional carrier,
Silk Air. Singapore Airlines also has a
new cruise partner in CruiseEscapes.com.
au, allowing KrisFlyer members to earn or
redeem miles when they book a cruise holiday.
Cruise companies have realised the flight
can be a scene-setter for the whole holiday
experience. Which is why many now package
cruise-and-flight deals – and use “fly free” or
“early bird” flights as part of their marketing.
Overseas, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity
have their own ChoiceAir program with
flight cost guarantees. Carnival Cruise Lines’
Fly Aweigh program guarantees that if
something goes wrong they will fly you to
the next port of embarkation.
Princess Cruises’ eZair allows passengers
to choose from preferred airlines and
schedules, meaning you can access discounts
and fly early for a longer break. Norwegian
Cruise Line’s Air/Sea program reserves the
right to choose the carrier and the routing.
So are passengers better off going it alone
Airlines are jockeying to woo cruise passengers with early-bird
offers. But read the small print on special deals and remember:
nobody really flies for free.
or using the power of cruise lines to negotiate
a better price? Well, it depends. Preferred
deals with airlines undoubtedly mean your
cruise company or agent is getting a better
deal. But the price is rarely broken down, so
you won’t know if it is being passed on.
More important still is to ensure that the
flights are locked into your schedule. Some
agents move flights at will to get even better
discounts – and often passengers have signed
waivers, meaning there is nothing they can do.
Passenger forums contain many tirades
about early morning or late night flights, seat
changes and charges. So read the small print.
And talk to your CLIA-accredited travel
agent. And if you decide to be your own
agent, remember to check all connections.
There’s nothing worse than being delayed,
missing your ship – and having no one to
blame but yourself.
‘There are early-bird
deals that sometimes
allow you to buy
business class seats
at a discount.’
Upgrade, sir? Only if you’re in our club
T here was a time when
turned up late and
wore suits in the hope of getting
a free upgrade.
But in today’s world, where
loads are carefully worked out
and airlines understand the value
of loyalty, you’ll only be upgraded
in very special circumstances.
Joining the airlines’ frequent
flyer programs is essential. And
travelling enough to upgrade
your status to silver, platinum or
whatever precious metal they
are using to describe status these
days, is almost a given.
You can upgrade your ticket on
check-in and pay the difference
between the two fares in cash.
But this only works if there’s a seat
available, and the upgraded seat
won’t necessarily be offered at a
The most common way to
upgrade is to use frequent flyer
miles. It’s an option offered by all
the premium airlines, and most
have at least a couple of seats on
a flight for mileage upgrades.
But not all tickets are
eligible (including heavily
discounted ones) and you can
only upgrade if you have booked
your flight directly with the
airline. If you bought the ticket
through a travel agent, you will
need to go back to them to make
There are also different rules
for each airline – and sometimes
bonuses. For example, if you’re
a member of Singapore Airlines’
KrisFlyer program, you’ll get a
15 per cent discount on the
number of miles required if you
use miles to upgrade.
If Emirates is your airline of
choice, passengers can upgrade
on any type of ticket as late as six
hours before departure, and silver,
gold and platinum members can
upgrade on the flight.
For the dedicated cruiser who
plans ahead, there are early-bird
deals that sometimes allow you
to buy business class seats at a
discount. If you really don’t want
to rough it, this is probably the
best way to go.
CRUISE PLUS: FLIGHTS
High life... Etihad’s Diamond
First Class service; (left) the
bedroom in the airline’s
sumptuous The Residence
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