1. Use Caution When Booking Your Flights
Consider flying to your cruise's departure homeport 1-2 days prior to your cruise vacation. This will give you extra time if your flight is delayed or late. Do not fly in the morning or day of your cruise because if your flight gets delayed you could miss getting on your cruise ship. Arriving at your cruise's departure homeport a day or two early, would reduce the chances of you missing your cruise because of a flight delay. While you might have to pay for a hotel room because you arrived before the day of your cruise, this extra cost may be worth the peace of mind that your flight will not be a reason to miss your cruise. Arriving early will also give you an opportunity to see the sights and attractions located around your cruise departure homeport!
On the last day of your cruise, book a flight that departs well after you get off your cruise ship. Keep in mind that you must allow time to disembark the cruise ship, go to the airport, and check-in at the airport. Also, cruise ships can be delayed docking due to various reasons. Do not assume that your cruise ship will be 100% on-time because delays could occur! Consider contacting your cruise line for their recommendations on the earliest flight times they recommend for flying out after the cruise ends.
2. You Will Go Through Airport Security For Your Flight And Cruise Ship Security For Your Cruise
Since you are flying, you will have to go through airport security before your flights. Also, before your cruise you will have to go through security too. For both, make sure you follow all directions and do NOT bring prohibited items. Items that you may be allowed to have for your flight may not be allowed on your cruise ship (and vise versa). Make sure you know what is prohibited or not for each to avoid having security problems.
3. Be Early: Arrive At the Airport Prior To Your Designated Time
Depending on your airline and where you are flying from, you may be required to be at the airport a certain amount of time early. This time could depend on if your flight is international or domestic.
Keep in mind that you will need plenty of time before your flight for check-in, getting through security, and/or checking your bags in. In addition, keep in mind traffic around your airport could be heavy or backed up, which could mean it will take more time for you to park or get dropped off.
4. Your Cruise Line's Luggage Policy Will Most Likely Not Be Similar To Your Airline's Policy
I have never heard of a cruise line that charges for bags and suitcases, but I have heard of many airlines that do charge for bags and suitcases. Typically, most cruise lines ask suitcases only be a certain size in order to get through security. There are many airlines that charge per suitcase or based on a suitcase's weight. Make sure you plan your vacation packing accordingly to try to minimize the number of bags/suitcases that you will have to pay for. For your post-cruise return flight, keep in mind that your suitcases may be heavier if you bought things to take home from the cruise ship or your ports of call.
5. Is It Possible To Book Flight Packages Through My Cruise Line?
There are many cruise lines that will sell pre or post cruise flight packages. If you are interested in this, I recommend checking with your cruise line. Some cruise lines will also sell shuttle packages too.