Q: Am I better off buying airfare for my upcoming cruise through the cruise line or on my own? My initial check seems to show that the cruise line isn't offering any bargains.

A: Airfares bought through a cruise line as part of your cruise package are sometimes more expensive that what you might be able to arrange on your own. However, should there be a problem with your flights and you miss the boat, the cruise line will arrange, in most cases, to fly you to the next port of call on the itinerary at their expense, or if enough passengers are on the delayed flight they might even hold the ship. If you buy airfare on your own, you are on your own, and it's a good idea to buy travel insurance.

And it's also a great idea to arrive at your port of embarkation at least a day before the ship leaves in order both to see some of the departure city and more importantly to build in some insurance in case your flight is delayed or cancelled, especially in winter. You might also want to overnight in the final city on the cruise in case the ship is delayed due to engine problems or other unforeseen circumstances.

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