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Flight tips: Getting to a Europe repo cruise, traveling with prescription meds

Again this week, we have two shorter questions: one about one-way flights to Europe, the other about flying with prescription drugs.

“Positioning” yourself for a repositioning cruise

If you’re planning a transatlantic repositioning cruise from Europe to the U.S. this fall, you’re in that minority of readers who need a one-way trip from Europe—plus, possibly, a one-way back home from the U.S. terminal port in Florida. A reader recently posted:

“We booked a transatlantic cruise on the Carnival Splendor that leaves from Rome on October 29. It returns to Ft. Lauderdale November 15. Can you recommend the best way to plan for travel to Rome and back to San Jose from Florida?”

As usual, “best” often depends on the trade-off between price and convenience. Here are the basic options:

  • Cruise line’s air: Some cruise lines offer their own air package from the U.S. to the European departure port and back home from the U.S. arrival port. In this case, Carnival offers air to Europe and from Florida to San Francisco for an additional $920 per person. Where available, that fare should be your baseline for comparison.
  • Major airlines to Europe: I checked with Vayama, a site that specializes in international fare searches, and it found mid-October fares from San Francisco (for San Jose) to Rome starting at $650 plus tax on KLM nonstop to Amsterdam, connecting to Rome. Presumably, you can use your favorite fare search engine to check similar fares from your home airport and to other European port cities.
  • Aer Lingus: The Irish airline is unique among established transatlantic airlines in that all its fares are sold one-way. On that line I found October fares starting at $315 from San Francisco to Dublin, plus €39 (about $58; check for current exchange rates) from Dublin to Rome, both plus tax. Aer Lingus serves several other U.S. gateways, and it also offers through fares from many more; it serves much of Europe on continuing flights from Dublin. Aer Lingus is always a “must check” for one-way transatlantic trips. The line’s website is quirky, and you may have to price tickets to and from Dublin separately.
  • Other low-fare lines: If you can find your way to Montreal or Toronto, Zoom Airlines flies nonstop to Rome at fares from $299 CAD (about $292 U.S.; check for current exchange rates) plus tax. And Italian low-cost line Eurofly flies nonstop from New York to Rome, starting at $434, although the total price is obviously higher than on Aer Lingus. You’d have to add in whatever it would cost to get to Montreal, New York, or Toronto, and you’d have to claim and recheck your baggage at one of those gateways.
  • Back home: From Ft. Lauderdale to San Jose, United is quoting fares starting at $139. Southwest is matching, but only through August—Southwest doesn’t quote or book fares beyond six months.
    In this case, our reader’s least expensive option would be on Aer Lingus plus United or Southwest. But all the options beat the cruise line’s air package.

Although these suggestions refer narrowly to our reader’s trip specifics, these basic strategies should apply anywhere you start and complete your cruise. I’m hoping that the new open-skies agreement with Europe will open the skies specifically to new low-fare lines. For now, however, these are the best options.

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