Is free airfare too good to be true?

• On the other hand, the cruise line's air might entail a less desirable itinerary than one you could arrange yourself. The airline handling the cruise line's business, for example, might have only a lousy connection between your home and port, whereas you could arrange a nonstop on your own. And the cruise line's air option might not earn frequent flyer credit.

As with so much else, you face a trade-off. If you do decide to arrange your own air, you're probably better off padding your schedule, especially from your home to the departure port, as a guard against missing the departure because of a delay.

Read previous columns features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.

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