When you’re ready to book a cruise vacation, where do you turn? To an online booking engine like Travelocity? To a garden-variety travel agency like the neighborhood AAA office? Straight to the cruise line? Or to a real, genuine cruise agent? If you select one of the first three, you’re making a big and possibly costly mistake. It takes a cruise agent to lead you to the best buys and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities–and neither of the other three booking options will do.
Why? It’s simple, really. A real bonafide cruise agent is a specialist. He or she knows cruise lines and cruise ships and knows them inside and out. These specialists know when and where the best buys are, what your cruise experience will be like, what cabin you want and who you’ll be sailing with.
The problem with going straight to the cruise line is simple–no one there will ever suggest another cruise line. Most won’t even suggest an alternative ship or sailing date even if it would result in savings for you.
The full-line travel agent may sell a cruise or two now and then, but they don’t watch the market, study the ships and stay abreast of the industry and because they don’t specialize in cruising, they’re not likely to earn the biggest discounts for their clients that the cruise ships offer to the specialty agencies.
As for the online booking engines? Forget about it! You’ll never get the best price and no one will call you with an update if the price goes down, or there’s a change in sailing schedule or ports of call. It’s even possible that a ship you’ve booked on could be chartered by nudist yodelers–and no one would tell you until you were onboard.
My favorite cruise agent, Patrick Crane, takes extraordinary care of his passengers. Not only does he get them the best possible price, he monitors the fare they paid and should a price go down before they sail, he’ll get them the lower price. (Hear that, Orbitz??) If there’s a change in a sailing, he’s on top of it immediately.
One client was booked on a cruise on Royal Caribbean in Asia. Patrick learned that the cruise was going to be conducted in Japanese for the convenience of most of the passengers, but knowing his clients expected an English-language cruise, he was able to intervene and help them change to another itinerary.
Just last week, Patrick got a call from Celebrity, offering an upgrade for a passenger booked on a Hawaii cruise. For a modest fee, his passengers could move from a Sky Suite to the Royal Suite! He called them immediately and now they’ll be sailing in a 512-square foot, three-room suite with a double balcony! No online booking engine would have called with that offer!
A few months ago, Patrick noticed a price drop for a client and was able to save her more than $600. No cruise line would have made that offer, rather they would have moved her up a deck or two and called it an upgrade.
So next time the urge to sail away hits, call a cruise specialist. Patrick Crane’s 7 Seas Cruises, for example. Call 1-866-424-1090 or visit the website at www.7seascruises.com. You’re about to get the best service of your life–and pay less for a cruise than you thought possible because you’ll be dealing with a genuine cruise agent!