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I could write the answer to that question in one word – YES! A big ol’ resounding, shout it from the rooftops, please, please, please without a doubt use a travel agent to book a cruise.
I could end the post here. But I am going to take a few more words to answer some common misconceptions about the best way to book a cruise.
Should I use a travel agent to book a cruise?
Hands-down the best way (and only way, IMO) to book a cruise is going to be through your trusted travel advisor.
Cruises are not the type of vacation where you can just book and show up. Well, I mean I guess technically you can do that, but you are going to be wading through a ton of info, probably be shut out of excursions and coveted dining reservations, and you are more than likely going to be spending more money than necessary.
Having an advisor, a point person for this type of trip is such an invaluable resource!
As many of you know, I turned my passion for travel into a career as a travel agent with Paradise Travel. Honestly, this has been the best thing I’ve ever done and I really regret not taking this leap sooner! I am really good at researching, putting together, and booking trips, so getting paid to help others plan their fabulous vacations is such a great job for me.
Choosing a cruise can be tough. There are so many different lines and itineraries, different ships and room categories. Some lines have better food, more drink options, and more entertainment than others. Of course, there is your budget to consider as well!
For those reasons, it’s always best to consult with a travel professional to help find the perfect ship for you next vacation. And the best part? My services are free!
As I become more seasoned in the travel industry, the more I wonder why anyone would ever book a trip without using an advisor – especially a cruise!
It is true that about 75% of people who book cruises do so with an agent. In fact, the cruise lines WANT you to book with an agent.
Why? Because those who book through an agent are SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to enjoy the experience and become life-long cruisers!
Why use a travel agent to book a cruise?
When booking a cruise – you have three booking options. Let’s go through the choices and see why using a travel agent to book a cruise makes the most sense.
Choice 1 – Book a cruise online. This would cover booking a cruise through a third-party website or directly on the cruise lines’ website.
To choose your cruise, you would do all the research. You would have to study the itineraries, embarkation ports, look at the many different cruise lines and research the quirks of each individual ship. Let’s say you wanted to go to the Caribbean in March – you would have over 280 cruises to choose from!
Once you decide on which itinerary, which cruise line, and which ship you want to sail on, you have to choose your cabin. Did you know on a given ship there can be over 20 different types of cabins?
Okay so let’s say you do have hours to spend reading up on all the different ships and you find the one. You enter your credit card info into the booking engine and well, that’s is.
PS Is your deposit refundable? Did you read the terms and conditions? What is the fee if you need to make a change?
Once you book online, you will get an email confirmation and the rest is up to you.
How are you getting to the port? Are there any special restrictions regarding what can be brought on board? What should you pack for a cruise? When can you book shore excursions (different lines have different booking windows). What about drink packages and specialty dining? Again, each line does this differently. What if you need special meals or other special accommodations? How do you get your luggage tags? And what do you do with your bags at embarkation?
What if you have a question?
What if you need to make a change to the reservation?
And what if something goes wrong? Who is your point person to call?
Well, I think you get the idea. Booking a cruise online means A MOUNTAIN of research for the traveler and you are on your own FOR EVERYTHING.
I have no idea WHY anyone would go that route …
Choice 2 – Book a cruise over the phone directly with your favorite cruise line
Maybe you know what line you want to book with. Maybe you need help choosing a sailing, navigating all the room types and promotions. Calling into the cruise line and talking to one of the helpful representatives will walk you through the booking options. Again, you would have to know what line you were interested in or you are going to be making a lot of phone calls!
Once you book, and hang up the phone, well, then you are on your own. I love the cruise reps, I call into them all the time, and they are always so helpful with questions, but at the end of the day, they are not going to be calling you to see if you have your passports. Or emailing to check that you made your pre-cruise purchases. Or taking your phone call half an hour before you are supposed to depart to talk about where an Uber will be dropping you off at the pier (true story!).
I think you get the point …
Of course the cruise line will send you some automated emails about your sailing, but nothing personalized to YOUR vacation or what YOU might be interested in doing on board.
I mean I guess you could keep calling back with questions, but once you book, again, you are on your own to figure it all out!
Who has time for that?
Choice 3 – Call up your trusted travel advisor (ideally me) to help you book your cruise
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT MY TRAVEL PLANNING SERVICES AND TO GET IN TOUCH TO START BOOKING YOUR CRUISE
Cruises are not the type of vacation you can just book and show up. Well, technically you can do that, but there is much to plan in advance! By having some foresight you will most likely get the best prices on ship board experiences and not get shut out of things you want to do.
Did you know you can get discounts on things if you book them in advance of sailing?
Once you book a cruise, your vacation does require some forward planning in order to maximize your experience on board. Having an advisor, a point person for this type of trip is such an invaluable resource!
Even if you have sailed before, each line does it differently, and each ship has its own nuances. So never to late to start working WITH a travel advisor.
When we work together to book your cruise, here is the process:
- We will have an initial conversation about what type of cruise experience you are looking for. That involves logistics like vacation dates, budget, desired sailing length and regions of interest, but also involves finding out about your travel style and what you hope to experience on your cruise.
- I will then find several ships and itineraries that best match your desires, and help you look at different cabin categories within the ship. I will send you prices for the cabin, including info about promotions and extra fees associated with that choice (no fees for using a travel advisor though – our services are COMPLETELY FREE to the cruisers and even though you pay the SAME EXACT FARE you would pay by going directly through the cruise lines, using a personalized cruise planner does not cost you a DIME).
- Once you select the ship, sailing date and cabin, I go over all the pricing, deposit schedule, terms and conditions, as well as help you chose the best travel insurance to help you protect your vacation investment.
- Since I am a full service travel agent, at this time, I can add on any pre-or post cruise hotel stays and help with transportation to/from the embarkation port.
- After the deposit is made, I will alert you when two important dates approach. When final payment is due, and when your booking window opens to reserve shore excursions, dining and other on-board services (this is especially helpful on Disney Cruise Line as character meals, and on-board experiences such as Pirate Makeovers or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique book up very fast!)
- I can send you brochures on your ship and sailing, including destination information as well.
- I can talk you through any and all pre-cruise purchases such as drink packages, wine packages, photo packages, Wi-Fi plans… well I think you get the point!
- After final payment is made, I will advise you to check-in for your cruise. Yes, you can check-in well in advance of your departure date. REMEMBER only the guest can check-in for their cruise – only the passengers can accept the terms and conditions (otherwise I would do that for you as well!)
- Lastly, after I confirmed all the details of your reservation, ensured any special requests are noted, I will print your cruise documents. This is info from the cruise line, but also a packet from me with helpful information to maximize your time on board. I also put your paper luggage tags in these nifty cruise luggage tag holders and send them to you! I guarantee your online travel booking agent does NOT do that!
UPDATE: With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up, the cruise lines are for sure putting out new promos. I just re-priced the cabins I have clients booked on for spring and summer 2020, and the price went down over $400 for one family and almost $500 for the other! I called in, and got the new fare for the client.
I CAN GUARANTEE YOU YOUR ONLINE BOOKING SITE IS NOT DOING THIS FOR YOU! EITHER DOES THE CRUISE LINE WHEN YOU BOOK DIRECT!
Why Book a Cruise with Me?
First of all, I love cruising. I think cruising is a great vacation and you get so much for what you pay. I love being at sea, and visiting several places in one trip.
I have personally sailed and toured on all the major cruise lines – including during the Fall 2021 return to sea on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam, in January 2022 on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady ,in February 2022 on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas , in September 2022 on Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish and on the Celebrity Beyond in October 2022. I was also on the inaugural US sailing of the NCL Prima
Pre-pandemic, I also sailed on Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Virgin Voyages, Celebrity, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Throughout my cruising years, I have stayed in interior, ocean view and balcony rooms. I have cruised with significant others, adult family members, girlfriends, and with my own children. My cruise experience is vast and my cruise knowledge is deep.
I want your family to enjoy cruising as well!
As of this writing, I have a Ph.d from Norwegian Cruise Line University (yes, that’s a thing) That basically means I have completed the highest level of training they offer and have met a selling requirement.
I am also a Disney College of Knowledge graduate – a program that includes extensive training for Disney Cruise Line.
To date, I have clients who have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise line, Carnival Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line. I have lots of clients cruising this spring, and I’d love to add your family to that list of lucky cruisers!
Can I transfer a direct booking to a travel agent?
Now let’s say you have already booked your cruise but you want to use my complimentary cruise planning services as you go forward. No problem! We can work to transfer your booking to me – just send an email to get you started!
NOTE: Each cruise line has a particular window in which you can transfer a booking to an agent.
How to use a travel agent when I book onboard to get a discount on my next cruise
This is a great way to secure a discount on your next cruise. Each line does future cruising a little differently, but when you book a future cruise on board, be sure to mention me as your travel advisor. Your booking will be made, and then you will enjoy all the benefits of my complimentary services in preparation for your sailing!
If you have a CRUISE NEXT (or similar voucher) – meaning you deposited on a FUTURE CRUISE – let me know and I can help you choose your next sailing! Again, all the benefits of my cruise planning services, with NO FEE!
Cruising is great for all types of vacationers! There are short and long cruises, – there are cruises to all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica!), river cruises, expedition cruises, small yacht sailings, Caribbean itineraries, Alaska sailings, and ones that go around the world – that is definitely on my bucket list! At sea, there is truly the perfect trip for you, just be sure to use a travel agent to help you book your cruise vacation!