How To Choose The Right Travel Agent For The Very Best Cruise Experience

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 29th, 2010

Choosing a travel agent should be easy. Go to travel agents that specialize in cruising. I cannot stress this enough. There agencies that book cruises only and then there are agents within Travel Agencies that are specialists in cruising. Either one of these will fit the bill.

Ask the agent a lot of questions, like what cruise lines that agent has sailed on? They should be very knowledgeable about all the aspects of cruising- food, activities, entertainment, the size of the cabins available, the size of the ship, what kind of facilities and the clientele. To be really sure of the agents? expertise, ask for a CLIA accredited agent.

Ask about a variety of cruises, not just one or two lines. Some agents push one or two lines because they either have booked a big block of space on a ship or they get a higher commission from a particular cruise line, they call these their ?Preferred Suppliers?. Ask them who their Preferred Suppliers are and what lines they have personally sailed on. Many times it will be the Preferred Suppliers but you want someone who has experienced many cruise lines.

Cruise Tip: When choosing an agent, ask how long she/he has worked for the agency. You want one that has been there at least two years, has been on several lines, and can answer all of your questions. It is not realistic to expect the agent to have sailed on all of the cruise lines but you want one that has sampled many.

There are a couple of tricks to get the best priced cruise. Go to one Travel Agent who specializes in cruises; go through the options available for the type of cruise you want. After the agent has narrowed it down she/he will than say it?s time to call the lines and check for availability. The next step is to put a hold on the cabin which she will put in your name. Normally the cruise line will hold a cabin for a week. .

Go home and call another cruise agency and ask for their cruise specialist. Give that agency the same information along with the price quoted by the first agent. See if this agent can beat the price. If she can, go back to the first agent and tell her your mother, sister, friend, was able to get a better price and can she meet that price. Chances are she will, especially if she has placed you on a Preferred Supplier. Don?t feel bad about this. You will probably book with the first agent, and the second agent did not do any work except make a phone call. This will also let you know if the first agent did a good job. If agent number 2 can?t beat the price or quotes you a higher price, bingo, you?ve got yourself a great agent in on the first try.

The third thing you will want to do is check the internet for any deals on that particular ship. You can check by search engine or by going to the individual cruise lines website.

Your local newspaper will have a cruise travel section with lots of ads for cruises and will list discount fares. Or go to your local bookstore and browse the Magazine section for Cruise related publications. And of course the Cruise lines all have websites where you can book directly. But if you are a new cruiser it is best to go to a Travel Agent that knows cruising and can answer all your questions including the pro and cons of each and every cruise line.

Cruise Tip: If you are strictly looking for price, go to travel agents that have booked large blocks of rooms on a particular cruise and they will be able to give you a good discount. Just make sure that this is the type of cruise you want to take. Consider the ships ?personality?. There are ships that are completely casual all of the time, or ships that promote partying, and ships were people are elegantly dressed all of the time. Choosing your cruise style is one of the first things you should decide, this will help the Travel Agent find the ideal ship for you.
Copy the list below and take them with you when you visit your chosen Travel Agency (write answers below questions):
1. What is the total price for the cruise? It should include port charges, air fare and transfers to and from the airport.
2. Can any money be saved by traveling on a different cruise line with similar amenities or if I traveled at a different time of year?
3. Does the agency have a way of checking if the rate drops as the cruise date nears? If so, will the travel agent automatically lower my fare?
4. Does the cruise line offer travel insurance and what kind if they do? Does the agency offer insurance or know a reputable company?
5. What is the last day you can cancel without penalty? What are the penalties?
6. What proof of citizenship is expected? What other documents will I need?
7. If I want to change the itinerary or go earlier or stay later is that possible?
8. Who will make my airline reservations? When can I get seat assignments?
9. Find out where your cabin will be and if it is close to the dining room, the elevator, the disco, the pool etc. Ships are large and there will be considerable walking.
10. Arrange with the agent what type of beds you want, queen or twin.
11. Tell the agent when you want to dine and how large the table should be.
12. If purchasing an outside cabin has the agent checked to make sure the view is not obstructed? If this doesn?t matter to you, you may be able to save some money by booking an obstructed view.
13. What are the weight restrictions if you are flying to the port?
14. When will I get my travel documents?
15. If you have a special diet request make it now.
16. If it is your honeymoon have the travel agent notify the cruise line. The lines usually have special gatherings for newly weds.
17. If you are traveling in a large group the cruise line should also be notified.
18. If you have any special needs such as cribs or baby food now is the time to have the agent tell the cruise line.
19. If you have a health issue, ask about the infirmary
20. Do they have any cruise reviews that you can see or get a copy of?

These questions and the information above will aide you in finding the right Travel agent to book your cruise vacation. Just a little bit of work and then you can Set Sail!
Happy Cruising!
Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.
This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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