Why should you seek out a cruise-oriented travel agent when you can book a cruise yourself? Because travel agents are the experts, and your next vacation should be one you will remember for a long time. Here are the top 5 reasons why a travel agent is your best bet for a memorable trip.
1. Cruises are more complicated than other vacation planning.
Unlike other means of travel, a cruise has many moving parts: the cruise line, the destination, which stateroom, the onboard amenities, the excursions, transportation to and from the port, if you are booking you, your family or as a group. Not all cruise ships are alike! Instead of researching every single cruise line to whittle it down, your travel agent can get to this information within minutes while chatting with you.
2. They will save you time.
Time is money. After a long day at work, do you want to sit for hours in front of a computer researching the cruise lines and scouring the internet for the best deals? Don’t worry, you won’t lose control of your vacation decisions. Speak with the travel agent about your interests, hobbies and expectations, and the agent will find the ship and itinerary suited for you. Your agent will narrow it down to what is the best fit—maybe even find cruises you didn’t know about!
The agent can arrange your airfare and transportation to and from the ship, help with pre- and post-cruise arrangements and can handle any change requests you may have. No need to wait on hold to deal directly with the cruise line. Contact your travel agent, and he or she will take care of it for you. An agent can also assist with special arrangements such as celebrations onboard or dietary and medical concerns.
3. They will save you money.
You may think that it would cost more to work with a travel agent than to do it all yourself. There actually isn’t a surcharge for using an agent. Yes, the agent will get his or her commission, but their fee comes from the cruise line, not your pocket.
The cruise lines communicate daily promotions to travel agents—sometimes they are the only ones privy to these special offers and you won’t be able to find such deals elsewhere. The agents also keep abreast on rule changes (like gratuity costs, dinner and drink packages, etc.) so you won’t have additional surprises when you embark.
Many times, travel agents are able to block out groups of staterooms on sailings and can book you into group rates that aren’t available to the general public. By booking these group rates, there may be special perks that are passed along to the people in these groups such as onboard spending money, pre-paid gratuities, upgrades, a free bottle of wine or photos, complimentary dinners at specialty restaurants, etc. It’s a win-win!
4. They have first-hand experience.
Are you looking for a party on the water, education and cultural experiences, or a tranquil, relaxing vacation? Do you want a stateroom with the best views, or are you prone to seasickness? Is this a bucket list cruise where the sky is the limit, or are you watching your pennies? The travel agent is trained in most, if not all of the cruise lines, and will remain impartial while matching you to the best cruises. Also, they tend to have sailed on many different cruise lines themselves, attended in-port ship inspections and can offer first-hand advice as well as advice from all their previous customers.
5. They have your back.
A travel agent will look out for your best interests as he or she is your customer service agent. Your agent will provide answers to all your questions and guide you through all steps of the booking process. They will make sure that you have all the proper documents, walk you through what you need to know before boarding, suggest the best travel insurance that meets your specific needs (and unlike some vacations, this insurance is highly recommended since, logistically, there is much more that can go wrong), remind you when payments are due, and book your excursions early. Since agents get daily alerts, they know ASAP about changes to itineraries, menus, health reports, etc.
Unforeseen problems may occur before, during or after your cruise. Bad weather, missed flights, illnesses, etc. Contact your agent to help resolve the problem. He or she doesn’t want you to have a bad experience, and he or she can intervene if a problem arises.
Hiring the right travel agent
Whether in person or on the phone, conduct an interview with the travel agent before committing to their services. Ask questions. Tell him or her your expectations. You’ll want someone you will be comfortable working with and who can provide you with the trip you want and expect. Once you start speaking to an agent about what you are looking for, he or she can lead you to the best match so you have the best experience.
As one of the country’s largest cruise retailers, Online Vacation Center is able to negotiate exclusive rates and special extras you won’t find anywhere else. Their dedicated team of Personal Vacation ManagersSM will handle every aspect of your cruise vacation, helping to assure you a fun and hassle-free travel experience. Your friendly and knowledgeable Personal Vacation Manager will work closely with you to identify your cruise interests and preferences and will help you find the best sailing at the best price.
The travel agent is your travel coordinator and can find you the best ship that suits your needs with the best excursions at the best prices. He or she may also be able to throw in some perks. Don’t pass up the opportunity to lean on someone with years of experience and knowledge for your next cruise!