Saturday, April 26, 2014

How Do I Book A Cruise

People ask me this all the time.  Probably at least five times a week.  It isn't a easy question to answer.  

How do I book a cruise, is easy, but how should you book a cruise could be very different.

For me I book thru an online travel agency I have used for a long time.  

I have a specific agent I use all the time.  Connie knows me and takes very good care of me.  I have cruised over 60 times and know the industry quite well.  I know the cruise line I want.  I know the type of ship I want.  I know the type of cabin I want.  And I feel very comfortable navigating the web to find and answer most of my own questions.  

So the answer I give on How Do I Book A Cruise is easy.  I book with Best Price Cruises.  

But before you go and search out Best Price Cruises make sure you are like me and can answer many of the reasons above with yes.  

If you answer no to more than two of the above reasons I recommend the following:

Find a reputable travel agency that knows cruising, trust me not all of them do.  Ask your friends for a recommendation. Find one that you can walk in and go and chat with them. 

Not all agencies are alike and it is key to find one that you can head to or call easily to answer any questions you might have.

A good agency won't just book you on a cruise that is having the best deal they will ask you questions about what your needs are and what you look for in a vacation.  Not all cruise lines are the same, not all itineraries are the same and are suitable for everyone.  

Note our last cruise to South America that was 49 days would not be a good cruise if you are bringing small children.  I think I could count the number of kids on one hand, therefore your kid would be bored stiff.

As many of you know Princess Cruise line is our cruise line of choice, it suits us.  We have been on other lines and even though they were good they were not for us.  This means that Princess may not be necessarily the line for you.  A good agent will fit the right line for you and your travel companions.

Also a good agent will find you the best cabin type for your needs as well.  Would an inside cabin be okay with you and then save the difference?  Or is this a trip that a balcony is the only way to go?  Or is it a special trip that a mini suite or full suite could make the trip EXTRA special?  Also they will make sure the cabin location is also the right location for you.  They also can help explain what a cabin guarantee means.

I have even heard of agents that enter all your data into your cruise personalizer, print out your boarding pass and luggage tags.  Have it all together neat and tidy with sometimes extras like luggage tags, luggage straps and even some have all kinds of gifts if you are on one of their group cruises.

The last choice is going directly with the cruise line to book your cruise.  Now I know many people who do this with no issues whatsoever and wouldn't change how they book. But I have to say that booking with an agency will be far better.  

It will never cost you more than booking directly with a cruise  line.  In fact it often costs you less that booking directly.  Agencies have a lot of booking power and can often get great deals on many sailings.  And many times they have bonuses that you rarely see thru the cruise line. Like on board credits, bottles of wine, small gifts etc.  It is important to note that agencies can not advertise online their best deal.  Often you need to enter some details and they will email your their best quoted price.

When you book directly with the cruise line you don't have anyone protecting your interests.  A good agent will ensure you are taken care of.  If there are any issues they will deal with it directly with the cruise line.  And trust me things happen.  I know my agent has worked very hard for us.  I recall one time them calling Princess directly to get something corrected which was really my fault.  Connie my travel agent reminded Princess how often I have sailed with them and how dedicated I am to their brand, and the issue was resolved and I even got a bottle of champagne when I got on from Princess welcoming me back and thanking me for my continued loyalty. 

No matter which way you book, it is important that you ask lots of questions to your agent and that you read all the important information on your cruise personalizer.  Make sure all travel documents are taken care of.  Make sure you have proper passports, visas, or anything else you may need.  A good travel agent will make sure you are aware of this.

So head out and book a cruise, and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. I agreed with you that using an independent agent who knows cruises well is much better in terms of price, and complimentary gifts. Our gent gave us wine, photo frame, and a photo during our recent cruises.