What can a travel agent do that I can’t when it comes to booking a cruise?
In an age when we’re all more confident than ever going it alone, it’s a question that crops up often. But while a weekend away is easy enough to arrange, booking your dream cruise without some insider help can leave you feeling all at sea before you’ve even stepped foot on the ship. We may be biased, but all the evidence points to travel agents being more necessary than ever when it comes to booking a cruise. Here’s why…
All ships aren’t created equal
There is a cruise ship for everyone but finding the one that floats your boat can be a bit of a minefield. Avid sailor seeking a castaway experience in the Caribbean? Tall ship sailing with Star Clippers could be right up your street. Fancy an adrenaline-fuelled escape to the Mediterranean with the kids? Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line will banish boredom from their vocabulary with action-packed ships. Looking for all-out luxury? Silversea or Regent Seven Seas Cruises will appeal to your penchant for the finer things in life.
There are countless cruise ships out there and only a travel agent has the experience to find your perfect match. Travel agents have experienced the ships they are selling, so you can skip the hours of online research and talk to someone who has seen exactly what is on offer and has the expertise to matchmake you with a ship that will knock your socks off.
There’s an itinerary for everyone but not anyone
While the Caribbean is heaven on earth, culture vultures who can’t sit still might lament its lack of history and architecture. Adventurers will appreciate cruises to the Norwegian Fjords, where excursions are often more active, while those with a bucket list in mind might fancy a cruise and stay package, combining a land-based holiday with a cruise to Asia. Throw in the potential hazards of trying to plan a multi-generational trip with grandparents and extended family in tow, and finding an itinerary to suit them all, and having a travel agent on hand to do the hard work for you seems more appealing than ever. No amount of online research or word of mouth recommendations can compete with the experience of an expert.
It’s all about the money
There’s no doubt about it; booking your hotel and flights separately can save you some serious spondoolies compared to package holidays that take the hard work out. But when it comes to cruising, you need the heavyweight of an agent behind you to scour the many operators around for the best deals. From Bolsover Cruise Club’s exclusive Cruise Club Cashback to special perks like free gifts and extra discounts, the close relationship agents have with cruise lines means that they can almost always offer promotions that just aren’t available when you go direct.
Knowledge is power
Midships or aft? Seaview or obstructed balcony? Freedom dining or traditional? And what on earth is a muster drill?!
There’s a whole list of terms you’ll come across in cruising, describing everything from the cabin you book to what time you dine and whether you’ll disembark in destinations via a gangway or tender boats. Cruise jargon doesn’t help matters when you’re attempting to negotiate the waters of booking a cruise alone but it’s like a second language to cruise agents. They’ll tell you in an instant where you’ll get the best nights’ sleep on board and whether freedom dining or traditional will best satisfy that appetite after a day ashore. A good travel agent also makes light work of visa requirements, something that can get very complicated very quickly if you’re planning a cruise further afield.
Last but by no means least, booking with a travel agent can answer the age-old question; are you better to book your holiday early or wait for a last-minute deal? With knockout knowledge of the various fares available, cruise experts have what it takes to help answer the question once and for all.