What’s the best way for me to book a cruise?
When choosing to book a cruise you have the choice of booking online or by phone direct with the cruise line or by opting to book with a cruise travel agent.
Advantages between booking with a cruise travel agent vs direct with the cruise line?
Travel agents are known for giving a more personalised service than the cruise line reservation teams who are often located in a busy call centre environment and sometimes overseas to the country which you live in.
The main difference though between the two is that booking direct with the cruise line is that they will only comment about their own brand and sometimes will have not even been on the ships that they are booking.
A specialist cruise travel agent will normally have extensive first hand cruise experience and offer advice with choosing the best cabin location, style of cruise and more importantly be able to pass comment and help when deciding between different cruise lines, for instance.
Surely I pay more to book a cruise with a travel agent?
Not so, most cruise lines actively encourage customers to book via a cruise travel agent. The large majority of bookings made for the cruise lines come from Cruise Travel Agents whom receive a commission from the cruise line and generally speaking will offer the same price.
Cruise Travel Agents also will often have group or net rates (buying or taking an option on cabins in bulk at lower room rates) or offer incentive perks like on board spending money, prepaid gratuities, a free bottle of wine or complimentary speciality restaurant dining.
What other benefits are there to using a cruise travel agent to book a cruise?
In addition to offering a personalised service, one of the greatest things about booking with a cruise travel agent is that they will have your back if something goes wrong. The cruise line will lend a sympathetic ear to any issues that you may have but a good cruise travel agent will go the extra-mile to resolve them for you.
A good cruise travel agent will also often update your pre-cruise passenger information on your behalf, add special diet/medical requests, assist with visa information if required and print/issue final documentation, baggage tags (which most cruise lines do not issue now).
Are there any drawbacks of booking a cruise with a travel agent?
One thing to note about booking through a cruise travel agent is that if you want to ask any questions about your cruise, you will have to speak with the specific agent that booked your cruise.
The cruise line will most likely refer you back to your agent should you ask them any questions relating to your booking. Therefore, it is important that you should look to an agent with a good reputation or one who is recommended.
How do I find a good cruise travel agent for booking cruises?
Outside of personal recommendations from friends, family, work colleagues your best bet for finding a good cruise agent is to look for one who is accredited with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA UK).
Look out particularly for CLIA UK cruise agents with distinctions like Master and Ambassador who have achieved the highest accolade, demonstrating their commitment to cruise and have studied widely on all aspects of cruise holidays and the ability to share knowledge and insight from their first-hand experience of cruise travel amongst both peers and prospective customers.
About CLIA UK & Ireland:
Supported by the world’s leading ocean and river cruise companies who provides cruise training and support to help CLIA UK & Ireland travel agent members match customers with the right cruise, right ship and right itinerary. This is the best place to start your search for the perfect cruise holiday!