I feel bad for those who may have had their cruise vacation plans disrupted by trusting Internet Cruise Brokers who ignored them after the sale or went out of business as we discussed in Part One of this series on Cruising From Florida 101.
Value, Not Price
A really good planning strategy used by savvy travelers is to concentrate on “Value” rather than simply “Price”. Yes, that advertised price of $199 for a cruise sounds great initially. But in almost all cases the end price nears double that once port charges, taxes and fees that everyone pays are added in, not to mention optional buried fees one might fall into.
Your Travel Professional
The smart way to go is to find a Certified Cruise Travel Agent who offers the best value, not just the best price. Almost always, when all expenses are considered, the Travel Agent has the better value in the long run. And isn’t that what really counts? A professional, Certified Cruise Travel Agent can be your friend in the business that provides a really necessary service, much like you might use an accountant to help with your finances. The business relationship between you and a Travel Agent is one of trust that is built over time. “Your” agent will come to know and take a personal interest in what is best for you. He or she will be vigilant in handling your vacation plans; taking advantage of special offers, using their behind the scenes contacts and up to date knowledge of the industry on your behalf.
A Bargain At Twice The Price
The best part? This costs you nothing. Travel Agents are paid a commission by the cruise line. You truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain. There are Travel Agents who are simply salespeople and Travel Agents who offer a service that will bring great value in the long run. And the long run is what you need to think of because you’ll probably be cruising quite a bit in your lifetime
Here then are some simple ideas to consider when choosing between an Internet Cruise Broker and a Cruise Travel Agent.
- Value- Concentrate on Value, not Price- look at the whole picture and be honest with yourself about it
- Payment– Always insist that your payments go directly to the cruise line- if they won’t do that, go elsewhere
- Read- Carefully read the fine print- look for junk fees like change fees, cancellation fees, booking fees, etc. If you see them, run!
- Pay- Always pay with a debit or credit card- they provide some protection if that Internet Cruise Broker goes broke and shuts down
- Price Match- Be sure they will honor any lower prices you qualify for. Most Cruise Brokers won’t do it but ask the cruise line to lower the price anyway. They lower the price, regaining some or all of the commission they gave up to get you that initial low price.
- Responsive- Try emailing or calling them to ask a question and note the response time. This can be a real good indicator of how it will go after the sale
Next up in this series: Why not just eliminate these middlemen and book directly with the cruise line?That is not a good idea and I’ll tell you why. The answer may surprise you!