Cruising from Florida 101: Getting Started

There are three basic ways to book a cruise.  Directly with the cruise line, an Internet Cruise Broker or a Travel Agent.  Which is the best way?  Let’s find out.

First, let’s start with the Internet Cruise Broker. That would be one of the many online companies that offers unbelievably low prices on a cruise. In most all cases those are unbelievable prices because they are not accurate or do not fully represent what is being offered.

The first misleading expense is hidden fees. I call these Burried Fees because you have to dig to find them. They are there for all to see and most commonly found toward the end of their “Terms of Service”, far after the boring text turned off the reader. Most all of these fees are not necessary and simply sometihng that the Internet Cruise Broker has levied upon each buyer, should they fall into the trap.

One that can add up quickly are “change fees” where you may be charged $50 or $100 for namespelling corrections. In the past, cruise lines charged this fee but it has been dropped for quite some time. If you see this fee it should be a red flag to pay special attention to the details before buying. Processing Fees are another one that runs up the price of the cruise and is often charged by Internet Cruise Brokers.

But if you can get past all the potential or actual junk fees charged the low price may still be a good one. Reason enough to buy from your Internet Cruise Broker?

No way! One of the biggest areas where Internet Cruise Brokers fail is what happens after the sale.

The job of almost all Internet Cruise Brokers stops once you pay.

They simply don’t have time for you. To get those low prices they give up a good deal of their commission. They still have bills to pay so they rely on a huge volume of buisness to survive, often bending the rules or taking your money but not turning it over to the cruise line. Not long ago, I happened to, one of the big Internet Cruise Broker  websites, to find they had shut down and were offering site visitors advice on how to recoup money they had paid. If that is not enough reason stay clear of an Internet Cruise Broker, I don’t know what is.

Next up:  Why use a travel agent?