Yet another reason to book your cruise through a knowledgeable travel agent: Insight into what you might expect on your prospective cruise. With the ease of booking over the internet, many cruisers are now skipping the middle man and booking their cruises directly. However, a travel agent can provide cruisers with more insight into their prospective cruise than the cruiser might get from online agencies or cruise company web sights.
For a first time cruiser, a good agent can help them with selecting the right cruise line to fit their needs and expectations. The agent should find the right match between the cruiser and the right dress code, dining options, entertainment, itinerary and atmosphere offered by the cruise line.
Experienced cruisers can also benefit from a good agent. For my last couple of cruises, I have utilized Lori Cunningham at Sky Scraper Tours. Her agency has a web site that features certain voyages with special pricing. However, she also offers years of experience and personal insight into almost any prospective voyage. In my case, whenever I have considered a cruise that is a bit different than the ones I have previously taken, I usually call her and ask her for input.
Most recently, I called to ask her about a Celebrity Trans-Atlantic cruise. When I shared with her the information about the voyage, she provided me with some additional information. First, she provided me with some thoughts on what the make up of the other passengers might be. Then she suggested that the price on the cruise I was looking at would probably come down between now and the actual voyage. She said that the combination of unusual embarkation and disembarkation ports and the early December time frame, make it a bit of a difficult sell to some cruisers. She also offered me some suggestions about the type of cabin that might be best for our family. Her suggestions were that we either get the larger Family Ocean view on the aft of the ship, or that we look at two adjoining cabins. Either of those rooms would run about $4000 total all 4 of us. She also suggested that the price might be more likely to come down on the adjoining cabins rather than the FOV, so we might even be able to save more money by forgoing the balcony and enjoying the extra space and two bathrooms of the adjoining cabins. This cruise line will honor price decreases for previously booked passengers as long as the final payment for the cruise has not been made. I never would have considered these options had I not spoken with her on the phone.
The most important aspect of a good agent is finding one who has lots of experience with many different lines, values feedback from his or her clients, and shares that knowledge and experience with them. With most lines, the price is the same booking direct or through an agent. As an added bonus many agents give their clients goodies like welcome aboard champagne or even free trip insurance.