Do you need a Travel Agent for a cruise?

Hey cruisers, I’m Sheri with CruiseTipsTV.
If you hadn’t noticed, the cruise industry is growing like crazy, and more and more people
are cruising. According to Cruise Lines International Association, or CLIA, 24 million people will
cruise in 2016. Cruise lines are evolving to meet the demands of this growing population
of cruisers by offering a plethora of new features and choices. There’re megaships,
river cruises, themed cruises, creative new stateroom styles – the list of options just
goes on and on. And that’s a good thing for us cruisers, but it can be a bit daunting
when booking. Don’t fret, there’s help! With so many things to consider, we’ve become
quite reliant on travel agents. If you think travel agents are a thing of
the past, think again! According to our friends at CLIA, seven out of ten travelers WILL use
an agent to plan and book their vacation. Here are 5 reasons why WE think that’s a
great idea: 1) Get the best cruise for YOU: Okay, so there
are 471 cruise ships to choose from and more than 20 ships making their debut next year
… yeah, things just got real in the choice department. A travel agent will help you narrow
that down. Share your vacation wish list, budget and “travel personality” with your
agent then count on them to find the right ship and itinerary for you.
2) Stress Less: Using a travel agent is really a full service booking experience and can
save you time and hassle. If you’re a first time cruiser, you may be surprised at the
number of choices you’ll need to make before your voyage. From choosing what type of dining
experience you prefer, to how you want your beds configured in your stateroom, to how
much gratuities will cost onboard. Your travel agent handles the great majority of the communication
with the cruise line, and can make recommendations that suit you and your party. For example,
your agent can help you choose the right stateroom, or navigate the best time of year for your
trip, and maybe even help you dodge hurricane season. They’ll also remind you, in advance,
of the proper documentation needed for travel to whatever area of the world you choose,
and help you to register online with your cruise line prior to travel so you can save
time on embarkation day. 3) Experience: If you choose the right travel
agent, preferably one who specializes in cruises, chances are they’ve been on board many different
ships, with several different cruise lines and can offer first-hand experience and advice.
They’ve also likely been formally educated through seminars, associations like CLIA and
possibly even familiarization cruises. 4) Perks! Yes, I admit it, I love perks. Hello,
my name is Sheri, and I’m a perkaholic. Sorry, where was I? Travel agents will often
go out of their way to ensure their clients cruise experience is exceptional, through
… wait for it, nope I can’t wait – perks and upgrades. Your agent may gift your party
with wine or chocolate covered strawberries in your cabin, or score you some free dining
vouchers. Back to the upgrades. let’s be clear, upgrades are NOT something your travel
agent has control over, only the cruise line does, but many cruisers report that the “upgrade
fairy” seems to sprinkle more magic dust over their bookings when they book with an
agent, and we have first- hand experience with that theory.
5) Last but not least…Money savings. Believe it or not, it can be more economical to book
your cruise with a travel agent. Travel agencies sometimes book large blocks on ships, and
receive special discounts as preferred providers. Ask your agent what lines offer the best discounts,
and let THEM compare dates and prices FOR you; seriously, it’s what they do! Oh, and
the best part, how much does all this vacation planning goodness cost you? Usually the cruise
lines pay the travel agent commissions, you don’t! Oh, and one last thing – Travel agents
can also keep an eye on price drops, to make sure you get the best deal, even after you
book. That’s it for this episode, but what about
you? Do you book with a travel agent? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in the comments
below, and until next time, we’ll see you on the high seas!
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