by Linda Holt
“The Benefits of Using a Great Cruise Agent”
Nearly 9 out of 10 cruises are sold through professional travel consultants who remain a vital part of the industry. Americans are realizing the high value and convenience of cruises, and almost 34 million plan one in the next 3 years. Among those numbers are our Back Country neighbors and residents, who are taking advantage of the nearby location of homeland ports in San Diego and the L. A. and Long Beach areas to save on the rising cost of air travel while enjoying 3-day or longer cruise vacations.
Whether you are a twosome yearning for a romantic vacation consisting of star gazing and couples massages or a parent dreaming of a fun, activity-filled family vacation, choosing the right cruise line, and especially the right vessel within the fleet, can be a big challenge on your own. An expert cruise agent can help you find the ship that suits you best and save you hours and hours of researching information that they can find in a matter of minutes because of their knowledge and experience. In addition to that, you could have access to exclusive savings and more tailored experiences than you could find by booking directly with the cruise lines. A personable, honest, detail oriented cruise agent will make booking a cruise as pleasant, fun, and stress-free as taking one.
An experienced and knowledgeable cruise agent will have the resources and tenacity needed to handle any situation or special needs for yourself or your family. By asking the right questions about your past vacation experiences and what your priorities are for this cruise, a great agent will present you with a variety of options on ships, itineraries, and pricing. It’s helpful for you to be able to get professional advice about the most desirable cabin locations on various ships that you are considering so you can avoid being too close to a noisy disco or major service areas that may disturb your sleep.
The best agent will keep you informed of any cruise line policy changes, etc. that may affect your cruise. Using the latest technology to book your cruise on-line, your agent can also email you a confirmation and invoice with your ship and sailing date, category and cabin booked, any dining assignments, your cruise price including port charges and taxes, air schedule and pricing, passport and visa requirements, cancellation penalties, and payment amounts and dates.
An excellent cruise agent may not always give you the cheapest price on the ship, sailing date, and itinerary that suites you best. You have to decide whether you may be sacrificing the level of service you receive, if any, with an agent who may have slashed the price considerably. Expect to pay for good service for cruises bookings which can sometimes be more involved and complicated than you might realize. But the best agent will watch out for your bottom line by letting you know whether you would qualify for any discounts offered by the cruise lines such as military, senior, early booking discounts, and check on any seasonal deals for you.
Fabulous deals are available if you wish to sail between mid-July and early October. Your cruise agent should know which areas in the Caribbean are less likely to be hit by a hurricane if you want to take advantage of these deals. The chances you’ll actually be caught in one during this time period are slim to none, so most likely you’ll never need to know how safe cruise ships really are. Cruise lines have been operating in the Caribbean for many years and have a strategy to avoid storms because the safety of all cruise passengers is extremely important.
A reputable, full-service travel agency such as Holt Travel can offer assistance with airfare or other transportation to and from your ship, arrange for transfers to hotels, book any pre- or post-cruise tours including any needed accommodations. If you are new to cruising and don’t know what to expect for dining, how to dress on your cruise, or anything else you have questions about, we’d be happy to assist you. We know the rules of the ship from bow to aft.
We wish you a very happy 4th of July weekend! Please feel free to email, write, call us, or drop by our office with any cruise or travel related questions. Questions can be submitted in writing to LindaHolt@HoltTravel.com or mailed to Holt Travel & Tours, 2241 W. Victoria Dr., Alpine CA 91901. I will publish some helpful Q & A’s in my column. If you have any interesting cruise stories that you would like to share, please submit them by mail or email for publication on our website, www.HoltTravel.com. Call 619-445-9193 for information and reservations.
CST # 2003503-10