It’s just a basic fallacy that goes around that the Internet is the best way to go about getting the best deals for every kind of travel. It does work well for flights, and most times, it works well for hotel and car rentals. What it doesn’t work at all for is putting together a cruise (and you’ll notice this if you’ve ever spent some time trying to research your options). The best cruise deals are out there, and not in here. You’ll have to find a great Travel Institute- accredited travel agent who has a great relationship with all the cruise lines to find the best of what is to come to you.
Now here’s the deal: cruise lines still function the way they always did over the last century – they work through travel agents. Booking a cruise isn’t a simple point-and-click affair as far as they’re concerned. A cruise isn’t about transport, it is about an enjoyable overall experience. And the self-booking traveler is ill-equipped to serve his (or her) own best interests. For this reason, the cruise cmpanies just don’t care to place all the best choices they have or the prices on your computer screen.
Will the travel agents have deals that you can’t have on the Internet? You had better believe it. To begin with, there are the legitimate areas of discounts that are open to you that you never know about on the Internet. There are the senior discounts, the military personnel discounts, discount by which reguional market you represent, and so on. How would you even know that these things existed on the Internet? And then, there is the quid pro quo that the travel agents enjoy with the cruise lines they represent. They depend on each other, and they have a relationship; often, cruise lines will offer their trusted agents special one-off discounts, incentives and offers that they just won’t advertise on the Internet. And these cruise deals are yours to be had only when you step in into a travel agent’s office.
Travel agencies often belong to special industry consortiums with names like Virtuoso or Ensemble Travel. These travel agency groups will often step in and use their muscle to negotiate special perks for clients. Those perks can be pretty valuable, like free air tickets to the port where you’ll be getting on or off the cruise, free upgrades, the best cabins and so on. There will even be a free gift hamper sometimes. And in the best traditions of the travel agency, they’ll keep on your case even after you’ve bought your place. Some of the best cruise deals show up long after you pay. They keep watching the fares for you, and if they should fall ever after you’ve booked, they’ll step in on your behalf, get a refund from the company, and send it to you. Would you ever have the time to do this yourself if you booked on the Internet?
So here we are, trying to understand that cruise deals are not just about the lowest price, although they are that. They’re about what you get in return for your money, just the same. And it’s also about not having to deal with the hassle that travel to multiple countries can often be. At a time like today when we just hop on a plane and fly over a dozen countries before we get toward destination, we never really think of getting visas for anywhere but the destination country. The cruise concept operates differently – the whole fun of it is getting off at each port and looking around. That could be quite a hassle taking care of your travel papers for five or six different countries. Or how about this – let’s say that you’re in a cruise, and in the Bahamas, you are so absorbed in something, that you happen to miss your ship. You wouldn’t be able to call it bad luck, and take the plane back home; because you would not have your passport. Your travel agent would know how to handle this situation.
For cruise deals, it’s really important that we get off our Internet Kool-Aid. No one thing is the right answer to every problem. And cruises are special.