First Time Cruiser Mistakes
Written by: Kuki
You would be amazed by the crazy questions I get about cruising – from people who are already booked on a cruise!
I get a substantial amount of email from cruisers (and prospective cruisers) seeking answers to some mostly simple questions about cruising.
For some reason I also get a lot of requests for employment on “my ships”, but that’s another story.
Frankly, I don’t understand why people don’t simply post their questions on our public message boards, where they would get a wide audience, and most likely speedy and well informed answers from our community of cruisers; many of them very experienced cruisers, and many able to answer questions about specific ships and itineraries that I may have never sailed. My guess is that it is laziness. It seems that some people just want to write one person and get all of their answers in one simple reply.
Last week I got such an email, but more so than most, this particular email was almost scary, because of how totally uniformed about cruising these people were, and they were already booked to go on their very first cruise, for 14 days! But at least they knew the name of the ship they were sailing upon – which many people who email me do not know. They even knew its itinarary – but not a whole lot more.
There’s certainly no shame in a new cruiser not knowing much about cruising, nor is there any shame in asking questions. In fact I recommend it. But it should certainly be done BEFORE they book a first cruise. I’m bewildered by people who would hand over significant amounts of money to book a cruise without getting answers to the simplest of cruise questions first .
In this email they asked me if they would be allowed to wear shorts at any time on the ship; if formal wear is required at any time, or if it was optional; if they would be allowed to dine in any restaurant on the ship; if they would be required to eat in the same restaurant at the same time every night; how the automatic tipping policy works, etc.
As first time cruisers, all of these questions are certainly reasonable questions to ask, and in fact should be asked! But, these are also questions that should be asked before booking and paying for a cruise!
This situation maskes me want to scream, ” Get a professionally trained Travel Agent; specifically a cruise specialist.”
Admittedly there are some first time cruisers who understand how to use the Internet to research cruising and their options. However, even the partially well-informed first time cruiser benefits from the guidance and expertise of a qualified agent. Had the people in the email I just referred to contacted a cruise specialist, the questions they asked would have been explained to them before they even asked.
A trained cruise specialist will qualify a first time cruiser to match them with the cruise line, ship and itinerary that will best suit them. Like buying clothing, the best result is delivered by finding the best fit.
People need to understand that in the vast majority of cases the services of a travel agent are free of charge to the purchaser, as they are paid by commission from the cruise lines, and the price of the cruise is no different than if you booked directly with a cruise line, on your own. These days one can easily verify the price is the same by checking on the cruise line’s own web sites.
My recommendation to use a Travel Agent has one caveat. No one should assume any Travel Agent knows cruising. When it comes to cruising, not every Travel Agent is equal. Cruising is a specialty within the general industry of travel sellers, and in my view should be viewed as an essential difference when new cruisers are deciding which agent they want to work with.
You certainly don’t need to know everything there is to know about cruising before you go. After all, the adventure of discovery is an exciting part of any travel. However, it’s of utmost importance to understand at least the basics to smooth the process and enable you to take full advantage of, and allow you to fully enjoy the cruise experience you’re going to embark on.
And once you’ve found your cruise specialist, and have had the basics of your cruise explained to your satisfaction, check out our CruiseMates Message Boards to ask for the views and learn from the experiences of members of our knowledgeable cruise community http://www.cruisemates.com/forum/ .
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Posted: August 23rd, 2011 under Kuki.