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Consider These Before You Book

Written by: Kuki

Whether you’re ready to jump in and book a cruise, or you’re just beginning to think of the possibilities, there are two items I believe should be your first considerations.

How To Book

There are multiple ways to book a cruise; you can find a local “brick and mortar” travel agency in all variety of locations close to your home quite easily ( including travel agencies in biz box an department stores); you can book online or via phone call directly through the different cruise line’s sales departments; you can book online with some of the BIG travel sales providers (such as Expedia, AAA, or Travelocity); you can book online through various travel agencies with an online presence; you can book with a choice of numerous home based travel agents, across the country, who are affiliated with very large consortiums; and you can book with independent travel agents.

In today’s world pretty much every source for cruise sales has an online presence, where you can shop, and even book a cruise, with no personal interaction.

In my view, the worst way for anyone to book is directly with a cruise line. The vast majority of cruise line sales staff are order takers, many of whom have never been on a cruise. They are also selling only one product; the cruises of the line they are employed by. Who do they represent? Their employer. They can not, and will not, provide any accurate information about any other cruise lines that may be a better match for you.

The biggest MISTAKE people make is believing that they can pay less buying direct.

Using the services of a travel agent to book your cruise actually costs you NOTHING. They are paid a commission by the cruise lines for your booking. And, just as importantly, the cruise lines offer no discount to you for not using a travel agent!

Indeed, often a travel agent can offer incentives, such as lower priced group space, or onboard credits, or other value added amenities, that a cruise line sales agent will not.

Now to the tricky part…not all travel agents are equal.

The first thing I recommend looking for is a cruise specialist. It’s a simple thought process really… If I have a stomach issue I don’t go to a podiatrist.

For your cruise I think you really want someone trained in the field, with experience, and with an understanding of the types of ships, itineraries, etc. that are available. You also want a cruise specialist who is committed to answering all of your questions, and taking care of your needs, especially if something happens to go wrong.

Find the right cruise specialist and it will be a lot like finding your favourite dress or suit; you’re going to want to use them over and over again.

Over the years I’ve written about this topic many, many times, but in my view, it is so important it needs to brought forward often, with hopes that more people take this advice.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is too often thought of as dirty words. Far too many people think this is one area where they can save money on their trip.

Too many people think travel insurance is only necessary for the elderly or sick. Or they think all they really need is cancellation insurance, to cover the costs of the trip if they have to cancel.

Unfortunately, illness can strike even the healthy…regardless of age. Accidents, sometimes serious ones, can happen when traveling…regardless of age, or physical condition. Treatments can be expensive onboard, and even more so on land in a port of call. And if evacuation from a ship at sea becomes necessary, the costs can get astronomically high.

It is a HUGE mistake to believe it won’t happen to you just to save money!

In my opinion, if you can’t afford the insurance, you can’t afford to cruise, and you shouldn’t!

The worst place to buy your travel insurance is from the cruise line.

My recommendation is to purchase from third party insurers. There are many solid companies to choose from. You should invest as much time as is necessary to make a solid choice. You can begin that process by checking out some of the options at insuremytrip.com.

If everything in your travels goes smoothly you can be upset with me for the advice. If something occurs where you have to use the insurance you’ll be ecstatic that you have it…and you’ll have saved a bundle.

-A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising-

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Comments

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time January 29, 2014 at 5:08 am

Kuki You keep pushing the travel agent, the CRUISE SPECIALIST – I hope the readers pay attention to you – a really good cruise specialist is key to the various steps in the booking, and throughout all aspects of the cruise – enough positives can not be given. Finding one is up to the actual traveler.

I have been taking cruises for many years, actually since the late 1960′s, as a teen then. In all these years I have had only FIVE TA’s, all specializing in cruise travel.

Two of these wonderful agents did land based, hotel, resort, travel, as well, and what I truly miss, booking air with legal IATA members. travel agent. The full service agent is gone, and missed. I loved to raid the offices for brochures!

Travel agents booking independent air no longer get a commission from the air lines, and generally do not do any air, unless it is through the cruise lines in conjunction with a cruise. That is ok, BUT, not having the whole TA experience is bothersome.

I did have the services of one excellent agent for years, IATA agent, and he did book air, without any commission, and he added $25.00 to our trip for his services, which we gladly accepted. He has retired from the travel industry, and we have a new agent, she is with a cruise only agency, and she is an excellent agent.

Price and so forth for the cruise and how to get the best “deal” is a whole other ball of wax. TA insurance, “don’t leave shore without it” and take Kuki’s advice and buy the RIGHT insurance at the RIGHT source.

Comment from Richard
Time February 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

re ins: I very seldom buy trip or auto insurance as I can self insure. Many people of retirement age are in a similar situation. Insurance is a product. As with all products one needs to evaluate the cost vs the benefits. The result is not a one-size fits all as your article suggests.

Comment from dee jansen
Time February 18, 2014 at 12:21 am

I have had an experience of using the ship doctor for an emergency and when I asked for them to contact my private insurer for biling, I was told they couldn’t do that and I would have to pay with my credit card and get reimbursed from my private insurer. I was told that if I had purchased insurance through the cruiseline, I would have been imediately covered and not pay “out of pocket”. For a future cruise, I called the cruiseline to find out if they have this policy with their insurance and I was told no, that I would still have to pay up front, then get reinbursed with the lines insurance that I purchase. So, moral of story, every situation is different and you need to do your homework when it comes to puchasing travel insurance.

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