Hello everyone! I have been invited to go on a cruise with my girlfriend, however the proposed date is in March 2014. We know we want to go in the Caribbean for about 4-5 days and will be willing to fly down to Florida. My question is, how do we choose a cruise specialist? How do we know which ones are reputable and will work with us? We are a fairly active couple and love to explore places and food, but this will be our first cruise. Any suggestions? Thank you
Welcome to Cruisemates Ron....I hope this is the first of many posts you'll be sharing here.
My first suggestion would be to ask your friends who travel,and possibly get a referral for a travel agency...that company may have a cruise specialist. If not, you can google to get a cruise specialist, which is what you need vs, calling and booking with any cruise line.
Having someone who can walk you through the process with your first cruise is an important part of getting you on the correct ship,and itinerary, for your active lifestyle.
Personally traveling on many of the ships, these agents can give you first hand information about your airfare, travel insurance, onboard experiences etc, and, answer any question about the ins and outs for your cruise.
Onboard you can be very active, with rock climbing, flowriders, and these types of activities on some RCI ships, or just chilling on say, the Solstice class on Celebrity..elegant,& upscale dining. Let us help you more once you make your selection...
Trip, with her book & tea!
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Last edited by Trip; February 4th, 2014 at 08:18 PM.
It is also a huge help if you already know what islands you want your cruise to go to and how long of a cruise, 4-5 days, over a 7 night. There are shops with a lot of onboard activities and some that have less. Since you do have to fly to Florida, it may be more cost effective to go for the 7 day?? I would look at both Carnival and Royal Caribbean....
Obviously, I'm very prejudice on the matter, but the trick to finding a good travel agent, preferably a cruise specialist, is to first, ask for referrals. If you don't have any, then do as you're doing know and ask questions. It's like finding someone who is a specialist in any profession, whether it be an auto mechanic or a dentist. And once you've found someone, ask alot of questions. How long have they been booking cruises? How many have they been on and which cruise lines? Where have they been? Then take a look at their website; is it professional-looking?
A good agent will not be in a hurry. They should be willing to answer all your questions and spend as much time as you need. They should never be 'recommending' things to you - that's usually not something good for you. They should be able to give you information and options for everything available, so as not to limit your choices.
But definitely find yourself an agent who you feel comfortable with as they are always much better than booking online or through the cruise line. After all, they want your business, your return business, and your referrals, so they're willing to work hard for you.
Plus, they will charge the same price, but they don't charge a fee for their service. So it makes sense to utilize their expertise!
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
The best part is you've decided to go on a cruise -- perhaps your first venture on a vacation at sea -- and you're a little overwhelmed.
A good cruise consultant will help you evaluate options for you - consider how much you're willing to pay, whether to book an inexpensive inside cabin or splurge on a suite, and which cruise line and ship are right for you. Other benefits they should provide include working on seating for dinner, shore excursions and cabin location
In the age of the Internet, many people assume that online is the only way to book travel. But, as booking online can often be confusing, a travel agent may be just what you need. In fact, according to the Cruise Lines International Association's (CLIA) 2008 Cruise Market Profile Study, nearly 75 percent of cruise travelers book their cruises through travel agents.
One of the most important things to know is that agents -- in particular, cruise specialists -- have been onboard the ships and can really give you first-hand advice about different cruise options. They have done a great deal of research through familiarization trips and cruise-line seminars, so you don't have to do the work yourself. Even better, agents often have access to special discounts or perks -- or know best where to find them -- and as the cruise lines pay their commissions, you don't pay more for their services and expertise.
Based on the length of Cruise you are presenting I would say a Ft. Lauderdale or Tampa departure would be in order and most likely Cozumel would be a major port of call. The Ruby Princess from Ft. Lauderdale also takes in Grand Cayman (an awesome port) on it's 5 day departures.
Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas (Tampa) and the Celebrity Constellation (Ft. Lauderdale) have been offering some excellent cruises for March 2014.
Last edited by storybookcruises.com; February 7th, 2014 at 01:48 AM.
Reason: adding link to CLIA