As cruise lines continue to evolve what they do at sea, more choices are available for travel by cruise ship than ever before. We can keep up with the latest offerings with frequent visits internet cruise news sources.
Message boards, websites dedicated to only travel by ship, storefront travel agencies or home-based agents are all good sources to consider in the buying process. But what about those agents? Not just any will do. You want a good one. Start that hunt here then with five ways to find the right travel agent.
1. Ask Trusted Sources – It’s the standard recommendation: As a relative, good friend or other trusted source. It makes sense in a ‘let my friend try first’ sort of way that might very well work for you. Still, consider the choices carefully before deciding any known source is good for a travel agent recommendation. Agents mold what they do around each individual client.
That they worked well for Aunt Sally does not mean they will do well for you. Aunt Sally has her needs, you have yours. They are probably not the same. This original way of connecting has its share of flaws. Still, you know Aunt Sally and what she is likely to like or not. It’s a place to start. No more. Aunt Sally is not God.
2. Discover On Your Own - This is actually the way a good 50% or so of travelers who use agents found them. In the past. That was when there were far fewer choices than there are today. Ten years ago, it was all about which ship when where you want to go at a price you liked. Today there are many more factors to consider like the size of the ship, others likely to be on your sailing, an explosion of dining options and twice as many stateroom categories from which to choose. Still, attempting to discover on your own is a great exercise that will give a nearly instant appreciation for what agents do.
3. Cruise Lines & Organizations – Cruise lines commonly feature “find an agent’ links on their website. These may be agents or agencies that have passed special training with the cruise line which brings them up to speed on the latest offerings.
Organizations like the Cruise Lines International Association are a good place to start as well. Agencies are required to belong in order to make bookings. Look for agents with an MCC or ECC behind their name indicating advanced training.
4. Fans Of All Cruise Lines – One of the best outcomes possible in your search for the right travel agent, finding one that is familiar with all the cruise lines that may be attractive to you. An agent with obvious loyalty to one line over another might overlook a perfect fit for you on a line they do not embrace all that much.
5. Consider The Source - Travel agencies and/or home-based travel agents can be a great help in our travel planning. Still, at the ‘agency that books all kinds of travel’ you need to talk to the agent that specializes in cruise travel. If there is not one, go somewhere else. There are just too many from which to choose.
It’s a process, this finding the right travel agent effort. Some travelers are lucky, find one they like early in their cruise history and never look back. Others have taken some trial and error to find an agent they feel like investing the time in a long term business relationship with. All agree: the the rewards far outweigh the effort it took to find that agent.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com