You get those emails from the cruise lines, or that online deal site you're signed up with, and they send over deals All. The. Time.
Why wouldn't you just book with them directly? Why bother with a travel advisor (especially when they charge a planning fee)?
Glad you asked!
You're supporting a small, locally-owned business.
First of all: Yes, travel agents are still A Thing (though we're generally called travel advisors now, because we're more than just booking agents).
When you book with your trusted travel advisor, you're supporting someone who's a member of your community.
We watch out for you
When you book your cruise with us, you're enlisting us to be your advocate and advisor. It's in our best interest to act in your best interest. We know what obstacles to watch out for, how to interpret the fine print, and we have methods of keeping track of all the little details so that you don't have to worry about them. And if there are changes to be made? Leave that to us (yes, even if it involves being on hold for 5+ hours).
Education and training
Your travel advisor has spent countless hours learning about the various cruise lines and destinations, and can use that knowledge and experience to help you determine which cruise line best suits your personality and travel style.
Avoid the headache
There's the cruise. Then the flights. And the pre-cruise hotel. Maybe a post-cruise hotel. Transfers to and from the ship. Excursions. Insurance. Passport questions. Vaccination questions. What's the difference between a category B and C? Do you need to make dinner reservations? What's the deal on tipping? Where did you put that confirmation printout?
We got this. We're professionals. This is our thing. You do what you do best, and let us worry about all of the details of your vacation.
There it is. We knew you were thinking it, and we said it.
Let's be clear: Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
And yes, we can often find a better price for your cruise than you could find on your own. We are part of larger consortia, which use their collective buying power to negotiate better rates, or added value (think onboard credit, wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, upgrades). Or both.
Group rates don't necessarily mean you have to be traveling with a bunch of people. When you book with a travel advisor, you may be able to get group pricing without even knowing anyone else on the ship. Why bother with a group rate? Those rates are usually better (sometimes waaay better) than what you can get on your own. Those rates often come with other benefits, too (see above). Worried about prices rising while you think about things? The group rates that we have access to are fixed (though they are limited in availability, so don't dawdle).
Maybe you've heard about that one cruise line, but you don't know if they're the best one for you, or just the one you happen to know about.
Now, if you call them, they're of course going to tell you that they're the best. Your travel advisor will use what they know about you and your interests, style and budget, and -- get this -- advise you on what would really suit you best.
They also have (here's that word again) advice on what to see while in port, speedbumps to avoid, delightful restaurants, even packing tips. And if they haven't personally been there, they're connected to a whole network of folks who have, who are quite happy to pass that information along.
If you do your own taxes, haircuts, legal filings, car mechanics, home construction, and dentistry, then booking with an online company might be right for you.
But if you know that some things are just better left to a professional, then I'll be waiting to speak with you about your cruise vacation.
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