The travel industry is highly competitive and nowhere more so than in cruising. Whether it is an ocean cruise or a river cruise, the market has exploded in the last few years with new vendors and new ships. Most consumers and travel agencies continue to book the tried and true lines but even so, these lines are being crossed as well – traditional ocean cruise lines are building river ships, and vice versa. It is supposedly in response to demand but if so, the number of “specials”, “deals”, “discounts”, “offers”, “events” – an never-ending supply of inventive names for a sale – abound. Keeping them straight would have your head spinning and sea sick before you ever left land.
Of course, in this sale climate, the consumer should win. Well, maybe.
Our Advice on Deals and Specials
If you are the type of person who has to get the best “deal” and are not happy unless you do, then good luck both reserving and enjoying your vacation. You will never be satisfied and will suffer from buyers’ remorse. Why? There will always be a better offer next month somewhere else. Or the same “deal” with a different name each month. Or what looks to be a great offer has two pages of terms and conditions that you have to sort through to realize that you must reserve a stateroom you don’t like at a time you can’t vacation, and so on. Or some cruise lines may have multiple offers on the go at once. How do you, the ordinary consumer, tread these murky waters without drowning in an overload of information or getting caught in the “weeds” of terms and conditions?
Two steps will have you sailing in clear waters again:
- Choose your destination, choose your time to vacation, and settle on a budget. Don’t be tempted by what you see and read.
- Employ the services of a travel expert or professional. In most instances, the services to you are free or at a nominal cost.
Where a Travel Agent Comes in Handy
Not all cruise lines are made equal; that is, there are “classes” of ships that cater to a particular market segment, and within those classes, ones who do it exceptionally well and those who may fall short of the grade. Your travel professional will find your destination itinerary at the best available price on a line that he/she knows fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your expectations. And if you have aspirations to try something more upscale than your usual choice, your travel professional will probably know if and where you can get a “special” too that will let you do what you normally could not afford.
It is a travel professional’s experience in knowing the cruise lines inside and out, and knowledge of what each vendor is offering your market segment or destination-driven needs at a great price when you wish to travel that will save the day for you. They are in touch with these cruise vendors through sales agents, emails, webinars – they have contacts with vendors you never thought of, or maybe have never even heard of – and that makes them a better option than spending days scouring the internet for a “deal”.
Oh, and one more thing, they know your vacation time and dollars are precious: no matter how inexpensive an option is that you, on your own, might choose unawares, they will never offer it to you if the value and the “fit” for you is not there. Not going to happen as they want you to return from your vacation with a smile.
Of course for the true diehard “ I gotta have a fantastic deal to brag about” at the coffee shop, gym, or wherever, regardless if it ruins your vacation, this author says whatever “floats your boat” in booking your cruise vacation. This advice is probably not for you anyway.