In the World of Cruises, Travel Agents Rule, and Internet and Deals are Unheard Of
To some lucky people, finding the right cruise company to go with, and then taking it in, can be a completely lighthearted experience. Their cruise can be as wonderful as it was advertised to be, and they come away with great memories and even a few new friends. Does this sound like an advertisement for some travel agency because you've never heard of happy experience like this? Perhaps you suffer from the travel website numbness syndrome, where you feel that you're running on an endless treadmill looking up cruise deals, cruise plans and prices until you go cross-eyed, and still never seen to come up with something you want to click Buy on. If this is you, perhaps it's time that you let go of a little control, and looked up travel agents on Google.
For people who've been arranging their own travel for a decade now, the thought of returning to travel agency stone age might feel like a step back. Haven't you always run on the notions that the travel agents can never have access to the kind of direct customer prices you can get right at home? In some cases, that could be true; but if you believe that that's the way it is for every kind of travel, you've been drinking a little bit of someone's Kool-Aid. That's only true for air travel, if that. Air travel is intensely competitive, and has evolved on a track that's quite independent of what you would find for cruise travel. Your friendly(?) local travel agents should be much better equipped with deals and information for you, and should be able to tailor a package for your specific needs much better than anything online ever could.
But why should that be so? Why shouldn't the Internet have direct customer deals when they do sell cruise packages? It's pretty simple - the cruise lines see things differently, and prefer going through the traditional travel agency. A good competent travel service will always be able to grasp the complicated process it takes to put a cruise together, and to pick the right kind of service and cabin to suit you. As far as cruises are concerned, the world operates in a pre-Internet age. The agents still get great commissions (as opposed to the few pennies they make with the airlines), and there are incentives too. And they provide you a full service package - should anything go wrong with your cruise, the really good ones can easily fight for you, and make things go well again.
Travel agents often have long-standing relationships with cruise lines; and it's kind of symbiotic. The cruise lines depend on these relationships, and will grant their agencies all kinds of special deals. Since these are offered to dignify the relationship they have with the agents, these are nothing you will find on any Internet travel site. You can get free upgrades, credit when onboard, and they know how to get you military discounts, senior discounts and discounts by travel market - things that you wouldn't even know to look for by yourself.
All you need to go online for, are great travel agents to book through. Check for an agency that has a Cruise Lines International Association accreditation; searching around for good word-of-mouth should serve you well too. It's all about old-fashioned personal relationships and instinct now. Cruise travel does exist in the pre-Internet age still today.