I talked with Traveler Writes about finding the best cruise pricing, and she wrote a very interesting article … thought you might want to take a look. You can view her original article here… http://www.travelerwrites.com/2012/04/24/how-to-find-the-best-cruise-prices-cruise-experts-dish/. Hope you enjoy these tips- Kind Regards, Heidi
How to Find the Best Cruise Prices: Cruise Experts Dish
After my experience trying to find the best online cruise deals (which you can read about here) for a family trip, I decided to dig further. I hate feeling like there must be a lower price “out there,” especially when it comes to travel. So I turned to some writing colleagues and fellow travel bloggers who focus on the cruise industry to find out what they suggest.
Here’s what I learned:
Heidi Allison-Shane, publisher of the website AllThingsCruise, recommended CruiseCompete.
CruiseCompete, in which Allison-Shane is a partner, does not book or sell cruises. It lets you select particular ships, itineraries and dates and get pricing from a number of travel agents. I gave the site a whirl, and within a few minutes, I had emails alerting me that offers were waiting. I logged in and took a look. Overall, some of the offers were lower than the rates I’d found on my own; others were higher. I’d certainly use the site again.
From Linda Coffman, a.k.a. Cruise Diva, author of Fodor’s The Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises and contributor to a number of other guidebooks:
My advice is, get a travel agent who specializes in cruise travel to do the work for you. In most cases, they will get you pricing comparable to what you’ll find online or by booking directly with the cruise lines and if there is ANY problem, they will be your advocate.
The time of year to find the best “deals” is Wave Season that runs from the first of January until the end of March.
BTW, American Express is a travel agency that often has good fares–not only for cruises, but also for the air to get you to your embarkation port.
Sherry Laskin, a.k.a. Cruise Maven (who doesn’t fly and travels mostly by water), had similar advice:
People still think they can get the best deal by booking it themselves online, but a good travel agent can save everyone tons of time and find the lowest price available with the most amounts of onboard value and amenities.
When it comes to luxury cruises, Andrea Rotondo, publisher of Luxury Cruise Bible, had this to say:
Even seasoned luxury cruise travelers are concerned with per diem prices. Cruisers tend to be ultra-loyal and spend weeks at a time at sea. Smart travelers seek out values, especially when it comes to world cruises and extended cruise segments.
Consult a travel agent accredited by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and who has expertise with your desired cruise line. (Check the lines’ websites; some list their top-producing agents.)
Travel agents at the upper echelon of the business sail often and really know cruise line offerings inside and out. These agents also have access to cruise fares many other agents don’t. Expect to receive cabin category upgrades, shipboard credits, and cash rewards for booking. Some agencies also may arrange private cocktail parties, special wine and food tastings, and even complimentary shore excursions for their customers.
Also, look for an agent who understands American Express’ Cruise Privileges Program benefits (shipboard credit, two-category upgrade, and cruise line-specific amenities).
It appears to be unanimous. When it comes to cruising, it sounds like consulting a travel agent is the way to go. It’s going to be hard for me to let go of my DIY tendencies, so I’ll probably still do some initial research — price-related and otherwise — so that I feel prepared when I talk with an agent.
The cruise experts’ comments above seem especially timely; Sunday’s New York Times travel section includes an article, “Are Travel Agents Back?”, about both consumer and business travelers’ rebounding use of agents.
How do you book cruises? DIY? Travel agent? I’d love to hear your thoughts.