Booking Cruises – How?

Picture of the cruise ship Westerdam in Cape Town Harbor

Westerdam Cruise Ship in Cape Town

I’d like to do a cruise, how do I book it?  There are three means for this one: through an agent, via the Internet or direct.

Travel agent

Unlike the airlines, most cruise companies offer travel agents a commission, though this does not cost the client any extra.

One large benefit of booking through an agent is that if anything goes wrong on board you will have somebody that will be able to speak on your behalf.  That can be particularly important if you become incapacitated.

When a recent cruise by a 5-star cruise liner reached the Canary Islands some passengers were astonished to see the body of one of the passengers being discreetly removed from the ship.  Upon inquiry it emerged that with the large number of particularly elderly people that enjoy cruises these days, it is rare that a year goes by without a cruise company having to employ their procedures for handling a death on board.  While few contemplate the prospect of dying on holiday, a travel agent can help with ensuring that repatriation and paperwork are proficiently handled.

Online via the Internet

When booking through the web you have total control of the booking.  The cruise company usually provide details for contacting their call centre, which can be handy.  Cruises also provide one of the better value on-line products, when compared to other travel services.  Why?  You can do the whole thing, from paying, to pre-booking your table without having to call them.

While you may be able to do the whole thing with an airline booking online, things are more likely to go wrong.  A travel agent I know recently had a client who had booked online and paid extra to pre-book his aisle seat.  Then he had to change his flight.  That dropped his reservation for the seat and he had to pay a second time to reserve the seat on the new flight.  The travel agent managed to organise a refund for him, which he could not have done by himself.  Generally speaking, you are not likely to encounter such hassles with booking a cruise on-line.

Direct

The cruise lines extend the same price if you book direct (i.e. by phoning the cruise-liner company).

For many this can possibly be the best way.  This is perfect for those who don’t enjoy sharing their credit card details, in any way, on the web.

A big advantage over booking online is that the cruise line staff may often be aware of specials that are coming up and not on line yet either and can advise of these.  You should always make a point of asking about specials as they are not duty bound to volunteer the information.

Special prices may come up close to departure.  It is not unheard of for prices being as low as 25% of the normal rate.  Empty berths bring in no revenue for the cruise company and they would rather travel fully booked.  Our tip for the very best price?  If you can afford the slight risk that you may not get on board, choose a less popular voyage, plan to cruise, save up your money, and then wait.

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