What is the Best Way to Book a Cruise?
There are so many offers for travel out there, and everyone says this is the best or that is the best… here are the lowest prices, this is the best servicer. It can get quite confusing. So we will break down the 5 best ways to book a cruise and list the pros and cons for each.
You may wonder why do we do this since we clearly are in the business of helping people book their cruises. Simply put, we are very unique in that we actually cover most of the bases. And if the one that is most important to you is one that is not in our wheelhouse, then we think you should go where you will be best served.
So we truly hope this guide will help you find the best way to book a cruise.
1. Booking through a Travel Agency:
A well-experienced travel agent can make booking your next cruise as simple as can be. Their experience truly matters, and their greatest value is knowledge. They will generally get you the best prices out there and offer much more than anyone else, so using a travel agent can easily be a no-brainer
That said, if you are a big do-it-yourself person, an agency may not be for you. If you use an agency, you will need to call them if you have any needs, and will not be able to speak directly with the cruise line. The flipside of that is that without an agent, when yu do call the cruise line for an issue, you will likely spend forever on hold, and find yourself speaking with reps that won’t do much for you. Good agencies with relationships, on the other hand, often have direct lines to people that can get things done, so you are not left pulling your hair out.
Travel agents often have access to board many of the ships, and have knowledge of a variety of ships and cruise lines to truly help you make the best decision.
Agents also get access to many deals that cruise lines don’t offer to the public, while they always have access to the best deals the cruise lines offer to the public. They also have countless hours of training on what each cruise line offers. They will pass this information on to you saving you both time and money.
- Expertise: Travel agents have extensive knowledge about cruise options and can help you find the perfect match based on your preferences and budget.
- Time-saving: Travel agents can streamline the booking process, handling all the details and reducing the time you spend researching and comparing options.
- Exclusive deals: Travel agents may have access to special promotions, discounts, or perks that you wouldn’t find on your own.
- Price Drop Checking: A few travel agencies will offer automatic checking of your cruise price after you book, and if the price drops at any time, they will work to get your price dropped for you.
- Additional fees: Some travel agents charge service fees for their assistance, increasing the overall cost of your trip.
- Limited options: Agents might have partnerships with specific cruise lines, which could limit the options they present to you.
How we address the cons of using an agency:
We are an agency, so we clearly offer all of the pros (including the price drop checking). As for the cons, while it is common for many agents to charge service fees, we never add a service fee. With respect to limited options, with our network, we have access to the best that all of the cruise lines have to offer, and we have no preference other than your own desires.
2. Cruise Line’s Official Website:
Booking a cruise yourself is great for those that like to spend lots of time online, shopping, and making notes. You are still booking directly through the cruise line, but in most cases you can do 100% online. If you like to do everything yourself, then this may be the way to go.
Cruise lines have their current promotions listed on their website, and you can generally book whenever you desire.
- Direct access: Booking directly ensures you get accurate information about the cruise line’s offerings and up-to-date pricing.
- Exclusive promotions: Cruise lines often offer special deals, discounts, or incentives for booking directly through their website.
- Time-consuming: Researching and comparing various cruise lines and itineraries on your own can be time-consuming.
- No personal guidance: You won’t have the benefit of a travel agent’s expertise and personalized recommendations.
How we address the pros for those looking to book direct:
Our online booking system is actually a direct connection with those of the cruise lines. But we have something significantly more. You can spend all day in our booking system comparing all of the options. In other words, ours is like having all of the cruise lines in one place. When you see a price, that is being fed to our system directly from the cruise line. When you pick a cabin, you are actually picking. cabin directly with the cruise line, and when you book a cruise on our site, it is automatically being booked with the cruise line. The only difference is that you did it on our website instead of theirs, and ours offers the ability to compare and do more research. Best yet, you will find special offers through our site that will not show up on the cruise line’s websites! Go ahead and try ours by clicking here.
3. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs):
There are all sorts of online discount travel sites that you can book through. These online travel agencies often reserve large groups of cabins on hundreds of cruises locking great rates and extra perks that can include onboard credit or free gratuities.
If the most important thing to you is price and extra perks, then this is for you.
However, you do pay a price for it! Yes, you will often save money and get extra perks, but if you have any issues, you will find yourself dealing with a massive call center and getting little to no service from people on the other end of the phone that are all about volume. It is also often difficult to tell the difference between the real deal and companies that use bait-and-switch tactics. You can read more about there here.
- Comparison tools: OTAs provide easy-to-use tools to compare various cruise options, making it simpler to find the best fit.
- Discounts: OTAs often negotiate lower rates or offer exclusive deals that may not be available through other booking methods.
- Impersonal service: OTAs often lack the personalized guidance and expertise that a dedicated travel agent can provide.
- Potential hidden fees: Some OTAs may charge additional fees, so be sure to read the fine print before booking.
How we address the pros and cons of OTAs:
We are actually a hybrid of an agency and an OTA. In fact, our entire business model is about offering the benefits of an OTA with the service, knowledge, expertise, and integrity of an agency. As mentioned above, our online booking engine is a fantastic comparison tool that lets you book on the spot, just like the other OTAs. We are also a member of consortia that gives us direct access to thousands of those exclusive deals and lower rates, and you get them directly through our online booking website. But if you want personal service, we are right there for you, and we never, never charge any sort of hidden fees.
4. Cruise Consolidators:
- Discounted rates: Consolidators buy large quantities of cabins at discounted rates and pass those savings on to customers.
- Last-minute deals: If you’re flexible with your travel plans, consolidators may offer significant discounts on last-minute bookings.
- Limited availability: Consolidators typically focus on specific cruise lines or sailings, which may limit your options.
- Less flexibility: Booking through a consolidator might limit your ability to change or cancel your reservation without incurring fees.
How we address the pros and cons of Consolidators:
As mentioned above, through our consortia, we have direct access to the same blocked-out cabins at those discounted rates, and we pass it on to you. The same is true of last-minute deals. If you want to see last-minute pricing through us, click here. But unlike many consolidators, we don’t focus on a limited set of cruise lines or sailings, and we generally are able to help you have not only more flexibility than consolidators but sometimes more than the cruise lines themselves.
5. Referral from Friends or Family:
Naturally, nothing can beat what your trusted friends and family can tell you about their own experiences.
- Trusted recommendations: Friends or family who have had positive cruise experiences can provide valuable insight and suggestions.
- Shared experiences: Booking a cruise with friends or family can lead to memorable shared experiences and group discounts.
- Different preferences: Everyone’s travel preferences are unique, and a cruise that was perfect for someone else might not be the best fit for you.
- Limited knowledge: Friends and family members might not have the same level of expertise as a professional travel agent or access to the latest deals and promotions.
How we address the pros and cons of Friends and Family:
We don’t. We know the value of personal experience and trusted friends. In fact, roughly 60% of the vacations we book are either referrals from our past guests or our past guests themselves that are as loyal to us as we are to them. We can only hope that one day you will be that friend that refers someone to us.