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Is It Best To Use a Travel Agent or Book Directly With The Cruise Line? (Money-Saving Hints and Tips For Booking, and Much More…)

Welcome to today’s lesson, where we look at whether or not it is best to use a travel agent.

I usually use a Travel Agent, as it saves me any problems should something go wrong!

Knowing my travel agent will be there for me saves lots of unnecessary stress, and booking costs no more (and sometimes less) than booking directly with the cruise company.

Should You Book Through a Travel Agent?

Always Use A Reputable Travel Agent! Make sure they are members of a reputable trade body (such as ABTA in the UK.)

  • No travel agent should charge you more than booking directly with the cruise line.
  • They earn their money from the sale of the cruise and get a commission from the Cruise line for doing that.
  • You don’t have to pay to use a travel agent.
  • At the very least, it should be the same price as booking direct.
  • At the very least, it should be the same price as booking direct.

Extra Perks You May Get Through Booking With A Travel Agent

  • Free upgrades.
  • Onboard Credit.
  • Freebies – like a bottle of champagne in your room on arrival.
Complimentary Sparkling wine, organised by Travel Counsellors – Celebrity Edge

The Pros of Booking with a Travel Agent

  • A travel agent has great buying power, so they may be able to get a better price as their company can sell multiple cabins on that cruise.
  • They provide free advice and support to those wishing to book.
  • They have early access to offers – cheap deposits etc.
  • Freebies and perks are often included.
  • They may have a hold on certain cabin types – for example, you may not be able to book an inside cabin directly with the cruise line, they may say they are sold out. The agent may still have some of that grade of cabin available for them to sell to you.
  • You can tell the agent if there is any particular grade or type of cabin you want to avoid – for example, cabins with interconnecting doors to the next cabin.
  • They will notify you if there have been any changes to your itinerary or flights after booking.
  • If you have any problems after booking the agent will contact the cruise line on your behalf. This saves you from being on hold for hours – particularly useful for cruise lines where customer service is not a high priority!
  • They will give you impartial advice about the cruise you are booking. Cruise lines will want to sell you their cruise – whether it is suitable for you or not!

The Cons of Booking with a Travel Agent

  • You may not have as much control over your cruise booking. You may be able to log in online to the cruise line website to view your cruise booking, but you may not be able to change dining times etc. You will need to email the agent with any changes and they will contact the cruise line directly.

Reasons to Consider Booking Directly

Sometimes I do book directly with the cruise line, but only if I have a very good reason to do so. Some of the reasons I have booked directly are below:

  • Booking directly can be very quick and easy
    • If you know exactly what you want to book, booking online can be very quick and easy. If you are unsure of what you want, maybe consider an agent.
  • Cashback websites
    • I often use cashback websites for online purchases, and on one occasion I was able to get 10% cashback on my cruise booking. This cashback is well worth having on a large spend like a cruise holiday.
  • Discount codes offered by the cruise line for online purchases.
    • When I booked both an ocean cruise and a separate river cruise with Tui, I booked direct because they were offering a discount code to use on every booking.
  • If you are using Tesco Clubcard points (UK Only)
    • If you shop in Tesco in the UK, you can use “Clubcard points” earnt to get money off your cruise.
    • These clubcard points can only be used if you book directly with the cruise line.

To find out about the Tui cruises I booked directly, using an online discount code – and whether I got value for money watch these videos next:

Ocean Cruise

​I Took My First FLY Cruise Since The Pandemic​

River Cruise

​I Tried a BUDGET River Cruise and It Wasn’t What I Expected​

Other ways to save money on your booking or get money back

  • Use a cashback credit card.
    • You may only get 1% back on your purchase, but if they are free to use, you have made money that you can put towards a drinks package or excursion. (Do first check that your particular card doesn’t charge any unexpected additional fees)
  • Cruise Line Credit Cards
    • Many cruise lines have their own credit cards. When you spend money your earn points which can be exchanged for onboard credit. These last for around five years. Do make sure you pay off your credit card bill as soon as possible though, as the interest rates can be very high.

How to find cheap cruises

I like to start my searches with “Vacations To Go.” They are an American Cruise Travel agent, and they list all the cruises sailing every month, all over the world. ​Vacations To Go​

You can sort by:

  • Price Per Night
  • By the month
  • Last minute bargains
  • Solo deals

Be aware that the prices shown will have tax and port fees on top, it isn’t the final price. It will, however, give you some good ideas, and let you find the cruises that are a good deal.

Although you can book with “Vacations To Go” if you are in the USA, and in some cases the UK or the rest of the world, you won’t have the same protection as if you booked in your own country of residence.

UK Travel Agencies

I have used many online cruise travel agencies – Iglu Cruise, CruiseNation, – but now I use Travel Counsellors.

Travel Counsellors send my quote via an App and I can accept or decline it. They are always available if I have any concerns or questions and provide wonderful service.

TC App
Travel Counsellors Have a Handy App that i can use to accept quotes and pay for cruises.

I have found that many other travel agencies offer an attractive price – but when you ring and try to book it, that offer is suddenly no longer available!

Other Important Things to Check Once You Have Booked

  • Check your paperwork to make sure that everything you are expecting is included – flights, transfers etc.
  • Make sure your personal details are correct. This is particularly important if you have an unusual name like me! it will cause problems further down the line if there is a misspelling of any kind.

I do hope this email will help in your search for bargain cruise deals! Hopefully, it has also helped you decide whether booking with a travel agent or going directly to the cruise line is best for you.

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.