If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have noticed the post where I mentioned that more people are cruising now than they were pre-pandemic. And more cruisers mean a higher percentage of first time cruisers.
Of course, planning a cruise is different than planning a land vacation. This means there are things you need to consider when taking a cruise that you don’t necessarily need to consider when planning other vacations.
For most people, vacations are a luxury that we get to take advantage of just one time per year. This is why I always recommend first time cruisers ALWAYS plan their cruise vacations with a Travel Advisor. Why stress yourself out on the only vacation you’ll have that year?
Because I see so many comments that read “I saved ($ dollar amount $) because I booked with (name of online retailer),” I thought I’d flip the switch for a minute.
Saving money is great. But, box stores and online travel agencies (like Expedia) are there to solely tell you what’s available. There’s nothing wrong with booking your trip this way. But, you have to know what that could mean for you.
Unless you decide to go the “Guaranteed Stateroom” route to save even more money, you’re going to know exactly what stateroom you’re staying in at the time of booking.
This knowledge is gold. Where your stateroom is located can sometimes be the difference between a nice and relaxing vacation and one full of sleepless nights or frustration.
Which would you choose?
A Travel Advisor’s job is to understand your family and provide recommendations based on your needs and wants. If you tell us that you have a toddler who will need to go back to the stateroom for a nap every day, that is taken into consideration just as much as your budget.
We know that the stateroom we recommend can sometimes be slightly more expensive than the one you saw online. Better locations are often a little more expensive because they’re more desirable. That’s because they’re typically located away from elevators, laundry rooms, and areas where other cruisers will be gathering and making a lot of noise during the day.
If you’ve ever tried booking a Cruise on your own, you’ve seen that the staterooms located close to stairs and elevators are the last to fill up. This is why.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But, you’re able to make a decision based on all the information that has been given to you, instead of just looking at the price.
It should come to no surprise that sometimes we can get you a better price than what you find online. This doesn’t always happen. For example, Disney Cruise Line is pretty firm on their prices.
But, some Cruise Lines do give Travel Advisors special pricing and other goodies, like onboard credit. For example, Princess Cruises was able to give my Clients a great deal on their special anniversary celebration.
What was the catch? Instead of the typical $100 per person deposit, they needed to pay $250 per person. But, their total cost was less than any deal that they had seen online. Plus, they’ll be getting additional onboard credit that they can use while they’re on their cruise.
While getting cheaper prices shouldn’t be the only reason you work with a Travel Advisor, it’s definitely a perk.
When Things Go Wrong
There are 2 things that everyone should have before stepping foot on their Cruise ship.
- Their Passports
- Travel Insurance
While a passport may not always be required, it is something that I do require my Clients to get prior to boarding their Cruise Ship. Why? Because things happen.
Of course, no one plans to to have a medical emergency that would require getting off the ship in a foreign country. But, what if it happens? How would you get home?
If something happens, let your Travel Advisor know ASAP. First time cruisers especially benefit from having someone who can handle all the little details and figuring out how to get you home in one piece.
If there is one thing that changed due to the pandemic, it’s stressing the importance of purchasing Travel Insurance. Because I primarily work with big suppliers, like Disney and Universal Studios, none of my Clients lost any money when they needed to cancel their trips. Unfortunately, this was not the case for many people, especially if you booked through third parties.
Travel Insurance protects you from unexpected events. Even if you don’t include the one that the Cruise Line recommends, there are many travel insurance companies out there. Even credit cards have some type of travel insurance. Look over what they cover and supplement with additional insurance, if needed.
We Answer The Questions You Didn’t Know You Had
One of the best reasons to work with a Travel Advisor is that we’re able to give you all of the answers to questions you didn’t even know you needed to ask.
Did you know that, per maritime law, children who are not potty-trained are not allowed to go into pools on cruise ships? That’s why many Cruise Lines have splash pads and other water play options for young children.
I also wrote a whole blog post talking about the hidden costs of sailing with the Disney Cruise Line. These are the things that surprise my first time cruisers.
Is information like this readily accessible on the internet? You bet! But, unless you’re actively searching for this information, you’ll likely never see it.
Each Cruise Line offers different options for entertainment, itineraries, dining, kids clubs, etc. Based on the information you give us, we not only recommend options that would work best for your family’s needs and wants, we can give you some inside knowledge that you may have even thought of.
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Planning a trip can be overwhelming. Don’t do it alone. Get a helping hand.