I love this question. It allows me to communicate my value and dispel a few myths at the same time.
Cruise lines are interested in getting you to book with them, and only them. The representatives only know their brands, and offer no assistance or comparisons to other brands. They are not going to tell you the cons of their line nor advise you that another cruise line might be a better fit.
As someone who specializes in cruises, I understand the differences. And I use that knowledge to help educate you and match you with the best options for your travel style. The wrong brand can not only be costly but also just a really bad experience.
Secondly, my affiliations bring "clout". My colleagues and I book many cruises, and we, as a combined unit, are important partners to the cruise lines, generating large revenues for them.
Why is this important?
Our affiliations and partnerships give us access to special, unpublished rates, events or extra amenities not available to the public, and not offered by the cruise line. We also have a great support system with the various brands, especially helpful in the event something goes wrong. Why not take advantage of that?
One of the biggest myths is that using a travel advisor will cost more than the cruise line. Generally speaking, travel advisors offer the same or better pricing (when special rates or amenities are available on the itinerary you are looking at). You won't see price quotes higher than the what the cruise lines are offering when comparing apples to apples.
Insider secret? The cruise lines pay us commissions when we book their brands. This amount is built in to the cruise fare. Whether you book direct or book through a travel advisor, the price remains the same. The commission amount simply stays with the cruise line when you book direct.
A good advisor has your back, as the saying goes, looking out for you all along the way. A good example - I watch out for price drops and make adjustments when possible. When you book direct, you are on your own to watch for any changes. A good advisor also supports the entire trip - helping put all pieces of the puzzle together - from flights to pre/post cruise stays and activities and tours - not just the cruise. This helps you save time and stress not having to piece everything together yourself.
Is working with a travel advisor for everyone? No. But when you are looking for support, expertise, insight and great value, then working with a travel advisor (like me!) is for you.
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