Last month I talked about how you can find discounted prices for cruises, the advantages of groups, and the pros and cons of buying air and shore excursions through the cruise line.
I need to mention trip insurance” “Don’t leave home without it – or rather, don’t book any travel, even air tickets, without it. And don’t book insurance with the cruise or tour provider. If they should go out of business in this tough economy, as we have seen many smaller tour providers do, who are you going to contact? Chances are you will have no recourse. Buy insurance through an independent insurance company. We represent Travel Guard, and we have customers who have had to submit claims because of accidents that prevented them from going on their trip. Usually they have their full refund within 4 to 6 weeks.
Don’t buy insurance through the cruise line. If you can’t go because of a medical reason, in most cases you will get a future cruise credit, not your money back. That’s fine if you are physically able to cruise sometime in the future. We had a client who unexpectedly went on Hospice services several months after booking a cruise. He was able to cancel his cruise and get a full refund on his deposit. But what about the money he laid out for trip insurance? Travel Guard said he had up to three years to apply those funds to another trip, or the funds could be transferred to any third party and used for future travel. This is quite a difference from most “nontransferable” policies.
What if something happens when you are on a trip? Accidents do happen. When on a cruise, you are considered to be in the foreign country to which the cruise ship is registered. What’s that mean? Your Medicare and private insurance will not cover you. Think of trip insurance the same way you think of auto insurance. Hopefully you never have to use it, but if you do, you will be grateful to have it. All major cruise lines have sick bays where you can get stitches or medications. But it’s not cheap. What about air tickets? If you have purchased tickets, you know they are not refundable, and it can cost you $150 or more to change them, plus any increase in fares (Southwest is an exception). Trip insurance would cost you between $20 and $40, and if you have to cancel because of a covered reason, your full fare is refunded.
Why should you use a travel agent? Just what do we do that sets us apart from Internet sellers of travel? We put the customer first. We assist clients to make decisions about their travel. Often the cheapest cruise is not the one that will give the customer the best value. We assist customers with air, shore excursions, questions about dining, gratuities, required documents and more. Do you know that most cruise lines require that your passport does not expire within six months after the cruise ends. Do you think “Cheapcruises.com” is going to inquire about your passport? They want your credit card number, and that’s about all. They will not advise you about the cost of gratuities, or even mention taxes and fees.
A good travel agent is also your advocate, should you have a dispute with a cruise line. The relationship is similar to realtor and homebuyer. We’ve got your back.
So what does it cost to use the services of a travel agent? Usually nothing. The cruise lines or tour providers pay us. We can help you plan a seamless vacation, with unique and distinctive travel. You can buy a cruise to Alaska almost anywhere. But what if you want to fly into Fairbanks a week before the cruise, do some tours there, perhaps visit Barrow above the Arctic Circle? Independent travel? Not a problem. I recently did a trip with hotels, air, and train tickets for London and Paris. A recent study by Forrester Research found “Many consumers are fed up with the complicated process of planning and booking travel.”
The do-it-yourself ego booster falls flat when you find your cabin is over the kitchen. Did you know they start preparing breakfast at 3:30 a.m.?
Perhaps you know someone who has lost their job in this economy? Do you also know that every dollar spent in Payson gets turned over on average 7 times? Let’s all keep the money in Payson. Don’t send our commission to an Internet travel seller, or even back to the cruise line directly.
Cruise Port Travel has experienced and CLIA accredited travel counselors, who assist customers to achieve their desired travel objectives with honesty and integrity. Call us at 928-472-7878 or toll free 877-949-7678 for advice on your travel plans.
Next up: a cruise tour of Alaska with Princess.