On board Viking River Cruises longship Viking Skadi recently, I thought a lot about undeniable value of a travel agent. Not so much for their ability to make the booking; cruise travelers can do that by calling cruise line to get the job done. They can also book most cruise vacations on line. But on that river cruise sailing, a great option for some and a bad choice for others, having a travel professional on their side still reaps huge rewards.
The click-to-book Internet reservation option might be easy but denies us the representation offered by a travel agent. Calling the cruise line we may talk to someone who knows what they offer but other options are not mentioned. A travel professional with our best interests in mind will match us with appropriate travel options then be our advocate down the road, when other packages, discounts or deals come up that may be to our advantage.
Cruise vacations represent an undeniable value. That we unpack once and visit multiple locations, so much is included in the price and other common elements of the experience that are huge selling points for those agents. Still, these are things that savvy travelers can figure out for themselves. The mechanics of going on a cruise are well documented on web sites like this one too.
It is the one-on-one personal element provided by a travel agent, one interested in a lifelong relationship with their clients, that is probably the single most important reason to use one, and a very viable reason as well. Not because they will get a ‘better deal’ through an agent. The initial price, if one chooses to take the required time to do the research necessary to get it, will probably be the same with or without an agent. That traveler can even keep up on future promotions offered by the cruise line that may reduce the price or add value if they keep up on that research. But the initial recommendation, made by someone who has been there and done that, is pure gold.
By the way, it was a travel agent who recommended we take our first cruise a dozen years ago on Carnival Fascination, then sailing from Miami to Key West and Cozumel. Without that recommendation back then, I would probably not have seen these Christmas Markets in Europe via a river cruise today. Here is some of what I might have missed-