Officially January through March, ‘wave season’ is a time of the year when travelers plan and put down a deposit on a cruise vacation. Cruise lines often offer some of the best values they will have in the first six months of the year. Wave season is also when cold, harsh winter weather causes those in Northern climates to think about a warm-weather destination, if for no other reason that to give them something to look forward to. In preparation, here is the first in a series of what you need to know to sail through buying a cruise and come out with the best possible value .
As sellers of travel, the cruise lines have not missed a beat, moving on with expansion plans with new ships, updated facilities, and onboard programsaimed to provide everything vacationers are looking for.
As buyers, we need to look beyond simply the lowest price and concentrate on what we get for that price. There are several ways to insure we get the best value like calculating the cost per person per night, surfing the websites of the cruise lines, subscribing to newsletters and blogs of competent travel sources or doing what you are right now; keeping up on the latest information.
One of the best ways to insure your best value is to work with a professional Travel Agent rather than an Internet Cruise Broker.
The difference is substantial and can make or break a vacation.
First, let’s start with the Internet Cruise Broker. That would be one of the many online companies that offers unbelievably low prices on a cruise. In most all cases those are unbelievable prices because they are not accurate or do not fully represent what is being offered.
Watch For Hidden Fees
The first misleading expense is hidden fees. We call these Buried Fees because you have to dig to find them. They are there for all to see but you will find them most commonly in the fine print of the offer, far after the boring text left readers uninterested. Most all of these fees are not necessary and simply something that Internet Cruise Broker has levied upon each buyer, should they fall into the trap.
Making Changes Can Be Costly
One of the Internet Cruise Broker fees that can add up quickly are Change Fees where a buyer may be charged for any change made to the booking after deposit has been paid. Except for special discount pricing like Carnival Cruise Line‘s Early Saver Fare, cruise lines do not charge change fees. In the case of Carnival’s Early Saver Fare, buyers pay the lowest possible fare, guaranteed by the cruise line. In turn have restrictions they agree to up front to get that fare. Carnival’s Early Saver Fare and other line’s restricted or ‘flash’ fares are safe because the cruise line is very up-front about it and nothing is hidden.
Don’t Pay Extra For A Little Attention
If you do see a buried fee when researching a potential cruise online it should be a red flag to pay special attention to the details before buying. Processing Fees are another one that runs up the price of the cruise and is often charged by Internet Cruise Brokers. But if you can get past all the potential or actual junk fees charged the low price may still be a good one.
Reason enough to buy from your Internet Cruise Broker? Not really. One of the biggest areas where Internet Cruise Brokers fail is what happens after the sale.
More on that next time