Planning a cruise is like planning any other type of travel, for a number of reasons. The need to get away ranks high as does the good value provided by a cruise vacation. That gets travelers interested. But how they get from ‘interested’ to ‘booked’ varies widely and some ways to buy a cruise are more appropriate than others, depending on each traveler’s situation.
There are basically four kinds of travelers when it comes to cruise travel. Knowing which one we are gives us a starting place from which to work. First time cruise traveler or seasoned cruiser, everyone seems to fit into one of these broad, general categories:
Those who choose to do it all on their own
These are people that commonly book their own airfare and consider online buying their number one source for any purchase, not just travel. These people may have had good luck planning in the past with online booking so they see no reason to contact either the cruise lines directly or a travel agent.
This way goes well when booking last-minute sailings where there is not a lot of time to work with the booking, waiting for a better deal or lower price comes along. Those who book far in advance usually come out with a better value by using a good travel agent.
Those who choose to let a travel agent handle everything for them
These people probably have the best time of all on a vacation because they don’t get involved in any of the planning details and fully relax. They don’t bring cell phones or computers along, never think about work or land-based concerns and generally have a great time and are willing to pay more for that luxury.
This is a safe way to go when matched with an efficient travel agent that ‘gets it’ about cruises. That good travel agent knows that the act of making the booking is just the first step in a long process that may see several rate changes or be moved from one deal to another.
Those who choose to share the responsibility with a travel agent
Most travelers probably fall into this group one way or another. They may have started out choosing to do planning on their own then quickly realized that way was not for them. They may have learned from experience that there are advantages to using an agent vs. directly with the cruise lines or are just savvy enough to know that having an advocate on their side to handle and watch over bookings is a good idea.
Again, the quality of that agent is going to make a big difference.
Those who will never sail- To some travelers the idea of travel via any cruise ship on any of the cruise lines is just a bad way to go. They fail to see the distinct advantages that cruise travel offers over many options. They are commonly younger, more mobile, and enjoy traveling by themselves. Camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, and other activities not possible via cruise ship are common interests and for those people we can only say “Hey, enjoy what it is you do” and “If things change, keep cruise travel in mind”.
It’s this last bunch that we worry most about. Most travelers who have sailed much at all know that there truly is a cruise for everyone. They might not like that the cruise which best fits them is premium priced, does not go where they want to go or sells out too far in advance to be a viable option. But looking around, with the guidance of an experienced cruise traveler they know and trust or an agent they think they can trust, the possibilities are nearly unlimited and getting more diverse all the time.
New cruise travelers just have to know what kind of buyer they are first, so they can go about it all in an efficient, fun manner.