Cruise agents tend to offer much better fares than going direct to the cruise line It’s very easy to assume that a cruise agent is legit when they have a smart website and plenty of good deals on offer. But, hiding behind that telephone number or website could be a large reputable travel agent or just a one-man operation from a living room somewhere. So, how can you tell the difference and find a good, reputable cruise travel agent and avoid a cruise booking disaster?
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to book with your credit card. Both the initial deposit and the final payment are protected under insurance with most major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Luckily, the law in the Credit law UK states (Fair Credit Billing Act) that you are entitled to protection (via a chargeback of disputed fees to your account) if a merchant fails to provide the product or service that you have paid for.
Its very important to remember this protection does not apply to debit cards. It’s imperative that you check with your own credit card company on their policy before you book.
Check up on an agency before booking your cruise holiday. Ask if the agency belongs to ABTA and ATOL and ask for their licence numbers – you can look them up on the corresponding websites for verification.
Once you have made your booking it’s wise to check the booking has actually been made with the cruise line. Ask your travel agent for your cruise operator reference number so that you may call the cruise line direct – your booking should be accessible immediately with the cruise line under that reference number. Not only will you then know that your information and money ha arrived in the correct place, but you'll also be able to book your shore excursions in advance.
Another good idea is to purchase cruise travel insurance. Check the policy details as not all policy terms and conditions are the same. Some cruise lines offer their own insurance but these do not tend to cover you if the cruise line goes out of business.
Trust your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right or if the deal seems a little too ‘amazing’ then you’re probably right.