FAQs : Booking Questions
We offer you more ways to book your cruise than most other travel agencies:
There are a number of reasons to book with us. Among them: fast, courteous service with the best rates in the country.
Very good question and one you should ask any agency you're working with. We encourage you to contact the Better Business Bureau where you will find that we've had no complaints against us. We're a member of the Cruise Lines International Association, the National Association of Cruise Only Agencies, and are part of National Leisure Group. You may contact the cruise line that you are considering and ask them about us. We can give you references of other clients in your area. We will be glad to give you any information that will make you feel comfortable with us.
In regard to your vacation investment. Our agency discourages payments by check, cash or money order. We feel that credit cards will always give you the most protection when booking a vacation. Furthermore, your statements show that you payments go directly to the cruise line and that they have your money, not with us. Therefore, in the unlikely event that you are unhappy with our service, the cruise line has your money and you can assign it to the travel agency of your choice at any time.
Top Producing Cruise Only Travel Agencies have better buying power than over 90% of the travel agencies across the country. Our margins are often better because we buy in bulk. Often we have group rates that your local agent doesn't have. We are informed immediately of special regional, last minute, and senior promotions. Our agents are trained to ask for the best deal and most corporate intensive agencies are not. By specializing in cruises, we're also very good at finding them at the best prices, often passing on our margins to you in the form of greater discounts.
It depends on your level of flexibility, but overall, it is better to book early. The cruise lines will often lower your rate if a better promotion comes along after you book your trip. Some guidelines are listed below for when you should consider booking, but again what they really come down to is flexibility.
Book early (at least 6 - 8 months in advance) if:
Book late if:
Some cruise lines will now guarantee dinner seating and take a lower deposit when you book early (this may only be for repeat passengers).
Most people book 8 months to as much as 18 months in advance. You can always cancel, but of course you have to lay out the money for the deposit. Refunds on deposits are slow, however, and may take up to two months.In the Caribbean at this time, where they have obviously built too many ships (especially in the winter when the ships are not in Alaska/Europe), some of these rules may not apply. Anyway, they are only guidelines.
Even the most popular cruises sometimes have space available because of late cancellations. So, have your agent check or visit this website for periodic updates. But, to get exactly the ship, cabin, and sailing date you want, you should plan and book early. Most cruise lines also offer early booking discounts for customers who plan ahead. Then, just sit back and anticipate all the fun you're going to have!
Most of these promotions are available in the off peak booking seasons, after right after the first of the year and between September and mid-December. Anyone can qualify for a senior rate provided one of the passengers in the cabin is 55 years old or older. Usually these rates a $50 to $100 per person lower than the normal rates. We will post Senior Rates on the Internet as they become available.
Family Rates are programs that cruise lines use to fill the third and fourth berths on cruises on soft sailings. For example, the third and fourth person in a cabin may pay $499 per person on a typical seven night cruise. However, to help fill a ship, the cruise line may reduce this rate to $99 or even offer free passage to 3rds and 4ths. We will post these specials as well.Finally, Last Minute Discounts are less popular than in the past. Today, the cruise lines are trying fill the ships with better early booking discounts like Royal Caribbean's Breakthrough Rates and Carnival's SuperSavers. They can now tell about three months prior to sailing if a sailing needs help. If they do, they'll institute Past Passenger Discounts First, Senior Rates second, Regional Promotions Third, and then drop the rates if necessary. Either way, if you book early and the price comes down after putting down your deposit, the cruise line will often lower your rate to the new promotion. You're always better off booking early.
The rates you see in your Sunday newspaper in January are often for sailings during the most affordable week in the fall and on the shortest cruise. Since this pricing is based on the lowest category on the ship (which also happens to have the fewest cabins), they may be sold out by the time you call. It's very difficult at times to explain to a client that a seven night cruise with airfare and port charges in an outside cabin from Kansas City is $1,099 per person when they saw and ad in their paper stating their cruise rates were from $199 per person. $199 would be for a three night cruise in a bunk bed cabin without airfare and port charges.
You can actually make reservations with some cruise lines, but usually this is not to your advantage. As a Top Producer with most cruise lines, we often get special rates that are not available to other travel agents, much less the public. Furthermore, you deal with one agent with whom you've developed a relationship. Most cruise lines have hundreds of reservations agents. To them, you'd be just another passenger. To us, you're a valued client.
If you booked directly with the cruise line because we weren't available or you didn't know about us, the cruise line will release your booking to the travel agency of your choice provided you do so prior to your final payment
Everyone either knows someone, met someone on a ship, or they themselves have been upgraded to a higher category than they paid for. Yes, it does happen and but not as frequently as people think. How do upgrades work? Who knows? We're still trying to figure it out, but here's our theory.
Most upgrades go to passengers who book early and buy the lowest category on the ship in the form of a "Category Guarantee." A "Category Guarantee" means that when you book your cruise, you are not assigned a cabin number, you are simply guaranteed that category or better. Since most people who cruise simply want to get the best price, "Guarantees" are a great way to fill the ship with people looking for a good rate.
The cruise lines always sell more guarantees in a category than there are cabins in that category. For example, the lowest rate on Celebrity Cruise Line's Zenith is a Category 12, inside cabin. There are approximately 6 category 12 cabins. However, on each sailing, Celebrity will sell between 40 and 60 Category 12 guarantees. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that 34 people are going to get a free upgrade. Usually these upgrades are given on a first come first serve bases.
Most upgrades are often from low inside cabins to higher inside cabins, or low outside cabins to higher outside cabins. Rarely do passengers get upgraded from inside to outside but it does happen. But don't book an inside cabin expecting a free upgrade to an outside. It probably won't happen.If you are assigned a cabin when you deposit on your cruise, your chances of an upgrade are very small. If you are travelling in a quad, your chances are very rare in that there are relatively few quad cabins on a sailing. Cabin assignments on guarantees are usually made between a few weeks and the day of sailing. If you don't like the cabin they give you, tough luck, you're stuck. So if you're afraid of being at the front, back, top, bottom, under the dining room, then don't take the chance. Take an assignment at time of booking.
We can arrange pre- or post-cruise land packages at the same time you book you cruise. These are available through the cruise line and usually include transfers or a rental car.
If you cancel your cruise after final payment, you will suffer penalties. There is no question about it. It could be $50 per person or could be the full cost of the trip. The cruise line doesn't care if it was your life savings, or if you promise to rebook and say good things about the line. You will not get your money back after final payment regardless of why you need to cancel. With travel protection you can be reimbursed for your non refundable expenses when cancellation is due to a covered reason.
We mention travel protection to everyone. We don't push it on anyone. We believe it is a wise investment. But you should consider your own situation before deciding for or against it.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to consider travel protection. A travel protection plan typically costs about 10% of your total trip cost and usually covers lost or damaged baggage, trip delay, trip cancellation/interruption, medical expenses, emergency evacuation, and more. The travel protection offered through the cruise lines typically doesn't provide coverage due to pre-existing conditions but we offer other travel protection plans that can provide coverage. Ask your agent for a brochure explaining it in more detail.
Is travel protection worth it? If you suffer a covered loss, definitely. But a travel protection plan may also help you rest easier knowing that you are prepared for the unexpected before and during your trip, which is not a bad reason to have one either.
Always, always, always use a credit card to book your trip. . They're convenient, they are safe, and you get extra protection for your vacation from your credit card company. But if you must, we will accept checks and certified checks for payment.
If you are booking your cruise early (outside of four months prior to travel) the cruise line typically requires a deposit ranging from $100 per person for a 3 or 4 night cruise, $200 - $250 per person for a 7 night cruise, and $300 or more for longer cruises. Your cruise must be paid in full at least 65 days prior to travel for most cruise lines (some require final payment even sooner). Your agent will discuss payment terms regarding your particular cruise.You will get a comprehensive receipt for every payment and will receive a final payment reminder to keep you on top of your payments. If you would like to make periodic payments on your trip, you may do so provided all payments are completed prior to the final balance due date.
This is really a two part question:
1. How old do you have to be to cruise without a guardian?
Most cruise lines have a minimum requirement of 21 years of age for young people traveling without their parents. If any occupant in the cabin is under 21, then a passenger at least 25 years old must be booked in the cabin with them. This rule applies to married couples, as well.
The only exception is that children under age 21 may be allowed to have their own cabin as long as the parents are booked in the cabin next door or across the hall. In other cases, the cruise line will require that, for booking purposes, one parent is placed in each cabin and then guests can switch around once on board.
2. What's the minimum age to get on a cruise ship?
Some family-oriented cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney may have Minimum Age Restrictions on their very young guests travelling with their parents. In other words, they require that babies have to be at least 12 - 16 weeks old to travel and maybe older for longer and exotic itineraries. Even if a child meets the age restriction, some lines require that they are at least 2 - 3 years old to join the children.s activity program. Other lines, such as Princess and Disney, capacity-control the number of children of any given age on every sailing, especially over holidays. And some cruise lines, such as Renaissance, do not accept any guest under age 17. As each cruise line is different, it is always best to check with your cruise counselor about the policy of the cruise line you are considering.Facilities for children and families can vary widely. Budget and Contemporary cruise lines usually have the most to offer and may even have a child's fare based on age. Some cruise lines charge the children's fare based on the cabin type being purchased, while the luxury and specialty products may not offer third or fourth occupancy in a cabin or even a reduced fare for extra guests. Once again, check with your cruise counselor for the most accurate rate quotes and the cruise line's policies.
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