This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Bruising for the Cruise Industry: Part VIII – Agents and Insurance – A No Brainer
As you embark on planning a cruise, there are two very important things that you need to consider. These will ensure that you have the best possible experience. These two things are travel agents and travel insurance. While neither of these topics are “fun” when you are planning your cruise, you make be setting yourself up for less fun if you skip over them.
Regardless of how experienced of a traveler you are, you should always look at using an agent. Simple flights to visit family and one night hotel stays for business can be booked by yourself. You will find that you will miss out on a lot of great perks if you do not use an agent for longer, more complex trips. While Trivago may seem like the best deal that you are going to get, many people do not realize that you are paying an agent in that transaction as well.
One myth that we must put to bed is that agents will always get you the best price. That is not their job, their job is to get you the best trip. Therefore, when your friend Dave or Karen says that they “can get the trip for cheaper if they do it themselves,” then really your comparing apples to oranges. Yes, you can get a stripped-down flight and trip for less than a good agent will charge you most of the time. However, what is your time worth?
Let’s say your time is worth $8.00 an hour, just over minimum wage. If you spend 20 hours looking for the best price, checking out hotels and finding great events for your family, you are spending a total of $160 extra because you booked it yourself. Now lets look at your real salary. If you are making $20 an hour, you just spent $400 extra dollars. For $35 an hour, you just spent $700 extra.
If you are in business or a lawyer and charge $200 an hour or more. You could have dropped $4,000 of your time for that $15 you saved on you and your spouse’s hotel in the keys. Is scrapping your time worth it? Travel agents also have expertise in an area.
Example and Other Benefits
Weekend Wanderers, the agent I use, deals mostly with Disney, bus trips and, of course, cruises. This means that they have some knowledge in the area and can help with planning your trip. If you book with a big site, then you get a ticket and that is it. With an agent, you usually get planning lists, trip advice, a packing list and even a number to call if you have any problems. Compare this to a call center in some other country, and you can see why this alone can make your trip better.
Travel agents can also help you set up a group if you would like. Yes, the cruise companies will help you with this, but if you use an agent, you do not have to spend hours on the phone making sure that your amenities are set up. You do not have to make sure that Aunt Ethel and Uncle Chuck understand that everything needs to be booked a certain way. Your agent just books them in the group. In the event that someone cancels, you can also have your agent help you transfer someone in so you can keep your group rate.
Travel agents are something that everyone should use. The more you work with your agent, the more they will get to know you. This means that in future trips, they will be able to help you find what you are looking for. Even if you have planned trips on your own before, take the time to talk to a local agent. They will be able to tell you why it is a good move.
For all of my corporate, student and private trips I make sure that everyone has travel insurance. If you do not have insurance on your trip, you are asking for trouble. Most domestic health insurance does not cover treatment outside of the United States. This alone can bankrupt someone who is injured or has an emergency on a trip. Most people only thing that trip insurance covers health, but there is so much more.
A minor injury on a trip can cost you up to $10,000. If you do not have international health insurance, then you are paying this out of pocket. International health insurance is very inexpensive (for most cruises the whole travel package is under $100). Always keep this in mind, especially if you are elderly or you are taking children with you on a cruise.
Sometimes you have to cancel your trip. Life happens. Trip cancellation insurance allows for you to protect yourself from this eventuality and either get your money back or move your trip forward. Most companies will give you a future credit if you cancel within a time-frame. However, if you have a major event to cancel your trip, you may need the money more than the credit.
Trip Interruption or Job Loss
Trip interruption insurance covers things that are beyond your control. A late flight, a flat tire, war breaking out. All of these things can derail a trip and cost you your experience. If you have trip interruption insurance, you can get some or all of your money back if something beyond your control ruins your trip. If you lose your job, or there is another major event (these are enumerated in the policies) meaning that you are unable to go on the trip, many insurance companies have an option in this area that will protect you.
Very good policies cover if the airline loses your luggage. This can allow you to get new clothes and items you need to ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch. There are various packages which cover each of these items in different amounts. This list is by no means exhaustive of the benefits that trip insurance can cover, but it does give you a good starting point.
Plan for a Good Time
If you want to have a good time while your are on your trip, make sure that you put together a team that will help you do so. Agents and insurance are important parts to ensuring that your vacation and cruise are the best they can be. While they may seem like an added cost, they are much less expensive than the alternative. Better to have and not need than to need and not have.
In conclusion, I hope that you have enjoyed this mini-expose on the cruise industry in a positive light. With so many industries having trouble, it can be difficult to single out the necessity of the cruise industry. Cruises are the lifeblood of many coastal communities. They are an inexpensive way that your family can see the world and they help you meet new people who can enrich your life.