Very confused... We have no cruising experience. We have collected books and spent many hours on the Internet searching. We want a small ship---less than 350 people or so... we want excellent service... we need to embark from a U.S. port....can anyone give a definitive answer... we are open to going anywhere but need to limit vacation to 8 days or less.
It has been repeated many times on this board, but you really need to seek the expertise of a good, local cruise specialist travel agent. You have obviously done a lot of research in order to make the perfect choice, so take that one last step. You are a travel agents dream client - you know what you want. They can help you wade through ALL the options and find just the right fit. While we can offer suggestions, you really need to sit down and TALK to someone one on one.
I would second Nancy's advice. It sounds like you might want to find a cruise specialist that is familiar with premium and luxury lines, as well. once you have a few cruises under your belt and understand the differences between the lines and ships, then it is much easier to discern the qualities that you are looking for in a cruise. A good cruise professional will be able to help you make the right choice because they know the subtle differences in the various lines and ships and will be able to match you perfectly.
Thank you, Nancy and Tom. I will do that. I actually had gone to a travel in town (Kansas City, MO) who gave me a books and told me to look through them. I didn't have the feeling that she was going to help me do anything other than actually book whatever I had chosen. Perhaps I need to ferret out the cruise expert agent. Thank you.
You might try Kathy Sudakis at All About Travel in Mission Kansas or Brennco Travel in Kansas City. While there are a good number of cruise professionals in your area, these two pop into my mind. BTW, Kathy is also the current President of ASTA.
Tell them they were mentioned as reliable cruise professionals in a cruise forum. Good luck with it.
I had a similar experience at a cruise agency. It seemed like they were really pushing Royal Caribbean (which is fine if that's the one that's really for us). I mentioned that I liked the anytime dining option on princess and both agents (who both said they were cruise "specialists") said that they didn't think princess had anything like that. After talking to you folks, I knew the score!
That is exactly why you have to find a cruise specialist. Every travel agent can hand you a brochure, but you want to find one that knows what is going on. There are at least three on this board that would be able to help you if you asked them, but they would never ask you.
These are the three that I know about, but I suspect there is more. Nancy Norris, Karen Knowlton and "Cruise Specialist" are all knowledgable cruise professionals.
I am curious is Sunprincess an agent?
Feel free to contact anyone of them if you need any help.
Lady, it is not necessary to actually have a "specialized" cruise agent in your local area, if you find one you are comfortable dealing with over the phone. I have clients from my home state of SC all the way to California. What you are looking for is someone who has the specialized training. It doesnt hurt if you can find an agent in your local area, but if not, then call cruise agents that have been recommended to you and ask the same questions that was recommended to ask which was posted a couple of days ago on here. Sometimes you can tell just by the way the agent answers the questions and their knowledge if you have someone you can trust. Always ask how long they have been an agent and if they are Cruise Specialists. Even if you need to ask for recommendations from some of their past clients so you will feel comfortable working with them. Any GOOD agent will not have a problem giving you references.
What is also important is your comfort level in working with the travel professional you choose. If you would rather work with someone face to face, then you might check with one of the agents Tom recommended. If dealing with someone long-distance is ok with you, there are a lot of us out here who can help out.