I need help - trying to book a cruise today for the Mediterrenean in Sept 10 - and If I look at one more website - one more online agent - talk to one more travel agent - I will have a breakdown. They have me so confused and overwhelmed right now. So..I decided to go to the cruisers themselves and ask them. I know you'll be honest and not about 'making money' by booking a cruise
I've zeroed in on Celebrity, Oceania, Holland, & Azamara. (Princess?)
I want ports mainly in Italy - and Barcelona and maybe Monte Carlo.
I am a NON smoker - and heard the balcony rooms on some ships are horrible for smoke
Don't have a clue about how to book a cabin. Where to book it - so confused. Would love a balconey or verandah?
Just any suggestion to help me narrow down to one would help my nerves today.
So, you have it zeroed in to 5 different cruise lines? No wonder you are overwhelmed. The TA's are probably trying to give you enough information to pick a cruise line so they can further narrow down your choices.
From your list I would lean toward Celebrity, Holland and then Princess. All of them are about equal in cruise styles. Holland and Celebrity may be a bit more upscale than Princess. You should be able to find a Western Mediterranean cruise that includes one of, or both of Barcelona and Monte Carlo along with Italy on any of those lines.
There will be nothing you can do about smokers on the balconies. I have never had an issue with it but yes, I have heard it can be a problem. But understand that the ship is typically moving 25 to 30 mph so there is enough airflow that while you may be able to smell someone upstream smoking, it won't be choking you. If you are really concerned, book a cabin near the front of the ship. That way the number of people upstream that could be smokers is limited.
As far as booking... you can book directly with any of the cruise lines you mentioned or you can book through a TA. The prices will not be different either way because the agent's commission is paid by the cruise line not by you.
I would suggest you stick with a TA as they can solve any issue that may arise and they also have more experience in booking to help you choose. You just need to pick a cruise line (at most give them two options) tell them you want a balcony cabin, tell them the date you want to sail and which ports you are most interested in. Then let the TRAVEL AGENT do all the work. That is the benefit they bring, you don't have to go searching the websites, they will do that for you. Don't be overwhelmed... it really is not that difficult to pick and book a cruise.
I know Celebrity does not allow smoking on the balcony or verandah (same thing) I would have to ask Holland and I think Princess still allows smoking on the balcony. This may narrow it down even more for you.
It is very disingenuous for you to assume and state that a travel agent is only interested in making money. Based on your post, a good cruise oriented travel agent is exactly what you need. A good cruise agent is trained to match you up with the cruise line and ship that meets your wants and needs.
Most travel agents are in the business because travel is their passion. They love talking travel, and using their knowledge, expertise, and experiences in helping people plan their dream vacations. I don't know too many travel agents getting rich off the cruise lines.
I appreciate your opinion - but you weren't talking to the agents that I was working with. And for the record - The only way travel agents make money now is through selling cruises. It is the hottest thing for a travel agent to be in now. Reason: Money
So I'm glad you obviously have perfect travel agents - I am not a novice to travel and have traveled all over the world (just not cruises) and I know what I felt from these agents that were trying to sell me 'their cruise line'.
You missed a very important word in my message. I said find a GOOD cruise oriented agent. Cruising may be hot. In fact, river cruising is growing even faster than ocean cruising. But unless it's one of the all-inclusive luxury lines, travel agents aren't making big money off the mainstream cruise lines. They can make more money on all inclusive land vacations and escorted tours.
I reiterate, you should find a GOOD cruise oriented travel agent. Once you find one, stick with them. Don't shop for a $5 savings. Your agent will get to know your likes and dislikes. It will save you a lot of time and frustration. It will benefit you in the long run. By the way, I am not a novice either.