It’s time to start thinking of that perfect vacation, where you can turn off your phone, forget about your email and relax in that perfect deck chair by the pool.  If your heart is set on a great cruise vacation, what’s your first step? Should you book it yourself, or use a travel agent?  And how do you find the perfect person to help you make booking your trip every bit as relaxing as the vacation itself?

If it’s your first cruise, your best bet can be to go with a travel agent.  They can walk you through the booking process, making sure to ask all the right questions and that you have all the right documents you need.

But which travel agent?  From storefront operations to national chains to online services, there are a number of places to find someone to help you.  So here are a few tips to help make sure you get the perfect travel agent to help you book the perfect trip.

Which Travel Agent is Best for You?

Any travel agent can book a cruise, and if you have a travel agent you’ve worked with before, they may be a good choice to help you create the vacation of your dreams.  But they may not be.  Some travel agents are great for business travel, or are experts in finding the right resort.  But cruising is a different kind of vacation altogether, so make sure they know what they’re talking about before you automatically turn to them.

It’s probably a better idea to look for a travel agent that actually specializes in cruising.  There are likely a number of them right in your neighborhood, with names along the line of The Cruise Company or Cruise Holidays or the Cruise People.

The Cruise Lines International Association offers accreditation for travel agents, at a number of levels including Master and Elite Counselors.  They can even specialize in luxury cruises.  Part of the accreditation process includes taking cruises and ship inspections, so if you see the CLIA logo, you can be assured your travel agent knows what they’re talking about.

Travel agents who specialize in cruises are often a good choice because they don’t work for any one cruise line in particular, and they can give you firsthand details of what to expect.

With booking any kind of travel, it’s important to have a good rapport with your travel agent.  They should ask you a lot of questions about exactly what kind of vacation you are looking for, in whatever format you’re comfortable with. If you prefer email, or phone calls to a face-to-face meeting, it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re able to get your questions answered, and can give them information about what you want.

They should be asking you about your interests, what you want to do on the cruise, what time you like to eat dinner, and what you may want to do on any shore excursions.  They should be taking the time to get to know you and what you like to do.

But the best reason for choosing a good travel agent can come during your trip or even after the cruise is over.  If you have any kind of a problem, a good travel agent will work immediately to get it solved.  If they are an expert in cruises, they already have strong connections with the cruise line and can usually get you a solution faster than you can on your own.

So, if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, your first step to making sure everything is as stress-free as possible is to find the perfect person to help make that dream come true.

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