Bargain cruises in the Mediterranean
There are lots of bargain cruises, especially in this economic climate where cruise lines are competing heavily for passengers. If you are flexible with dates and routes you will get the cheapest deals. If you have to travel at peak times it´s still possible to bag a bargain.
- Travel agents - try your local agent if you want the face to face option. They will be able to do the legwork for you and can often offer bargain cruises to beat a competitor or even an online quote. You can build a good relationship with them so that they look after you in the future. Check that they are signed up to ACE (Association of Cruise Experts - www.cruiseexperts.org).
- Online brokers - these are often specialist cruise providers who have lower overheads than stores so can offer the best bargain cruise deals. They are specially trained and familiar with many cruise lines so do have expertise to help you choose the right cruise. They are paid commission by the cruise lines so you don't have to pay for their knowledge or advice. They often have access to perks and discounts that other agents might not know about, and they have a lot of flexibility with their prices.
NEVER accept their first price and always ask for extras like onboard ship credit or prepaid gratuities thrown in. Always shop around and get them to beat your best price. As the internet is global, you have a much bigger choice than your local agencies.
It may be much cheaper to book through a US site if you are a UK resident or vice versa depending on the exchange rate. www.cruisecompete.com is a US site that lets you invite offers from different agents for a specific cruise. Check that the site is not linked to any one particular cruise line if you want a good choice, and always check their credentials for your own protection. They need to be ABTA and or ATOL registered.
- Direct with the cruise lines - this can often be the easiest route to a bargain cruise if you go for one of their special offers (check the Sunday travel papers for weekly deals). You can mostly book online, but its always worth a call to ask for a discount or free extras!!
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