Q – As we emerge from our Covid Cocoon, we intend to do a fair amount of upscale cruising. We live in Wilton, Connecticut where there are several good travel agents. I think we are open to working with your firm if you can guarantee that we will get the best pricing for our cruise. Otherwise, doesn’t it make sense to “stay local”? On the other hand, we do like your style and the honesty is unique. I am a Corporate CFO and I do pay attention to the bottom line. Would you explain to me how you can beat the prices I would get from a local agent? Really appreciate it.

A – It is a fair question but we will limit our response as this has been covered elsewhere on our site. The notion that a major cruise line, booked by affluents from all of the United States, would want dinner conversation to center around all of the different deals and offers they received is ludicrous. All of the top luxury cruise firms receive exactly the same pricing. If they didn’t they would boycott the line that was giving out special deals. There are set discounts available and all A-List agents get them – they are the same for all of us. Some agents will pocket some of the discounts, so their price is higher. The online call enters always try to portray themselves as having special “last-minute” or high producer rates. The consumer has been trained to absorb fraudulent advertising, It is the way much of travel is sold. 

To those who work in the industry, all of the phony ads and lead-in pricing for a cabin you would never want are embarrassing. Five-star ships are like luxury hotels that have the ability to lie on their side and float from place to place. No cruise line wants anyone unilaterally discounting or rebating commission to make a sale. That will come out on the ship and cause major issues. 

And what about the travel agent’s commission? If a travel agent is caught rebating part of their commission on a sale, they can lose the right to sell that line going forward. 

Working locally, face-to-face with some you know or trust is not a bad policy. Our clients live in 46 states and Canada and they come to us because they believe that we are travel truthtellers. We also certify in writing that 100% of all applicable discounts and incentives are returned to the guest. But there are many excellent travel agents in cities and towns across the United States who have still not left the profession. . We will not use this platform to disparage them or to advise you to go elsewhere. Our advice is to interview a potential family travel advisor the way you might interview a new physician. Because the reality is that typically you will spend more money in a year with your travel advisor than you will with your doctor.