Location: Online cruise
Wanted: A couple fancy a week-long Mediterranean island cruise and want advice on the best ports of call. One has been on a cruise before but needs to persuade their other half.
Budget: £2,000-£2,500

The website looked great and the agent was friendly, showing me excellent information. They asked if there were any lines I’d like to avoid and which airports I’d prefer to fly from. They suggested a Norwegian Cruise Line itinerary departing June 3 from Barcelona with BA flights from Heathrow. The cruise, on Norwegian Epic, called at Naples/Pompeii, Rome Civitavecchia, Livorno for Florence and Pisa, Cannes, Palma and Mallorca before returning to Barcelona. It was £2,678 for the two of us, in an inside cabin, full-board. They could have offered a second option, but this seemed to suit my needs and they had asked lots of questions to understand what I was looking for.

The Cruise Specialists
The service was fantastic and the agent helpful, building a great rapport with me on the phone. They suggested a two-week cruise on P&O’s Britannia departing Southampton on June 3 and calling at ports including Alicante, Barcelona, Rome and Gibraltar. With an inside cabin and parking at Southampton, it cost £1,249pp. The agent talked me through other lines and took time to understand my partner’s reluctance to cruise.

Cruise Direct
The website looked good and was easy to navigate. The agent was friendly and asked questions, and did more research after the call, rather than explaining over the phone. I was offered an eight-day itinerary on Marella Spirit, embarking at Malaga on June 3, for £1,462 for two, or a Treasures of the Mediterranean itinerary on Marella Dream, embarking at Palma on May 29 for £1,645. Both were all-inclusive with flights from Gatwick.

Winning agent

Wendy Zhao, sales consultant

“I went for Norwegian in this case because even though it’s more expensive at the start, their drinks are all included and it still came in at about their budget. I just try to be as helpful as possible to meet the customers’ needs.”


No agent performed badly. Cruise1st’s agent earned top spot by making the most of the budget, and took time to understand what the mystery shopper wanted. Kudos to The Cruise Specialists’ agent for their efforts to appease the reluctant partner.

Elite resorts caribbean

Top-scoring agent each month will win use of a car for 10 days.

The winning agent must be at least 25, for insurance reasons. Winners under 25 will win a week’s all-inclusive holiday at an Elite Islands Resorts property. The prize is non-transferable and the car must be driven only by the winning agent. The winner must not have any serious driving convictions. Elite Island Resorts will endeavour to supply the car to the agency but reserves the right to request the winning agent to collect and return the car from Essex or a central location