Online cruise specialists
Wanted: A couple would like to go on a premium cruise in Asia next October or November. They have never cruised or been to Asia, so are open to recommendations.
The agent was patient and friendly, and I was impressed with his knowledge. He suggested two 14-night itineraries on Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium, both costing £5,960 in total, including British Airways flights from Heathrow. The first included a night at the Orchard Hotel in Singapore, from where it sailed to Ho Chi Minh City, Hue/Danang, Hong Kong, Manila, Boracay and Kota Kinabalu, returning to Singapore. The second sailed from Hong Kong to Singapore via Hanoi, Hue/Danang, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. Both options met my needs but were £2,000 under budget, so perhaps other luxury cruises were available. The agent showed enthusiasm and produced detailed itineraries.
The adviser was friendly, but provided no details, and a follow-up email included just links to the website. The agent asked only basic questions, such as how many people were travelling. The four links provided were for two Royal Caribbean and two Celebrity Cruises itineraries priced between £1,595 and £3,949. The cruises did travel around Asia, but little guidance was given, and one itinerary ended in Australia, following six days at sea – something I had not requested.
The adviser seemed frustrated that I hadn’t checked the website before calling. Worse still, a dog was barking in the background, which I thought unprofessional. The agent did not give any detailed recommendations and I was advised to check the website and call her back when I had a clearer idea. She suggested I look at Princess Cruises’ sailings to Tokyo, but gave no details about them. The agent asked some basic questions, but sent me nothing by email.
James Broxton, cruise concierge
“I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to win. My aim with each customer is to find the perfect cruise for them, and to tick every or most of their boxes. I also take a genuine interest in their holiday, treating it as if I was organising my own.”
The winning agent provided detailed itineraries for his suggestions, but he could have offered more luxury options nearer the budget.
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