Saturday, May 5, 2007

Travel Agents for Escorted Tours and Cruises

With the internet, air fares and hotel rates are so accessible that most travelers no longer go through a travel agent. Still, a travel agent is a necessary component when planning complicated itineraries for escorted tours and cruises. Many travel agencies now specialize in these areas, one factor to consider when choosing an agent or agency.

The best place to start is recommendations from family or friends who have used a particular agent or agency. Second it's almost as important that the agent has the actual experience of say, taking a cruise or a coach tour in Europe. Once you have chosen the agent or agency, give them a call. Each agency can send you a number of travel brochures for different tour companies and cruises. From there, at your leisure, you can diligently choose the vacation that fits your purpose. You may choose to work via the internet but that first call and experience can help to give you an idea if you are comfortable with the travel agent.

For land tours, among the most respected are Trafalgar and Globus. Each company publishes tour brochures based on the part of the world you are wanting to visit. For example, the Trafalgar tour brochure for Europe will detail tours of various lengths and will encompass as few as two countries to a dozen or more. Each tour description details day by day what the tour includes. Some airlines also have an arm that will handle vacation options such as American Airline's AAVacations (

For pricing of these tours, look at the hotels included in addition to attractions. The more central or upscale the hotel, the higher the cost. Hotels that are out of the city center will likely be included on a less expensive tour.

For cruises, your choice will likely be based on the ports of call as well as the ship and its amenities. Norwegian Cruise Line has gained some popularity for its freestyle cruising. Unlike traditional cruises, NCL's freestyle cruising have no fixed times for dinner, relaxed dress codes and your choice of restaurant. You can plan ahead or choose on a whim. Like the hotels for land tours, your choice of cabin on a cruise is a big factor when budgeting for your cruise.

Another important thing to consider when budgeting for a tour or cruise is the cost of activities that are not included in the base price. Land tour operators and cruises always have the optional excursions that can add at least a couple of hundred of dollars per person to the intial cost.

The best part of all for choosing an escorted tour or cruise is a lot of the planning is taken off of your shoulders. Just choose wisely and carefully for your purpose.


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