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Location: Lymington, Hampshire

Wanted: A two-week European cruise. A couple would like to book anywhere warm in August. They are on a strict budget but would like a balcony cabin if possible.

Budget: £5,000

Fred Olsen Travel, 118 high street

As soon as I walked in an agent said ‘hello’. I found her personable and helpful and she was determined to find the best deal for me.

She recommended a 14-night western Mediterranean Royal Caribbean cruise on Navigator of the Seas, staying in a balcony cabin, for £4,659. The agent had a brilliant knowledge of the spa and sports facilities and compared it with another cruise line.

She also asked what my budget was and whether I had anything specific I wanted to do. She made recommendations on activities.

The agent told me how much the deposit was and recommended I book before the deal changed. I would highly recommend this agent.

Hays Travel, 36 high street

An agent greeted me as soon as I entered and was helpful and enthusiastic about cruises.

I was given two 14-night Mediterranean options, both in balcony cabins – one on P&O’s Britannia for £3,998, another with Royal Caribbean on Independence of the Seas for £4,431.

The agent lacked knowledge of the latter ship, and I did not get an itinerary for the first cruise. I felt at times I could have found these cruises myself.

Thomson, 23 high street

I was offered assistance straight away but the agent was not knowledgeable or very confident. A second agent offered help and was much more confident and spoke enthusiastically about cruises. Two Mediterranean options in balcony cabins were recommended: 14 nights on Thomson Majesty for £4,026 and 13 nights on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas for £4,734. These were both suitable options.


All of the recommendations met the requirements but the winning agent was particularly knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Winning Agent

Samantha O’Connor, senior travel consultant

“I have worked for Fred Olsen Travel for eight months, but have been in the industry for 28 years. I am very passionate about my job and I am delighted that my knowledge and service has enabled me to source the best holidays or cruises for my clients. I always like to find out as much information as I can about what customers like to do on their holiday to match their needs with the correct product.”