Online cruise specialists
Wanted: A couple want a Mediterranean fly-cruise of up to 14 nights next July or August. As first-time cruisers, they need advice. They love spa treatments and tend to stay in upmarket hotels.
The website was attractive, with an easy-to-find phone number. My call was answered quickly by an agent who was polite, patient and enthusiastic. The first quote was well overbudget at £5,659 for a Regent Seven Seas cruise. I asked for a cheaper option and was recommended Cunard. I was quoted £4,198 for a 14-night cruise from Rome to Athens on Queen Victoria. This was for a balcony cabin, which is what I wanted. The agent attempted to close the sale by emphasising how popular the ship was. We had a lengthy chat, and by the end of the call, I was genuinely considering booking the cruise. The agent was clearly an expert and his knowledge would have sealed the deal.
This average-looking website was easy to use and the phone number was clearly displayed. The agent wasn’t enthusiastic and didn’t tell me their name. I wasn’t offered a cruise; the agent seemed keen to get me off the line as quickly as possible. I was told to be more specific with my request, but as a new cruiser, that surprised me. When I asked about spas, the agent couldn’t recommend anything, as they hadn’t been trained on that.
The website was full of information, but it was a little overwhelming. The phone number was displayed clearly. I called it five times, but the phone was never answered. I could only assume that the agency was exceptionally busy. Had I been a genuine customer, I would probably have given up and tried another company.
Winning agent: Duncan Croucher, sales and training manager
“I’m in charge of all training and occasionally help out on the sales team when they’re busy. I’ve been at the company since May but worked in travel for about 18 years. I love the diversity of training and leading a team of motivated cruise specialists who all have a passion for the industry.”
The winning agent was passionate and clearly loved his job. He made me excited about cruising.
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
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