Mystery shopper: First time river cruise

Location:Watford, Hertfordshire
Wanted: A couple would like to go on a river cruise for the first time in April. They would like to go along the Danube for around seven days with a premium or high end cruise line.
Budget: £5,500

Grove Travel
91-93 St Albans Road

The agent was dressed smartly and was enthusiastic. He was very patient when he found out I had not been on a cruise before and asked my preferences for budget, accommodation and excursions. The first quote was £3,590 for Viking’s eight-day Danube Waltz sailing on Viking Var in a deluxe stateroom, including British Airways flights from Heathrow and two nights at an unnamed hotel in Budapest. The second was a nine-night Prague and Danube Dreams cruise on Avalon Expression costing £5,094, which better suited my budget. This included flights from Heathrow on April 9. I was not offered any upgrades, but the agent was experienced and confident in dealing with operators.

118 high street

There was a bit of a wait when I first arrived, but the agent was friendly and helpful. I was quoted £5,380 for the eight-day Viking Danube Waltz cruise in a Veranda Suite on Viking Var, two nights at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace in Budapest, flights from Heathrow with BA and transfers. I would have scored this agent higher had they explained why the price was almost £1,800 more than Grove Travel for the same cruise.

Flight Centre
116 High Street

The agent was quite helpful although I had to wait some time. When I was seen I felt rushed and I wasn’t asked many questions. I was quoted £4,108 for the Viking Danube Waltz cruise including two nights in Budapest, but I was not given the name of the hotel. My flights were with BA on April 7 and I was emailed a very detailed itinerary. The agent had some knowledge of the locations but was not as enthusiastic as the other agents.

Winning agent

Richard Goates, managing director

“I am very happy to be the winner. It is important to engage with customers straight away and make the holiday unique and individual to them, something I reiterate to my staff.”




The winning agent used his many years of experience to tailor the holiday to my needs.

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

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