Archive for May, 2016

The facts about cruise ship transfers

May 18, 2016

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We’ve all heard that it’s best to arrive at your cruise port at least one day prior to your cruise.

Trust me, I’ve heard many stories of people who have missed their cruise due to unforeseen circumstances; a traffic disaster on I95, it was snowing in Chicago so the plane was delayed, or little Timmy got the mumps.

Also, consider the stress placed on Dad who has spent thousands of dollars for this vacation, only for it to be ruined.

The one topic I thought that I would never have a problem with was transfers offered by the cruise line.

Keep in mind that flight times may change, so if you have purchased transfers with the cruise line, you need to check their specific policy to see when you can in fact cancel those transfers and not be charged.

You would think that you change them up to 48 hours prior to your cruise, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

So lesson learned.

If your travel plans change at the last minute, you may be stuck with the transfers you purchased with the cruise line.

It’s time to cruise!

May 9, 2016

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Now that summer has arrived though out the country, it’s time return to the sea.

Unfortunately, consumers are fed a lot of misinformation and that’s why travel agents are so important.

Many times people look at websites and see what we in the industry call “the cruise rate”.

Cruise websites give these bare bones prices to lure people into buying a cruise.

Then when you add up all the extras (taxes, NCF’s, gratuities and other fees), then you realize what the true cost of the cruise really is!

When you receive a quote or purchase a ticket for a cruise, there normally up to 5 components to the price:

1) Room or Voyage fare (the cost/fare for the stateroom/cabin)
2) Non-commissionable fees (NCF)
3) Governmental taxes and fees
4) Gratuities (optional, but depends on the cruise line)
5) Travel insurance (optional)

The most confusing component is “non-commissionable fees.” What does “non-comm,” “non-commissionable,” or “NCF” fees mean? They are called “non-commissionable fees” (NFC) because the travel agent is not paid a commission on those fees. Several years ago, the Federal Trade Commission required cruise lines to list all “non-commissionable fees” in the price they advertise – in other words, they are supposed to tell you the entire price for the cruise (room/voyage fare + non-commissionable fees + governmental taxes and fees). The purpose of the FTC order was to make sure the customers understood the true cost of their cruise.

Unfortunately, “non-commissionable fees” is not a very consumer friendly term, and can be used by cruise lines to merely bump up their profits. These fees typically include port fees, but can include any other fee the cruise line wants to include, such as administrative fees, or fees related to services provided while in ports (piloting fees, stevedores, waste disposal, immigration fees, etc.). You won’t normally see the “non-commissionable fees” broken down or listed, and there are not any requirements or limitations on what a cruise line can or cannot include in the fee. In all honesty, NCFs can be whatever the cruise line wants. The only requirement is that it must be disclosed to the customer.

Some travel agencies merely list NCFs as “port fees,” but this is not correct, and it can lead to confusion and frustration. For instance, if your NCFs were labeled as “port fees” of $150 for your cruise, but unfortunately a hurricane prevented you from visiting any port, you would expect to get your $150 “port fees” back. Bad news, you won’t. NCFs are not “port fees” but may include port fees.

So please remember, when you are considering a cruise, don’t be mislead by those low numbers you see on cruise websites.

Call your trusted travel agent to get the true price!