Fifteen Top Cruise
Brokers (or "Cruise Consolidators")
potential for savings is even greater than it is for airfares. In its use of
discount "consolidators," the aviation industry is a "piker" by
comparison to the cruise lines.
TODAY, IN THE world of cruises, a mammoth number of berths and cabins are
heavily discounted when sold by the nearly 80 large consolidators that in
turn receive discounts from the cruise lines. One cruiseship executive, in a
recent appearance before a group of travel agents, actually told them to use
the cruise prices set forth in his company's catalogue as "only
reference points"-meaning, the prices from which discounts were given!
If you were to be seated for the evening meal at an eight-person table
aboard one of the major cruiseships, you'd probably find that three of
your table-mates had each paid $1,900 for their cruise, while two others had
paid $1,600, and three had paid $1,200. And yet all were occupying exactly
the same category of cabin, and receiving precisely the same shipboard
the field of cruising, only the chump pays full price.
In the field of cruising, only the chump pays full price. We hate to use
such vulgar language, but there's no other way to capture the current
chaos in the pricing of cruises. Consolidators get discounts, large
consortiums of travel agencies get discounts, large chain agencies get
discounts, and only the chump pays full price.
Frequently, you yourself may be able to find the companies offering these
under-the-counter discounts by simply looking for firms that have a maritime
term in their titles-they will either identify themselves as a company
selling nothing other than cruises ("ABC Cruises"), or else call
themselves "Ship Ahoy" or "Anchors Aweigh," or by some other cloying
term. Chances are that such specialists in the cruise activity will also be
sources of discounted prices.
But to be sure of obtaining the sharpest discount from the most experienced
of cruise consolidators (they sometimes call themselves "cruise
brokers"), you may find the following 15 representative companies useful:
The Cruise Guy (800.700.3881, www.cruiseguy.com) This Web site by cruise
expert, Stewart Chiron, lists the top cruise deals every week - "a small sample of a huge inventory of possible
discounts," Chiron says. The Web site has been up since 1995 and is now
part of The Leisure Pros travel group. Booking cruises online as well as discount hotel and airfare deals through links are also available.