A great cruise experience, whether on the world's ocean or rivers is not cheap! No one will dispute that, and when you are spending your hard earned money on travel - any travel - you should always seek the advice, and assistance, of experts. Our affiliated agents are experienced, trained, and have sailed on thousands of cruises themselves - they know the products they sell! Additionally, all have achieved the industry recognition, and designation, of Master Cruise Counselor - or higher! Plus, they are not influenced, employed, or dedicated to any particular cruise line(s), so they will always guide you to the options that are truly best for YOU!
Our site will give you an idea of the variety of options available. On many pages, we link directly to the cruise lines' websites so you can, if you wish to, research the itineraries each offers and their pricing. But, our job as Cruise Counselors is to give you the best information, guidance and cruise values available anywhere! Our services are always provided without any fees or obligation whatsoever!
Why is this important? Why is assistance from a cruise expert important? There are a multitude of cruise options today - more cruise lines, more ships, more types of service, more destinations - and more ways to book a cruise experience! Cruising is so much different than the much more limited cruise options of the past - there really is no comparing today's options to the cruising options of even 20 years ago! There are hundreds of ships to choose from, both for ocean cruises, which have multiple thousands of passengers on each ship, and are, in effect, self contained "cities at sea", and for river cruises, that include river boats ranging from 8 passengers (yes, pretty intimate) to 200-400+ passengers (predominantly on the US rivers, Nile and Yangtze), with all European waterways cruises under 200 passengers.
And, the level of service is so varied! While ocean cruises are, predominantly, more of an a la carte menu of options, river cruises, on the other hand, are more inclusive of amenities, and, in most cases, you should expect a river cruise to include shore excursions, drinks (at the minimum with meals), gratuities, local entertainment, and many other unique amenities, particularly on the larger, more deluxe river boats, such as lecturers (often well known writers, historians,subject matter experts, political figures, etc.), whisper headsets, bicycles for passenger use, private room attendants, and much much more!
Navigating all these options to find the best cruise experience for you would be a time consuming, and quite daunting, task on your own. A cruise expert, with a few questions answered by you, can narrow down the options significantly, and provide the best pricing and value for those options!
PROVEN RESULTS - In a Travel Surveys "Cruises: Online Booking vs Travel Agent Booking" experiment done in 2019, a 10 item list of criteria for a desired cruise was provided to 100 random, non-travel agent consumers (paid a nominal fee, all frequent travelers, with an average age of 41 and 2 years of college education), and to 100 cruise experts (average 8 years experience, all with a designation of Master Cruise Counselor or Elite Cruise Counselor). There were only two possible correct results that met all criteria, and there was a time limit of 3 hours set.
All 100 cruise experts found the two correct results, in an average of 18 minutes, with an average cost, cruise only, of $8,720 total for 2, including travel insurance. None of the consumers found both results, 21 found one result. Of those 21 consumers finding one of the correct results, the average time they took was 2 hours 17 minutes, with an average cost, cruise only, of $10,144 for 2, including travel insurance. Of the consumers that did not find either correct result online within the 3 hour time limit, 5 responded that they called a friend who "sold travel" - and they could not find any qualifying options for them, either!
So, although this was a one-off, very specific, high-end luxury cruise, the results are typical of what a true cruise expert travel agent can do for you on a regular basis, and for even the most popular cruises. Consumers, in this experiment, who did do their own booking, took about 2 hours longer and paid 18% more than the cruise experts offered. In fact, in EVERY such survey / experiment done on consumer online vs. travel agent assisted booking scenario over the past 15 years, travel agents save all that wasted time, and at an average cost of 5.8% less!
Wasted time, higher price - and that is only part of the reasoning why you should use a cruise expert! Cruise experts will make sure you have all the documentation needed for your trip, including visas, entry permits, etc., and they will be there if anything goes wrong - it doesn't often, but when it does, travel experts know how to solve most any issue in a timely manner. If you book online yourself, or through your "hairdresser who sells travel", etc., who will be there to help?
You cannot book on our site. You will not dial in to a call center with commissioned salespeople (make no mistake - they are NOT professional travel agents, much less cruise specialists - they ARE salespeople) whose only desire is to process a transaction as quickly as possible. This is, unfortunately, the model at every large seller of cruises. Our service is different. You may call us retro, or old-fashioned - and you would be right! We are not simply transactional salespeople. We are a collective service provided by true cruise professionals, and overseen by a 40+ year travel professional, Peter Coloyan, Sr., who is known as "Mister Cruise".
When you submit a quote request form, you will be contacted by a cruise professional best suited to fulfill YOUR cruise needs - in this case the best river cruise professional - and they will be your Cruise Counselor from planning, through sailing, and upon your return! That is why we ask so many questions on our forms- it allows us to better understand your level of travel experience, your budget and your lifesyle, which allows us to better recommend the river cruise lines, ships, itineraries and theme cruises that will be sure to fulfill all your expectations and create great travel memories that last a lifetime!
Note on our requirement of travel insurance on all cruises:
A river cruise can be a significant investment of your time and money, and to best service you, our company insists that every customer takes out travel insurance to cover their cruise purchase. We have had this policy at Smart Traveler since 2002 - just after 9/11. This will add an additional 4-7% or so to your final cost, depending on your age(s), but in these uncertain times, it wll add an additional layer of security to assure that your vacation is truly protected from most any issue that could occur, before, or during, your cruise - giving you the ultimate level of peace of mind, and, therefore, enjoyment of your vacation! In many cases, the savings we find for our customers will pay for the travel insurance, and the insurance we offer is through a highly rated 3rd party - Travelex Insurance - and is the best value travel insurence in the industry. We never recommend getting travel insurance from the same travel supplier that your travel services are provided by - meaning they are self-insuring - because if they go out of business - who are you going to collect from? No one, unfortunately! (It has happened more often that you would think.)
So, you will ALWAYS get a quote from our Cruise Counselors that includes insurance. You will also always get the highest quality service, best possible price guaranteed, and, again, the ultimate level of peace of mind!
Our Counselors, and myself, are dedicated to providing nothing but 5 star service 100% of the time!
Thank you for considering our services!
"Mister Cruise" Peter Coloyan Sr.
President, Smart Traveler