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Cruise Swindles


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Protect Yourself from Cruise Swindles

A Lousiana travel agent was recently indicted for stealing the vacations of over 100 cruise travellers. Here are simple steps consumers can take to insure that their cruise vacations are safe.

(PRWEB) February 12, 2004--It's your worst travel nightmare. You arrive to board the ship for the relaxation of your long-anticipated luxury cruise--only to be turned away at the dock because they have no record of your reservation. Why? Because your travel agent took your money and never paid the cruise line!

As the recent indictment of the owner of a Louisiana travel agency on 55 counts of theft by fraud illustrates, your whole vacation can be stolen before it starts if you're not careful.

While problems this severe are rare--the vast majority of travel agents are honest, reputable business people--there are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself when booking your next cruise.

1. Always use a credit card. Your credit card company provides extensive protection in the case of disputes or other issues. If you have a problem with a charge, your credit card company can put it on hold and help investigate any wrongdoing.

2. Check with the cruise line. When you book your cruise, you should receive a cruise line booking ID for each cabin (usually a series of letters and numbers). Each time you make a payment through your agency, check with the cruise line a few days later to make sure that payment has been credited to your account. Also confirm your cabin type, ship, sail date, etc. This should alert you to any potential problems well in advance of your cruise.

3. Buy cruise insurance. Purchasing an independent travel policy from a company like Travel Guard protects you from a variety of things--from a cruise line folding to an illness that might prevent you from making your cruise.

4. Ask questions. Ask your agent lots of questions--about the cruise line, about the agency, about any policies they may have about payments and cancellations, and anything else you might be concerned about.

Finally, and most important, make sure you're dealing with people you can trust. Bob Levinstein, CEO of CruiseCompete.com, deals with the issue every day.

"CruiseCompete is a service where more than 40 independent travel agencies compete to offer consumers the lowest cruise prices," says Levinstein, "so naturally people are going to encounter agencies they aren't familiar with."

"Our model itself provides some protection as it attracts high-volume agencies who can provide the best prices--the others can't compete--and you don't get to be a high-volume cruise seller without happy, repeat customers."

"We require all of our agencies to be CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). In addition, each agency provides detailed agency and agent descriptions. Finally, we offer direct links to agency online Better Business Bureau reports--so customers can get a 3rd party reference about the quality of the agency. Not surprisingly, none of our agencies have any adverse ratings."

Simple, common sense steps can make the difference between a dream cruise--and being left standing on the dock watching your vacation sail away. Make sure you take the precautions to insure that your vacation is memorable for the right reason.

CruiseCompete.com is operated by CruiseCompete, LLC, an independent company with offices in Des Moines, IA; Farmington, MI; and Boston, MA. Since its September 15, 2003 launch, more than 25,270 cruisers have requested quotes from over 30 high-volume cruise agencies. CruiseCompete is not owned by any travel agency.

 

 

 

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