Friday, June 20, 2008

To Book Onboard or Not To Book Onboard? That Is The Question re: Seabourn.

A reader of my blog has asked an excellent question:

Assuming I have the experience most people seem to think I will have on my Seabourn cruise, is there any advantage to signing up for another cruise while I am on the ship or should I come home and let a travel agent find a better option?

The answer is BOOK ONBOARD! There are a few excellent reasons for doing this...and a few suggestions how to do it.

If you enjoyed your Seabourn cruise (and I fully expect you will), but are not sure what cruise you may want to take next, you can place a fully refundable $1,000 deposit on what is called an "Open Booking". What this does is provide you with a five (5%) discount on whatever cruise you may decide upon booking in the future. That is five percent over and above any discounts provided by Seabourn or travel agency discounts (if, that is, your travel agent provides you with any discounts) or consortium promotions (like my consortium: Ensemble Travel) such as complimentary tours, cocktail parties, etc.

The best part is that this option is totally without risk! If you later decide that a cruise isn't what you want to do, or you have personal issues, or if you just don't want to cruise Seabourn again (huh???), your Open Booking is valid for two (2) years and it is fully refundable.

Now, what if you are interested in a particular cruise? Again, the answer is: BOOK IT ONBOARD! Why? You not only get the five (5%) onboard booking discount, you have immediate access to the lowest available fares and best suite availability. With only 104 suites per ship, and with high demand for the almost here Seabourn Odyssey, waiting can only cause you to possibly lose out on a particular category, promotion, fare or suite you really wanted. And, while you are onboard, you still only have to place a $1,000 deposit. (Though upon your return you will have to bring the deposit up to the required amount.) (BTW, another topic I will be writing on is whether "limited time" and "capacity controlled" offers really are.)

But there is more: Once your booking is transferred to your travel agent, your agent can reprice the cruise to include any additional discounts and/or benefits, change your category or suite assignment while you still retain the onboard booking discount. And, if your travel agent happens to find a lower fare you will get the benefit of that as well.

Also, if you change your mind and later decide you want to take a different cruise, Seabourn allows you the "one time only" ability transfer your Onboard Booking Discount to an alternative cruise without any penalty or fee.

One final thing to consider: When you make your Onboard Booking, unless you advise the travel consultant otherwise, that booking will be automatically given to your present travel agent. So for those that love your travel agent, it makes the process pretty much seamless. If, however, you do not want the onboard booking to be given to the agent that booked your present cruise, you just need to advise the travel consultant of the travel agent you want it to be assigned to or, of course, if you do not want to use a travel agent (What??? But that is another topic I will write about!) that it be handled by Seabourn alone.

So the short answer is: Book something. Book anything. Just be sure to do it onboard.