The results from last week’s poll suggest that most of our readers are planning their river cruises more than six months in advance. And while most believe they get the best value by booking a year or more ahead, about a third of the respondents believe the best values are close in, less than six months in advance.
We believe that booking a year in advance is good practice. Hopefully, the cruise lines will price match (or perks’ match) should they lower rates. Understandably, it irks guests who discover that someone who booked close in paid less or received perks that they did not receive. There’s an easy remedy, wrote one survey respondent: “Provide all perks and discounts to customers who have already booked and planned ahead that they offer to last minute travelers.”
Other suggestions from our survey about how to make river cruising more appealing than it already is:
- If the cruise company offers airfare please make it reasonable flight times. Having to get up at 3 a.m. to catch a 6 a.m. flight back to the USA really cuts into your closing night festivities.
- Include a discounted package without included tours.
- Include gratuities. One check and you’re done eliminates all those worries. However, not everyone agrees: See our survey: River Cruise Gratuities: Your Opinions Revealed
- Publish itineraries sooner.
- Include Comfort Plus or better airfare (or coach with the option to pay a reasonable additional charge to upgrade). The flights are very hard on us.
- Just keep sending me emails for cruises with good or exceptional value.
- Be honest about water levels. “Let us know what will change.” TLately, the river cruise companies appear to be improving communication. See Water Levels Affect Danube, Elbe, Rhine River Cruises
Finally, we asked, Do you believe you get the best value by …
- Booking directly with the cruise company 38
- Using a travel agent 54
We’re glad to see that many respondents are using travel agents. We believe travel agents provide valuable services that shouldn’t cost you any more than it would by going direct to the cruise line to book your river cruise. And with the right travel agent you may do even better than going direct and receive a few perks in addition.