Exclusive cruise deals can be obtained from a travel agent expo.

Searching for that ultimate cruise deal – the one that has everything you need – can be a long, laborious, painstaking and even frustrating process at times, especially if you’re scouring dozens of websites, querying multiple search engines and canvassing aggregators.

But did you know some of the best deals out there won’t be found on any website, through any search engine or on any aggregator?

How can you get these deals? Easy. Make friends with some of your local travel agents.

Depending on where you live, your local community will most likely have a number of travel agencies in the local shopping centre or along the main street. There’s a good chance also there are some home-based travel consultants that may be near you and able to help. Many suburbs and communities will have a Flight Centre or a Helloworld store along with a number of independent and privately run stores.

Find your local independent travel agency in your local community.
Independent travel agencies are dotted in communities throughout Australia.

What you may not know though is that whether a large corporation or a small independent travel agency, these agents will almost certainly belong to a much larger group or corporation, and these groups maintain excellent working relationships with the cruise lines – putting you in the fast lane to enjoy some of these deals you won’t be able to find elsewhere.

Every now and then, many of these agencies will hold a special expo at a local theatre, hall, RSL club or another facility nearby. These will usually be held after working hours or on a weekend and will be attended by representatives of the major ocean cruise lines, river cruise brands, expedition cruise operators and sometimes even the smaller and more niche companies sailing in a particular destination. They will be there armed with a bevy of flyers, brochures, and almost always – a stack of exclusive deals only available if you make your booking either on the spot or in the next few days with the travel agency hosting the event.

As well as providing a good opportunity to learn more about a cruise line or destination you may be keen to visit, these expos will also usually feature a presentation by each attending company, all keen to show you their unique way of seeing the world and encouraging you to take advantage of the deals on offer through the hosting travel agency. Attendees will also likely have an opportunity to win a cruise simply by going along to the presentation.

Agent expos feature informative presentations.
If you’re unsure what type of cruise to do, stay for any of the informative presentations which many agent expos feature.

Cruise Advice recently attended the 2016 Cruise Expo hosted by Helloworld Carlingford, in Sydney’s north-western suburbs. Held after working hours in a community hall of the local shopping centre, the event was packed with the agency’s regular clients, former customers and interested new potential clients. Along two of the rear walls were the cruise lines and their representatives, while another wall was loaded with food and drink for guests to enjoy.

Some of the exclusive deals available on this particular night included:

  • Avalon Waterways – a further $200 off any other deal currently available.
  • Princess Cruises – bonus onboard credit and half price deposits.
  • Uniworld – a further $100 off any worldwide itinerary currently on sale.
  • Tauck – an additional free night accommodation pre or post-cruise on top of the one free night already offered with many itineraries.
  • APT – an extra $400 per couple off any APT or Travelmarvel cruise of at least seven days in duration, or $500 off any APT or Travelmarvel cruise in Europe of seven days or more.
  • Scenic – up to $500 per couple off river cruises and tours in various parts of the world.
  • SeaDream Yacht Club – an extra $500 off any 2016 or 2017 cruise seven days or longer.
  • Hurtigruten – a discounted price on an existing holiday package comprising a Scandinavia cruise, rail journey, pre and post-cruise accommodation and transfers.

It’s important to note that these exclusive deals can change for each expo, so it’s worth getting to know agents from as many stores as you can and trying to attend more expos.

If you’ve never booked with a travel agent before, the amount of industry knowledge, expertise and personal experience at their disposal is quite extraordinary, especially when it comes to cruising. If they haven’t personally travelled with a particular operator or onboard a particular ship, they will be able to find somebody who has, meaning virtually no question you can ask will be too difficult for them to answer.

To find your nearest travel agent, visit www.atas.com.au.

Spot prizes can be won at travel agent expos.
The Helloworld Carlingford Cruise Expo gave away several spot prizes and a major prize of a free cruise to attendees.