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Best Cruise Travel Agents (Photo: vipman/Shutterstock)
Best Cruise Travel Agents (Photo: vipman/Shutterstock)

Best Cruise Travel Agents

You've finally decided to book your first -- or next -- cruise holiday. But where do you turn for knowledgeable advice to ensure you make the right choice when making that booking?

From choosing the right destination and time of year to take your next cruise holiday to picking the right cruise line and ship -- the choices on offer can be overwhelming, especially for anyone that is new to cruise.

A cruise travel agent will not only help you narrow down the destination, cruise line and ship, plus any add-ons you might need, but they will walk you through the booking process and the fine print.

Here's our list of UK-based best cruise travel agents.

Updated March 18, 2019

Abercrombie & Kent

Book: By phone or in store. There is one shop in Harrods (and also one in Monaco).

About: A&K was founded in 1962 by Geoffrey Kent, who dreamed of being able to offer the most inspirational experiences in the world and his dream is still going strong today. The company creates unique tailor-made holidays and boasts more than 25 years of expedition cruising experience, with voyages led by the company's award-winning expedition team. Aside from its all-inclusive luxury charters, A&K also works with a select group of partners including Silversea and river cruise line Sanctuary Retreats.

Expect: A selection of unique itineraries on exclusively chartered sailings led by award-winning expedition teams, and excursions led by A&K's own local guides.


Bolsover Cruise Club

Book: By phone or at its in-house Cruise Bureau in Barlborough, Derbyshire, or at The Cruise Holiday Shop in Meadowhall Shopping Centre, near Sheffield.

About: Founded in the 1960s by the late grandfather of the company's current directors, Bolsover Cruise Club began specialising in the sector in the '80s. It works with more than 30 operators across ocean, river, luxury and expedition cruising, from APT to Voyages to Antiquity -- and everything in between. While most enquiries are conducted over the phone, it also operates a Cruise Bureau from Monday to Saturday for those who prefer face-to-face contact (and live close to its locations in Barlborough).

Expect: Cruise experts who really know their stuff. Most staff have been at the company for more than 10 years, while an in-house training team keep the entire business up to date with new ships, itineraries and innovations in the sector.


Cruise 118

Book: Online or via its call centre.

About: Cruise 118 launched in 2008 with its luxury specialist sister brand SixStarCruises arriving a year later. The Lancashire-based business works with all major cruise lines, while other sister company Rivervoyages.com features a range of river lines from Shearings to Uniworld. Cruise 118 offers options to tailor-make cruise holidays, adding tours, hotels, excursions and flight upgrades to match personal requirements. Last year it was named the top cruise agency in the UK and Ireland by leading travel industry magazine Travel Trade Gazette.

Expect: First-hand knowledge of the sector, with the company's "cruise concierges" personally encouraged to experience a wide range of cruise products themselves to then relay back to customers.


Cruise 1st

Book: Online, by phone or in its Manchester-based store.

About: Launched in 2000, Cruise 1st bills itself as the largest cruise retailer outside the US. Last year it opened the UK's largest dedicated cruise store in Manchester, open seven days a week, offering virtual 3D tours of ships, resorts and hotels. It works with all the major ocean cruise lines and was awarded the 2018 Cruise Travel Agent of the Year by CLIA UK (Cruise Lines International Association.

Expect: Unique tailor-made cruise holidays featuring exclusive product, thanks to the agency's parent company Dreamlines, a German-based cruise tour operator giant.


Roald Amundsen (Photo: Hurtigruten)

Cruise.co.uk

Book: By phone.

About: Cruise.co.uk initially started life in 1984 as an independent travel agency under the name of Victoria Travel, based in Barnt Green, Worcestershire. Still Worcestershire based, it's now grown to be one of Europe's biggest online travel agencies, working with a significant number of ocean and river cruise lines, from Disney Cruise Line to Hurtigruten. It also has an impressive number of river cruise partners, while those wanting a more luxury offering will find a host of options, from Silversea to Seabourn.

Expect: Exclusive rates from cruise lines and tour operators, and your own personal cruise consultant from start to finish.


Cruise Nation

Book: By phone.

About: Founded in 2009, Cruise Nation grew quickly from small start-up business to award-winning tour operator. The company offers holidays with mainstream, premium and luxury cruise lines across all four corners of the world and prides itself on combining land and cruise itineraries to create exclusive packages, with flights from regional airports and hotel stays included in the price.

Expect: A promise to negotiate deals saving customers around 30 percent against the competition. Look out for its Cruise Nation Smart Packages, which include flights and offer free extras such as hotel stays.


The Cruise Village

Book: By phone or in its Blackpool-based shop.

About: A family business now in its fourth generation, The Cruise Village has been selling cruises for more than 50 years and opened the UK's first high street cruise-dedicated travel agency in 2002. It works with a wide range of cruise lines, both mainstream and luxury -- from MSC Cruises to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, while its river cruise specialist sister site RiverCruising.co.uk offers a broad collection of river lines.

Expect: Friendly, approachable consultants, who follow the company's mission statement "where customer care comes first". Look out for a new mobile friendly website launching in summer 2019 as well as The Cruise Village app, promising an entirely new customer experience.


Hays Travel

Book: By phone or in one of its 160 stores nationwide.

About: Founded in 1980 by John Hays, who opened his first branch at the back of his mum’s childrenswear shop in Seaham, Hays Travel is now the UK’s largest independent travel agent. It works with more than 40 cruise lines, both ocean and river, from Norwegian Cruise Line to Hebridean Island Cruises, and Viking to Uniworld. It also offers a collection of Exclusive Cruises, sometimes escorted by a Hays cruise specialist themselves to help guests fully immerse themselves in destinations.

Expect: Dedicated cruise specialists who really know their product -- they spent a combined 225 days on ships last year alone to ensure first hand experience to pass on to customers.


Iglu Cruise

Book: By phone.

About: Launched in 2006, Iglu is the UK's largest independent cruise travel agency and works with more than 50 ocean and river cruise lines including specialist lines such as Paul Gauguin, Windstar and Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection. Featuring more than 25,000 cruise holidays on its website, Iglu offers a price match guarantee alongside tailor-made holidays, in addition to top customer service, with review site Feefo awarding it a Gold Trusted Service Award in 2018.

Expect: Exclusive deals and competitive pricing as well as an array of "bucket list" packages such as the Terracotta Warriors, Snow Monkeys and Golden Triangle trips.


Virgin Voyages' PortMiami terminal (Image: Virgin Voyages)

Imagine Cruising

Book: By phone.

About: Founded in 2011, Imagine Cruising works with a mix of luxury, premium and mainstream ocean lines, including new cruise line Virgin Voyages. The company bills itself as "cruise and stay experts" and prides itself on a growing schedule of unique events as part of the cruise and stay experience, from private concerts with Katherine Jenkins in Rome to "Back to the 80s" concerts in locations such as Bali, featuring Belinda Carlisle and Midge Ure.

Expect: A range of holidays around the world to suit different tastes and budgets, with a stronger focus on ocean than river (A-Rosa and Nikko River Cruise are the only river lines Imagine works with).


Jetline Cruise

Book: By phone.

About: Launched in 2001, Jetline offers a variety of ocean cruise lines and two river lines -- AmaWaterways and Uniworld.  It also has a number of key rail partners including Rocky Mountaineer and the Venice Simplon-Orient Express, and claims to lead the way in offering bespoke and exclusively designed cruise and stay holidays. It was also awarded a 2018/19 Feefo Trusted Service Award for Outstanding Customer Service.

Expect: Unique cruise packages across the world offering exclusive experiences at affordable prices.


The Cruise Village

Book: By phone or in its Blackpool-based shop.

About: A family business now in its fourth generation, The Cruise Village has been selling cruises for more than 50 years and opened the UK's first high street cruise-dedicated travel agency in 2002. It works with a wide range of cruise lines, both mainstream and luxury -- from MSC Cruises to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, while its river cruise specialist sister site RiverCruising.co.uk offers a broad collection of river lines.

Expect: Friendly, approachable consultants, who follow the company's mission statement "where customer care comes first". Look out for a new mobile friendly website launching in summer 2019 as well as The Cruise Village app, promising an entirely new customer experience.


Kuoni

Book: By phone or in one of its 48 stores nationwide.

About: Kuoni launched its first range of cruise and stay packages in 2014 and has been steadily growing its cruise portfolio since. It sells a number of premium and luxury cruises, from Oceania to Celebrity Cruises, as well as river lines such as APT and Tauck. The company prides itself on only featuring cruise lines that share its own "exceptional service values", and creating cruise and stay packages to tempt customers who might not have considered a cruise before.

Expect: Interesting itineraries blending the best experiences at sea alongside small group tours, designed to entice travellers who want to see destinations "from all angles".


Silver Cloud offers the cruise industry's most luxurious treks to the world's most remote places.  (Photo: Silversea Cruises)

The Luxury Cruise Company

Book: By phone.

About: Launched in 2007, the company was initially the only website dedicated to luxury ocean, river and expedition cruises. The Luxury Cruise Company still maintains its six-star focus today, working primarily with lines such as Silversea, Crystal and Regent Seven Sea. Its expedition side is also strong, while river cruise line partners include AmaWaterways, APT, Uniworld and Crystal.

Expect: Top advice from a team of experts who, between them, have travelled to all seven continents and have first-hand knowledge of the Antarctic and polar regions.


Mundy Cruising

Book: By phone or in store at its offices in central London.

About: Mundy Cruising launched in 1970 as the world's first cruise only agency, and today specialises in luxury ocean and river cruising, as well as expeditions and soft adventure through sister brand Mundy Adventures. Alongside more familiar names, key partners also include less well-known cruise brands such as Lindblad Expeditions, UnCruise Adventures, Ponant and Windstar.

Expect: Bespoke and tailor made packages, with Mundy Cruising a fully bonded tour operator in its own right. The company describes itself as the perfect choice for "discerning travellers looking for high levels of personal attention throughout the booking process and beyond."


Planet Cruise

Book: By phone.

About: Founded in 2005, Portsmouth-based Planet Cruise is now owned by Iglu Cruise. It has more than 50 ocean and river cruise partners and was awarded best online travel agent of the year 2018 by CLIA UK). Its wide array of cruise partners means it can cater for a variety of customers -- from those wanting a two- night mini cruise to high-end clients looking for a 180-day round the world voyage.

Expect: Experts who specialise in tailor-making bespoke itineraries with tours and train journeys, as well as excursions, transfers, upgrades and hotel nights, all catered to the individual.


ROL Cruise

Book: By phone or face-to-face at the company's Colchester office.

About: Established as Reader Offers Ltd in 1995, the company initially sold a range of land-based holidays. Since switching to focus solely on cruise in 2003, ROL has grown to 120 members of staff, boasting a combined cruise experience of 700 years. It works with a wide variety of ocean and river lines, and last year was named as one of the country's top travel agents by Travel Trade Gazette's TTG Top 50. The company prides itself on its wide offering to solo travellers, claiming to offer more low or no supplement packages than its competitors.

Expect: Great customer service, with the team working hard to live up to the company's mission statement: "Experience the difference". Customers also have access to ROL's Cruise Miles loyalty programme, which sees more than 380,000 members benefitting from a range of savings on bookings.


The Sovereign Cruise Club

Book: By phone or in person, with customers able to make appointments to visit the team in their Berkshire-based office. A new website launching later in 2019 will also have an online booking capability.

About: This luxury specialist, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018, prides itself on being the go to agency for customers wanting high end cruises. It offers a select number of lines; from river cruise companies such as APT, Avalon and Uniworld to ocean lines including Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Yacht Cruises and the new Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Sovereign is also Seabourn’s largest global agent -- a title it has maintained for the last 11 years.

Expect: Impressive experience in the luxury sector and a guarantee of "expert knowledge and the best fares on all luxury cruises".


Seven Seas Navigator (Photo: Regent)

Thomas Cook

Book: Online, by phone or in one of its many stores nationwide.

About: Thomas Cook's cruise business dates back to 1875, when Thomas Cook & Son sent 21 tourists on a cruise to the North Cape, costing just £52. Today, cruise is still a significant part of Thomas Cook's business, with the company selling 30 cruise lines, comprising mainstream and fly-cruise as well as luxury and river lines, and tailor-made packages.

Expect: A mix of family lines such as P&O Cruises and Royal Caribbean alongside luxury brands including Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas. It also has a broad river offering, from Shearings to Scenic.


TUI UK

Book: Online (cruise line dependent), by phone or in one of its many stores nationwide.

About: Tui UK started selling cruise in 1995 under the name Thomson Cruises. It works with a number of key cruise lines, from Celebrity Cruises to Cunard, but those wanting to book these are encouraged to visit one of Tui UK's stores or call its cruise team. Tui does however allow customers to book its own line, Marella Cruises, online.

Expect: A lot more information about Marella on its website than any other cruise line. But with itineraries taking in more than 200 destinations from Havana to Singapore, and all drinks, tips and service charges included, Marella remains a popular choice for British cruisers.

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