Need Help Booking a Cruise? Call One of These Travel Advisors

Whether you’re thinking of booking a luxury, ocean, expedition, or river cruise, if you’re traveling solo or with a group, these are some of the best cruise specialist travel advisors in the business.

Illustration of a cruise ship passenger in a beach chair on the deck of a cruise ship looking out at the ocean

Choosing, planning, and booking a cruise can be overwhelming. These pros can help.

Illustration by Shutterstock

Increasingly, amid a sea of confusing online search information and inadequate AI-generated advice, travelers are looking for a human touch when planning and booking their land- and water-based vacations and are turning to travel advisors for their in-depth knowledge and expertise.

A survey conducted by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) earlier this year found that travelers are more likely to use a travel advisor now than a year ago, with almost half (49 percent) of the respondents citing their desire to have peace of mind when planning their vacations and wanting to get the best value for their travel investment.

And when it comes to the vast world of cruising, where there are so many cruise lines and types of sailings to choose from, not to mention a whole world of destinations, it can be daunting and time-consuming to try to sift through all the options on your own. The key is finding a travel advisor who really knows and understands the cruise industry and who will ultimately relieve you of added stress and work. These are, after all, professionals, and this is what they do day in and day out.

The best travel agents who specialize in cruises

Whether you’re keen on an arctic expedition cruise or a laid-back barge cruise in the South of France, here are the best travel advisors who can match you to the cruise that’s right for you.

Best for planning an ocean cruise

headshot of Nadia Henry

Nadia Henry doesn’t only plan cruises for clients, she also often hosts groups on cruises as well.

Courtesy of Travel With Sparkle

Nadia Henry, Travel With Sparkle

Nadia Henry, owner of Travel With Sparkle in West Orange, New Jersey, is an expert when it comes to coordinating luxury group travel trips, including group getaways at sea. She’s even fashioned a title for herself as a ‘CCIG specialist,’ concentrating on the Caribbean, cruises, and international group travel. You’ll want to keep Henry on your travel advisor list when your group wants to set sail on an ocean cruise, and particularly if your crew is interested in personally traveling with a travel advisor. Henry hosts a number of group trips throughout the year, helping to ensure her travelers have the peace of mind they’re looking for through a hands-on experience with their trusted travel professional. Among her upcoming group cruise trips is a 7-day luxury yacht cruise exploring Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast from Split to Dubrovnik aboard the 18-cabin MV Auriela yacht, owned by Katarina Cruise Line, that will depart on August 3, 2024.

George Aballi, Connection to Cruise

George Aballi, owner of Connection to Cruise in Redlands, California, should be on your radar when it comes to cruising, especially for travelers looking for a more active cruise experience. As a seasoned cruiser himself, Aballi has more than 20 years of experience in the travel industry pairing travelers with a trusted roster of oceangoing brands that include Silversea, Celebrity Cruises, Explora Journeys, and Hurtigruten Expeditions. Aballi also books river cruises for clients with brands like AmaWaterways, American Queen Voyages, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and Viking. Lately, Aballi has been putting together group cruise trips that focus on pickleball and incorporating the widely popular sport into cruise itineraries both at sea and on Europe’s rivers.

Best for planning a luxury cruise

A self-proclaimed adventure travel enthusiast, Joshua Bush is as well versed in adrenaline as he is in luxury travel.

A self-proclaimed adventure travel enthusiast, Joshua Bush is as well versed in adrenaline as he is in luxury travel.

Courtesy of Avenue Two Travel

Joshua Bush, Avenue Two Travel

CEO of luxury travel agency Avenue Two Travel in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and member of the AFAR Travel Advisor Council, Joshua Bush is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to luxury travel both on land and at sea. He’s a thought-leader in the luxury travel space and a regular consultant for high-end organizations like Virtuoso, making Bush more than qualified to help travelers not only find the right luxury cruise experience, but help them understand what luxury means to them and their needs while on vacation. And as an added bonus, Bush is an avid adventure traveler and can also be of service in helping you add an adventure element to your trip.

Best for planning a luxury expedition cruise

Judy Perl, Judy Perl Travel

There likely isn’t a name more synonymous with cruise travel than Judy Perl and her eponymous travel company, Judy Perl Travel. Perl, who also serves on the AFAR Travel Advisor Council, and her travel company have long-standing relationships with top of the line expedition cruise companies, such as Ponant, Scenic Luxury Cruises, and Seabourn, which offer luxury yacht-style expeditions in a number of polar and tropical destinations. She has spent more than 22 years crafting cruise itineraries for travelers, specializing in niche, luxury experiences. If you’re looking for a sailing that is a bit more thrilling than what traditional ocean and river cruising may offer, look to Perl to book your next expedition cruise.

Best for planning a river cruise

Suzy Schreiner, Azure Blue Vacations

Don’t know where to begin when picking a river cruise? Even if you’ve already experienced a river cruise or two, it’s helpful to have someone like Suzy Schreiner, owner of Azure Blue Vacations in Bothell, Washington, on your side to navigate such choice-filled territory. As a leading travel advisor in the industry, Schreiner not only knows how to book the kind of river cruise experience you want, but she also comes with a wealth of insight and information about river cruising for first timers, as well as travel tips, and how to get the most out of your experience onshore as well.

Best for planning a canal barge cruise

Ellen Sack, Barge Lady Cruises

It’s hard to talk about canal barge cruising without thinking of Ellen Sack, aka the Barge Lady and expert in the world of all things European barge cruising. Sack and her family-run travel company work as brokers for canal barge cruises in Europe, connecting travelers to the right sailing experience to suit their needs. From whole barge charters to booking an individual cabin on a classic barge, the world of canal barge cruises differs quite a bit from river cruises, offering slightly shorter itineraries in more intimate settings, accommodating anywhere between two and 20 people, compared to the upwards of 150 travelers that river cruise ships can host. You’ll find everything you need to know about sailing on waterways like the scenic Canal du Midi in the South of France or the Caledonian Canal in the Scottish Highlands with help from Sack and the rest of the Barge Lady crew.

headshot of Gloria Hobbins of Global Village Travels.

Want to custom design a cruise to fit your unique interests? Call Gloria Hobbins of Global Village Travels.

Courtesy of Global Village Travels

Best for planning special interest and custom cruises

Gloria Hobbins, Global Village Travels

If you consider the world to be your oyster when daydreaming about your next cruise, think of Gloria Hobbins of Global Village Travels as the pearl at the heart of making your dream vacation plans come true. Hobbins is a unique kind of advisor in that she doesn’t limit herself to specializing only in ocean or river or small ship cruising—she’s ready to specially craft and curate a cruise to your needs and desires. Looking for a Peruvian Amazon river cruise that also takes you on a deep dive through the region to experience its rich and diverse cultures? How about a multi-river cruise journey that combines a sailing in Southeast Asia with a luxury yacht sailing along the Atlantic coast of West Africa that ventures into Senegal and Gambia? Hobbins can connect the dots for you on your globe-trotting trip of a lifetime.

Best for planning a LGBTQ+ cruise

Michael Henderson, B.A.G. Travel

For LGBTQ+ travelers, including travelers of color and those who are traveling solo, Mike Henderson is a great travel advisor to help you get started on your path to exploring the world of cruising with other like-minded travelers. He’s been organizing group travel for the LGBTQ+ community for more than 20 years and is the founder of B.A.G. Travel, a travel agency that specializes in curating group trips for solo LGBTQ+ travelers that puts a focus on creating a social and welcoming environment. Henderson crafts trips around social events in destinations all over the world, such as Pride festivals, New Year’s Eve, and Oktoberfest, in hopes of creating a safe, inclusive, and interactive environment for travelers.

Best for planning a family-friendly cruise

Darlene McClung, Frosch Vacations

When you need an advisor who understands the needs of not only group travel but specifically traveling as a family, Darlene McClung of Frosch Vacations has got you covered. McClung has a wide variety of expertise in ocean, river, and small-ship cruising, and extensive experience sending families of all shapes and sizes on successful trips around the world. Attentive, patient, and detail-oriented, no stone will be left unturned when it comes to planning the trip of a lifetime with your loved ones with McClung by your side.

Michelle Allen, Travel Magic

Consider Michelle Allen, owner of Travel Magic in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, the fairy godmother of your next family vacation. Allen is a specialist in all things Disney travel, from Disney’s iconic theme parks, to ocean cruises with Disney Cruise Lines, to European river cruises and land tours with Adventures by Disney. Multigenerational trips and bucket-list group adventures are some of the most in-demand types of trips Allen handles regularly. And with so many different layers to booking a trip with Disney these days for multiple people, Allen is a welcome addition to the planning team for your next family vacation.

Nicole Edenedo is a travel journalist covering the tour operator and river cruise industries as senior editor for leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly. She also contributes to AFAR, Cruise Critic, ASTA Magazine, and Apartment Therapy.
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