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Barbara Neistat

Encino, California Travel Agent

River and Ocean Cruise Expert

Wise travelers understand that booking a cruise through a travel agent can save them money as well as help them avoid picking a ship that looks great in the ads and brochures but does not provide the experience they are looking for. 

As a Virtuoso travel agent, I can provide you with many added amenities that you cannot get on your own: shipboard credits that can be used for spa treatments, special dining experiences and other purchases as well as other allowances that can be applied toward travel insurance and shore excursions. On many sailings, there are also special events and activities, both onboard and ashore, for Virtuoso clients.  

I also can plan pre- and post-cruise stays at hotels that also provide special Virtuoso amenities such as complimentary breakfasts, Wi-Fi and other value-added extras and arrange for private guides and unique experiences. 

Most importantly, working with me, all your arrangements with be coordinated so that your pre- and post-cruise travel seamlessly connects with your cruise, and if there is a problem, you have someone to put the piece back together. For example, one of my clients had their flight canceled due to weather and every flight was sold out. However, I immediately jumped and quickly was able to rebook them on a flight that got them to their cruise on time.  

As a cruise specialist, I intimately understand the differences between the lines and how the pricing works. Often clients request premium lines such as Princess or Celebrity because their prices seem lower than luxury lines such as Regent and Crystal. However, in addition to a more luxurious experience, the top-tier lines provide more inclusive pricing. When you tally up the cost of all the add-ons--airfare, shore excursions, gratuities, and drink packages on the premium lines, they actually can cost more. Regent even includes business class flights in its pricing.   

Unlike ocean liners, the size of river ships is limited by the fact that they all need to fit into the same canal locks. Plus, almost all include drinks and excursions in their pricing. The difference is in service, décor and food quality. For these reasons, I usually suggest Uniworld, AmaWaterways, and Crystal. As with ocean cruise lines, as a Virtuoso agent, I can arrange special amenities other value-added extras on these top lines. 

Whether you are a veteran cruiser who has been making your own reservations or thinking of taking your first cruise, I can ensure that you select the best cruise for your goals and get the best deals and value-added amenities to sweeten your trip.

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