How to find a good TA

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#21
Clifton, NJ
2,822 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Originally posted by Thrak
I was under the impression that excursions could still be booked after boarding and that would allow using OBC to pay for them when the OBC wasn't posted until boarding. I haven't seen anything stating that all excursions will have to be paid in advance. Can you please point me to the source of this information? We have a very long (49 day) cruise booked and will want to book excursions after boarding using OBC that won't post to the account in advance.


I think the poster meant that if you want a confirmed excursion reservation prior to boarding you will have to pay when you reserve. Not that excursions need to be booked prior to boarding. Of course I could be wrong.


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#22
SF Bay Area, CA
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Thrak, you are correct. However most of the best shorex could be already filled if you wait until you board to book them.

For example, a sail on a private boat in Bora Bora took only 6 passengers while Princess sends busloads to Mendenhall Glacier.
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#23
Chico, California
8,487 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Originally posted by cflutist
Thrak, you are correct. However most of the best shorex could be already filled if you wait until you board to book them.

For example, a sail on a private boat in Bora Bora took only 6 passengers while Princess sends busloads to Mendenhall Glacier.
I'm good for my next two cruises but we booked the 49 day Regal repo FLL to LA around the horn. It doesn't sail until February 2019. If I go with a TA that gives out a ton of OBC (I'd rather use my regular TA but I can't see how he could match something of that sort) I'd want to use the OBC for booking excursions.
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#24
League City, TX
39,602 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by Thrak
I was under the impression that excursions could still be booked after boarding and that would allow using OBC to pay for them when the OBC wasn't posted until boarding. I haven't seen anything stating that all excursions will have to be paid in advance. Can you please point me to the source of this information? We have a very long (49 day) cruise booked and will want to book excursions after boarding using OBC that won't post to the account in advance.
You are correct. Only excursions booked in advance need to be paid for in advance. However, there are two problems with waiting until boarding the ship to reserve the excursions:

a) The excursion you want may be sold out. Every time I have boarded there is a list of sold out excursions.


b) Excursions often cost more when booked on board than when booked in advance. I have seen on board pricing for some excursions 10% to 30% higher than what I had to pay with advance booking.

As Princess keeps building larger ships and sailing them to ports with limited tourist infrastructure (for example a Royal class ship in the Falkland Islands), Many passengers will be disappointed that there are not enough ship and private excursions available to meet the demand, so early advance booking is necessary to take those excursions.
#25
Twin Cities MN
390 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Originally posted by caribill
As Princess keeps building larger ships and sailing them to ports with limited tourist infrastructure (for example a Royal class ship in the Falkland Islands), Many passengers will be disappointed that there are not enough ship and private excursions available to meet the demand, so early advance booking is necessary to take those excursions.
Thats what I'm concerned about. I have not pre paid an excursion before but this cruise may be an exception.
#26
Va Beach VA
368 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by Todd320
Thats what I'm concerned about. I have not pre paid an excursion before but this cruise may be an exception.
Looking at my next cruise, I have booked excursions and the amount shows up in the Payments/Credits section in the Personalizer. I don't think you have to pay before you board but I haven't run out of OBC yet. It looks like the cancellation policy is tougher but I was able to book the times I wanted. Maybe they are tightening up on people who "wish list" excursions just to cancel later.

"If a pre-paid shore excursion is cancelled five (5) days or more prior to sailing a refund of the pre-paid amount will be made in one of the following ways:
1) If there is a shore excursion balance for the guest named on the reservation being cancelled then the pre-paid amount shall be applied to this balance.
Or,
2) If there is no shore excursion balance for the guest named on the reservation being cancelled then the pre-paid amount will be refunded to the credit card used to pre-pay the shore excursion. Refunds in this instance will be made within 24 hours of cancellation. If the guest for whom the pre-paid excursion is being cancelled makes another shore excursion reservation within 24 hours of cancellation, the refund will be applied to the newly made reservation.
If a pre-paid shore excursion is not cancelled within the above time frame or is cancelled during the voyage prior to the "Closing Time for Cancellation" listed for the particular excursion you wish to cancel, then the pre-paid amount will be refunded to the guest named on the pre-paid reservation as a shipboard credit on this guest's shipboard folio. Please note this is done regardless of which guest pre-paid for the shore excursion."
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#27
Minnesota
62 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
We are looking at a possible cruise the fall of 2019 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and would like to take all of our kids, kids spouses and grand-kids (20+ people ages adult down to 3 years old).
We will be needing a very reliable TA to make this happen cost effectively. I think a TA will be our best bet to get the best deals, itineraries, air fare, and any other perks. To many things to go wrong when dealing with this many people.
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#28
5,200 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by caribill
All TAs, online or not, can not advertise a price lower than what Princess charges, even if the TA will give a discount.

To find out what a TA will really charge, you need to contact the TA and ask for a quote.
This is exactly correct. I know it would be great if one could get the best price using google but it doesn't work that way. You have to call or email to get the best price. BTW, it is a good sign when the TA site has a block "Request a Quote".

BTW, you can see the extra OBC for that Big Box store after you log in.
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#29
Atlanta
735 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
It's important to know the difference between a full service agency and a call center.
Call centers will always have the lowest prices because from what I understand, they are giving up some of their commission.
If you want a full service agent, you might be better off with a full price agency. It all depends on what's more important to you.
Personally, I love hunting for lower prices and then calling my call center agent to be re-fared.
Price is more important to me than info.
The internet has made it much easier to research boats and ports and other info we used to rely on full service agents to provide.




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#30
League City, TX
39,602 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Originally posted by CineGraphic
It's important to know the difference between a full service agency and a call center. Call centers will always have the lowest prices because from what I understand, they are giving up some of their commission.
If you want a full service agent, you might be better off with a full price agency. It all depends on what's more important to you.
Not sure of your definition of a full service agency.

If you mean an agency that also does hotels, car rentals, plane flights, etc., then that is also a full service agency to me.

If you mean an agency that handles only cruises but handles all aspects of them, that is a full service cruise agency to me.


In general, a TA specializing in cruises will be more knowledgeable about cruising than a "we can book anything" TA.


Some TAs specializing in cruising will offer discounts and some will not.
#31
Atlanta
735 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Originally posted by caribill
Not sure of your definition of a full service agency.

If you mean an agency that also does hotels, car rentals, plane flights, etc., then that is also a full service agency to me.

If you mean an agency that handles only cruises but handles all aspects of them, that is a full service cruise agency to me.


In general, a TA specializing in cruises will be more knowledgeable about cruising than a "we can book anything" TA.


Some TAs specializing in cruising will offer discounts and some will not.
Full service vs Call Center:

Full Service: Info about ships, itinerary, ports of call. Many can book your transfers and excursions.

Call Center: Handles prices quotes and books your reservations for cruises and associated flights.
Cruises will be at a discounted price, usually with extra OBC or some other perk.
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#32
Gloucester UK
325 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
You guys in the USA are much luckier than us in the UK. I have tried a number of TAs and frankly the savings are a few pounds. Last year essentially went out to tender to five TAs giving them full details including cabin number so no work for them, they were all within £40 of each other with no obc. Of course prices in the US are less than the UK, although some companies not caught up with devaluation of pound yet, but that is another story.
#33
24,825 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by CineGraphic
Full service vs Call Center:

Full Service: Info about ships, itinerary, ports of call. Many can book your transfers and excursions.

Call Center: Handles prices quotes and books your reservations for cruises and associated flights.
Cruises will be at a discounted price, usually with extra OBC or some other perk.
So are you saying a full service agency won't discount cruises? I guess I disagree with this.

I don't think one can easily define things this way.
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#34
Atlanta
735 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Originally posted by Coral
So are you saying a full service agency won't discount cruises? I guess I disagree with this.

I don't think one can easily define things this way.
I think the best prices come from call centers, since they sacrifice a portion of their commission.
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#35
UK
2,172 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Originally posted by madmacs
You guys in the USA are much luckier than us in the UK. I have tried a number of TAs and frankly the savings are a few pounds. Last year essentially went out to tender to five TAs giving them full details including cabin number so no work for them, they were all within £40 of each other with no obc. Of course prices in the US are less than the UK, although some companies not caught up with devaluation of pound yet, but that is another story.
Princess cruises are cheaper to book in the U.K. At the moment
#36
24,825 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by CineGraphic
I think the best prices come from call centers, since they sacrifice a portion of their commission.
I use an agent who is across the country. She used to have a brick and mortar shop but most of her clients were through phone/email, so she now has a home office (with staff). When I call or email, I get her or if she isn't there, someone in her office covers for her. She is a top producer with many lines, has traveled on all the major lines and most ships (and some non major lines). She discounts but knows her cruises quite well and offers real first hand advice on ports and lines. What do you call this? She is not a call center? I call this a full service cruise agency.

On a flip side, 20 plus years ago or so - I went into a brick and mortar travel agency and booked a few cruises from an agent. She had never cruised before and pushed me to a line that was not right for me or who I was traveling with (Carnival). Looking back - when I described what I wanted, Carnival would have been the last line choice for me. On top of that, she had never been on a cruise before. I even asked if I should fly in a day or two before (trip out of San Juan) and she strongly suggested no, probably because she couldn't figure out how to book airs and transfers that deviated from cruise air. So by your definition this is a full service agency but their knowledge was minimal? They just hand out brochures of what they have.

Things are not as cut and dry as you state. I will take my agent who discounts who lives across the country and answers my emails and phone calls very quickly. There is no way this is considered a call center. She is a real agent.
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#37
Wine Country, California
1,617 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Forget the TA and just use one of the big cruise discounts sites online or big box store.
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#38
7,499 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
I have been using the same agency for years. Most likely about 16 years.I just walked in off the street and talk to a agent. She was very nice and helpful. I used her for about 5 years. I went back in to the agency and found that she had just left the agency for a job in a ins company. She got out of the travel business. I did get to speak to her and it was true. That day there was a new woman working there, who offered to help me. A wonderful person. She said that she had big shoes to fill, but give her a chance. I did, and I am so happy with here over the past 10 years. Her rates are good, sometimes there is OBC. but her service is wonderful. Over the years we have had things happen where the travel insurance had to be used. She would even check the filled forms out and mail them for me. She has had to deal with a lot of things with us. From my sister in law having to leave mid cruise to a friend of a friend who was traveling with us, who ended up in the hospital. Phone call from her to us on the ship etc.
On our up coming X cruise, the rate dropped. I called her, and she did better that the dropped rate that I saw by $400.!
The main thing that I like about her is the great service. We now have 4 more cruise book with her. Three on Princess and one on X. The X one happened because we could not find the same cruise on Princes at the time we needed to go.
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