Another Line Says No to Discounting -- Are Deals Drying Up?

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#2
Hudson Valley New York
628 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
I think the no discounting policy is long overdue. No more shopping around at hundreds of sites for best pricing. I haven't used a TA in years and actually prefer not to. I've found dealing directly with the cruiseline is easier and faster. It also gives me 24/7 access to my reservation, documents, choices for excursions, etc... Using a TA normally means only being able to conduct business during their hours, when the TA shows up for work, if they're not out to lunch or on another line with a different customer. These are things that don't happen when you deal direct with the Cruise Lines. There is always someone there, day or night, when it's convenient for me. If I don't want to do it by phone, I can simply book it online.
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#3
516 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
I have never ued a TA in my life. Its a waste of time looking for prices in different places. Not to mention that you dont even know who you are doing business ober the internet. I dont even like to have a TA from the cruiline either. When I want to make a change or anything , I want to make it righyt away. I had a TA from carnival that getting in touch with him was rally hard. Since that day, I book online , unless its the wow sale to make sure that I get the 100 OBC. I bet sometimes I know more than those TA. this day u only ned google , youtube and cruise critics
#4
Oregon
1,381 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
I don't think deals are going away, because I am seeing the cruise lines offering more and more now.
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#5
Nearby Baltimore, MD
273 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
The free market in cruises will not end. As it is there is an imbalance that favors the consumer. Once the boat leaves, all empty rooms "spoil" and fail to produce revenue for the cruise line, and for the hired help depending on tips and other gratuities. Toss in such mega-ships as Oasis, Epic, Solstice, Liberty and the others, and there will continue to be good deals up and down the fare list. Supply and demand...free markets...they work to everyone's advantage.
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#6
625 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Whatwe are always looking for deals and I couldn't really get one from carnival. I was one of those who got a great deal from an outside vendor. I called Carnival first and then shopped around. I was quoted $200-250 below their best rate. In these days and times I had to take the deal.
For us cruising isn't cheap although its a good deal because of including food, but if we vacation we can't afford 4 star restaurants 3 meals a day. So we really have to save up to have our good time.
I can't believe that some people have so many cruises booked and lined up. It's expensive.
We don't do credit cards so its a big trip for us.
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#7
Southwest Florida
6,917 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
I think it levels the playing field. We always find our own cruises and sometimes book them ourselves. Then we transfer to our TA. She deals with all the other things (dining times, beds together/apart). Once it's all set, she then either gives us a little OBC or, if we're in a balcony (or higher) she gives us pre-paid gratuities. It's very nice to have someone looking out for us. And any extras don't come out of my bottom line. I can't imagine a reason NOT to use my TA. Everyone keeps talking about having control of their bookings. Once it's set, why do you need to keep worrying about everything? Oh, and we only cruise Royal Caribbean so this "lower price" thing has never been an issue.
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#8
647 Posts
Joined Oct 2003
Are deals dead? Not completely. As someone pointed out earlier, when sailings don't sell as well as the cruise line would like, they will lower prices (or at the very least offer senior or resident rates) in order to fill the rooms. And these lower prices will be available through the cruise lines as well as through the travel professionals that sell them.

However, this will reduce the deals that can be "shopped around" but only to a degree. The cruise fare will be the same across the board ... either from the cruise line, or your local travel professional, or from an anonymous online travel agency. The only difference, if any, will be any pre-approved non-cash amenities that agencies can offer (OBC, bottles of wine, etc.). And even that will be limited to no more than 10% of the total cruise fare.

There will always be a segment of travelers (not just cruisers) that will want to "do it yourself" and book direct. Although booking through a travel professional still allows you to access (and book) your own excursions, and to check in online, they still want complete control of their booking. Even when they can get an OBC from a travel professional, they will still prefer booking themselves. That won't change.

There will also be a segment of travelers with no loyalty to a travel professional or even to a cruise line, that will only be interested in getting as much of an OBC (or other offer) possible. They will change cruise lines in a heartbeat, and they will jump from one travel agency to another in a heartbet. That also won't change.

The third segment of travelers are those that recognize the value of having a travel professional in their corner. They book with them, not based on price, but based on service and value. They are not inclined to book direct. And they aren't included to change travel professionals, unless there's an issue with service. And this won't change.

So "deals" are not totally dead, just reigned in a bit maybe. And this will not kill travel agents ... they have more lives than cats (20 years ago it was predicted that airlines cutting commissions would kill them; then it was thought 9/11 would be the end of them).
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Susan
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#9
146 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Originally posted by PattyG12
I think it levels the playing field. We always find our own cruises and sometimes book them ourselves. Then we transfer to our TA. She deals with all the other things (dining times, beds together/apart). Once it's all set, she then either gives us a little OBC or, if we're in a balcony (or higher) she gives us pre-paid gratuities. It's very nice to have someone looking out for us. And any extras don't come out of my bottom line. I can't imagine a reason NOT to use my TA. Everyone keeps talking about having control of their bookings. Once it's set, why do you need to keep worrying about everything? Oh, and we only cruise Royal Caribbean so this "lower price" thing has never been an issue.
Being a travel agent myself I have many clients that do just what you do. They like the fact that I am the one watching for special rates and that I take care of them before and after the cruise. It's all about SERVICE now and if you don't care about service then book with the cruise line but they will never even give you a bottle of wine much less a Shipboard credit. I usually offer something to most of my clients. I dont on 3 to 5 day cruises but I do on everything else. My clients can reach me up to 10pm every night and if I am out of my office my calls go to my cell phone.

So you just need to find the right agent. I love that the cruise lines are stopping the rebating now maybe I can make a little more than minium wage!!!
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Maureen
#10
North Carolina
57 Posts
Joined May 2007
I am not a TA but I use one for everything I do with traveling. I know that sometimes I do not get the lowest fare but the advantages are worth it. I have an advocate on my side and she can not only get the answers, she can advise me on what to do. Had a situation once when the group she booked missed the flight home because the ship was delayed over 8 hours. He emailed the night before they were to arrive in port and she had flights booked for all later that night. Most poeple did not get out till the next day. And the part I like best is at least some of the money I spend on a vacation gets to stay in the local economy.
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#11
Boston
8,254 Posts
Joined May 2006
This policy might make more sense for Carnival and other lines who spend so much on marketing and are selling a generic product (Caribbean cruises to the same islands) and less sense for lines like Princess or HAL who have a wide variety of itineraries and higher end European, Asian, and other more exotic itineraries. I still like the $200 gift card I get from my wholesale club TA and the better prices on lines that still let TAs discount.
#12
1 Posts
Joined May 2010
As long as this economy is in the doldrums, cruise lines will always offer some form of a discount policy - even if it is with a wink. It's in their best interest to sell a cabin - even for a discount - than to have it empty.
No discounts? Don't take that for an answer.
#13
336 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by maureen716
Being a travel agent myself I have many clients that do just what you do. They like the fact that I am the one watching for special rates and that I take care of them before and after the cruise. It's all about SERVICE now and if you don't care about service then book with the cruise line but they will never even give you a bottle of wine much less a Shipboard credit. I usually offer something to most of my clients. I dont on 3 to 5 day cruises but I do on everything else. My clients can reach me up to 10pm every night and if I am out of my office my calls go to my cell phone.

So you just need to find the right agent. I love that the cruise lines are stopping the rebating now maybe I can make a little more than minium wage!!!
I have used a travel agent and booked myself direct with the cruise line, both have worked well. I think a good TA is worth their weight in gold for many of the reasons stated above but unfortuneately there are a lot of bad ones out there booking people on cruises that have no idea what they are doing. I am currently working with a cruise consultant at NCL who has been nothing short of spectacular, she is arranging a 35th anniversary celebration for us, upgraded my kids cabin, noticed the cabin I wanted was right accross from an access door and suggested another one, and has always returned my calls within a few minutes. She treats me like I want to be treated and that is that my business is important to her and that I am valued as a customer.
#14
Manchester England
512 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
I suppose this only applies to the USa TAs.There has always been an imbalance between the USA market and the UK market with the major cruise lines.When we tell US passengers the prices we pay, allowing for the ancillary costs,port charges etc, they usually are in askance.Even a US TA to whom we spoke on the HAL Eurodam was amazed at the discrepancies between our 2 systems. Now perhaps we in the UK will reap the advantages for a change.
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Pollardsboar
Been to so many places so many more to go to.
#15
179 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
It will only make a difference if the policies are actually enforced. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have had their policy for a few years, but it has been nothing more than lip service. There are mega agencies that routinely rebate more than the permitted amounts, and even though other agencies file complaints, nothing is done. If Carnival and NCL follow suit, all this press will be over nothing.
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Steve

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#16
Brisbane Australia
3 Posts
Joined May 2009
As a member of a large group of friends cruising next year I can say that American Cruise Lines have discriminated against Non US clients for years.Hence our decision for our large group is to boycott them until there is a level playing field. I emailed many Lines and discounters and had no satisfactory reply to convince us here in Australia to ever return to Lines that many of us have used for many years.
Sad but true
#17
Vancouver
2 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
So the cruise lines are 'prohibiting' discounts. Well guess again - that is illegal! It's called price-fixing, and it amounts to restraint of trade. Someone should challenge this, make sure the government is aware of it. They cannot maintain such policies for long.

Discounting will always exist, there will always be a need to fill empty cabins, and agents will always compete with one another. In the age of the Internet, discounting will increase, not end.
#18
179 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by Doc-Ian
So the cruise lines are 'prohibiting' discounts. Well guess again - that is illegal! It's called price-fixing, and it amounts to restraint of trade. Someone should challenge this, make sure the government is aware of it. They cannot maintain such policies for long.

Discounting will always exist, there will always be a need to fill empty cabins, and agents will always compete with one another. In the age of the Internet, discounting will increase, not end.
Actually, you are wrong there. They are simply requiring that their agents submit full gross funds for any booking. There is no law prohibiting that. If you don't like that, you don't have to be an agent for them. Unlike, say Home Depot and selling hammers, we don't buy cabins from the cruise lines and resell them. We act only as independent sales agents. We do not maintain an inventory of product. That's the difference that keeps it from being restraint of trade.

Having said that, I'm sure that those agents that want to provide discounts will do so in ways that are "off the books". They will give money back in the form of pre-paid cards, or even just send you a check after the fact. But, if the cruise lines actually enforce their policies, you will have to pay the full gross, and the amount of gift the agents can give "on the books" will be strictly limited.
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Steve

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