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Does your TA really get lower prices seen on-line??
I've read a few posts recently that if you see a lower price on-line inform your travel agent and they can get you the lower fare from HAL.
We've booked a cruise fo later this year with our TA. Since booking, thanks to this site, I've checked out some of the cruise on-line sites and found lower prices. I brought this to my TA's attention and he informed me that HAL will not honor the lower fare because it isn't the deal his agency has with HAL. Long story short, the difference wasn't all that much as my TA offset with on board credits etc...
So..has anyone actually received a rate reduction by pointing out a lower fare from a differnt travel provider to their travel provider?? I'm not talking about a HAL price reduction, My TA will, and does, follow up with HAL to obtain those for us.
My TA has told me that cruise lines offer different deals to different parts of the country to stimulate business. I have checked the HAL website and prices and saw and considerable lowering in price on our Hawaii cruise ($900 pp) and phoned my TA and she was about to get the lower price for us. Seems HAL lowered the price for a couple of weeks I guess to stimulate interest. But I think different agencies get different "blocks" and "deals" negotiated and cannot offer what the internet companies have "negotiated". So, sometimes I just book through the internet agency, my favorite being Best Price Cruises (booked our upcoming Oosterdam Alaska cruise with them and got a great price on a suite, better than what my TA was offering online).
I booked my upcoming Maasdam cruise with an on-line agency (bestpricecruises). I then saw a lower price on HAL one day(a rarity, and have not seen the same low price since) and my TA at bpc got me the lower price. I cut and pasted the information for her and she called HAL(after nice persistence on my part). She wasn't too happy about it, and I am no longer using BPC for future cruises. I have come to realize the value of a TA. I now use an independent Cruise Planner TA, and I have the best of both worlds. I find the lowest price on-line and she matches it, plus I have friendly service.
HAL - MAASDAM - June 2004/Canada/New England
RCI - Mariner of the Seas,
Sept 2004(CC Group Cruise)
RCI - Rhapsody of the Seas
RCI Majesty of the Seas - Spring Break, March 2005
Celebrity Mercury, April 2005
Caribbean Princess, Sept 2005
(CC Group Cruise)
I do know that HAL will not give the same rate to all agents. I just found a great deal on a 11-05 cruise we were previously booked on and they tried to match it but HAL would not give them the same rate. So we are forced into leaving a great agency and going with another to save a substansial amount of money. Seems HAL would make it easier and if you can show them what another agency is selling their cruise for they will allow the agent to get the same rate. Doing it the way they did by not matching is forcing TA out of business when they have great customer service and clients but HAL will not give them the same rate as others.
You are trying to hit a moving target. Sometimes you might score. I like to get online quotes, print them out. Get a price from at least 2 TAs. If they are more than $50 off I FAX them the online quote and 9 times out of 10 they will match it. Now after I have booked and I find a lower price I print it out again and 9 times out of 10 the TA can get a refund or credit. My last weeks Maasdam cruise I got a $350 check back from TA when I FAXed a lower online quote and this was one month before sail date so long after the final payment. A lot of this would have to do with your actual TA. Are they a big outfit thats been doing buisness for 20 years or a fly by night working out of trunk of car stay at home type. In matters like this sometimes bigger is better.
We have been using the same the agency and TA for over 20 years.
Anytime we have seen a rate decrease for one of our cruises, we call her, she calls HAL, and we get the lower rate. We have even been given credit on our credit cards when the prices drop after final payment.
Unfortunately, if you book a category that sells out quickly, it is never discounted and this usually happens to us. The Hawaii cruise was book so far in advance that they did lower the price for about a week. We are booked on a Celebrity cruise for New Years in a sky suite and they are the only category completely sold out months ago, so there won't be any discount. We got a great price on our Oosterdam cruise 6/26 because fortunately, the suites were not sold out and we book <60 days before the cruise so they deeply discounted what was left. I guess it is all supply and demand and marketing!
I've been working with a TA for years. If I give her the information on a reduction she is usually able to get that price. Even though she may lose some commission she feels that if I'm doing the work then I should get the benefit.
Just booked the Oosterdam S suite for 10/24/04 and was able to find a better price in the internet than she had. I received the lower price. It does take some work but it can be very worth it. Besides, it's lots of fun.
I booked our upcoming cruise with my faithful TA even though an online price was around $350 per person cheaper. She called HAL and was told "no way." Since this agency had gone to bat for me in the past, I went ahead with the booking. About 2 weeks later, my TA called with a price that was $800 per person cheaper! It's less than what HAL has on their website right now.
So sometimes, yes ... a good TA can conjure up a deal. I'm sure they are more inclined to do this for a good customer who provides a somewhat regular revenue stream for them. That's why I stick with my TA.
I also have a great TA, I will research several on line prices keep a log, then I call her and tell her what I have found. Just 2 weeks ago she matched my Western Caribbean plus gave us $150 on board credit. I would not of gotten the ship board credit using the on line servces. Then my Sea of Cortez on the Ryndam was a shocker, because her agency had already blocked rooms for a tour group I saved over $100 per person of the cheapest price I found plus got $50.00 ship board credit. I was thrilled.
For airlines and hotel I always book myself on line, but a cruise I would never consider it. To me cruising requires a good TA who has documented all your Mariner numbers and Frequent Flyer numbers, birthdays, anniverserys etc. They also watch prices dropped and work the cruise lines.
Monarch of the Seas-March 2002 West. Carib.
MS Zuiderdam-April 2003 East.Carib.
Monarch of the Seas-December 2003 Baja Mexico
MS Oosterdam-May 2004 Alaska
Till we set sail on the MS Ryndam-Sea of Cortez-November 2004
Till We set sail on the MS Westerdam-Western Caribbean March 2005
Speaking of lower prices/price disparities, I was just perusing transats and found a 11/9/04 Prinsendam 11 day transat (Lisbon/FLL) for a full 4K less, for a Cat S, on cruise.com than on HAL, BPC, and Travelocity. 5.6K prox, all in. This itinerary lists for over 9K elsewhere.
Mistake? If someone else can duplicate this and get a confirmation, it would be interesting to see what would happen. We're already committed in November otherwise I'd do it. Maybe next year
For anyone that is booked on the 8/30 Westerdam sailing, you should definitely call your TA for the huge price reduction. We just saved almost $1200. email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.