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About nycruiser80

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    Westchester County, NY
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  1. I always use a TA but I am partial to them as I used to work in that industry. My travel agent is my former coworker and he is excellent, I wouldn’t think of booking direct. He has a lot of experience cruising and knows the ins and outs of the industry. On every cruise I book with I get whatever rate the cruise line offers (as well as any OBCs they are offering) plus onboard credit or free gratuities or sometimes both from the travel agent’s office. There are times he has group space on some cruises which makes the cruise price less than booking direct with the cruise line. He also monitors prices and gets me price drops IF they apply to me. Last year he booked an Azamara sailing for me. Price went down after final by a lot and I wasn’t entitled to the price drop. He was able to negotiate a nice upgrade for me. The one time I did book direct, I ended up having issues with two incompetent cruise line agents though to be fair that was through Princess not Celebrity. It really is is a personal preference. I’m the type of person that I book my cruise and I am done. I have no need to keep calling the cruise line and have control over my booking. For my needs there isn’t anything to control, my agent tracks prices for any promos I’m qualified for and I’m set.
  2. There are two ways TA's get lower rates than the cruise lines. 1. As everyone has mentioned group rates. The larger the agency the more group space they hold and on more sailings. When you book early you book into the space and it usually is much less than booking direct with cruise line. 2. Large high-performing agencies get preferred rates from certain cruise lines. The travel agency in turn is allowed to sell these special fares to the public. These fares are for specific sailings that tend to have sluggish sales performance. Other than that, agencies must charge the same fares the cruise lines are promoting. Thankfully, travel agents can offer OBC, free gratuities and other perks on the regular promos the cruise lines offer. If you find the right agent/agency you will essentially come out ahead than if you were to book directly.
  3. Look for ones that offer perks on top of the what is being offered. I have an agent who always provides the same rate and promos as the cruise lines does plus perks they give me. Or, at times they have group space and their rates are better than the cruise line.
  4. A relative of mine will be cruising NCL in Feb on the Bliss out of NY. She is not good with the internet and the computer and was wondering so she doesn't come on Cruise Critic. She wanted to know if juicing is available on NCL ship's. It has been awhile since I cruised on NCL and unfortunately NCL can't answer this question (we called multiple times). Do they offer juicing on-board for a fee? More particularly, orange or carrot juice? I know other lines do orange juice and Royal had different vege juices at the Spa bar on the Allure. How does NCL handle this? Many thanks!
  5. Try not to be too unhappy. Seems they were looking out for your best interest at least that’s the way I see it from having been on the other side of it. I too have held space on a tight sailing when a new inquiring customer merely expresssed interest about a cruise using the names they gave me. But I guess I can see where you are coming from, you felt it was presumptuous of them.
  6. I used to be a TA and I would hold rooms even if the client was unsure. I would do this especially if I saw the sailing they wanted had limited availability. In many cases, this was a life saver as the clients were shopping around I had a room for them holding for a few days and if they didn't want it then it would just cancel. In travel, trip components can change very, very rapidly therefore the price quote and availability you can have one minute can possibly not be available the next minute (literally). When I used to sell travel, people would be surprised how fast inventory can change and at times would get angry when what was quoted was no longer available.
  7. I have done three Disney cruises with adults only and it was great. Most of the time I saw less kids than other lines because of the adults only places on the ship. I am planning on doing another adult Disney Cruise possibly this coming February. I thought it was a great experience.
  8. I sailed the old Celebrity back in 90, 91, 98 and 01 and I just returned to Celebrity this summer on the Summit. I know what you mean, while Celebrity is still a nice cruise line and I loved the new decor on the Summit, for me it was a shell of what it once was. This summer, I also had the opportunity to sail the Azamara Pursuit. This was my first time on Azamara and In my experience, it was the best cruise I have ever been on. Azamara was definitely a step-up from Celebrity. The ship was just the right size for my needs. Never had to wait for elevators and there weren't any lines anywhere. Most things are included and no one kept bothering you to buy drink packages and take photos. It was a more refined experience and in some ways, it did remind me of the old Celebrity. On my last Celebrity sailing ,a few weeks ago, some things that I did not enjoy was the hard selling of beverage packages in which the staff did not take a no thanks for an answer, the photo staff were very aggressive, There were very few or no bar servers by the pool or open deck areas, meal portions were slim, food was average, DJ was playing in the lobby most nights (I am 38 and I really liked the music they were playing but it made the atmosphere less elegant in my opinion....back in 01 they had a harp playing in the lobby of the Infinity), staterooms lacked advertised amenities. This in no way made me not enjoy my Celebrity cruise. I had a very nice time on Celebrity but in comparing it to the old Celebrity it didn't seem like the same cruise line. Nevertheless, I would sail them again. I especially like the new decor. I guess in reality, it wouldn't be fair to compare Celebrity and Azamara as they are in a different class. Azamara is a step above Celebrity and a step below Seabourn or Silversea. I met a couple on my Azamara cruise that didn't like it as they almost always sail Seabourn which is more upscale and inclusive than Azamara. It really comes down to a matter of preference. For me, I have been very luck to have cruised extensively and I was looking for something different and more cruise oriented. Some may not like Azamara. The ships tend to be quiet at night and there is no casino on one of their ships and this will soon be true for all of their fleet. Things change, years ago Celebrity used to be a private company under the Chandris group and after Royal purchased things had to change as Celebrity was not doing well financially. Let me know if you have any other questions.
  9. I say take the plunge and try Azamara. It is more expensive than Celebrity but I felt I got good value out of my Azamara cruise. As many have stated the staterooms are standard industry size and, as you can see, the showers are cozy! I took my first Azamara cruise last month and I just took a Celebrity Cruise this month. Azamara was less hectic, relaxed and I thought more refined. Celebrity did a lot of nickle and diming which is standard on most mass market lines. I have sailed over 40 cruises on all of the major lines and thought Azamara gave the best experience so far. Though remember Azamara is not a true 5 star luxury experience - Crsytal, Regent, Silversea, etc offers that product. Azamara is what they advertise a semi-inclusive boutique cruise experience.
  10. Just returned from Summit last week. She looks great and in most places like new. As everyone has mentioned, the stateroom are all renovated. I stayed in 6024 and everything looked new. The whole placement of new staterooms on deck three in what was a portion of Tuscan Grill seem strange to me. It was like a scavenger hunt trying to find Tuscan Grill's entrance! The only place that did not look like it was touched much was Cellar masters and Sushi on 5. The decor still looks like it did previously.
  11. I felt the same way. She answered one of my concerns/observations I had. I just came off Summit and they removed any printed info from the staterooms. She suggested adding a directory to the app which would be great (I never found the number to room service, even the menu didn't have it....strange!!! My other comment about how staff was selling the beverage packages very aggressively and not taking no for an answer was dismissed by her. It is all just optics really.
  12. The major cruise lines, years ago, mandated that US travel agencies charge the same rates as the cruise line direct. Royal Caribbean owns Azamara so they follow that model. The two work arounds to this is if an agency has group space and it is priced lower than the cruise line’s going rate or sometimes certain cruise lines offer special rates on certain sailings to high performing travel agencies. Other than that, travel agents get the same rates and promos as the cruise line but they will offer extras such as OBC or gift cards, etc.....
  13. Interesting. My issue was when we arrived, the port agents where calling numbers but no one heard them. I was sitting there for almost an hour and realized my number was called a while back!
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