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Travel agent or not?


Freewa
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A lot of folks are able to get a better deal by going through the right travel agent. Even when ours can only match the price the cruise line is offering--usually a last-minute deal after the final payment date--he can give us some onboard credit or will send us a gift to enjoy such as a bottle of wine.

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I do both. On a cruise we took this Feb I signed up for a cruise next Feb. When booking you are given the choice to keep it with Celebrity or transfer it to a TA within 60 days. We transferred it to a TA. We got extra OBC, a cheaper price and an upgrade.

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We prefer to shop around among several very reputable online Cruise Agencies who always "make it worth our while." As a general rule you should always be able to find an agency that will kick back 7-10% of the cruise cost (not including taxes and fees) in the form of On Board Credits (OBCs) or some other amenity such as pre-paid gratuities, pre paid meals in the alternative restaurants, etc.

 

Hank

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Getting ready to book my first cruise. Is it better to go through a travel agent or just book myself after research?

 

Depends on the cruise line, the particular agent and the nature of their relationship.

For example, our most recent cruise was on Oceania to Alaska booked by a top Oceania producer here on the west coast. At the bottom line, including air credit, free gratuities, OBC and two refunds (one for almost $1k after final payment), we saved a ton of money. In fact, I did a comparison and, in this case, Oceania's daily rate for a balcony cabin worked out to be cheaper than HAL or Princess and with better food, amenities and less than 700 passengers.

That said, top sellers for premium and luxury lines may pass on doing the low end mass market (e.g., carnival) because there's just not enough commission to make it worth their while.

So do not rule out TAs. Check with Conde Nast Traveler magazine for good recommendations on cruise specialists.

 

 

 

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If it's your first cruise, it might make sense to go through a cruise specialist (a TA who specializes in cruises). He or she will help you find a cruise that is best for you, take care of the arrangements, and even answer your questions. You may even decide to use this person for future cruises.

 

Make sure to arrange for any flights to arrive at least a day ahead...never fly in the same day of your cruise.

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Getting ready to book my first cruise. Is it better to go through a travel agent or just book myself after research?

 

Welcome to CC.

I do my home work, check both the cruise company, or do it yourself. At times they will be the same in price. It is the service you want.

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Do it yourself, it's not that hard. Then you have control over your booking.

Just do the research and take your time booking...

Remember to check above and below your cabin for sources of noise...:cool:

 

I do all the things you suggest, then I go to a TA to book . . . I can get everything the cruise line advertises and additional obc. If, in this process, I lose any control I have yet to experience it.

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When booking with my TA, I still remain in complete control.

My TA has two back ups. One of the three of them is available 7 days a week ... also in the evenings and on weekends & holidays. Any changes I want to made are done very quickly. If there is a problem with anything, our TA takes care of it with the cruise line for us. :)

LuLu

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I do all the things you suggest, then I go to a TA to book . . . I can get everything the cruise line advertises and additional obc. If, in this process, I lose any control I have yet to experience it.

 

 

I know! This is such a "no-brainer!" As long as you do your homework and connect with one of a particular cruise line' top bookers, why would anyone not take advantage of the TA perks and, perhaps more importantly, their influence? And what about "control of your booking?" You need to know what unpublished breaks the TA's may be getting, part of which a great TA will share with you.

 

Some of these "no TA" posts remind me of folks who pay the MSRP for a car or think that paying the "wholesale" price they look up on some website is a "real deal" (check out checkbook.org for the real scoop on unadvertised manufacturer's rebates to car dealers!).

 

 

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I do all the things you suggest, then I go to a TA to book . . . I can get everything the cruise line advertises and additional obc. If, in this process, I lose any control I have yet to experience it.

I have always wondered what people mean by "lose control" of the booking. I have never had a problem that my TA could not quickly handle and I save thousands of dollars

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I have always wondered what people mean by "lose control" of the booking. I have never had a problem that my TA could not quickly handle and I save thousands of dollars

 

Ditto, We have seen this "control" argument used by quite a few posters on CC and have never understood. Having booked about 100 cruises for ourselves we always felt "in control" no matter how we booked. When we suggested to one poster that we saved about $3000 on a HAL booking by using a certain Cruise Agency, the other poster said they would only book direct with HAL since they could maintain control. That left me shaking my head, but each to their own.

 

Hank

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Ditto, We have seen this "control" argument used by quite a few posters on CC and have never understood. Having booked about 100 cruises for ourselves we always felt "in control" no matter how we booked. When we suggested to one poster that we saved about $3000 on a HAL booking by using a certain Cruise Agency, the other poster said they would only book direct with HAL since they could maintain control. That left me shaking my head, but each to their own.

 

 

 

Hank

 

 

Not to mention the time to keep this "control" is a lot to keep watch

Phone calls etc

 

As you say each to their own

 

 

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I guess once in a while someone would need to make a change when their travel agent wasn't available. Most of the time, it can wait. We once booked a cruise directly with Princess after the final payment date on a weekend because I could not reach my TA. I found out later that I could not transfer the booking to him since it was after the final payment date. The good news was that the price went up by the time I talked with him on Monday. I saved money that time by booking direct.

 

But in addition to being able to save us money, our TA is able to give us advice. Most of the time I know from looking at the cruise line websites which cruise I want--even which cabin category and sometimes even which cabin. Sometimes he'll tell me of an alternative cruise that works out better. He has also given us some great advice, especially before our first cruise tour to Alaska a couple of years ago.

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We usually book inside the final payment window.

 

We use an on line TA for booking simply because of the benefits. We always get an OBC based on the fare, and once in a while we get an extra discount if our TA can tag us onto some group that has an additional discount. Last Caribbean cruise we got a very nice OBC and a full day excursion gratis.

 

We like the on line agency because of their hours of operation. We can always get hold of our agent or someone who covers for her. We never book directly with the cruise line.

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Not to mention the time to keep this "control" is a lot to keep watch

Phone calls etc

 

As you say each to their own

 

 

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I keep my eyes open even when using a TA. And I'm not shy about calling them when I see a possible saving. It takes work to be "thrifty." ;)

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Getting ready to book my first cruise. Is it better to go through a travel agent or just book myself after research?

 

If it is your first cruise I recommend a travel agent. I'm going on my 26th cruise and I use a travel agent.

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