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SirCharlesArlington

Cheaper rates; where's the gotcha?

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First time cruiser here looking at Alure of the Seas Caribbean cruise in November.

 

If I go direct to the Royal Caribbean website the cheapest ocean view balcony cabin is $1,199.

 

If I go to ****** I can get an ocean view balcony for $769.

 

It appears to be on the same deck (14).

 

I know that on ******* I won't be able to pick my cabin, which I could on the RC website, but other than that are there any gotchas to be aware of?

Edited by Host Walt

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Welcome to cruise critic! Please be aware that you aren't allowed to discuss specific travel agents and quite possibly your thread will disappear of the company's name will be ***** out.

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Eek! sorry. Is there a way for me to edit my post?... Or delete it and re-post without naming names

 

No; for future reference, we can only edit for 20 minutes after posting the original comments.

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Hi and welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

I usually use a local travel agent who I have built a relationship . She does a good job. Price is not always the cheapest. She often gets us perks that make up the difference. On e the rare instance that we have had a problem ( flight cancelled) she has been terrific.

 

I have never tried an on line TA in the traditional sense, whoever I have used a travel agent through one of the big warehouse stores. Got a great price, great perks, picked our own cabin and had a lovely problem free cruise.

 

I would be willing to try an online TA but I have cruise a number of times before. My only concern is who to call if there is an unexpected issue.

 

Whatever you choose, enjoy!

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There are several things to be aware of. First, does the TA charge booking or change fees? Some do, most don't.

 

Then, are you comparing apples to apples? I know this is hard when you have a guarantee cabin, but do realize that some cabins on the same floor are higher than others due to location; for instance the cruise line usually values mid-ship cabins more. One offer may include more/different perks than others.

 

Part of the lower price is because it looks like the TA is offering a guarantee cabin, right? We often do guarantees and like the cost savings; some people can't handle not knowing exactly where they will be. We've always had good luck.

 

Also (hard to tell ahead of time) is the agent responsive and willing to work with you. Will he watch for or at least help you get price reductions?

 

Are perks comparable or better one way, and, what are the value of the perks to you. For instance, included gratuities are a great value for us, beverage package is not, as we don't drink. To figure this out you have to add or subtract the values of the perks in each instance, including OBC. So, if one cabin is $800 and includes no perks, the other is $1200 and includes $500 of perks you would actually want, Then that cabin is really a better value. If those $500 of perks have some that have no value to you, take that into account.

 

There are sites that help you compare cruise and travel agents; just Google. BTW, we usually use online travel agents or book with the cruise line and move the booking to a TA who offers good perks and/or a better price.

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First time cruiser here looking at Alure of the Seas Caribbean cruise in November.

 

If I go direct to the Royal Caribbean website the cheapest ocean view balcony cabin is $1,199.

 

If I go to ****** I can get an ocean view balcony for $769.

 

It appears to be on the same deck (14).

 

I know that on ******* I won't be able to pick my cabin, which I could on the RC website, but other than that are there any gotchas to be aware of?

 

If you call the TA you could probably get a choice of cabins. My guess for the difference in pricing between RCI and the TA might be that RCI includes taxes and port fees while the TA price does not. Something else to consider......is the quote for refundable deposit or nonrefundable deposit. RCI introduced nonrefundable deposits a while ago and the prices are quite a bit lower than those for refundable deposits. RCI also usually gives OBC (onboard credits......money to spend onboard) when you book. Again, the OBC is usually more with a nonrefundable deposit. Call them to get the best price and OBC.

 

 

Find out if the TA charges a cancellation fee or a fee to apply a price drop. If RCI lowers the price before the final payment due date you can request the lower price as long as it isn't limited to new bookings.

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The real key is to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. In this case I doubt that the OP is doing that because fo the huge price difference.

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First time cruiser here looking at Alure of the Seas Caribbean cruise in November.

 

If I go direct to the Royal Caribbean website the cheapest ocean view balcony cabin is $1,199.

 

If I go to ****** I can get an ocean view balcony for $769.

 

It appears to be on the same deck (14).

 

I know that on ******* I won't be able to pick my cabin, which I could on the RC website, but other than that are there any gotchas to be aware of?

 

Simple. The TA website has backed out the non-commissionable portion of the cruise fare. The correct term for which is Port Charges but use care when using that term as 99% of the time it is erroneously used when citing the Government Taxes and Fees--which are totally different even though some TA sites co-mingle the two types of charges.

 

So if you run the transaction all the way through you will probably see on the TA's payment screen a charge nebulously listed as something like "Taxes, Fees and Port Charges" which adds up to (1) the Government Taxes and Fees as charged by the cruise line; plus (2) the difference in the base price quoted by the TA vs the cruise line website.

 

Bottom line is that up front savings are never as high as advertised and are very rarely worth the risks of relinquishing all control over your booking to a third party. Now if the TA is offering perks of sufficient value (prepaid gratuities, OBC, specialty dining package) not part of the cruise line's current promo...this is when you have to make a measured decision. But when a lowball price on the splash page seems too good to be true...just drill down into the booking and your first instinct will be confirmed.

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One of many reasons that we like our on line TA is their business hours. Much better than most brick and mortar agents.

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Eek! sorry. Is there a way for me to edit my post?

 

Or delete it and re-post without naming names

 

No need to edit the TA's name from your post - the techno-wizards do it automatically.;)

 

They do the same with "expressive" language.

As I found out - the Brit slang for cigarettes is American slang for something completely different :eek: :D

 

JB :)

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Another thing is, the big TA sometimes book blocks of rooms at reduced fares, and can offer them for less than the current RCI price.

 

But as has been said, make sure you comparing apples to apples, and if then it is still cheaper, then go for it.

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The most we have ever saved by booking with our US on line TA was 20 percent less than the cruise line direct price.

 

The discount was attributable to the usual commission rebate plus the fact that the TA had a group on the cruise. Plus they gave us a free execursion/lunch on one of the islands and a minor cabin upgrade.

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The GOTCHA is applied to all those that do not shop around, and those that always book with the cruise line to keep "control" of their booking.

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What stood out to me in the original post was the vernacular of ocean view balcony. I know RC has the ocean view and central park views facing inward. I hope the OP understands the difference and the TA or cruise line explains that, that could be the reason of the difference of cost

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We have never understood the 'keeping control of my reservation' reason for booking direct.

 

We do not feel that we have any loss of control by booking with a TA. Indeed, we actually think we have more control inasmuch as we have an independent agent in our court should there be a dispute vs a cruise line employee.

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We have never understood the 'keeping control of my reservation' reason for booking direct.

 

We do not feel that we have any loss of control by booking with a TA. Indeed, we actually think we have more control inasmuch as we have an independent agent in our court should there be a dispute vs a cruise line employee.

 

By keeping control I can access and call or edit my reservation pretty much 24/7. This can be important if you are hoping for a specific cabin to open up, or frequently checking for price changes. Not all travel agents are available exactly when you want them. Many do nor return phone calls or answer emails immediately - don't like waiting for a response.

 

Not concerned about law suits/going to court. I have heard more horror stories about people taking TAs to court than cruise lines!

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By keeping control I can access and call or edit my reservation pretty much 24/7. This can be important if you are hoping for a specific cabin to open up, or frequently checking for price changes. Not all travel agents are available exactly when you want them. Many do nor return phone calls or answer emails immediately - don't like waiting for a response.

 

Not concerned about law suits/going to court. I have heard more horror stories about people taking TAs to court than cruise lines!

 

That's exactly why I now book through the cruise line. I used a TA for a while, until I started getting the brush off with questions about by bookings, while I had to go through them to get to the cruise one and wait some more. Now I book directly, I have questions, I call, they talk to me, if I think of other issues, I ask then, I confirm any purchases or perks I have...directly...no middleman

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That's exactly why I now book through the cruise line. I used a TA for a while, until I started getting the brush off with questions about by bookings, while I had to go through them to get to the cruise one and wait some more. Now I book directly, I have questions, I call, they talk to me, if I think of other issues, I ask then, I confirm any purchases or perks I have...directly...no middleman

 

When you refer to your TA as "them" it sort of means that you have no one TA assigned to your booking? Not good . Choose a large Agency that uses Homebased Cruise Counsellors who give you that personal attention an the extra goodies over just booking the current cruise line retail price.

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You will want control of your booking if you plan to change your cabin selection sixteen times, switch back and forth between assigned and any time dining, ask who the captain is, ask daily about price reductions, and ask if your cabin is the one that a Cruise Critic reviewer reported toilet problems in on his March 3rd sailing. Do you wonder why travel agents don't return your calls?

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We have an assigned TA. But we don't call her every twenty minutes about dining reservations, baggage tags, or how many outlets there are in our cabin. We don't care if she is down the street or anywhere else in the universe. Nor do we want a new best friend.

 

We pre select the cruise, the ship. We call for a written quote. Give her our details. The only other time we call is if we require a re-price or if there is a category consolidation that enables us to get a better cabin. We use an on line UK based web site to see what the cabin availability. So if it is an upgrade we typically have a list of two or three favored cabins.

 

She provides great service and her net price is always better than the cruise line. Plus, she gives us straight goods when we ask about a specific ship, or informs us about better offers on competing cruise lines that we may not be aware of. Somehow I doubt that a Celebrity or a HAL rep would give us a heads up on a much more attractive Princess sailing!

Edited by iancal

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