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Travel Agent or deal with Royal Caribbean directly

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We are looking to book back to back Australian cruises in 2021.

 

From your experience, are there advantages to working directly with Royal Caribbean or working with a travel agent?

 

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Posted (edited)

 I would choose another cruise line before I would

book directly with RC....

Edited by matj2000

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We book directly and then transfer.  Know your agency's policies on perks, changes, etc.  Remember you often can't get in touch with them on weekends if you see something that needs attention from TA, i.e., price drop.  You lose control with the transfer but again only you know what works for you. 

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If you a control freak like I am, you book directly with a Certified Vacation Planner at RCCL.  If a trusting soul who can go with the flow, you might go with TA.  I must control my reservation and be able to call Royal each time I have a question.  Only you can decide for you.

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We book with RCI so as to get any incentives they offer. We then transfer the booking to our longtime travel agent as she gives us an average of 8% of the cost of the cruise in onboard credit.  That, combined with whatever RCI offers reduces our final bill.  We have had a few cruises were we got cash back as we spend almost nothing on board.

 

For us, this system is a no-brainer as our agent is open 7 days a week should we need her help with our booking - no loss of control.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, matj2000 said:

 I would choose another cruise line before I would

book directly with RC....

Why?

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Interesting??? Myself and I believe AGT both posted about using a 3rd party agency along with our reasoning. Guess what..both post were removed??

 

Hey Bob...whats up with this??

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9 minutes ago, lcpagejr said:

Interesting??? Myself and I believe AGT both posted about using a 3rd party agency along with our reasoning. Guess what..both post were removed??

 

Hey Bob...whats up with this??

 

It's against the community rules to mention specific travel agents.

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3 hours ago, Snit13 said:

If you a control freak like I am, you book directly with a Certified Vacation Planner at RCCL.  If a trusting soul who can go with the flow, you might go with TA.  I must control my reservation and be able to call Royal each time I have a question.  Only you can decide for you.

Agree...but I speak to who ever answer's the phone at RCI (D+ desk/rep option)...not interested in a CVP.

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33 minutes ago, matj2000 said:

I booked with my Warehouse club TA but I have called Royal Caribbean when I wanted to buy one refreshment package and one deluxe package. I wasn't on hold long and they were helpful. knock wood I haven't had an issue with reservations in the planner yet. Celebrity's Website is just as bad as Royal's. When I book through the cruise line I only shop on the website for price and room. When I'm ready to book I call direct. I find it works better that way because I can asks questions. 

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Posted (edited)

Many travel  agents have access to group rates that can save many hundreds of $ per person and all group rates have fully refundable deposits.  

Edited by Ourusualbeach

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I used to be a book direct kind of guy.  I like to have control over my bookings. I had booked one direct and have two others booked, one through a TA and the other through RCI.  The reason for the TA one had to do with a particular CC and it's perks. However, I noticed recently on the travel agents website a price on a cruise that we had been considering and it was $400 dollars less.  We have booked that with this TA and are happy we did!  What a big savings

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3 hours ago, Host Clarea said:

 

It's against the community rules to mention specific travel agents.

Umm... I know I didn't state the name of any agency (I said I used a  internet booking agency...no name) and I believe AGT  stayed anonymous as well....

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Posted (edited)

Most of mine are booked through a TA.  There are some great TAs that know how to work the system but there a lot of duds.  The secret is finding a good one.  

 

If I see a deal or particular cabin I want, I grab it direct.  

 

If it's close in and a going, going, gone promo I typically book direct.  If it's far away I tend to book refundable rates and a good TA can find the best ones.  Royal direct not so much.  There are more rates then what the website or a call to Royal will offer.  The best rate may not be a C&A balcony rate, or some other promo rate.  This is where an experienced TA shines.  

 

Who here thinks the Royal website is awesome?  Right.  Why would anyone think the website is going to offer the best rate?

 

I've got two bookings where the refundable rate is less than the NRDB rate.  If I call direct and ask for NRDB or use the website assuming it's NRDB is lowest, I just left money on the table.  A good TA will tell you "hey look, refundable is cheaper on this one".

 

Lastly, inventory can be different through a TA.  Sometimes that means a better cabin location.

Edited by twangster

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

Most of mine are booked through a TA.  There are some great TAs that know how to work the system but there a lot of duds.  The secret is finding a good one.  

 

If I see a deal or particular cabin I want, I grab it direct.  

 

If it's close in and a going, going, gone promo I typically book direct.  If it's far away I tend to book refundable rates and a good TA can find the best ones.  Royal direct not so much.  There are more rates then what the website or a call to Royal will offer.  The best rate may not be a C&A balcony rate, or some other promo rate.  This is where an experienced TA shines.  

 

Who here thinks the Royal website is awesome?  Right.  Why would anyone think the website is going to offer the best rate?

 

I've got two bookings where the refundable rate is less than the NRDB rate.  If I call direct and ask for NRDB or use the website assuming it's NRDB is lowest, I just left money on the table.  A good TA will tell you "hey look, refundable is cheaper on this one".

 

Lastly, inventory can be different through a TA.  Sometimes that means a better cabin location.

I'm pretty sure as far as the location/inventory goes there's no difference...TA's hold space by category not a specific cabin/location (until they have a deposit) and they usually don't hold space for some certain type of suite's.

 

Nice thing is whether to book directly or with a TA is still a personal choice.

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2 minutes ago, Ashland said:

I'm pretty sure as far as the location/inventory goes there's no difference...TA's hold space by category not a specific cabin/location (until they have a deposit) and they usually don't hold space for some certain type of suite's.

 

Nice thing is whether to book directly or with a TA is still a personal choice.

 

I routinely see different cabin inventory through a TA vs. direct.  Not every cruise, maybe 30% of the time.

 

Here is an example booking a 4U on Explorer to Alaska last year:

 

Direct:

 

15174071_RCIDirectExplorerOTSdeck9VB.jpeg.ba64223aba7a637c239b55ce28b0e0e8.jpeg

 

Agency:

1529345123_agencydeck9explorerots.jpeg.fbc1d01cb5478076d1967a9fa01ef9a9.jpeg

 

I sailed in 9601, not available through Royal directly.

 

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Don’t bother with with a Australian agent  ,you will get more satisfaction from a US agent 

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16 minutes ago, twangster said:

 

I routinely see different cabin inventory through a TA vs. direct.  Not every cruise, maybe 30% of the time.

 

Here is an example booking a 4U on Explorer to Alaska last year:

 

Direct:

 

15174071_RCIDirectExplorerOTSdeck9VB.jpeg.ba64223aba7a637c239b55ce28b0e0e8.jpeg

 

Agency:

1529345123_agencydeck9explorerots.jpeg.fbc1d01cb5478076d1967a9fa01ef9a9.jpeg

 

I sailed in 9601, not available through Royal directly.

 

The inventory showed (RCI) online is very limited (not enough space so random)...just a phone call will give you all that's available to book. The older version used to allow you to enter/search a specific cabin number...but like all "improvements" that's no longer available.

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7 minutes ago, Ashland said:

The inventory showed (RCI) online is very limited (not enough space so random)...just a phone call will give you all that's available to book. The older version used to allow you to enter/search a specific cabin number...but like all "improvements" that's no longer available.

 

Calling doesn't always help. 

 

I'm good.  I know how to work the system.  

 

BTW - I've walked away from NextCruise on board when they couldn't book a cabin I wanted.  Called my agent and done. 

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I'm also a control freak and have gotten price drops/RCL pricing mistakes very early in the morning before most TA"s are open.  That said since they have farmed out overseas a lot of the reps I am not finding it enjoyable or easy to talk to the reps about changes.

 

I just booked my third reservation with my new TA, he had group space on all three fully refundable and several hundred dollars less than what RCL would have charged.  

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I always book with a TA, one I've been using for 15 years. Her price is always better that what I can find on the web site. After I book, I constantly monitor the price, hoping for lower price. Through my many years of cruising I have found a few price drops. My TA has found price drops that I didn't see and applied the lower price to our cruise. RCI will not automatically do that. Only once have I found a price drop and was unable to get in touch with my TA before it disappeared. To each their own of course but I'll stick with my TA.

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Finding the perfect TA is the key point.  I have yet to find this person. I have booked with my warehouse club for the first time. They were offering  $250 dollars which is usually given in the form of gift card to the store. This time it was for OBC so I figured it was worth a try. I tried calling my booking agent several times and have not spoken to her since I booked over a year ago. I got a voice mail message every time no matter what day or time I called. I wound up just waiting on hold for the next available person to make payments or to ask a question. It was no different than speaking to several different cruise line representatives. The price was the same as Royal Caribbean. It was fine for me because I am experienced but I wouldn't recommend using them for any type of service. They are not going to be the ones that go to bat for you If the cruise line screws up. The last time that I had a real travel agent that gave service was before the internet.   Now anyone can be a travel agent and work out of their garage  or basement doing most bookings for relatives and friends. Those are the agents who have time to call to let you know that the price of your cruise has dropped. I have found that all of the big on line agencies  operate the same. My son and I used two different online agencies. However we discovered that the call back numbers were the same which brought me to the conclusion that it's just one big call center.

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