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Advantage to booking through cruise line

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Is there any advantage to booking through the cruiseline directly? What is it?

Edited by christinand

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42 minutes ago, christinand said:

Is there any advantage to booking through the cruiseline directly? What is it?

The only "advantage" of booking directly with a cruise line is when you actually would prefer to pay the retail price (just like the sticker price on a new car👀)

 

Seriously: If you do some significant research (NOT just asking your neighbor) and find top selling, preferred partner cruise specialist TAs for your preferred cruise line(s), you should be able to score decent commission sharing (e.g., 5-10% of the commissionable fare, occasionally with added perks like gratuities coverage - often provided by a travel consortium to which the TA might belong). Note: I and others have posted many times on CC "how to find a good TA" (use the search feature).

 

Some who respond to your post will suggest that booking directly will allow you to "own" your own booking. Think about it: Your purchase is a "rounding error" in a cruise line's  "bottom line." The right TA books $$$ millions annually with that cruise line. If there's an issue, whose phone call will get answered first (and by someone who can actually fix the problem).

 

Some other posters will suggest that you use the cruise line's Personal Vacation Planner (PVP or something like that). Firstly, they will provide no commission sharing or consortia perks. And, perhaps more important, they are cruise line employees. In a dispute, whose side will they be on???

 

There is one situation where we will book directly with a cruise line and that is "book onboard." Our preferred line (Oceania) has very attractive benefits for "book onboard" which we do often. However, once booked, we shop around our deposited cruise to several of Oceania's preferred partner TAs and transfer the cruise to one of them within the 30 day "transfer window." That gets us the best Oceania deal AND the added TA perks which, depending on the itinerary, can easily be worth $1000+ in my pocket.

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The only time I can envisage when it is beneficial to book directly with a cruise line, is when you are signed up with their "Friends/Family" program. These deals must be booked direct, but you must know somebody that works for the cruise line & has this as an employment benefit.

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You might want to see the thread on this same forum "Not Happy with the Way Pricing Works" for issues regarding this

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Some people put a lot of stock in booking with the cruiseline and having 'complete control' of their booking, which just means they can make changes directly rather than through the TA.  But for me that is not terribly significant, and I like the cost savings of using a TA.

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Unless the travel agent isn't actually willing to work for you and sit on the phone with the cruise line to make changes to your reservation, change the booking perks, or charges a fee to cancel booking or change bookings. 

I have really only ever booked my own via the cruise line and still managed to get pricing that the big online agencies were offering.

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Thanks for the replies. I haven't been happy with TA so almost feel like i'd rather not give them the commision. Maybe solo travellers are treated more poorly.

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On 7/31/2019 at 1:54 AM, christinand said:

Maybe solo travellers are treated more poorly.

If your travel agent isn't treating you well, find another travel agent.  Remember, these days you don't need a local agent (though you should use one within your own country).  Ask friends, relatives, co-workers (or even fellow cruisers, once on board) if they would recommend their travel agent - then try that person out and see if you like her/him. 

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Agreed, try another TA.

 

Mine is not a huge one, so I get some amount of OBC, but the service is great.

 

The big thing for me is, I travel a lot internationally, so I wanted a TA that would check for price drops each day, and handle them.

 

That has paid good dividends.

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I love my TA, and I would never book elsewhere.  I get perks through the agency in the form of OBC, shore excursion discounts, etc.  And, whenever I've had an issue or needed to make a change in my booking, she's the one who gets to deal with the cruiseline and save me the headache.  

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We always book directly with the cruiseline because it's so easy to do, since you can see the deck plans, and choose your cabin according to your own preferences. We had a very poor experience with a TA who was "a cruise specialist " before out first cruise, and since the travel agency "owned" the booking, the cruiseline could not assist us with the problems. We finally took ownership, were able to get Carnival's assistance to sort things out, and we had a great time! Now we book during promotions, get onboard credit and prices that we are happy with.

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Lots of interesting comments which is the norm whenever this topic is discussed  (quite often) on CC.  My advice to the OP is to shop around among multiple high volume reputable cruise agencies and then compare their best offerings (including amenities such as On Board Credits) with the best deal you can get directly with the cruise line.  In our own experience, having booked far more then 100 cruises with many different cruise lines, you should be able to save 7-10% (sometimes a lot more on longer cruises) by choosing the best deal from a cruise agency.  Those that claim to get as good a deal directly from a cruise line have simply not looked at the right agencies :).  We have actually challenged two cruise lines (via phone conversations) to match deals we can get from cruise agencies but the responses where simply that the cruise lines will not compete with their authorized cruise/travel agencies.

 

Hank

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2 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

Lots of interesting comments which is the norm whenever this topic is discussed  (quite often) on CC.  My advice to the OP is to shop around among multiple high volume reputable cruise agencies and then compare their best offerings (including amenities such as On Board Credits) with the best deal you can get directly with the cruise line.  In our own experience, having booked far more then 100 cruises with many different cruise lines, you should be able to save 7-10% (sometimes a lot more on longer cruises) by choosing the best deal from a cruise agency.  Those that claim to get as good a deal directly from a cruise line have simply not looked at the right agencies :).  We have actually challenged two cruise lines (via phone conversations) to match deals we can get from cruise agencies but the responses where simply that the cruise lines will not compete with their authorized cruise/travel agencies.

 

Hank

 

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Thanks for the replies. Responses seem to be mixed. I think part of the problem is in canada there is less choice but i will try for more recommendations.

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5 minutes ago, christinand said:

Thanks for the replies. Responses seem to be mixed. I think part of the problem is in canada there is less choice but i will try for more recommendations.

You may have many more choices.  We are not aware of any rule that stops Canadians from booking through USA agencies...or vice versa.   In fact, we have an Australian friend who books all of his cruises (over 200 days a year) through a Canadian address that belongs to a good friend. He normally uses USA agencies.

 

Hank

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Unless you are a total control freak, there's really no reason to book directly with the cruise line.  A good travel agent will be an advocate for you should something go wrong and will almost always get you a better deal than the cruise line.  The fare many times will be the same price, but the TA many times can add onboard credit, prepaid gratuities, specialty dining, etc that the cruise line is not offering.

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41 minutes ago, ShawninFL said:

Unless you are a total control freak, there's really no reason to book directly with the cruise line.  A good travel agent will be an advocate for you should something go wrong and will almost always get you a better deal than the cruise line.  The fare many times will be the same price, but the TA many times can add onboard credit, prepaid gratuities, specialty dining, etc that the cruise line is not offering.

LOL - you may have nailed it on the head. When it comes to vacations, I AM a "total control freak" who enjoys doing all of the planning and bookings. That way, if something goes wrong, I have no one to fault but myself, and when things go great, I  can give myself a pat on the back. So far, hubby and I have not been disappointed in anything I've planned or booked, but we were when we relied on a TA. 😉

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12 hours ago, mikenbon said:

LOL - you may have nailed it on the head. When it comes to vacations, I AM a "total control freak" who enjoys doing all of the planning and bookings. That way, if something goes wrong, I have no one to fault but myself, and when things go great, I  can give myself a pat on the back. So far, hubby and I have not been disappointed in anything I've planned or booked, but we were when we relied on a TA. 😉

Same here, I do all my own planning and even make provisional bookings with cruise line, then to confirm it I head to the TA, give her the booking number and have her confirm it. Personally, I don't require a TA for advice, I use them to get the minimal OBC offered by our cruise line of choice.

 

In addition, the TA is a valuable resource to resolve issues or questions. No way do I feel I am loosing any control.

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Although we use cruise agencies because it saves us money (sometimes thousands of dollars on a single booking) we are also "control freaks" who do our own planning.  We simply rely on our cruise agencies to get us the best deals.  That being said, the few times we have had a real problem with a cruise line the cruise agencies have proven to be terrific advocates who have a lot more clout (and inside contacts) with the cruise lines then this mere cruiser.  The big difference between a cruise/travel agency is that they work for you...not for the cruise line.  A majority of our bookings are done on line (via a cruise agencies web site) and we seldom need to chat with our agent unless we have some kind of extra request or want him/her to reprice a booked cruise to get us a lower price.

 

Hank

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I have cruised a lot. 

Always booking through an agent. 

 

I have a great agent. 

I never have to deal with the cruise line. 

I just communicate with my agent. 

 

It's all about customer service. 

Find a good agent. 

Make some inquiries with a few agents that people you know have recommended. 

See how you like the agent and his/her style of service. 

 

My agent is so accessible. 

Phone call, email, text message or Facebook message. 

 

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16 hours ago, Boo's Mom said:

I have cruised a lot. 

Always booking through an agent. 

 

I have a great agent. 

I never have to deal with the cruise line. 

I just communicate with my agent. 

 

It's all about customer service. 

Find a good agent. 

Make some inquiries with a few agents that people you know have recommended. 

See how you like the agent and his/her style of service. 

 

My agent is so accessible. 

Phone call, email, text message or Facebook message. 

 

I think it is delightful that you are pleased with your agent's "style of service."  For me, style of service only goes so far.  I expect to save about 10% (or more) over cruise line deals.  As long as my agent delivers on those savings (and also gives me good service) I am a happy guy.  Take away those savings (since we cruise a lot we are talking many thousands of dollars saved per year) and we would run...not walk....to a different agency.  I once told my favorite cruise agent that she would remain my "favorite" as long as she had the best deals :).  

 

Hank

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