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Booking direct versus via a third party - outcome


Scougs
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Hi again,  some of you might remember I posted a few weeks ago about finding my upcoming Midnight Sun cruise (Crown Princess, June 2020) advertised are a lower price with an agency. That thread was removed because I named the agency, which I didn't realise was a breach of forum etiquette.  Some of you gave me some helpful information before the thread was zapped, so I thought I'd say "thanks" and let you know what happened.

 

After much consideration, I phoned Princess and basically said "what would you do?".  They repeated the advice given here that Princess do not do price matching. So I asked her what I would lose by booking with a third party - Princess status, ability to book excursions and extras on the Princess web site and so on.  She explained everything would remain the same.

 

So, I cancelled my cruise, losing the £50 deposit I had paid.  I then went on to the agency website and booked not just the same cruise, but the exact same cabin, for over £500 cheaper, and with $400 onboard spend.  Logging on to the Princess website I can see my new booking and can still manage it in exactly the same way.

 

All strikes me as very strange, as I'm so used to always, always booking direct with airlines and hotels, for all sorts of reasons.  Now I know that's not the case for cruises!  So I'm $1000 up on the deal. Thanks for your help.

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Glad this worked out so advantageously for you!  It is amazing to me when cruisers insist on 'keeping control of their booking' by never using a travel agent even when many of us share experiences of major discounts without any downsides by doing so.  Have a fantastic cruise -- we did that itinerary this past summer and it was one of our best!

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I am not sure the rules are the same in Scotland but here in the USA you do not necessarily have to cancel the cruise. You just fill out a form that transfers your cruise reservation to the new agent.

You can do this within a short time of your original booking.

I agree that usually booking direct is better but as you have found it is not always true for cruises!!

Good for you to have found such a great deal!!!

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and not all agencies have the same deals.  i had been using one, but i price matched with a different one and found a better deal.  in fact i had perks i didn't even realize as they threw in a specialty dining experience.

 

now i've never had something with so much onboard credit, but i do tend to go on the shorter cruises and in balcony cabins.

 

i will say one benefit i had, and this is likely unique to those of us who live in or near the port town, is that by booking directly, they contacted me directly for a move over offer.  we were able to do this because we just picked a cruise randomly to get out of town.  you will see all kinds of threads on the forums about people missing move over or upgrades via their big box agency because they don't pass onthe offers.

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1 hour ago, Scougs said:

Hi again,  some of you might remember I posted a few weeks ago about finding my upcoming Midnight Sun cruise (Crown Princess, June 2020) advertised are a lower price with an agency. That thread was removed because I named the agency, which I didn't realise was a breach of forum etiquette.  Some of you gave me some helpful information before the thread was zapped, so I thought I'd say "thanks" and let you know what happened.

 

After much consideration, I phoned Princess and basically said "what would you do?".  They repeated the advice given here that Princess do not do price matching. So I asked her what I would lose by booking with a third party - Princess status, ability to book excursions and extras on the Princess web site and so on.  She explained everything would remain the same.

 

So, I cancelled my cruise, losing the £50 deposit I had paid.  I then went on to the agency website and booked not just the same cruise, but the exact same cabin, for over £500 cheaper, and with $400 onboard spend.  Logging on to the Princess website I can see my new booking and can still manage it in exactly the same way.

 

All strikes me as very strange, as I'm so used to always, always booking direct with airlines and hotels, for all sorts of reasons.  Now I know that's not the case for cruises!  So I'm $1000 up on the deal. Thanks for your help.

We typically hold a cruise on the princess site and then work with a TA for that cabin and or another like it. We almost always look for the cabin and mark it for no upgrade. Generally the cruise cost is the same for both the TA and Princess, but the TA will contribute some of their commission and add some benefits to reduce the overall cost. 

 

On one occasion, I was booking a cabin through the Future Cruise person on board and she indicated that, while she would be happy to book the cabin and have me move it to my TA, the TA had better cabins priced for less blocked out and reserved for their  customers.  It was quite easy to contact the agent and get one of his cabins using the FCC.

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To  OP:  Does your new booking having a refundable deposit before final payment now?

 

These non refundable deposits are keeping me from booking with Princess. I know I can call, but my TA is away for a month.

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6 minutes ago, satxdiver said:

I have been burned three times by different TA and have little trust in them.  The perks they offered were not worth the agony I had with them.  

Satxdiver, could you please elaborate on how you were "burned" by a TA?  I have fortunately never had a problem with a TA, and have used 3 of them over the years.  Always a lower price, plus extra OBC, no problems.

Stan

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The first TA insisted I would enjoy an AK cruise on HAL.  This was my third cruise so I had little experience but the more I read about the ship and HAL the more I had misgivings.  She was here in the city so I went twice to talk about it.  She assured me that I would like it.  The ship was full of old people 70+ or those that thought they were old.  We were younger at the time and liked to party at night.  We did not enjoy it.  We have since joked that to go on HAL you need walker insurance!  

 

TA#2 was also local.  I like to watch the cruise prices and sales religiously.  I would send him email about a sale on a cruise I was booked and he would change it for me.  This went on for about 6 years.  One day he told me I was a PITA when I complained about an extra charge (his charge not the cruise line) for a changed cruise date.  I already sensed that he considered me a PITA for bothering him and this was the last straw.  I contacted Princess and had three cruise I had booked taken back to Princess.  When he found out he sent me a nasty email.  

 

TA#3 was a internet type.  I booked one cruise through them.  When I found a cheaper price for our cabin, I emailed her.  She did eventually change the reservation for the less price but in the process moved our cabin to a forward balcony which I discovered by my constant monitoring on Princess.  I emailed her about the mistake and first she told me our original cabin in the aft area was already taken (it was).  She did manage to get us a cabin in the aft area so the cruise was nice but I did not like her service. 

 

Any more questions?

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satxdiver - on our next cruise, you might want to go to the meet and greet and ask other cruisers - especially frequent cruisers - for TA recommendations if you decide to give TAs another chance.  We've used the same TA for almost a decade and have never experienced the poor service you did.  So good ones are out there.

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1 hour ago, dog said:

To  OP:  Does your new booking having a refundable deposit before final payment now?

 

These non refundable deposits are keeping me from booking with Princess. I know I can call, but my TA is away for a month.

OP is from Scotland. They do not have the flexibility of nonrefundable deposits and repricing that we have in the US.

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I,  on the other hand made a big mistake when I did my first internet cruise agency. It was my fault because I didn’t know that I could do everything else on my princess personalizer. I bought the agency travel insurance for $234 for two then get an email 2 weeks later from Princess saying I could buy their insurance like always for $39/pp with free upgrade to their platinum. Called agency back and was told it had been 10 days and couldn’t cancel their insurance. Boy was that a costly lesson. 

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9 minutes ago, Grammyluvs said:

 Boy was that a costly lesson. 

Probably for the travel agent too.  I am sure that you shared that agency's practice with everyone willing to listen. I will bet that you would like to name them right now, if allowed. Most have long memories when being wronged.

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5 hours ago, satxdiver said:

I have been burned three times by different TA and have little trust in them.  The perks they offered were not worth the agony I had with them.  

Same here... I stick booking through the cruise line, any questions or changes, me and them, not playing three way phone tag 

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6 hours ago, riffatsea said:

I am not sure the rules are the same in Scotland but here in the USA you do not necessarily have to cancel the cruise. You just fill out a form that transfers your cruise reservation to the new agent.

You can do this within a short time of your original booking.

I agree that usually booking direct is better but as you have found it is not always true for cruises!!

Good for you to have found such a great deal!!!

Why would booking directly to better?

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5 hours ago, AZ Stan (FKA Stan in Chicago) said:

Satxdiver, could you please elaborate on how you were "burned" by a TA?  I have fortunately never had a problem with a TA, and have used 3 of them over the years.  Always a lower price, plus extra OBC, no problems.

Stan

Same for us Stan!

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2 minutes ago, suzyed said:

Why would booking directly to better?

We were talking about booking airfare or hotels which is often better to do directly on the web site of either the airline or the hotel.

We were comparing that to booking cruises.

Booking airfare on an airline web site makes for fewer problems if there are changes in itinerary or other issues. IF you book on a 3rd party site all issues go through that 3rd party.

With a cruise it doesn't seem to matter as much.

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5 hours ago, satxdiver said:

The first TA insisted I would enjoy an AK cruise on HAL.  This was my third cruise so I had little experience but the more I read about the ship and HAL the more I had misgivings.  She was here in the city so I went twice to talk about it.  She assured me that I would like it.  The ship was full of old people 70+ or those that thought they were old.  We were younger at the time and liked to party at night.  We did not enjoy it.  We have since joked that to go on HAL you need walker insurance!  

 

TA#2 was also local.  I like to watch the cruise prices and sales religiously.  I would send him email about a sale on a cruise I was booked and he would change it for me.  This went on for about 6 years.  One day he told me I was a PITA when I complained about an extra charge (his charge not the cruise line) for a changed cruise date.  I already sensed that he considered me a PITA for bothering him and this was the last straw.  I contacted Princess and had three cruise I had booked taken back to Princess.  When he found out he sent me a nasty email.  

 

TA#3 was a internet type.  I booked one cruise through them.  When I found a cheaper price for our cabin, I emailed her.  She did eventually change the reservation for the less price but in the process moved our cabin to a forward balcony which I discovered by my constant monitoring on Princess.  I emailed her about the mistake and first she told me our original cabin in the aft area was already taken (it was).  She did manage to get us a cabin in the aft area so the cruise was nice but I did not like her service. 

 

Any more questions?

If for 6 years you sensed that he considered you a PITA, how could you continue to work with him?  
As far as a TA telling me I would enjoy a cruise?  I don't know any of them well enough for them to judge what I would enjoy.  Most people are aware that HAL is a mostly older crowd!  
We have a few that we use consistently and have always gotten better fares and great service!

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7 minutes ago, riffatsea said:

We were talking about booking airfare or hotels which is often better to do directly on the web site of either the airline or the hotel.

We were comparing that to booking cruises.

Booking airfare on an airline web site makes for fewer problems if there are changes in itinerary or other issues. IF you book on a 3rd party site all issues go through that 3rd party.

With a cruise it doesn't seem to matter as much.

I agree as far as airfare...I would rather book directly unless we do EZair, but we frequently use miles so it's easier to book directly.  Hotels can go either way...many times a better rate can be had using a third party but then you usually don't get your "points".   For us, we always (99% of the time) we book with a TA....better prices, more OBC.

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2 hours ago, myfuzzy said:

Same here... I stick booking through the cruise line, any questions or changes, me and them, not playing three way phone tag 

 

I've booked through the cruise line and though a TA and I've never had an issue with either.  My upcoming cruise was booked through a third party, but my booking number and all my info is showing up on Princess's website.  As it has with my previous cruises with Carnival and Celebrity.

 

My question is this though:  Will I not be able to book excursions on Princess's website because I did not book through them?  In the past it was never an issue with the other two cruise lines., so I hope it's not an issue when I go to book them when I'm able with Princess.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, K.T.B. said:

 

I've booked through the cruise line and though a TA and I've never had an issue with either.  My upcoming cruise was booked through a third party, but my booking number and all my info is showing up on Princess's website.  As it has with my previous cruises with Carnival and Celebrity.

 

My question is this though:  Will I not be able to book excursions on Princess's website because I did not book through them?  In the past it was never an issue with the other two cruise lines., so I hope it's not an issue when I go to book them when I'm able with Princess.

 

 

 

It is not an issue.

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32 minutes ago, K.T.B. said:

 

My question is this though:  Will I not be able to book excursions on Princess's website because I did not book through them?  In the past it was never an issue with the other two cruise lines., so I hope it's not an issue when I go to book them when I'm able with Princess.

 

 

You have complete control of your booking in the Personalizer, which includes booking excursions, airfare, dining, and a myriad of other onboard options.  Makes no difference if you book direct or with a TA.

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42 minutes ago, satxdiver said:

 

It is not an issue.

 

Thank you!

 

30 minutes ago, Paula_MacFan said:

You have complete control of your booking in the Personalizer, which includes booking excursions, airfare, dining, and a myriad of other onboard options.  Makes no difference if you book direct or with a TA.

 

And thank you!

 

:classic_smile:

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