Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
Califonria cruiser

Book with Princess direct or with a travel agent?

Recommended Posts

I am planning to book an Alaska cruise for July 2020 and wondering the pros and cons of booking directly with Princess vs. travel agent. It looks like $200 less per cabin with a travel agent and with 2 cabins that works out $400. I am wondering though if the price drops on the trip will a travel agent be able to get the new rate in the form on OBS like Princess might? We are timing it so it is the 3 offer so we should get free tips, $50 to $100 credit and also possibly a room upgrade but honestly not sure I want to move. We have 2 cabins right next door so any "upgrade" might separate us or put us not in mid ship and with Alaska that might be an issue.

 

Jenn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what you say, you get a better deal with the TA. Go for it!

 

Re price drops - monitor the price of the cruise. Some specials are for new bookings only so you would not be able to take advantage of these. If you see a price drop, contact your TA and see if you can get it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A TA should be able to refare. Remember, when you refare you get all the new promos and lose any you had with the original booking. A good TA will take good care of you.

 

Also the room upgrade means you can book the highest cabin in the category for the price of the lowest category. Think of it as just a cheaper price on the cabin. You will get to pick two cabins together, if available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have a good travel agent; you are better using them.  Travel agents can get any offer Princess has out there.  If you book your cabins; and two months later Princess offers a better deal; a travel agent can go in and rebook your reservation, allowing you to take advantage of the newest offer.  I have done this on several cruises.  A good travel agent can save you lots of money.  Have a great day

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Califonria cruiser said:

We have 2 cabins right next door so any "upgrade" might separate us or put us not in mid ship and with Alaska that might be an issue.

Link your bookings. That will decrease the chance that you'll be separated.

Mark the bookings "no upgrade". Then keep an eye on your Personalizer (check daily??) to verify you're still where you want to be.

Do use a TA, but be aware that if Princess wants to move you (and they can/will...even with "no upgrade" marked), they notify the TA (not you) and the TA may not see it in time or notify you at all. The big box stores do not notify.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used a TA for my next trip because they gave me a pretty good OBC. I've refared a couple of times. The only downside is I have to call them and wait on hold for a while because they don't staff a lot of agents and then hold while they call Princess. I usually save those calls for while I'm doing the school run.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We use a TA that gives more than 10% off the Princess price and doesn't play all the OBC shell games.

This would be on top of any Princess promo that is available.

Sometimes you can refare and sometimes not.

I agree that any TA that charges fees is a big red flag!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just make sure the TA doesn't charge any fees for changes.  Some actually do this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For years I only booked through Princess. Recently, on the recommendation of a friend, I re-booked an existing reservation through a major travel company  (one connected to a major retailer) and ended up with the EXACT same deal I would have received through Princess ... BUT also got an additional $585 in OBC!!  And, their OBC is refundable if not used!!  Total OBC for the 11-day voyage with their OBC and bonus OBC, plus the “Landmark” OBC, Future Cruise Credit OBC, and Shareholder OBC is $1,950!

Edited by BigGuy25

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Princess is one of the few cruise lines that permit TA's to discount even their best rates.

They are not permitted to advertise their discounted rate so you must contact them for "their" price.

TA's can book any Princess Rates and should always give you a better deal than booking Direct.

If not , find a TA that appreciates your business  .

Edited by MCC retired

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion only:

NEVER book with a Travel Agent.

A person who's really smart about grocery shopping knows that coupons are a ruse.  The money you save is almost made negligible by the nuisance of having to manage them, and they force you in to buying brands and products you might not normally choose.

Traveling is the same.  If all you're trying to do is spend less money, you can spend less by not traveling.  Where does it end?

You want a quality vacation, with as few surprises as possible, with full control over sudden modifications that pop up, and you don't want to get screwed.

You can ONLY do that by doing the research and booking everything yourself. 

If you know the tricks about when to book a cruise, what questions to ask, what you can get away with, and when is the best time to purchase air, you will almost always do better on your own than chaining your leg to a Travel Agent.

By the way, if something happens and it's after hours, or a Sunday but you need an answer NOW ... good luck getting past your travel agent's voice mail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, MotownVoice said:

In my opinion only:

NEVER book with a Travel Agent.

A person who's really smart about grocery shopping knows that coupons are a ruse.  The money you save is almost made negligible by the nuisance of having to manage them, and they force you in to buying brands and products you might not normally choose.

Traveling is the same.  If all you're trying to do is spend less money, you can spend less by not traveling.  Where does it end?

You want a quality vacation, with as few surprises as possible, with full control over sudden modifications that pop up, and you don't want to get screwed.

You can ONLY do that by doing the research and booking everything yourself. 

If you know the tricks about when to book a cruise, what questions to ask, what you can get away with, and when is the best time to purchase air, you will almost always do better on your own than chaining your leg to a Travel Agent.

By the way, if something happens and it's after hours, or a Sunday but you need an answer NOW ... good luck getting past your travel agent's voice mail.

 

You just didn't find the right agent.  My agent discounts Princess prices AND responds to my emails over the week end. I would never expect a response during the night.  I don't even think Princess is open that late!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Califonria cruiser said:

Can anyone PM which TA company they have liked? I figure we can't advertise on the board.

 

Jenn

 

Not allowed either.  Do some googling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MotownVoice said:

In my opinion only:

NEVER book with a Travel Agent.

A person who's really smart about grocery shopping knows that coupons are a ruse.  The money you save is almost made negligible by the nuisance of having to manage them, and they force you in to buying brands and products you might not normally choose.

Traveling is the same.  If all you're trying to do is spend less money, you can spend less by not traveling.  Where does it end?

You want a quality vacation, with as few surprises as possible, with full control over sudden modifications that pop up, and you don't want to get screwed.

You can ONLY do that by doing the research and booking everything yourself. 

If you know the tricks about when to book a cruise, what questions to ask, what you can get away with, and when is the best time to purchase air, you will almost always do better on your own than chaining your leg to a Travel Agent.

By the way, if something happens and it's after hours, or a Sunday but you need an answer NOW ... good luck getting past your travel agent's voice mail.

We understand your point, but when it comes to cruises you will likely pay about 10% more for your cruises and possibly more.  This can even be more true with Princess.  I will give you a real good example.  We recently booked a very expensive (longer cruise) future voyage on a Princess ship.  We happened to be aboard another Princess cruise when they had a future cruise promotion which doubled the usual OBC for future cruises.  So by booking aboard our cruise we got a $1000 OBC from Princess (double the usual $500 OBC for the future cruise booking) plus our deposit was only $100 (you can usually get low deposits when you do a future cruise booking aboard).  As soon as we returned home we contacted a couple of our favorite cruise agencies, told them we had a future cruise booking with Princess, and asked what they could do to "enhance" our booking.  One of the agencies offered us an additional $1800 in On Board Credits (these are refundable cruise credits that are essentially as good as cash).  So we asked Princess to transfer the reservation to that particular cruise agency who then gave us the additional $1800 OBC.  At this point we are $1800 ahead then if we left the booking with Princess.  If there are any future price drops our cruise agency will "reprice" the cruise and get us the lower price.  

 

This is just one example.  The reality is that with just about any Princess Cruises booking it is pretty easy to find a decent cruise agent that will give you 10% off the cruise price in On Board Credits.  And this is in addition to other OBCs such as the Princess Veterans credit ($250 on longer cruises) or stockholders credit ($250) on longer cruises.  You should consider that there are some Princess bookings that can cost 10s of thousands of dollars (such as the World Cruise) so 10% savings can be a large amount of money (over $10,000 in some cases).

 

You might think this is all a lot of hooey, but at this point our OBCs on the future cruise are about $3500 which is not small change.  There are other times there are better ways to book with a cruise agency such as taking a lower cruise price (usually about 10-12% below the lowest Princess offering) without much OBCs.

 

The issue here is not about "booking yourself" since we do all of our bookings ourselves (and we often cruise over 100 days a year).  The question is do you book directly with a cruise line, book through a cruise or travel agent, or book directly with Princess and then transfer the booking to a cruise/travel agency to receive additional benefits.  This last strategy does have some restrictions such a new rule where you must generally do the transfer within 60 days of booking.   As to how you do a transfer it is quite simple.  Once you work out the benefits with a cruise agency you simply submit a form (or you could write a letter) to Princess who will complete the transfer.  In our case we faxed a form to Princess on Saturday and the booking was transferred by Monday.

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always book with a TA. I like to save money, get advice and have an advocate if there are any problems. My TA seems to work 24/7 and is pretty much always available. 

 

Never say, “Never” but I don’t know of any reason to book directly unless you book and then transfer to a TA. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I am just looking in the wrong place, but have twice done a comparison with a TA and my PVP and have never gotten more than $50obc or one specialty dining at same price as Princess.  I have used the same PVP for several cruises.  She looks at all possible discounts, upcoming sales and finds the cabin we want.  I can call her with questions anytime.  Either I leave a message, if not urgent or ask for another agent if it is.  On our next cruise, she has provided an unexpected perk to which we are looking forward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Pam in CA said:

I always book with a TA. I like to save money, get advice and have an advocate if there are any problems. My TA seems to work 24/7 and is pretty much always available. 

 

Never say, “Never” but I don’t know of any reason to book directly unless you book and then transfer to a TA. 

 

Exactly, my experience! My TA was able to refare the cruise I booked with Princess last week, giving me a $850 savings and a refundable deposit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's misleading to tell people to never book with a TA. If that's what you want to do, go for it. Some of us though enjoy saving money and still receive great service. For instance, one of my TAs gave us very valuable advice when we booked an Alaskan cruise tour through him. We're saving a little more than 8 percent on our upcoming cruise. Multiply that by several cruises a year, and it adds up to substantial savings. The TA through whom I booked this cruise has been great at forwarding the upsell offers from Princess. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too bad CC does not allow commenters to give out name of TA's, but I totally understand why.  All I can say is that we have yet to find one that can do better than our PVP.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, jangor said:

Too bad CC does not allow commenters to give out name of TA's, but I totally understand why.  All I can say is that we have yet to find one that can do better than our PVP.

 

 

Next time you are on a Princess cruise go to the meet and greet and ask some of the other cruisers if they can recommend a TA.  People will respond positively (we've all been that person looking for a good TA at one time or another).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, jangor said:

twice done a comparison with a TA

 

6 hours ago, jangor said:

Too bad CC does not allow commenters to give out name of TA's, but I totally understand why.  All I can say is that we have yet to find one that can do better than our PVP.

 

You didn't mention how you came to find a TA to compare Princess pricing with.  Lots of people are happy with PVP service, which is fine.  Someone here suggested Googling to try and find good discount TA's.  I well know that when you start looking, it takes a bit of time and effort to figure out if they are the best price and if the individual you work with is knowledgeable, reliable and service-oriented.  Googling might also lead you to a way to get several TA's to compete for your business by sending you quotes for the cruise you want to go on.  Makes comparison shopping easier. 

 

Some people - like me - prefer to do their own bookings and manage that.  Some are happy to send TA an email and get them to do it.  You can book with Princess and transfer to a TA within 60 days.  This way, you have your Princess price locked in, including any benefits or OBC.  Then you can try some comparison shopping without fear of losing the cabin you want.  The TA business is competitive so let them compete for you to book. 

 

Through trial and error, including finding agencies using above recommendation, I found what i consider the ultimate combination - a large agency that often has group space and additional OBC on top of Princess promotions, plus a very significant discount off the cruise fare, plus responsive office staff, a great TA to commiserate with, and a booking engine I can shop in seeing all the current pricing plans and make my own bookings.  Don't give up.  I probably could have figured this out sooner by talking to more people on a cruise, but happy I landed where I am.  Good luck.

 

Edited by steelers36

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Holiday Exchange - Jingle and Mingle 2019
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...