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eastoftheboston

Booking direct vs. travel agent

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Hi All, 

 

I'm trying to decide whether to use a TA to book our upcoming cruise. The last cruise I booked on Carnival was almost 11 years ago so I'm not familiar with current practices. I understand if you want to make changes to your booking and you booked through a TA that you would need to make those changes through the TA, but I'm wondering if that's also the case when it comes to purchasing internet, bon voyage packages etc. as well. I'd like to book through a TA, but if it means I can't go in and order stuff through the online funshops myself, I may just book direct.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

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1 minute ago, eastoftheboston said:

Hi All, 

 

I'm trying to decide whether to use a TA to book our upcoming cruise. The last cruise I booked on Carnival was almost 11 years ago so I'm not familiar with current practices. I understand if you want to make changes to your booking and you booked through a TA that you would need to make those changes through the TA, but I'm wondering if that's also the case when it comes to purchasing internet, bon voyage packages etc. as well. I'd like to book through a TA, but if it means I can't go in and order stuff through the online funshops myself, I may just book direct.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

We booked our cabin with a TA last summer. For all other things(excursions, funshops, etc) we bought those directly from Carnival online. We booked another cruise in late August through the same TA. We purchased a few weeks ago FTTF through Carnival's website. Hope that answers your question.

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50 minutes ago, eastoftheboston said:

Hi All, 

 

I'm trying to decide whether to use a TA to book our upcoming cruise. The last cruise I booked on Carnival was almost 11 years ago so I'm not familiar with current practices. I understand if you want to make changes to your booking and you booked through a TA that you would need to make those changes through the TA, but I'm wondering if that's also the case when it comes to purchasing internet, bon voyage packages etc. as well. I'd like to book through a TA, but if it means I can't go in and order stuff through the online funshops myself, I may just book direct.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

Yes, while you can book 'add ons' yourself and not need to go thru the TA, there is one other important difference between TA vs. booking thru CCL.  For any price drops (do keep watching for them although they are fewer and further between these days than they were 11 years ago), and any changes to the booking, you have to go thru the TA - CCL will not talk to you.  We have booked both ways and have lost price drops because the TA was not 'speedy' enough to either get back to us or by submitting ppwk. to CCL and we lost the price drop (price drops sometimes only show for a small window of time and then prices go up).  Don't know if this means much to you, but to us it has curbed the use of a TA.  However, on the TA side, you sometimes can snag some great perks (like OBC, or paying of gratuities) that CCL does not offer.  So its your choice.

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I have used a TA for 15 years and never received any perks....no onboard credit, nothing ever waiting in the room, no urgency when I make special requests. I'm jealous of all you ppl that have great TA's. I have switched to just booking directly on Carnivals website. It's so easy and I can pick my room and my dining time.

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On 10/1/2019 at 1:07 PM, eastoftheboston said:

Hi All, 

 

I'm trying to decide whether to use a TA to book our upcoming cruise. The last cruise I booked on Carnival was almost 11 years ago so I'm not familiar with current practices. I understand if you want to make changes to your booking and you booked through a TA that you would need to make those changes through the TA, but I'm wondering if that's also the case when it comes to purchasing internet, bon voyage packages etc. as well. I'd like to book through a TA, but if it means I can't go in and order stuff through the online funshops myself, I may just book direct.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

I have never seen a better deal than a TA can offer. Possibly price and OBC and perks. Always better with my TA. I have also booked a cruise on a cruise and my TA will update it with additional perks or more OBC from them.

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On 10/1/2019 at 1:07 PM, eastoftheboston said:

Hi All, 

 

I'm trying to decide whether to use a TA to book our upcoming cruise. The last cruise I booked on Carnival was almost 11 years ago so I'm not familiar with current practices. I understand if you want to make changes to your booking and you booked through a TA that you would need to make those changes through the TA, but I'm wondering if that's also the case when it comes to purchasing internet, bon voyage packages etc. as well. I'd like to book through a TA, but if it means I can't go in and order stuff through the online funshops myself, I may just book direct.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

I haven’t used a TA since 2007, preferring to do all my own bookings online. I like to have total control of everything and do not wish to hand over that duty to anyone else. 

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4 hours ago, 2xsin12mths said:

I have used a TA for 15 years and never received any perks....no onboard credit, nothing ever waiting in the room, no urgency when I make special requests. I'm jealous of all you ppl that have great TA's. I have switched to just booking directly on Carnivals website. It's so easy and I can pick my room and my dining time.

 

 

Definitely get another T.A. , every cruise we get OBC, last B2B we got a free Steakhouse dinner for each leg. I would never book without OBC, you can always find them

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I have used the same PVP from Carnival for many years-have always gotten great service and prompt responses to my questions.

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I prefer to handle my own bookings for all travel, but we couldn't for this cruise.  We were using points saved up on our credit card (ScoreCard Rewards).  While I was on the phone with her I was scrolling through booking the same cruise on the Carnival website.  We were comparing notes, and it looks like she got the exact same numbers and perks I did.  Oh well, those points had been building for some time.  Might as well use them for some fun.

 

I will book our excursions through the website, as well as ordering our Bon Voyage Package bottle of Southern Comfort (did I just date myself?).

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Sometimes the cruise line and the TA have the same exact price and perks. Most of the time I get the best price and additional perks using my TA. The company she works under offers regulars a great perk or two and she also gives some OBC because I book a lot ever year. The cruise lines NEVER EVER have a better price or better perks. 

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We always get the choice of OBC or cash back after the cruise from out TA. Always at least $150...

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My TA offers onboard credit above what the cruise line offers.  They also monitor the price for reductions and will let YOU know there is a price drop.

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On 10/2/2019 at 3:53 PM, 2xsin12mths said:

I have used a TA for 15 years and never received any perks....no onboard credit, nothing ever waiting in the room, no urgency when I make special requests. I'm jealous of all you ppl that have great TA's. I have switched to just booking directly on Carnivals website. It's so easy and I can pick my room and my dining time.

A met a Cruise travel agent while I was in Myrtle Beach this year.  I decided to try her and book a cruise with her.  The rate I got from her was the same rate as on Carnival's site, but she gave me a $200 onboard drink credit.  She'll be sending me my luggage tags already printed out and checking for rate drops.  So far, I am very happy with her!

 

I'm cruising next month and I booked via a Carnival rep.  The whole booking has been a disaster.  The cruise fare went down by $500 and when I called Carnival they would not honor it because they said I booked under a special rate. When I asked 'how would I know that, because nothing on my booking says what rate I was booked under.  She told me I should have looked on the their website.  I asked her if I was booking with a Carnival rep, why would I have to go online? I have booked many cruises directly through the website and never had this problem.  Since the balance needed to be paid in a few days, I paid the entire amount when I booked.  The rep told me he could only give me late seating for dinner and I told him that wouldn't work for me because I'm diabetic.  He told me that in that case there would be not problem.  Paid for the cruise and hung up.  He called me back a few minutes later to tell me I might have to take the late seating.  When I told him that I get sick if I wait too long for dinner, he told me I could eat at the buffet or order room service!  He told me I needed my doctor to fax them a letter stating I was diabetic, my booking #, sail date, ship name and my husband's name, and they might switch my dinning.  I call my doctor right after I hung up and the office told me she wasn't in and she would do it the next day.

 

The next day I called Carnival back and the lady on the phone told me they had already lifted the waitlist because they received the letter from my doctor and that I had priority seating because we are in a suite.  A few hours later I get a call from my doctor's office saying they were about to fax the letter over and wanted me to confirm it was the correct information before they sent it.  So, when Carnival said they received the letter, they actually received nothing.

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So i have a booking through Carnival PVP.  Looks like price of bookings is only going up at this point, so if there was a TA that was offering additional OBC, could i transfer the booking to them and keep my existing rate?

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This is a topic that has been beaten to death about 10,000 times... but I feel like people haven't had both experiences so I'll throw in my two cents...

 

First though, if you book through a TA you absolutely can order stuff through the Fun Shops... I now only book through a TA and I have never had any trouble logging into my account and buying whatever the heck I want in their Fun Shop.  If anyone gave you that info, they are wrong.  If you want internet, you book it and pay for it yourself; they don't do any of that if you don't want them to--and I don't want my TA to do any of that.

 

If you book on the website, you don't have a human being to really deal with, you can call the 800 number and get a person, but they're not really super invested because they're not making sales off of you.  If you end up booking online and then getting a PVP,  you now have a person who works for Carnival, and their duty is to their employer, not to you.  If you book through a TA you have someone who is making commission and getting paid ONLY when you are happy and they are serving you.  This gives them an incentive to do whatever you need for you to be happy.  

 

Now.  With that said, a few caveats for both.  There are some GREAT PVPs... they do exist, but I have never had one that would even quality as mediocre.  If you find one you love, hold on for life, because they are beholden to their employer, not to you.  There are also some TERRIBLE TAs.  People ask me all the time for my TAs information and I always tell them to find their own local person; most travel agencies are small, local, women-owned businesses so find someone local to your community.  I also can say, from my current personal experience, booking through one of the giant TAs, avoid that like the damn plague.  It has been one nightmare after another, and for the 14 days before final payment date (several weeks before final payment was due I had made final payment) they were having a computer error that left me unsure if I would even have a reservation because it refused to recognize my cruise as paid; and you have to fight with a computer voice to get a person.  

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There is no mystique about cruising anymore, all the information the consumer needs is readily available on the internet.  The only reason to involve a TA these days is for the OBC.  

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While some here have the knowledge (overall and specific), the vast majority may think they do but in fact do not.  I will not get into a debate on this topic, but just stating the facts.  Let the experts do what they know and work for you, they can do everything that has been mentioned here and do it for free.  

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My first 20 or so cruises I booked myself. Then I found a TA and thought I would try.  I have never looked back. 
 I do most the research myself and give it to him with added OBC. 
But a good one will battle for you and I don’t spend all day fighting.

example. 
I booked a cruise a while back  casino rate $200 fun play plus I had $600 FCC that I used. 
fast forward 

I get a Different casino offer via mail for my cruise.  $500 OBC DOU card & $100 less. Problem being Carnival Policy does not let you cancel and rebook using FCC  you would normally lose it. 
long story short my TA went to battle for me and got the entire booking re priced with all the perks fcc and no new deposit. Long story it’s actually $700 more dollars in my pocket and all I did we e-mail him.  Even if I could have done it ( doubt it) I didn’t spend hours on the phone being frustrated.  Point being A Good TA is invaluable 

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I started using a TA about a year ago. I get OBC from them. If Carnival is offering OBC they give me their OBC + Carnival's OBC. I can do everything on the website except make payments. And I have to go through the TA for price drops. They have a team of agents and a support email address that goes to all of them so if anything is time sensitive like a price drop I send it to that support email and it gets handled pretty quickly.

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us too, love TA's, last B2B we received a steak dinners on both legs, plus OBC.

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Use a reputable TA! I missed the ship once and my TA 'saved' me! Will Carnival do that? Idk! 

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For  19 cruises I have always used a TA, but I had read that PVP are better to use, and that may just be the individual's opinion.  For several of my cruises using the TA, we always received an OBC, which was not much, but it was better than nothing.  I decided to try the PVP, and neither the TA or the PVP knew I was doing this, but I wanted to see what prices they gave me.  It turned out they "both" gave me the same quote, but I think the PVP got me better rooms.

 

Now my question, since TA's don't let you know when prices go down, since my PVP has not notified me, what do I LOOK for to know if the prices have gone down, and to let the PVP know this as well? Would I look under the "same" date, room and price to see if there is a difference, or what?

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