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Book Next Cruise On The Ship or Thru The Travel Agent ?


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We will be embarking on our 8th & 9th cruise on Symphony in April 2020 and were wondering whether it is more cost effective to book up our next cruise (in 2021) whilst on board the ship  or to book it through our travel agent, which we have always done.

 

Whilst acknowledging that travel agents are different the world over, what in general is more cost effective - Ship Booking or Travel Agent Booking. 

 

Any thoughts ?

 

    

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In your case it really doesn't matter unless there is some type of special promotion and as I 'll cover below I am unaware of any at the present time.

 

The benefit of booking on board the ship is to obtain the on-board booking discount.  However, if you book at home with your TA for a cruise in 2021 before you embark for your April 2020 cruise then once you are on board the on board booking discount can be applied to your 2021 booking by your TA with Crystal Cruises.

 

The only reason I mention a special promotion is a few years ago they had a program which if you booked on board for voyages  sailing a specified time frame you received some additional on board credit for those cruises.  I am unaware of any current program.

 

Personally I like to book early because sailings seem to be filling at a greater rate these days and because I prefer cabin location.  So in my case I would have my TA book the 2021 cruise sooner rather than later and then have the on board booking discount applied on my next sailing prior to that date.

 

Keith

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Some travel agents have promotional discounts for a range of sailings from time to time - these are in addition to the standard published fares

 

I always book through my travel agent - that way you receive everything Crystal offer with a direct booking onboard plus whatever extra your TA chooses to offer eg additional OBC - including Book on Board discount provided it can be applied to an existing booking or the future cruise is booked within the deadline for booking an additional cruise 

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4 minutes ago, crickette said:

Our TA has requested that we refrain from booking onboard or online.  We value our TA immensely and respect this request.  You may wish to ask your TA this question.


The same as ours too

I think I know why - there’s too many instances that I’ve heard about first hand where the on board Crystal agent tells guests things that are simply incorrect - I trust my TA to advise me on the best course of action to obtain the best deal

 

If you’re planning on changing your TA from the one that booked the current cruise you are far better to get your new TA to book it to avoid disappointment with commission splits caused by the transition to the new agent when booking on board

 

Your new agent can still get you the on board booking discount if you book through them in the allowable time window for the future cruise booking - 2 weeks I think 

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I usually do an open booking on board,, mainly because we haven't picked a specific cruse and then when we decide, I book the specific cruise through my TA.  I've never had a problem doing it this way and as far as I know I've gotten all the benefits of on board booking and all the benefits my TA and consortium offer for the cruise I end up booking.

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For me, I do whatever makes good sense at the time.

 

For example, right now since we are not sailing I make the bookings through our TA.

 

If on the ship and we've decided to make bookings I'll book on the ship.  

 

Sometimes we've been on the ship where a new voyage is announced such as the World Cruise or an entire years of voyages so we'll book while on the ship.

 

And sometimes we've been on the ship and we wrote to our TA who booked it for us.

 

Of late I have just filled out the on board booking forms, turned them into the desk and within hours or worse case 24 hours the booking has been done.  

 

I also from time to time do open booking for added flexibility.  

 

My own experience is the on board booking consultants on board the Ocean Vessels are very seasoned and are very good at what they do.

 

On the River Cruise vessels ( I believe the same is true on Esprit) there is a combined position of Crystal Society and on-board Booking Consultant.  On our recent river cruise we had the person do an open booking for us.

 

In our case if our travel agency had a promotion I could still book on board and it would not impact it.

 

For me with every few exceptions I like booking early so that is usually the driver on where I book (on board or directly with our TA).  In either case our TA gets the booking.

 

Like most things we all do what works best for us and there is really no right or wrong on this.

 

Keith

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9 hours ago, Texas Tillie said:

 

I believe Crystal's policy is that if you book on board the booking will automatically go to the travel agent with whom you booked the cruise you are on. 

If you do nothing that is correct.  However one could indicate they do not want to designate an agent or want to designate an agent other than your current one.   However, if you do this and designate an agent when you get home other than your original agent the new agent will not get a full commission.   If wanting to use a new agent who was not associated with ones current booking and ensure they get a full commission while one is still at home they would need to make the new booking and if the new booking falls after the upcoming cruise you will also realize the on board booking discount.

 

I am sure there are some TA's out there who would tell clients not to book on board but I have never had one in all my years of cruising Crystal who gave me advice along those lines.  Like all professionals (lawyers, doctors, travel agents and on and on) the advice likely can vary by who you use.   

 

And like most things we all do what we want which is why some of us book on board, some do not and life goes on.

 

I've been happy doing what I do since first sailing Crystal.  This includes booking with our agent while at home, doing a specific booking while at home, do an open booking and once in awhile book it directly with Crystal Reservations or booking on line using the Crystal Cruises website and having the bookings go to my agent.  These days  I do the last two infrequently but if it was the weekend or very early in the day when I needed to lock things in I have in the past and would do it again if necessary.  

 

And once in awhile there have been some promotions that I have realized while booking on-board which I would not have realized by starting the booking at home and that has not precluded me from realizing any benefits from the travel agency.

 

Keith

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The onboard agent is never my choice for a booking.

 

I have received incorrect information.  I have been given pricing that was far different than what any of my travel agents could provide.  And a particular to-be-unnamed agent provides zero value to my buying process.

 

Most critical, I have found that some promotions that are available to land agents are NOT combinable with onboard booking discounts.  I have been told (but is unconfirmed officially) that once the onboard booking discount is put into your reservation, you can't later remove it to make for a better deal.  On a recent experience, that would have turned out to be a four-figure difference.

 

Some folks have gotten excellent results from onboard booking, others not so much.  So as ever, caveat emptor.

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4 hours ago, FlyerTalker said:

The onboard agent is never my choice for a booking.

 

I have received incorrect information.  I have been given pricing that was far different than what any of my travel agents could provide.  And a particular to-be-unnamed agent provides zero value to my buying process.

 

Most critical, I have found that some promotions that are available to land agents are NOT combinable with onboard booking discounts.  I have been told (but is unconfirmed officially) that once the onboard booking discount is put into your reservation, you can't later remove it to make for a better deal.  On a recent experience, that would have turned out to be a four-figure difference.

 

Some folks have gotten excellent results from onboard booking, others not so much.  So as ever, caveat emptor.


Yes, Yes, Yes 

 

That is my experience also 

 

I do not use the On Board booking consultant for those reasons 

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12 hours ago, Keith1010 said:

If wanting to use a new agent who was not associated with ones current booking and ensure they get a full commission while one is still at home they would need to make the new booking and if the new booking falls after the upcoming cruise you will also realize the on board booking discount.

 

Keith, I really appreciate this information, because I am likely to find myself in this situation.  My new TA expressed some uncertainty about whether this would work to get me the onboard booking discount and still have the full commission go to her.

 

Also, I saw someplace, and I am pretty sure it was on the Crystal CC board, that if changing TAs, the new booking needs to be made no earlier than 2 weeks before embarking on the trip that will qualify it as being "onboard."  I know there is no such limit when using the same TA for all involved bookings, and I fail to see the logic on why it would make a difference if changing to a new TA.  I think that for Regent, you cannot make the new booking more than 30 days before the already booked trip in order to be eligible for Regent's onboard discount, but I had never heard of this for Crystal. 

 

Do you know if there are any such timing limitations when changing to a different TA for a new Crystal booking?  Also, you say the new booking would need to be made at home before the "onboard" trip, but I was assuming that I could have my new TA (not the onboard booking agent) make the booking while I am onboard, and the same would apply.  Is this not true?

 

Thank you for sharing all the information and experience that you do.

 

Karen

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Karen 

 

I haven’t moved TA myself for ages but I have many friends who have and base my advice on their experiences 

 

I haven’t heard of the 2 week limitation when moving TA and like you can’t see any logic on that being the case 

 

You are correct on your new TA being able to make the new booking while you are cruising and for 2 weeks after (and I would think prior to your cruise then applying it once you board as you would qualify) and getting the book on board discount 

 

Interestingly some of the special TA deals are bettering the book on board discount these days (I just booked one that fell into that category) so as FlyerTalker says let your new TA advise on which discount is the best at the time before committing 

 

There is one situation where I would consider booking while actually on board and that’s if there is some sort of great inventive offered for that - but I haven’t heard of that sort of offer happening for several years now 

 

I think you’re going to get the most accurate answer on this question from a TA - as they have most skin in that game in terms of commission recognition which will impact the amount available for them to play with in terms of OBC etc

Edited by Stickman1990
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I'll have the agent onboard start an open booking if I don't currently have something planned and anticipate I will want something, but I don't think I'd go to them under normal circumstances for an actual booking.  There is no advantage to having them start the booking over your agent, as long as you eventually get the discount for having the booking in place while on your previous cruise.

 

FlyerTalker's two points about the downsides are good ones.  The onboard agent is just starting the booking at the lowest current discount fare -- not counting any special promotions, unless specified.  Any special discounts your agent gets or any other promotions you might rather book under may-or-may-not be able to be added to the booking once it's created, or once the onboard discount is applied, so it's a bit riskier to do it in that direction. 

 

IME, the onboard agents are very knowledgeable and experienced...  In most cases I think they can speak better about Crystal than almost any agent I've ever worked with.  That said, they don't have access to any agent-specific pricing that will eventually be applied, may not be the best person to book particular promotions with, and they don't know your needs and preferences as well as your own agent.  I'd do a firm booking with them only as a last resort, but I'd book with them one way or another if I was going to lose the OBD otherwise.

 

Vince

 

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48 minutes ago, Stickman1990 said:

There is one situation where I would consider booking while actually on board and that’s if there is some sort of great inventive offered for that - but I haven’t heard of that sort of offer happening for several years now 

 

My husband and I recently got back from a b2b that we booked on board in November 2017.  The deal included a "Gift of Luxury" of an additional 10% off in addition to the 5% onboard booking discount, and an OBC of $500 per person, per segment, $2000 total.  This is the only time I have heard of this sort of deal, and we just happened to be onboard at the right time.  The catch was that we had to pay in full at the time of booking.

 

Karen

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50 minutes ago, SusieQft said:

 

My husband and I recently got back from a b2b that we booked on board in November 2017.  The deal included a "Gift of Luxury" of an additional 10% off in addition to the 5% onboard booking discount, and an OBC of $500 per person, per segment, $2000 total.  This is the only time I have heard of this sort of deal, and we just happened to be onboard at the right time.  The catch was that we had to pay in full at the time of booking.

 

Karen

I do not know how much that was only an onboard special (certainly the OBC was),  Crystal had a special for Nov 2017 that anyone could use and pay in full and get 15% off.  We used that  to switch from an Oceania cruise to a Crystal Symphony (same itinerary).  Reason I remember it is that the fare for a suite was cheaper than Oceania.

Edited by PaulMCO
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Interesting on the timing on that offer - 2 months after the changing of the guard (CEO’s)

 

I think they were difficult times and a revenue boost was required 

 

Sadly (but for the better) I don’t think we’ll see such offers across the board - but maybe for some itineraries or specific regions where competitive pressure demands it 

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After reading the comments on this thread, I feel like I was mislead/duped by the onboard sales consultant.   We had used a Crystal Travel Agent on prior bookings (3 in all) and I knew that for the next one I wanted to switch to someone else (my uncle's TA is fantastic).   While on a recent cruise, I specifically stated to the onboard consultant that (a) I wanted to change TA and (b) wanted to ensure that the new TA received the full commission all while ensuring I received the onboard booking discount.   I was advised that the only way to get the discount was to book while onboard (apparently the 2 week post cruise grace period to receive the onboard booking discount only applies if you use your existing TA) and fill in the cruise order form indicating the desire to switch agents which would ensure the transfer of the commission.   With that advice, we went ahead and made the booking while onboard and the sales consultant filled in the form so that this would be accurately reflected.   2 weeks later, wouldn't you know that I get an email from the Crystal agent thanking me for the new booking with a note at the bottom stating if so desired, I could change agents by a certain date.      While I gave notification of my intent to change, I now realize that it is likely the commission is now going to be shared by the two agents which was never my intent.    Feels like the onboard sales consultant did what they could to help out a fellow Crystal colleague....  

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2 hours ago, SusieQft said:

 

Keith, I really appreciate this information, because I am likely to find myself in this situation.  My new TA expressed some uncertainty about whether this would work to get me the onboard booking discount and still have the full commission go to her.

 

Also, I saw someplace, and I am pretty sure it was on the Crystal CC board, that if changing TAs, the new booking needs to be made no earlier than 2 weeks before embarking on the trip that will qualify it as being "onboard."  I know there is no such limit when using the same TA for all involved bookings, and I fail to see the logic on why it would make a difference if changing to a new TA.  I think that for Regent, you cannot make the new booking more than 30 days before the already booked trip in order to be eligible for Regent's onboard discount, but I had never heard of this for Crystal. 

 

Do you know if there are any such timing limitations when changing to a different TA for a new Crystal booking?  Also, you say the new booking would need to be made at home before the "onboard" trip, but I was assuming that I could have my new TA (not the onboard booking agent) make the booking while I am onboard, and the same would apply.  Is this not true?

 

Thank you for sharing all the information and experience that you do.

 

Karen

Karen, you are very welcome.  I just want to reassure you if you book on board the booking will go to the agent who is the agent of record for your current sailing (unless you decide otherwise) and if you do this your agent will get their full commission.  If you go with another agent the new agent will not get a full commission.

 

I am not aware of the two week rule that you were told but if it was me I would just call Crystal reservations and they can confirm this with you.  My experience with Crystal and with all companies is things can change so always best just to check.

 

As to the last question I would also check with Crystal because I would not want to tell you the wrong thing.  If it was me to be on the safe side I would make the booking before boarding so I would not have any worries.  But again just check with Crystal reservations and if this was me I would call them myself and not have the agent do that just to be 100% sure I got the facts right.

 

Keith

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14 minutes ago, canadianINtexas said:

After reading the comments on this thread, I feel like I was mislead/duped by the onboard sales consultant.   We had used a Crystal Travel Agent on prior bookings (3 in all) and I knew that for the next one I wanted to switch to someone else (my uncle's TA is fantastic).   While on a recent cruise, I specifically stated to the onboard consultant that (a) I wanted to change TA and (b) wanted to ensure that the new TA received the full commission all while ensuring I received the onboard booking discount.   I was advised that the only way to get the discount was to book while onboard (apparently the 2 week post cruise grace period to receive the onboard booking discount only applies if you use your existing TA) and fill in the cruise order form indicating the desire to switch agents which would ensure the transfer of the commission.   With that advice, we went ahead and made the booking while onboard and the sales consultant filled in the form so that this would be accurately reflected.   2 weeks later, wouldn't you know that I get an email from the Crystal agent thanking me for the new booking with a note at the bottom stating if so desired, I could change agents by a certain date.      While I gave notification of my intent to change, I now realize that it is likely the commission is now going to be shared by the two agents which was never my intent.    Feels like the onboard sales consultant did what they could to help out a fellow Crystal colleague....  

When you say a Crystal Travel Agent I am assuming you were using a "travel agent" who you found through Crystal rather than having booked it directly with Crystal and they act as if they were the agent. Assuming I am correct if you booked on board and designated the new agent or if you booked on board and said you didn't want to designated a new agent then in both cases the new agent will receive a partial commission.  The original agent who you had booked the cruise with you were on would get nothing from that booking.

 

Keith

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2 hours ago, SusieQft said:

 

My husband and I recently got back from a b2b that we booked on board in November 2017.  The deal included a "Gift of Luxury" of an additional 10% off in addition to the 5% onboard booking discount, and an OBC of $500 per person, per segment, $2000 total.  This is the only time I have heard of this sort of deal, and we just happened to be onboard at the right time.  The catch was that we had to pay in full at the time of booking.

 

Karen

Karen, this was an example of what I was thinking of.

 

We didn't get an additional gift of luxury but we booked several cruise in 2017 for 2018 where we got additional OBC for booking while we were on board and that included three back to back cruises where we received OBC for each one for booking on board.  We would not have realized any of this had we not booked on board. This is an example of a promotion that was offered for those booking on board.

 

Keith

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26 minutes ago, canadianINtexas said:

After reading the comments on this thread, I feel like I was mislead/duped by the onboard sales consultant

 

Sadly you are not the first that this has occurred to 

 

The On Board consultant wants to get a booking locked in - albeit only a deposit sometimes - they achieved that - job done (for them!) 

 

They will tell you what suits them - the classic example was telling friends a cruise was sold out when there were agents with places available - fortunately they mentioned it to me after their visit to the consultant - with 1 email and an hour they were booked on the “fully booked” cruise - with on board booking discount too

Edited by Stickman1990
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8 minutes ago, Keith1010 said:

When you say a Crystal Travel Agent I am assuming you were using a "travel agent" who you found through Crystal rather than having booked it directly with Crystal and they act as if they were the agent. Assuming I am correct if you booked on board and designated the new agent or if you booked on board and said you didn't want to designated a new agent then in both cases the new agent will receive a partial commission.  The original agent who you had booked the cruise with you were on would get nothing from that booking.

 

Keith

Hi Keith - I actually booked directly with Crystal via one of their employees/agents all 3 times.   When we did the onboard cruise booking I was very clear with the onboard agent I wanted to designate a TA (the new one) and provided all the necessary contact information for that TA.   I trusted the onboard consultant when she said the paperwork was filled out properly to ensure that designation was made.   I don't understand why the new agent would only get a partial commission in this case...

 

Being relatively new to cruising, I didn't appreciate there was a difference in service between travel agents until I saw the service my uncle received from his TA which was over the top compared to the bare bones support I received (ie. agent processed transaction and a couple of months before the trip, sent me the tickets via overnight delivery), hence my desire to change.       Live and learn....  I'll know for the next time but it doesn't help my new TA for this latest booking.

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36 minutes ago, Keith1010 said:

Karen, this was an example of what I was thinking of.

 

We didn't get an additional gift of luxury but we booked several cruise in 2017 for 2018 where we got additional OBC for booking while we were on board and that included three back to back cruises where we received OBC for each one for booking on board.  We would not have realized any of this had we not booked on board. This is an example of a promotion that was offered for those booking on board.

 

Keith

 

 

the gift of luxury promo came out in November or December of 2017 and the 15% discount was on selected 2018 and 2019 cruises.  As stated, you had to pay in full at the time of booking and it was sent out via email from Crystal.   We too received additional OBC for a 2018 and 2019 cruise as we had booked and sailed on some 2017 cruises.  We didn't' have to book those cruises while on board as they were already booked during the period the promotion was offered during 2017.  the catch was the 2018 and 2019 cruises had to be booked by the end of 2017 in order to get the additional OBC for those future cruises.  I believe the promo was called "guest appreciation' onboard credit and it was rolled out around May 2017 and we received a letter in our stateroom on our 2017 cruises.

 

Nancy

Edited by nancygp
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I have known the on board booking consultants for year and truly believe the would never say something purposely that was incorrect to make a booking.  Like us they are human and like us might make a mistake from time to time.  My view is the on-board agents are very knowledgeable, helpful, efficient and of high integrity and the ones on the ocean vessels have been with Crystal for many years.  They are not only seasoned professional in their current positions but each of them have worked in other positions on board the vessels which aids them in their current position.

 

I have never met anyone in my life both professionally and casually who has not made a mistake  and this includes myself.

 

Like most things each person will figure out what works best for them and have their own set of opinions.  This is mine.

 

Keith

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2 minutes ago, nancygp said:

 

 

the gift of luxury promo came out in December of 2017 and the 15% discount was on selected 2018 and 2019 cruises.  As stated, you had to pay in full at the time of booking.  We too received additional OBC for a 2018 and 2019 cruise as we had booked and sailed on some 2017 cruises.  We didn't' have to book those cruises while on board as they were already booked during the period the promotion was offered during 2017.  the catch was the 2018 and 2019 cruises had to be booked by the end of 2017 in order to get the additional OBC for those future cruises.  I believe the promo was called "guest appreciation' onboard credit and it was rolled out around May 2017 and we received a letter in our stateroom on our 2017 cruises.

 

Nancy

Yes, Nancy it was called Guest Appreciation.  Thanks for the reminder.

 

And we really appreciated the generous OBC.  😀  As usual we spent it all plus more.  LOL.  It was a pleasant surprise.

 

Keith

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