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Booking Fights through Crystal


ghgeckos
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We are taking our first Crystal Cruise next summer. With all the cancellations right now, I was thinking we might book our airfare through Crystal. I have two questions. How early can you arrive before your cruise if booking through Crystal? Also if airfare is booked through Crystal and Crystal cancels the cruise does my refund automatically including the airfare or do I have to deal with the airline directly?

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Crystal usually allows you to fly in on day of departure, even though that’s risky.  In certain cities they may require an overnight due to flight timing, and in those cases they will advise you, and either include a hotel stay in the air quote or give you the option to opt out of the hotel and acknowledge the day-before timing so you can make your own arrangements.

 

The question on refunds is also sort of “depends”.  Generally, Crystal’s air follows their cancellation policies for refunds, but if they have to do something custom for you, it may change the cancellation implications.  It’s best just to have your agent confirm what the cancellation policy if for your particular air itinerary at the time it’s quoted from Crystal.  Generally, their bulk air contracts allow for good degree of cancellation flexibility since the itineraries are reserved but not ticketed until right before your cruise tickets are issued.  In any case, Crystal is the actual agent of record on the air reservation, so they would handle the cancellation once your agent notifies Crystal.

 

Hope this helps...

 

Vince

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1 hour ago, ghgeckos said:

Thanks, we want to arrive a week early to Spain and also leave 3 days later post cruise. I don't have a travel agent, usually book everything myself with research.

 

Crystal is a line where I would always recommend using a travel agent as you will get benefits such as on board credits that can be used for excursions, etc. I used Crystal for flights and stayed over at the end of the cruise for a week. This was 7 years ago, so I have no idea what their policy is today. I have not used them for flights since then as I have always been able to get flights as cheap (or cheaper) on my own.

 

Patty

 

 

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7 hours ago, ghgeckos said:

Thanks, we want to arrive a week early to Spain and also leave 3 days later post cruise. I don't have a travel agent, usually book everything myself with research.

I also always book with an agent. I found those who travel the most, also prefer to have an expert backing them up. A travel agent will advocate for you and works for you. It doesn't cost more to use to an agent and often costs less. I find good ones are worth their weight in gold!

 

I have not used Crystal's air and will be curious how people reply to your original question.

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Thanks, for your input, as my DH and I enter into a new phase of life I will need to find a quality travel agent. For those of you who have a great travel agent what di you do to find one, there are so many out there.

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Though some will focus on pricing and discounts, there's much more to finding a quality luxury travel agent.  Vet their qualifications -- what lines do they focus on (ask that before mentioning Crystal)?  That answer is will tell you a lot about the agency's focus.  Ask what lines they have personally experienced.  What do they tend to recommend and why?  Again, the answer reveals a lot.  Ask what they can bring to the table - why should you do business with them?  That answer will help to understand if they are price-focused, service-oriented, consultative and/or order takers?  And if they stumble for an answer, that tells a lot as well.  Ask if they are part of any consortium.

 

Then ask yourself what you are looking for in an agent.  For those who have spent years doing their own work, it's a shift, so a few questions to yourself are in order.  Saves heartache and misunderstandings later.

 

The little secret is that the mass-market lines want you to book direct.  It saves them the commission and they have direct control of the sales process.  Luxury lines want you to work through an agent.

 

Thought problem -- did you do a vetting process on your lawyer, doctor, dentist?  How about your real estate agents?  Other service providers?  Now, think back on what you did ask and research, and the things you should have.  Remember the process you took.  There will be clues for how to find the one that works best for you.

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Being a TA I deal with all of the cruise lines, and although I have not booked air through Crystal in some time, I am fairly certain they are no different. They provide flight booking as part of the service for those who prefer to have everything booked in one place. You tell them when you want to arrive, and when you want to leave, and they will give you a price. Anything other the arriving the "day of" and departing the "day of" is considered an Air Deviation and they will charge an additional fee for that.

 

There are two significant differences between using the cruise line and doing it yourself. If you use the cruise line air and do the day of/day of arrival and departure, or use their pre-/post-hotel programme, they will provide all the transfers as part of the package. The downside to the pre-/post-hotels is they charge per person what you would pay per night to book the same hotel directly yourself. With the possible exceptions (off the top of my head) of Rome and Santiago, no transfer is worth that much money!

 

The biggest plus to using cruise line air, in this case specifically Crystal, was evident when this year's World Cruise was ended five weeks early in Perth. For those who booked their air through Crystal, the new return flights were booked through Crystal at no additional charge. The rest of us were on our own. As a TA, it was no big deal for us, but there were a lot of very stressed people on the ship that last week. Now, as a general rule, cruise line air is often (not always) more expensive, so you do have to ask yourself how often a pandemic is going to come along!

 

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8 hours ago, ghgeckos said:

Thanks, for your input, as my DH and I enter into a new phase of life I will need to find a quality travel agent. For those of you who have a great travel agent what di you do to find one, there are so many out there.

I would ask friends, relatives, former or current work colleagues who cruise often if they have a TA they would recommend.  Ideally if you know people who have sailed Crystal that might aid in finding a TA who specialized in both luxury cruise lines and also is very familiar with the Crystal Product.

 

If you can find a few of them then that allows you to get a nice comparison of capabilities.

 

When I was making a changes several years ago I got several recommendations and I treated the process they same way I did other decisions when selection a professional for a specific project.  I sent out each of them questions in an e-mail and noted after I received the answers I would followup with a telephone to schedule a telephone call.  The answers they provided gave me a nice feel for their experience and capabilities but it also showed me the quality of their work including their attention to details, timeliness of response and quality of work.  I narrowed it down to three TA's and when I spoke with them on the telephone I was also looking for who I felt I would deal with better.

 

What you might look for can vary by where you are in your life.  I know just as my taste has changed over they years for the products I use this includes cruising and what we do when we travel.  For me I was looking for someone who was knowledgeable about Crystal and could cut through the red tape, had a good support group so if that person was out of pocket I wasn't waiting for them to return, who could help to set up some unique tours, who provided competitive amenities and a few other things I was looking for.

 

When I mentioned changing tastes you could also say changing requirements.  In my early years of travel someone setting up tours was necessary so not a requirement but we reached a point when it was.  Today it is less of a requirement.  Things change some of it driven by where we are in our lives.

 

Good luck with this.  I am one of those who believes in the value of a TA and recognizes like any profession there are TA's who are outstanding/excellent, very good/good and poor and one who is strong can add tremendous value and help someone to avoid making mistakes.  I know some say they don't need the help and that is fine.  As much as I thought I knew about cruising, traveling or even Crystal our TA taught me things I didn't know from how the TA booked a family cruise for us to optimize overall cost to how the TA recommended how to apply a certain Crystal Society Milestone.

 

Keith

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Thank you for all of your advice, finding the right TA seems to be the best advice. Since we want to arrive so early I think we will book our own airfare and get private insurance just in case.

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Make sure you understand exactly what your private insurance covers.  I think many are excluding Covid-19, or at least that was said initially.  Unless you get "Cancel for Any Reason," they also do not cover cancelling because you are concerned about some risk.  And they may not cover cancelling the entire trip because just one part of it was cancelled by the provider of that part.

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