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Smokeyham

Booking a World Cruise Without Using a Travel Agent?

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It seems that most people who book a world cruise do so through a travel agent, so I am curious to hear if there are those who do the booking themselves?  I was reading some horror stories of travel agents (in Britain) who were demanding full payment 100 days in advance of the cruise line's deadline, and also who were sitting on refunds that had been issued.

What are your thoughts?  Pros and Cons of using a travel agent?

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We've used the same TA for years.  I found her by the reputation of the agency she works with.  I called and asked for a cruise specialist and there she was :) !

To us she's worth her weight (and more!) in gold.

Asking for recommendations from friend's is a start.

If I was taking a 7 day cruise I probably wouldn't bother her, but for a longer cruise she's indispensable!  

 

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Thanks......  I did use a TA for an Alaska cruise a number of years back, and found that I knew more about the ship, and cruising in general, than she did.  

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6 hours ago, Smokeyham said:

It seems that most people who book a world cruise do so through a travel agent, so I am curious to hear if there are those who do the booking themselves?  I was reading some horror stories of travel agents (in Britain) who were demanding full payment 100 days in advance of the cruise line's deadline, and also who were sitting on refunds that had been issued.

What are your thoughts?  Pros and Cons of using a travel agent?

 

I haven't been cruising that long (my first cruise was in September, 2017), but I've taken 6 1/3 cruises so far.  I travel solo so additional cost (single supplement) is a major factor in my planning.  

 

Most of my cruises have been longer -- 21+ days -- including part of a World Cruise.  I was on the ill-fated Regent Seven Seas 2020 World Cruise that ended early on March 17 in Fremantle (Perth), Australia after only 51 days.  And I currently have six more Regent cruises booked -- it would have been more, but two scheduled for this year have already been canceled (a 15-day Alaska trip scheduled for last month, and a 68-day South America trip scheduled for this fall/winter, both on Regent).  One of those six future cruises is the 2022 World Cruise (Elements of the Pacific -- 120 days, covering ports in Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, Russia, and Alaska).  Another is a 94-day Arctic Adventure through the North Atlantic next summer (May 31 - Sep 2).

 

I haven't used a travel agent yet, preferring to book directly with the cruise line.  For me, it's more a matter of the level of control I want/need in handling questions/issues that might arise.  I prefer to deal directly with the cruise company rather than having to explain my issue or question to a travel agent and hope that they understood what I was asking when they then talk to the cruise line. Then there's a delay for the agent to get a response from the cruise company, and then relate it to me.  The risk is that the travel agent may have misunderstood either me or the cruise line's response.  I think I had a few too many negative experiences when I as traveling fairly frequently internationally on business some years ago.  I have to say that Regent was wonderful to work with as the World Cruise ended earlier this year.  I really think dealing directly with them helped with the relatively smooth operation to disembark, transfers to hotel in Perth, and business/first-class flights all the way home to Washington state in the US.  

 

If I'm dropping 6 figures on a world cruise, I really need to be able to get answers quickly and accurately.  I've talked to a few agents recommended by friends but I don't see the "value added" other than (perhaps) some additional OBC.  I already get OBC from the various promotions as well as stockholder benefits, and on Regent, it's difficult to spend it as everything is included in the fare.  For me, the stress level just isn't worth it.

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

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13 hours ago, ArtsyCraftsy said:

Lana in Bellingham, W

 

Good reasons, Lana.  I prefer using a travel agent, but your reasons make good sense.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Smokeyham said:

Thanks......  I did use a TA for an Alaska cruise a number of years back, and found that I knew more about the ship, and cruising in general, than she did.  

 

Your experience proves what I have posted on CC many times.  One must find an experienced cruise expert type travel agent in order to have the best chances for a successful business experience with them.  

 

The agent that I use I found through recommendations from more experienced world and long cruisers than I was at the time.  There seemed to be one agency through which many booked.  I called that agency and asked to be connected with an agent whose name I kept hearing.  That person was not available, but I was connected to Mary.  I have worked with Mary since 2007.  Several agents and she from that agency left and joined a new agency in recent years.  Her service and the new agency's service have remained excellent.  

Edited by rkacruiser

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17 hours ago, ArtsyCraftsy said:

 

I haven't been cruising that long (my first cruise was in September, 2017), but I've taken 6 1/3 cruises so far.  I travel solo so additional cost (single supplement) is a major factor in my planning.  

 

Most of my cruises have been longer -- 21+ days -- including part of a World Cruise. ....I haven't used a travel agent yet, preferring to book directly with the cruise line.  .......

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

Lana,

 

Thanks for that perspective.   I hear what you are saying about wanting to keep control.   I know when I travel that I like to book my own flights so that I leave when I want to and can coordinate with other plans.   

Unless the travel agent can get me substantially lower fares then I am not sure I see what the value is.

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21 hours ago, Smokeyham said:

Lana,

 

Thanks for that perspective.   I hear what you are saying about wanting to keep control.   I know when I travel that I like to book my own flights so that I leave when I want to and can coordinate with other plans.   

Unless the travel agent can get me substantially lower fares then I am not sure I see what the value is.

 

Regarding my air itinerary, I research the flights that are available and select the ones that I want.  I inform my agent and have been 100% successful in getting the desired flights.

 

The unwritten "value" comes from better pricing for the cruise because of the agency's relationship with the cruise line.  On long cruises, often there will be a Host or two that are there to assist their clients. Another "value" is when problems or issues pop-up before, during, or after a cruise.  An excellent agent will act like an ombudsman to assist their client in resolving whatever the issue or problem may be.  

 

I can understand why many cruisers choose to not use an agent.  I have found my relationships with quality travel agents to have been very worthwhile.  To each his/her own.

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I prefer to do the research myself and book through a travel agent.  I never use the TA or Oceania for my air, and prefer to book myself.  I have tried a few agents, and currently very happy with my agent who is part of a Connoisseur Club for Oceania travel agents.  You might search for an agent in this group, I received her name from a friend.  I would book myself if there was no added value to booking through the agent, but I think you would kick yourself if you booked without one and happened to hear of the added perks(gratuities, cash back, OBC,  or Insurance, etc) that some might offer.  Oceania seems to not offer discounts on cabins, so the TA perk on a cruise of length can be substantial.

 

A world cruise requires a lot of work on your part, has potential for problems, and also has paperwork that must be completed in a timely manner.  I went through an agency who didn't notify me of problems, didn't answer my emails, and basically were absent once the cruise was booked.   Having an agent with a special relationship with Oceania and responds to you quickly is important, IMO.

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23 minutes ago, BarbaraM said:

I prefer to do the research myself and book through a travel agent.  I never use the TA or Oceania for my air, and prefer to book myself.  I have tried a few agents, and currently very happy with my agent who is part of a Connoisseur Club for Oceania travel agents.  .....

Thanks, I saw Oceania's list of preferred agents and was wondering what extra benefit(s) they might provide beyond what a "regular" agent could provide. 

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I've used the same agent now for 15 years, for luxury and premium cruises on mostly Regent and Paul Gauguin, but Azamara and Oceania too. Lots of advantages, especially making sure that I don't forget some vital procedure. But the main reason, frankly, is the cash rebate, a percentage of the base fare, which on a world cruise is very substantial.

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Posted (edited)

My post went poof and then I remembered the board rules which I broke. So I'll try to recreate it.

 

Very good thoughts from everyone. I will add mine also.

 

I did a world cruise solo. I used a large reputable TA so as to have someone to contact if I needed help on the trip.

 

I did a number of independent over lands and had them help with arranging them. Also had them help with trip insurance for them. They handled getting the visa's for the cruise and made sure I had the right ones for the ship and for my independent over lands which were sometimes different because I got off at one port and got on at another which might have been in a different country. They also monitored if the port changed and communicated that to the independent over land tour operator so they could meet me at the right port at the right time. They also monitored the independent overland flights and let me know of any changes while I was in transit. Both the above happened (port change and subsequent flight change to accommodate new port). I didn't know about either until she told me so it wasn't me who initiated the change.

 

I used to travel alot for business and when things went south with a flight or hotel I would call my large work TA and often get first shot at a route around or a hotel. If I hadn't done that I would have stood in line with everyone else on the flight and waited for the airline to handle it.

 

When cruising I have had a ship late and the cruise line made hotel reservations for everyone. Or the ship get to the destination late and they helped everyone with their new flights. But for the world cruise I wanted to have the option of a second helpline that was dedicated to me and not having to reroute or handle the entire cruise ship. Having a TA doesn't prevent you from using the ship's accommodations or arrangement but it does give you someone back home to call who can help you get a flight or hotel if you need it and won't be handling calls from everyone on the ship who needs the same service.

 

The lady I used knew the industry and had the backing of a large travel agency behind her so I felt she could have been a real asset had I needed it. Luckily I didn't but I could have it I had been caught in civil unrest, got hurt or delayed getting back to the ship.

Edited by AWorldCruise4Me

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On 8/14/2020 at 10:39 AM, zoncom said:

Smokey, where do I find Oceanias preferred agents list?

It took a little digging.... but here is a link from Oceania's website.   I know we are not allowed to recommend a specific agent here on CruiseCritic, but I believe it is OK to share a location that lists a number of agents.

 

https://www.oceaniacruises.com/find-agent/ 

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[quote name="ArtsyCraftsy"

I haven't used a travel agent yet, preferring to book directly with the cruise line.  For me, it's more a matter of the level of control I want/need in handling questions/issues that might arise.  I prefer to deal directly with the cruise company rather than having to explain my issue or question to a travel agent and hope that they understood what I was asking when they then talk to the cruise line.

For me, the stress level just isn't worth it.

 

Lana in Bellingham, WA

 

Agree totally with everything you have said. All my bookings are made direct; cruises, airlines, hotels, car hire. Back it all up with my own original digital copies. Anything ever comes up, I can handle it personally, not via second or third hand.

 

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On 8/9/2020 at 7:48 AM, Smokeyham said:

It seems that most people who book a world cruise do so through a travel agent, so I am curious to hear if there are those who do the booking themselves?  I was reading some horror stories of travel agents (in Britain) who were demanding full payment 100 days in advance of the cruise line's deadline, and also who were sitting on refunds that had been issued.

What are your thoughts?  Pros and Cons of using a travel agent?

Hi Smokeyham - just adding a post. I booked our WC on Coral Princess in ‘22 yesterday direct with Princess. But I must admit I do it by phone and I do have a wonderful Princess Cruise Planner who has given me their Ext # and he is the best!! 
 

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1 hour ago, Porky55 said:

Hi Smokeyham - just adding a post. I booked our WC on Coral Princess in ‘22 yesterday direct with Princess. But I must admit I do it by phone and I do have a wonderful Princess Cruise Planner who has given me their Ext # and he is the best!! 
 

That is great that you have a personal contact with a Princess staff member. That sounds like a good alternative to having a travel agent.

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3 hours ago, Smokeyham said:

That is great that you have a personal contact with a Princess staff member. That sounds like a good alternative to having a travel agent.

I don’t think it is an exclusive thing - on the Princess web page it is one of the options to talk to a cruise Specialist. Note the middle column in the photo in Planning Assistance? Then just ask them for an email / phone contact for if you need to follow up with questions. We are able to do this in Aus anyway, perhaps due to the smaller numbers after their help?
 

E11210CA-6171-46BC-881C-8E0C10BC78DB.jpeg

Edited by Porky55

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On 8/14/2020 at 10:36 AM, Wendy The Wanderer said:

 But the main reason, frankly, is the cash rebate, a percentage of the base fare, which on a world cruise is very substantial.

^^^This^^^  Without exception, I've always gotten a better deal when going through a travel agent.  There are other cruise forums that allow travel agent recommendations.  I would find a good one for a WC and absolutely book through him/her, just for the OBC, if nothing else.

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23 hours ago, Porky55 said:

Hi Smokeyham - just adding a post. I booked our WC on Coral Princess in ‘22 yesterday direct with Princess. But I must admit I do it by phone and I do have a wonderful Princess Cruise Planner who has given me their Ext # and he is the best!! 
 

Porky,

Off topic, but....I am so jealous! We took an almost 3 week cruise on the Coral Princess and I thought it was the perfect ship for a world cruise. The size, amenities, food etc were all perfect (to me) for a long cruise. I hope you have a wonderful time!

Edited by AWorldCruise4Me

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Porky,

Off topic, but....I am so jealous! We took an almost 3 week cruise on the Coral Princess and I thought it was the perfect ship for a world cruise. The size, amenities, food etc were all perfect (to me) for a long cruise. I hope you have a wonderful time!

 

Plan to - however I need to correct my booking description - it’s actually a “half World” really - Dover to Sydney in 56 days mainly because DH is still working and we will be spending time pre cruise with family in the Netherlands.

When we see our son and DIL and the grandkids in June 22 - it will have been two and a half years blasted pandemic - should have been heading over there this month, but aren’t allowed to leave Australia right now!!!

Thank you for your confidence in Coral - her first visit to Aus and she’s selling out every cruise fast .......

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19 hours ago, Porky55 said:

however I need to correct my booking description - it’s actually a “half World” really - Dover to Sydney in 56 days

 

That's a very good way to have an introduction to a full world cruise.  My first "foray" into this area of cruising was by booking a segment to see how it compared to a non-world cruise.  

 

Having sailed on Coral Princess July-August, 2019, I'll vouch for her as a very nice ship.  It's easy to get around, the public rooms are pleasant, and there is plenty of open deck space.  I'd sail on her again.  

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