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Is there any benefit with using a travel agent?


baldilocks
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Question....We have always booked with Royal and Celebrity directly. We also purchase our excursions and dining reservations online. Is their any benefit with using a travel agent? They seem like an extra step in the process.

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16 minutes ago, baldilocks said:

Question....We have always booked with Royal and Celebrity directly. We also purchase our excursions and dining reservations online. Is their any benefit with using a travel agent? They seem like an extra step in the process.

 

I've gotten much better pricing on Celebrity cruises by booking through a TA. 

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3 hours ago, baldilocks said:

Question....We have always booked with Royal and Celebrity directly. We also purchase our excursions and dining reservations online. Is their any benefit with using a travel agent? They seem like an extra step in the process.

Often our TA will get us a group booking at usually better rates. Some also offer perks such as extra OBC. Excursions and dining  wouldn’t change, still booked online. I would say that choosing a travel agent you can trust and rely on is paramount. Ours was recommended by friends and I have to say has always offered us a first class service. We prefer the personal touch rather than use some large internet agency. I would suggest asking around your friends. 

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We’ve booked directly with Celebrity and we’re very glad we did due to Covid. We use the one Celebrity rep direct who responds within hours and has been excellent when we have had any problems, we were lifted and shifted within 24 hours. We had a couple of problems on the last cruise and when we returned these were also very well dealt with including the full refund for a new suite case and a generous FCC. We could have gone with one of the large agencies but for us we’re happy to pay a little extra knowing we are covered should there be any problems.

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4 hours ago, baldilocks said:

Question....We have always booked with Royal and Celebrity directly. We also purchase our excursions and dining reservations online. Is their any benefit with using a travel agent? They seem like an extra step in the process.

 

Yes, about 8 -10% savings.  The savings may come in a variety of forms, reduced prices from a group booking, refundable OBC or gift cards at the end of the cruise.

Edited by ipeeinthepool
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Personaly, I like to book directly with the cruise line.  Once in a while I check prices and if lowered I call right away to get the reduction.  Also, if I want to change my room, it's so much easier one on one with the cruise line agent.  Not going back and forth with a TA.  They are not always available when you get a sudden urge to book or change things.

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Unfortunately, hundreds of small TAs and even some large agencies have gone under as a result of Covid and over a year with zero revenues. My TA has so far survived and as always has been accessible when I need her, even on weekends.  I currently have 3 future cruises booked with her.  Most of my friends and family also use her because of my positive experience with her, so I know she always gets me a great deal. 

 

I would never consider booking with a cruise line directly since their in house reps work for the cruise line  and will always have the cruise line's best interests as their primary concern. It is just like buying a house, I would never buy directly from the listing agent as they work for the seller and getting the best deal for the seller is their primary goal. When our September Constellation cruise got canceled, Celebrity at first refused to refund our NRD, one phone call from our TA got it back in less than a week. Do you think a Celebrity rep would have done that?

Edited by terrydtx
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10 hours ago, baldilocks said:

Question....We have always booked with Royal and Celebrity directly. We also purchase our excursions and dining reservations online. Is their any benefit with using a travel agent? They seem like an extra step in the process.

 

This is really the right question to ask.    We use the largest travel agency in the world as we think they are holding all the aces.

 

In addition to the estimated 8-10% benefits mentioned,  and whatever cashback you get from the credit card you purchase with,  we also get:    

 

     a)  5k, 10k, or 15k airline FF miles (sometimes x 2 when the bonus is lit)

     b)  always get the wine or house bubbly

     c)   access to "Exclusive Rates" that you have to ask for by name or you miss it

     d)   access to the commonly used cruise-booking engine to sort by parameters to

            find your cruise and select a cabin.   (everybody should be using this IMHO)

     e)   before the pandemic we were also starting to get refundable deposit options 

            on super low pricings, that may be gone now.

     f)  I mentioned that they are the largest travel agency in the world and are not likely

          to go belly up as fast as the competition,  some people worry about this, we don't.

 

If you are also in Elite status then you get the free drinks at X so it adds up well.

 

the only time we have booked directly with X was while we were on-board Cyber Monday because we were able to get the 6146 cabin which is the penthouse junior suite S1 category.

 

Hey we just gave away all our our travel purchase secrets!   

 

I hope somebody gets some use out of this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, terrydtx said:

Unfortunately, hundreds of small TAs and even some large agencies have gone under as a result of Covid and over a year with zero revenues. My TA has so far survived and as always has been accessible when I need her, even on weekends.  I currently have 3 future cruises booked with her.  Most of my friends and family also use her because of my positive experience with her, so I know she always gets me a great deal. 

 

I would never consider booking with a cruise line directly since their in house reps work for the cruise line  and will always have the cruise line's best interests as their primary concern. It is just like buying a house, I would never buy directly from the listing agent as they work for the seller and getting the best deal for the seller is their primary goal. When our September Constellation cruise got canceled, Celebrity at first refused to refund our NRD, one phone call from our TA got it back in less than a week. Do you think a Celebrity rep would have done that?

I always book direct, my cancelled cruises, my Celebrity rep took care of in just one phone call

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9 minutes ago, Arizona Wildcat said:

If you are waiting more than 48 HOURS for your TA to resolve any issues or changes you have the wrong TA.  Last time I booked direct I dealt with three agents at X over a simple question and pre COVID the hold times were often 30+ minutes.

not doubting you at all, but all of my calls were handled in 10 mins or less

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I've done both... booking direct and with a large travel agency.

We sometimes went with the large agency in the past because of perks- but we did have quite an 'adventure' once the pandemic hit of getting in touch with the travel agency... it took forever... Once that happened, we were able to get a refund after a long wait... but everyone in the world who had a cruise canceled was waiting... so it was just what it was.

When planning for 2022, we opted to book direct with Celebrity... skip the middle man during these weird times. Much more straightforward.

I will absolutely consider using the travel agency again... but not right now.

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Having the choice each of us have different needs.

Over 35+ cruises and many international land trips and I've never had a problem booking any of my travel needs directly.

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I’ve never had a problem booking direct but I get better prices and refundable OBC by using a TA.  In about 35 booking with various TAs I have only had 1 problem.   In that case the TA passed away and the new owner wasn’t honoring the TA perks & pricing.   Another TA stepped in and honored the pricing & perks and  Celebrity moved the booking.

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Some people don't understand the financial incentive of booking with a travel agent. The cruise line pays a travel agent a commission on the fare you pay. In many cases, travel agents take a cut of that commission and give it to you in the form of onboard credit. This is something you can't get from booking directly with the cruise line. We're talking $100-500 per sailing for non-suite cabins.

 

Also, large travel agencies frequently purchase blocks of rooms from the cruise line at discounted prices.

 

Here's an example: Our friend just booked an Aqua class cabin on the Apex for next year. We booked with a travel agent and the total cost per cabin (with beverage, wifi, and gratuities) was $3,686 including taxes. The same exact cabin booked with Celebrity runs $4,470. That's $784 that my friend saved by booking with a TA plus they threw in $50 OBC.

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Unfortunately, some cruisers book with travel agents who have little knowledge of a particular cruise line. So you must choose your agent carefully or just get lucky.  We have had great results in using a planner with Celebrity and have received some nice perks from him.  He also guides us with room locations.  My take is that if you are an experienced cruiser, you can get more by booking with a travel agent .  But if new to cruising, I would suggest going with the cruise line directly.

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We always book direct, almost always booking onboard.then when we get home, i transfer it to my TA, who is also a personal friend. this seems to be the best way we save  a bit. But then again its all about choices, I'm very comfortable with mine. You can always pull your TA off the booking if you have difficulties.

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I like to book early, when the cruise is first announced or soon after.  When I check the big box internet TA firms for deals, most of the time my cruise is never on their list.   The few times it was, the benefits were not a lot.

One thing that always do with any cruise is check for price drops and call the cruise line to get the new lower fare.   I have some friends that have complained that getting in touch with their TA was a problem a couple of times and they missed out on the price drop.

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We normally use the same large online TA that is quite popular. The cost savings alone are significant. They used to almost always include an extra perk but that has changed since the Always Included rollout. I don't need any hand holding and I never call the TA with random questions. The few cruises we had canceled were handed efficiently so I will continue to use them and save the money. 

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21 minutes ago, 4774Papa said:

One thing that always do with any cruise is check for price drops and call the cruise line to get the new lower fare.   I have some friends that have complained that getting in touch with their TA was a problem a couple of times and they missed out on the price drop.

 

I have to agree that the volume TA's are probably best for experienced cruisers.   Even then the best way to find a good one is by talking with your fellow cruisers and get a personal recommendation.

 

No TA works 7/24 but there are issues where some are totally unavailable on weekends which is when Celebrity sometimes has interesting pricing anomalies.  My TA personally works weekdays and is occasionally on duty on a Saturday, however the agency he works for is open 7 days a week with pretty decent hours.   If he's not available I call the 800 number for the agency and they can help with the easy stuff.  The other thing I learned is if you see something you just don't want to miss out on put a 24hr hold on it via the web site.   Then call the TA to work it out.  If it's going to take a couple of days to get up with your TA call captains club and get them to extend the hold.

 

My TA has given excellent service during the last year dealing with my 10 outstanding reservations.   I have felt bad given every reservation I kick down the road delays his compensation.   I sent him an Amazon gift card over the holidays in the hope it would let him do something extra for his family.

 

Oh and those 10 outstanding reservations have just shy of $4k in refundable OBC and a couple were group bookings saving another $1700 from direct with Celebrity prices.

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As I’ve posted on other threads. We had a horrific experience with a TA on our last cruise. We’ve been on about 10 cruises and always booked thru the cruise line directly.

My wife wasn’t in favor of it to start with but I talked her into it booking with this particular TA and have apologize many times to her afterwards for a regrettable experience. We aren’t the type of people that make lots of changes or need our hand held. In fact we didn’t make any.on this particular cruise. She just could not get the paperwork and documentation correct. We had many many emails and phone calls not only to her but to Celebrity to see if what she was telling us was correct. Once on board we had a fabulous cruise even though she lied to us about our OBC making us go to Guest Relations  4 times to try to straighten it out and we still got cheated out of $100. We had more hours in this than she did. We should have cancelled prior to final payment but hindsite is 20/20. Lots and lots of issues.

Anyway.... as I’ve stated many times people talk about how great TA’s are. You must have a good one. It’s sad you can’t share this positive info with fellow cruisers on Cruise Critic so we can have the same awesome experience or someone like me can’t share our bad experience with the TA we had to help others avoid what we went through.

I’m hoping someday on a future cruise I am lucky enough to run into one of you who has a incredible hard working TA.

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I used to book with Celerity because I wanted 'control' of my reservation.  Then I realized I was throwing away $300 - $500+  for a $3,000 cruise.  That was crazy.  So now I use a large TA and get the OBC.  The prices are the same but I get some OBC and maybe dinner or tips, etc.  I usually don't get to book their group booking cabins because I like specific cabins they don't normally have.

 

I've never had a problem changing anything and never needed them on the weekend.  I guess there could be a reason but it hasn't happened to me.  Many times I have booked on the ship because of the deals then transferred to the TA and got the best of both worlds.

 

Some folks like the perceived control but the OBC and other perks are worth more to me,  Just use a big TA that you can contact easily.

 

enjoy

 

 

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On 2/27/2021 at 9:40 AM, rvlandandsea said:

Personaly, I like to book directly with the cruise line.  Once in a while I check prices and if lowered I call right away to get the reduction.  Also, if I want to change my room, it's so much easier one on one with the cruise line agent.  Not going back and forth with a TA.  They are not always available when you get a sudden urge to book or change things.

I'm constantly changing cabins due to upgrading and so much easier when booking directly as cabins are gone in a flash. 

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