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Is there any benefit with using a travel agent?


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18 minutes ago, Duanerice1 said:

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

 

 

Curious to understand how it is "perceived control"?  I find the cruise I want, I make the reservation, I receive $800 OBC, make my down payment, done, totally in my control.  If I decide to make a change, quick call to Celebrity, done.   

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In our earlier cruise years I tried doing my research on the cruiseline sites, and always got frustrated navigating.  Then I found a large TA with an excellent website, full of information about dozens of cruiselines, super easy to navigate, and with prices clearly shown.  After using them for information for a while, I started to feel morally obligated to give them my business.  That was maybe 30 cruises ago, and I haven't had a single regret.  Any discounts that we are entitled to show up automatically when I browse.  Our assigned agent always gets us what we want, sometimes getting us into a "group" so the price is even better, or an upgrade. 

 

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I so wish we were able to discuss TA recommendations on these pages!  I know we can't so I won't go there.

 

But why do I say that?  For years we have used a large online agency for our bookings.  We have gotten group rates at times, more OBC, discounts on the "Best" package when that was still around, and so on.  The only real downside was that they were hard to reach over the week-end.  They also charge a minor cancellation fee but as we would rarely cancel it was worth the risk.

 

Then came Covid-19.  I know everyone has had a hard time and agencies have been very, very busy, but our service has been overall abysmal.  For most of the past year we could not email our usual reps directly, we had to go through the general email.  Responses took days to weeks (at the worst of the cancellations). Calling sometimes resulted in hours on hold.  We could not call our usual rep directly as the voicemail system would not allow us to enter an extension.  When we did get confirmations and so on from them (we had to change a LOT of cruises unfortunately) at times they were wrong and we went back and for multiple times.  Very disappointed in them.  Debating it this madness is worth it going forward.  

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We have usually found veteran ta's (especially those at the large online agency we use) to be more knowledgeable than cruise line sales reps.  Several times they have helped us make the right decision.  So why not take advantage of their expertise and also enjoy the percs they offer.  Ours also has 24/7 customer service which is reassuring.

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3 minutes ago, Baron Barracuda said:

We have usually found veteran ta's (especially those at the large online agency we use) to be more knowledgeable than cruise line sales reps.  Several times they have helped us make the right decision.  So why not take advantage of their expertise and also enjoy the percs they offer.  Ours also has 24/7 customer service which is reassuring.

My CVP with Celebrity is excellent very knowledgeable, courteous and has always given me extra obc etc. Plus he still works for Celebrity. If I can't get in contact with him due to vacation he always leaves another agent's extension. I see no reason to transfer to an online agency. 

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I really can't believe that this continues to be a discussion. 

We have taken at a minimum, 3 cruises fully paid by our savings of using a TA versus booking direct.  In the year before things shut down in March, our savings, between group pricing and fully refundable OBC, was well over $5000.  Caveat:  there were a couple of fairly expensive, meaning $8000 or more sailings, but also several in the $2500-3500 range. One group booking saved over $2000.  Another in the $1500 range.  No way you can get those kind of savings (or refundable OBC) booking direct.

 

Gladly put that kind of dough in my pocket to "lose control" (which I never have even thought was a thing) of my booking.  And my TA is an early riser and has responded to me at 6:00 AM.  Your rep at =X= can't and won't do that. 

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3 minutes ago, ECCruise said:

I really can't believe that this continues to be a discussion. 

We have taken at a minimum, 3 cruises fully paid by our savings of using a TA versus booking direct.  In the year before things shut down in March, our savings, between group pricing and fully refundable OBC, was well over $5000.  Caveat:  there were a couple of fairly expensive, meaning $8000 or more sailings, but also several in the $2500-3500 range. One group booking saved over $2000.  Another in the $1500 range.  No way you can get those kind of savings (or refundable OBC) booking direct.

 

Gladly put that kind of dough in my pocket to "lose control" (which I never have even thought was a thing) of my booking.  And my TA is an early riser and has responded to me at 6:00 AM.  Your rep at =X= can't and won't do that. 

I really can't believe that it bothers you that I use a Celebrity rep to make and/or change my reservations, as I said it works for  me and using a TA works for you, so good for us both

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7 minutes ago, LGW59 said:

I really can't believe that it bothers you that I use a Celebrity rep to make and/or change my reservations, as I said it works for  me and using a TA works for you, so good for us both

Where do you see where I said it bothers me?  I must have missed that.

I spent 20 years writing and developing websites designed to save people money on the things they bought, whether something as simple as groceries or as expensive as cars or homes.  

All I am saying is you are leaving big bucks on the table.  I would appreciate it if someone told me that and told me how to save the dough.

But hey, to each their own.

Edited by ECCruise
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9 minutes ago, drakes2 said:

My CVP with Celebrity is excellent very knowledgeable, courteous and has always given me extra obc etc. Plus he still works for Celebrity. If I can't get in contact with him due to vacation he always leaves another agent's extension. I see no reason to transfer to an online agency. 

That's great if you are a brand loyalist.  IMO TA works better if you sail multiple lines.

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Booked a cruise for our anniversary next year in a sky suite on Edge.   Booked through Celebrity, got $400 in OBC. transferred to TA like I always do, now have 1800 in OBC.  No brainer....

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2 minutes ago, dkjretired said:

Booked a cruise for our anniversary next year in a sky suite on Edge.   Booked through Celebrity, got $400 in OBC. transferred to TA like I always do, now have 1800 in OBC.  No brainer....

And what came from the TA is fully refundable.

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2 minutes ago, ECCruise said:

And what came from the TA is fully refundable.

 

Yup, last cruise we couldn't spend it all and within a couple of days, got a check from Celebrity.   

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14 minutes ago, dkjretired said:

 

Yup, last cruise we couldn't spend it all and within a couple of days, got a check from Celebrity.   

I remember on the last night of a cruise a couple was buying alcohol in duty free said they had $900 in obc to use up. I offered to help them. 😄

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3 hours ago, ECCruise said:

Where do you see where I said it bothers me?  I must have missed that.

I spent 20 years writing and developing websites designed to save people money on the things they bought, whether something as simple as groceries or as expensive as cars or homes.  

All I am saying is you are leaving big bucks on the table.  I would appreciate it if someone told me that and told me how to save the dough.

But hey, to each their own.

I completely agree with you, but I've got to the point of not wasting time trying to help people that think what they are doing is better. Not everyone gets it. 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, ORV said:

I completely agree with you, but I've got to the point of not wasting time trying to help people that think what they are doing is better. Not everyone gets it. 

My method/choice, is not better/worse, it just works for me, I acknowledged that same in my post re TA or Celebrity direct.  Thanks for your "help" but I did not ask for it.  You just wasted your time, do what works for you and I will do the same, as I said.

Edited by LGW59
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38 minutes ago, LGW59 said:

My method/choice, is not better/worse, it just works for me, I acknowledged that same in my post re TA or Celebrity direct.  Thanks for your "help" but I did not ask for it.  You just wasted your time, do what works for you and I will do the same, as I said.

Oh I wasn't trying to help you. That's was the point of the post. 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, ORV said:

Oh I wasn't trying to help you. That's was the point of the post. 

OMG thank you for the clarification, I will sleep much better tonight.  But please do not stop trying to "help" people that your way is the best way 🤣

Edited by LGW59
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Absolutely.   We pick the cruise we want and then we transfer it to our online big travel agency.   Why?  They get us the same pricing and perks as Celebrity (or any cruise) is giving, plus they give us lots of on board credit.   For example, on a sky suite 14 night cruise a few years ago we received $1100 on board credit from the TA.   Other times we've gotten more and some we've gotten less, all depending on cruise length and cabin chosen.    It's all about the on board credit.   In 2022 we have  back to back sky suite European cruises booked, 12 nights each.   We have close to $2200 on board credit between the two cruises.  

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, ClaudiaB said:

Absolutely.   We pick the cruise we want and then we transfer it to our online big travel agency.   Why?  They get us the same pricing and perks as Celebrity (or any cruise) is giving, plus they give us lots of on board credit.   For example, on a sky suite 14 night cruise a few years ago we received $1100 on board credit from the TA.   Other times we've gotten more and some we've gotten less, all depending on cruise length and cabin chosen.    It's all about the on board credit.   In 2022 we have  back to back sky suite European cruises booked, 12 nights each.   We have close to $2200 on board credit between the two cruises.  

That is great that this process works for you, we all do what we feel works best for each of us.  My using Celebrity direct, works very well for me.  I have $1600 in OBC on my next two cruises, and I am very happy with that.  My point was that a poster suggested he/she has given up trying to "help" people suggesting his/her use of a TA was best.  It all comes down to personal choice and comfort level, nothing more, nothing less.

Edited by LGW59
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5 hours ago, drakes2 said:

My CVP with Celebrity is excellent very knowledgeable, courteous and has always given me extra obc etc. Plus he still works for Celebrity. If I can't get in contact with him due to vacation he always leaves another agent's extension. I see no reason to transfer to an online agency. 

Reason is that you are in effect paying between 8 and 11 percent more for your cruise by not taking advantage of cash rebates or cruise credit offered by a TA. My agency rebates me via check about 10% of the cruise fare  3 weeks prior to sailing for most cruises.

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I agree everyone should do whatever works for them.  In the past we struggled to spend the $300 OBC from X that came with all 4 perks.  Now our 8 N cruise gives us $600 OBC from X, way more than we will use as we don’t but jewelry, art, liquor to take home, or visit the spa so a speciality dinner, tips for the crew and a nice bottle of wine and we are done leaving OBC unspent.   That $600 isn’t free it is buried in the cost of the cruise.  The TA gives us $675 refundable OBC which is money in our pocket and that works for us.  

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54 minutes ago, edgee said:

Reason is that you are in effect paying between 8 and 11 percent more for your cruise by not taking advantage of cash rebates or cruise credit offered by a TA. My agency rebates me via check about 10% of the cruise fare  3 weeks prior to sailing for most cruises.

 

Some people are just set in their own ways and think their way is best. Even if you show them that 1+1 = 2 they'll still argue with you over it.

 

What's lost in translation in all this is that while one person likes dealing with one over the other (CCL v TA) when it comes to "financial" sense booking with a travel agent will always be more beneficial for the customer.

 

I get it...some of you think your Celebrity agent is fantastic and you love them. Great. Nobody is saying they're not fantastic. The point here is that by using that person over a travel agent (unless you transfer the booking to a TA) you're leaving hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars on the table instead of that money being in your pocket. 

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On 2/27/2021 at 8:38 PM, ipeeinthepool said:

 

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.

Is this more a North America thing? I have tried shopping around the various travel agents to see if any are worth booking with and the discounts here (In Australia) vs booking direct are tiny. e.g. less than 3% and for that I would rather cut out the TA.

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3 hours ago, scottsla said:

 

Is this more a North America thing? I have tried shopping around the various travel agents to see if any are worth booking with and the discounts here (In Australia) vs booking direct are tiny. e.g. less than 3% and for that I would rather cut out the TA.

 

Your correct, this is my experience with US based travel agents.  Perhaps other CC members from Australia can comment on there experience.  Otherwise I would suggest shopping your reservation around to a couple different types of TAs in Australia (independent TAs, large  TA's, etc) and see what type of discounts you see.

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14 hours ago, cheeseheads4ever said:

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.

Once when I booked with a TA I was missing $125 on board credit on my booking. Went back and forth with guest relations when I was on the ship each time they insisted the TA had not added it.  I finally got proof from TA showing date a month prior to cruise. The Miami office was at fault and second to last day it was there.  So it's sometimes the cruiselines mistake. 

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