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Is there any benefit with using a travel agent?


baldilocks
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This was specifically the TA not telling the truth about it. Was supposed to get $275 OBC. She shorted us $100. celebrity even called her from the ship. Of course didn’t answer the phone. Which she said prior if we ever had a problem with anything she would be right by her phone. Finally responded and made up some lie about what we didn’t get the extra $100 which she promised.

So it wasn’t Celebritys fault.

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5 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.

I would say so. Have never received OBC from a TA when booking here in the UK. Our North America TA always gives us OBC and generally the fare is way below Celebrity UK rates. Sometimes that’s because she gets us a group rate. If you are willing to take a punt on exchange rates fluctuating then I would go for a US based agency. 

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18 minutes ago, cheeseheads4ever said:

This was specifically the TA not telling the truth about it. Was supposed to get $275 OBC. She shorted us $100. celebrity even called her from the ship. Of course didn’t answer the phone. Which she said prior if we ever had a problem with anything she would be right by her phone. Finally responded and made up some lie about what we didn’t get the extra $100 which she promised.

So it wasn’t Celebritys fault.

@cheeseheads4ever shouldn't that extra $100  have been on your booking from the TA?  I remember once when mine was also short $100 and I called the manager of the online agency and they added it back and reprimanded the agent.  I had proof on the original invoice. 

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Bottom line you need to find a great TA. We didn’t get one even though she came recommended. Yes you get extra OBC. But is it worth it? if you have to may 20+ phone calls and emails and are stressed to the max not having correct documentation prior to boarding. Plus it’s the gap in communication between Celebrity, TA and the cruiser. Meaning you don’t know for sure what OBC you have till you get onboard.

Again being that we can’t discuss names of good and bad TA’s on this site everyone who needs a good one just shoots from the hip unless you are lucky enough find one.

We just got a bad one. Of course leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

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Yes said $275 but got onboard and was $175. Celebrity called her and she lied about it.

wasn’t going to spend all my vacation arguing about the OBC. Spent way to much time in phone calls and emails prior to cruise. Just a bad experience.

On the bright side the cruise itself was fabulous. Great specialty dining and staff were out of this world.

 

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20 minutes ago, cheeseheads4ever said:

Yes said $275 but got onboard and was $175. Celebrity called her and she lied about it.

wasn’t going to spend all my vacation arguing about the OBC. Spent way to much time in phone calls and emails prior to cruise. Just a bad experience.

On the bright side the cruise itself was fabulous. Great specialty dining and staff were out of this world.

 

I understand at the end $100 won't make or break the cruise but agree leaves a bad taste. I deal with a great X agent. He doesn't work weekends but he and his partner help out in absence of one another and I've been very happy. I no longer book with travel agencies as they charge usd and I live in Canada so exchange rate involved. I prefer to pay in my countries currency and know exact cost upfront. I still get OBC from Celebrity for my booking plus 2 bottles of wine of my choice. Always worked out.

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Many people seems to be fixated on the OBC they get from a TA. Actually the service I get is probably as much or more important than the OBC. She is able to make things happen. Not that I'm trying to convince anyone. People have to find what works for them. Apparently I got under someone's skin, that wasn't my intent. 

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3 hours ago, cheeseheads4ever said:

Meaning you don’t know for sure what OBC you have till you get onboard.

 

My TA specifies the exact amount of OBC on the booking invoice.  The OBC I get from the TA is refundable, thus reducing the cost of the cruise, unlike the OBC from Celebrity which is use it or lose it.

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17 hours ago, LGW59 said:

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.   

My comment had to do with people that think they are giving away control because they use a TA.  Not true.  Same with a quick call to the TA.  Just get a big one that works 7 days a week.  So someone that books directly with Celebrity, which i do a lot before I move it to a TA, doesn't have any more control then me.  Unfortunately, they are throwing away additional OBC.  I get the Celebrity OBC as well as the additional TA OBC. Why would I want to throw away free money?  

 

You do want you want.  Makes no difference to me.  But when new people read these posts they should be informed that there is additional money to be had if they want it.  

 

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Posted (edited)

I would think that it depends on the level of service that you want and are willing to pay form.  

 

We are low mtce.  We call our TA to book the cruise and the cabin.  We call her back if we need a re-price.   We find that our on line TA agency keeps better hours than some of the cruise line call centers.

 

When we want to change or upgrade our cabin we simply call our on line TA and it gets done then and there.  No issues.

 

Apart from the TA provided OBC more than once our TA has given us a heads up on a better offer from a similar cruise line.   On one occasion she suggested we cancel a reservation just prior to final payment and then rebook inside the window because booking we low.  She saved up each $500. by doing that.

 

Another time we called to book a ship  and she told us that she had rec'd poor feedback from two or three customers.  We switched ships, cruise line.  We like the fact that we get independent information.  I cannot see any cruise line call center doing any of these for us.

 

We have yet to understand what control we give up by booking with our TA.  From our perspective we get more control. 

Edited by iancal
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4 hours ago, drakes2 said:

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. 

On our very first Celebrity cruise, booked through a TA, we had chosen the beverage package as a perk. When we checked in, it wasn't indicated on our Sea Passes, and we were told to go to Guest Services once aboard to resolve the problem. There a very helpful individual reviewed my TA's paperwork with me and agreed that we should have the CBP. He indicated that he would get in touch with HQ to see what had happened. 

 

Some time later, he advised me that according to HQ, I didn't have that or any other perk. I pointed out that my booking was made on such and such a date, during a promotion offering the CBP perk. After conferring with HQ again, he advised me that, according to Miami, the TA hadn't taken the necessary steps to select the CBP, and there was nothing that could be done. The Guest Services employee was truly apologetic, agreed that they owed me a perk but without HQ's sanction, couldn't give us the beverage package or any other perk. I left it at that, but retained all of our receipts for beverage that we purchased throughout the cruise.

 

Upon returning home, I wrote to the TA, advised her of the total cost of the drinks, and requested full reimbursement. Other than an apology and a check, I received nothing further from the company or the agent, who I never used again.

 

I also wrote to the office of then-CEO Michael Bayley to express my concern over our treatment. As far as I was concerned, we the customers had booked during the promo period and had selected the CBP perk. End of story. If HQ and the TA had a paperwork issue to resolve, that really shouldn't have been any concern of ours, and steps should be taken to ensure that future passengers aren't caught in a similar predicament. As our TA was reimbursing the cost of our drinks, I made no request for compensation. We nevertheless received a very apologetic response from his office, and an offer for a free CBP for our next cruise. 

 

So yes, sometimes cruise lines make mistakes, sometimes TAs, and sometimes both.   

 

 

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5 hours ago, drakes2 said:

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. 

A couple of times we thought the same thing had happened to us.  As it turned out, part of our OBC was from our TA, and part from X.  The card in our cabin only acknowledged one of those.  We didn't know we had more to use until we got our last invoice, on departure morning.  We were able to use those leftover $$$ for additional tips, and another time, for the crew welfare fund, at Guest Services.

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2 hours ago, Fouremco said:

On our very first Celebrity cruise, booked through a TA, we had chosen the beverage package as a perk. When we checked in, it wasn't indicated on our Sea Passes, and we were told to go to Guest Services once aboard to resolve the problem. There a very helpful individual reviewed my TA's paperwork with me and agreed that we should have the CBP. He indicated that he would get in touch with HQ to see what had happened. 

 

Some time later, he advised me that according to HQ, I didn't have that or any other perk. I pointed out that my booking was made on such and such a date, during a promotion offering the CBP perk. After conferring with HQ again, he advised me that, according to Miami, the TA hadn't taken the necessary steps to select the CBP, and there was nothing that could be done. The Guest Services employee was truly apologetic, agreed that they owed me a perk but without HQ's sanction, couldn't give us the beverage package or any other perk. I left it at that, but retained all of our receipts for beverage that we purchased throughout the cruise.

 

Upon returning home, I wrote to the TA, advised her of the total cost of the drinks, and requested full reimbursement. Other than an apology and a check, I received nothing further from the company or the agent, who I never used again.

 

I also wrote to the office of then-CEO Michael Bayley to express my concern over our treatment. As far as I was concerned, we the customers had booked during the promo period and had selected the CBP perk. End of story. If HQ and the TA had a paperwork issue to resolve, that really shouldn't have been any concern of ours, and steps should be taken to ensure that future passengers aren't caught in a similar predicament. As our TA was reimbursing the cost of our drinks, I made no request for compensation. We nevertheless received a very apologetic response from his office, and an offer for a free CBP for our next cruise. 

 

So yes, sometimes cruise lines make mistakes, sometimes TAs, and sometimes both.   

 

 

Do you remember what year this was?

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56 minutes ago, ORV said:

Do you remember what year this was?

The cruise was in February 2014. I don't know if he is still with Celebrity, but the Guest Relations employee who was so helpful in trying to resolve the issue, albeit unsuccessfully, was Bartosz Moronski.

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5 minutes ago, Fouremco said:

The cruise was in February 2014. I don't know if he is still with Celebrity, but the Guest Relations employee who was so helpful in trying to resolve the issue, albeit unsuccessfully, was Bartosz Moronski.

We had a similar issue on Constellation in Feb of 13. We had a group of 8 of us, all with the same issue. We did get it worked out once I got an audience with the head of guest relations. The folks at the front desk didn't have the authority to make it right. We did all have our invoices showing we should have it.  None of us were charged for the upgrade to premium and we got a night at a Specialty restaurant to boot. Was happy with the outcome. 

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I have yet to book a cruise WITHOUT a TA.  Mind you, I know exactly what I'm looking for, know what all other cruise fare options are and have lots of experience booking travel at huge discounts.

 

Here's an example of a cruise I booked today:

 

March 2022 Celebrity Reflection - 7 Night Western Caribbean

 

Celebrity Direct:  $4,759.11 USD total w/tax for 2 Adults + 1 Child

-Cat C3 w/CC upgrade to C2

-All Included

-NON Refundable Deposit

-$0.00 OBC

 

TA via "big box agency":  $4,759.11 USD total w/tax for 2 Adults + 1 Child

-Cat C3 w/CC upgrade to C2

-All Included

-NON Refundable Deposit

-$250.00 OBC

 

TA via "travel agent bidding website":  $4,168.33 USD total w/tax for 2 Adults + 1 Child

-Cat C3 w/CC upgrade to C2

-All Included

-Refundable Deposit

-$713.00 OBC

 

So by booking direct I would have paid $590.78 more in cruise fare and received zero OBC all while under a NON refundable deposit..  If I total my cruise fare difference + OBC I would have left $1,303.78 on the table via booking direct with Celebrity.  That's not an insignificant sum of money.

 

I have also booked two more cabins with the TA today for two other couples traveling with us, resulting in each saving $410.52 on cruise fare and each receiving $641.00 OBC, for a total savings of $1,051.52 per room.  Add up each cabin's total savings and you get $3,406.82 in cruise fare + OBC savings total vs booking direct.

 

There is little to no reason to book direct when reliable, knowledgeable, easily contactable TA's are available.  With that said, there is little to no reason to book via a TA when booking airfare, hotels, or rental cars unless you are putting together a package deal, as hotels, airfare, and rentals cars alone, are best booked direct.

 

CBC

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2 minutes ago, CaptainBoozeCruise said:

I have yet to book a cruise WITHOUT a TA.  Mind you, I know exactly what I'm looking for, know what all other cruise fare options are and have lots of experience booking travel at huge discounts.

 

Here's an example of a cruise I booked today:

 

March 2022 Celebrity Reflection - 7 Night Western Caribbean

 

Celebrity Direct:  $4,759.11 USD total w/tax for 2 Adults + 1 Child

-Cat C3 w/CC upgrade to C2

-All Included

-NON Refundable Deposit

-$0.00 OBC

 

TA via "big box agency":  $4,759.11 USD total w/tax for 2 Adults + 1 Child

-Cat C3 w/CC upgrade to C2

-All Included

-NON Refundable Deposit

-$250.00 OBC

 

TA via "travel agent bidding website":  $4,168.33 USD total w/tax for 2 Adults + 1 Child

-Cat C3 w/CC upgrade to C2

-All Included

-Refundable Deposit

-$713.00 OBC

 

So by booking direct I would have paid $590.78 more in cruise fare and received zero OBC all while under a NON refundable deposit..  If I total my cruise fare difference + OBC I would have left $1,303.78 on the table via booking direct with Celebrity.  That's not an insignificant sum of money.

 

I have also booked two more cabins with the TA today for two other couples traveling with us, resulting in each saving $410.52 on cruise fare and each receiving $641.00 OBC, for a total savings of $1,051.52 per room.  Add up each cabin's total savings and you get $3,406.82 in cruise fare + OBC savings total vs booking direct.

 

There is little to no reason to book direct when reliable, knowledgeable, easily contactable TA's are available.  With that said, there is little to no reason to book via a TA when booking airfare, hotels, or rental cars unless you are putting together a package deal, as hotels, airfare, and rentals cars alone, are best booked direct.

 

CBC

 

Stop trying to make sense. That isn't permitted around here.

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7 hours ago, cheeseheads4ever said:

Bottom line you need to find a great TA. We didn’t get one even though she came recommended. Yes you get extra OBC. But is it worth it? if you have to may 20+ phone calls and emails and are stressed to the max not having correct documentation prior to boarding. Plus it’s the gap in communication between Celebrity, TA and the cruiser. Meaning you don’t know for sure what OBC you have till you get onboard.

Again being that we can’t discuss names of good and bad TA’s on this site everyone who needs a good one just shoots from the hip unless you are lucky enough find one.

We just got a bad one. Of course leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

Yes, yes over and over.

 I was a confirmed do it myselfer. I have planned, booked and actually survived a trip to Italy with 12 people, including 6 kids, and I thought TAs were helpful, but not necessary if you enjoyed researching.

Cruising, I’ve learned, is (was) different. The pricing is so convoluted and changes so much, that we got better deals with a good TA. 
I used the bid your cruise out website that someone else mentioned, and got a good deal in terms of price and added OBC, but that first agent wasn’t very responsive and just didn’t add a lot of value for me. Next cruise was booked on board. Cruise after that was a last minute trip to Caribbean and we were low on OBC, so we tried the competitive bidding website, and this time got a much better agent fit for us.

Our new agent monitors the deals and cruise line specials and if a better deal comes up in either cash or credit, he’s texted us and recommended what to change. He has saved us hundreds on just a few cruises. My heart hurts for him through all this, even though he has told us he’s still getting some income. I hope we get to send him a lot of business in the future.

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4 minutes ago, ORV said:

We had a similar issue on Constellation in Feb of 13. We had a group of 8 of us, all with the same issue. We did get it worked out once I got an audience with the head of guest relations. The folks at the front desk didn't have the authority to make it right. We did all have our invoices showing we should have it.  None of us were charged for the upgrade to premium and we got a night at a Specialty restaurant to boot. Was happy with the outcome. 

Sounds like it might have been a bit of a systemic problem at the time. In both cases, we nevertheless enjoyed a satisfactory outcome, so all's well that ends well.

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Our current TA offer on an Apex cruise Jan 22

200 OBC

another 300 obc

free drinks

free WIFi

free Grads

2 specialty dinning

another 50 obc

Why would I book with Celebrity?

Obstructrd balcony, just under 2,500

Have always used a TA

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2 hours ago, DaCruiseBug said:

 

Stop trying to make sense. That isn't permitted around here.

Yes, making sense means only agreeing with folks who use a TA, not book direct, whatever works for you, stick with it.  

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17 minutes ago, LGW59 said:

Yes, making sense means only agreeing with folks who use a TA, not book direct, whatever works for you, stick with it.  

I was thinking more along the lines of arithmetic. It just so happens that it ALWAYS makes more sense financially to book with a TA. You can argue about it for as long as you'd like but facts are facts.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, DaCruiseBug said:

I was thinking more along the lines of arithmetic. It just so happens that it ALWAYS makes more sense financially to book with a TA. You can argue about it for as long as you'd like but facts are facts.

I am not arguing at all, in ALL of my posts on this subject, I have said I do what works for me, anyone can and should do what works for them.  I've not tried to convince TA users otherwise, but for some reason you all are.  Booking direct is my option, if using a TA is for you, do it.  My checkbook and my arithmetic.  

Edited by LGW59
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There is no 'right' answer for this.  It is really about what is right for you.   

 

We are frequent travelers who do  a fair amount of research.  By the time we are ready to book we have the data that we need.  Nor do we need a new best friend TA.   Strictly a business transaction for us.

 

Booking a cruise for us is like buying gas.  It is a commodity.  This may not be so for others.  Does not matter where we book our cruise....everything will be the same.  So it comes down to price and service. 

 

Just do what you are comfortable with and get on the right ship for you with the winning itinerary.

 

It is not  rocket science.

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