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First time Oceania Cruiser; using a TA?


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Hello, cruisers, I have learned and enjoyed reading the Oceania Forums.  I've learned that I don't know much - oh the acronyms used!  I'm assuming TA is travel agent.  Lots of posters mention this.  I haven't used a travel agent since the 80's.  Is it important to use one for cruise travel on Oceania?  I've booked cruises (a few) and international air travel on my own frequently.  I spoke with an Oceania agent to book our two pending cruises - do I need an independent agent also? Are there travel agents that specialize in O cruises?  Our first O cruise is Sept 2021 on Marina with pre and post cruise land stays.  

Thanks all,

Deb in Naples, FL

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2 minutes ago, nursinadream said:

 

Hello, cruisers, I have learned and enjoyed reading the Oceania Forums.  I've learned that I don't know much - oh the acronyms used!  I'm assuming TA is travel agent.  Lots of posters mention this.  I haven't used a travel agent since the 80's.  Is it important to use one for cruise travel on Oceania?  I've booked cruises (a few) and international air travel on my own frequently.  I spoke with an Oceania agent to book our two pending cruises - do I need an independent agent also? Are there travel agents that specialize in O cruises?  Our first O cruise is Sept 2021 on Marina with pre and post cruise land stays.  

Thanks all,

Deb in Naples, FL

I think you'll find most posters think that a TA who has a relationship with Oceania is the way to go.  These folks can provide you with benefits such as prepaid gratuities and/or OBC that working direct with Oceania won't provide.  We recommend a a members of Oceania's Cruise Connoisseur's Club for agents.  They can provide the best service in unraveling the intricacies of Oceania and be invaluable in problem solving. CC doesn't permit naming agents on this board or exchanging email addresses for that purpose.  If you book with an Oceania representative, you have some time to move it to an agent and get the agent's benefits.  One item you should you know is that if your reservation is being held by an agent, Oceania will want you to deal only with the agent.

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10 minutes ago, 1985rz1 said:

I think you'll find most posters think that a TA who has a relationship with Oceania is the way to go.  These folks can provide you with benefits such as prepaid gratuities and/or OBC that working direct with Oceania won't provide.  We recommend a a members of Oceania's Cruise Connoisseur's Club for agents.  They can provide the best service in unraveling the intricacies of Oceania and be invaluable in problem solving. CC doesn't permit naming agents on this board or exchanging email addresses for that purpose.  If you book with an Oceania representative, you have some time to move it to an agent and get the agent's benefits.  One item you should you know is that if your reservation is being held by an agent, Oceania will want you to deal only with the agent.

As long as we’re in acronyms: O uses SBC (shipboard credit) vs OBC (onboard credit).

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15 minutes ago, LHT28 said:

Does it really matter 🙄

Some regulars here seem to forget that a lot of first timers get a bit confused with the acronyms abd that includes simple things like SBC and OBC. 
FWIW: it can be interpreted that they are different since a couple of years ago, O started allowing their non-refundable $ perks to be used for optional ship purchases (SBC) like excursions rather than having to wait until once onboard (OBC) to do so.


In any case, “the devil is in the detail” (especially when something is a new arena).

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22 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

Some regulars here seem to forget that a lot of first timers get a bit confused with the acronyms abd that includes simple things like SBC and OBC. 
FWIW: it can be interpreted that they are different since a couple of years ago, O started allowing their non-refundable $ perks to be used for optional ship purchases (SBC) like excursions rather than having to wait until once onboard (OBC) to do so.


In any case, “the devil is in the detail” (especially when something is a new arena).

And what does FWIW mean?

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The person you named (in the post I just hid) is an Oceania employee (also known as a 'Cruise Consultant').  CC guidelines also prohibit naming Cruise Consultants [I'm not sure of the reasoning, but it is a strictly enforced rule.]  BTW ['by the way'] once you get on her list, you'll never get rid of her...

 

One final acronym explanation:  TA usually means Travel Agent, but sometimes it stands for Trans-Atlantic cruise.  Thankfully the context usually helps figure that out. 😀

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39 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

 BTW ['by the way'] once you get on her list, you'll never get rid of her...

 

 

Once you get on Oceania's mailing list  it is hard to get off 

Get the recycle bin ready

Just saying😉

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Host Jazzbeau I hid the phone # of agent - thought I was safe in posting her name.  Too bad you hid the entire post which had follow up questions.  Therefore I'm where I started.  How does one find a TA that specializes in Oceania Cruises?  And is FCC "future cruise credit" which I may incur if our Sept cruise is cancelled by me or cruise line.

Thanks Deb

 

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45 minutes ago, nursinadream said:

Host Jazzbeau I hid the phone # of agent - thought I was safe in posting her name.  Too bad you hid the entire post which had follow up questions.  Therefore I'm where I started.  How does one find a TA that specializes in Oceania Cruises?  And is FCC "future cruise credit" which I may incur if our Sept cruise is cancelled by me or cruise line.

Thanks Deb

 

The first part of your question

 as per CC guidelines (which you can read at the top) prohibit asking about Travel agents

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/guidelines/

 

At this point in time the FCC's are not issued for cruises cancelled by Oceania  but who knows what will happen by Sept   right now they are refunding those cruises

https://www.oceaniacruises.com/coronavirus-statement

 

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As far as the O mailing list goes, it’s actually quite easy to stop mailings (both “snail” and or “email.” On the O web home page, scroll to the bottom and, under Guest Services, you’ll find “Update Marketing Preferences” where you can opt out of mail, email and phone contacts. 
 

Then, try not to accidentally agree in the future to receive contacts.

 

Of course, among those correspondences, you will occasionally get news of a decent sale or O Club discount. So, choose wisely!

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Please use a travel agent.  Think of him/her as your consumer representative.  You need someone looking out for YOU!

 

Our agent has someone within O he calls to get the answer he's seeking--bypassing the people who answer the phone in the Miami office.

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When Ponant cancelled our cruise the first time, they were adamant that I couldn't have my money back (despite their T&C clearly saying I could).  I still wanted to do that itinerary, so I rolled it over to the next year.  When they cancelled THAT one they also said 'no refunds' – but my TA was able to pressure them into sending me a check.  [Received and immediately cashed!]  Another Ponant customer recently posted that he finally got his money back, but only after getting the NYS AG to intervene – it was much easier for me thanks to a good TA!

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I always use my TA for the services she offers. She has connections with O and other cruise lines that I don't have access to. If I want to purchase an upgrade shortly before sailing, she always seems to get a price I can live with or something out of this world terrific. But especially now with all the cancellations she's able to get my refund much faster and more smoothly than I could probably manage myself- again because of her long relationship with O and the amount of business she brings them. The perks she offers are another attractive feature of using a TA. Good luck to you.

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Except for our first couple cruises, we have always used a travel agent.  It has worked out well for us, as there have been a couple of things that they needed to attend to, but nothing really large.  When we needed to find a new TA recently, we opted for one who is very close to our home.  They can provide our cruise documents, etc. in person (once Covid is over), or review recommendations on a large screen in their conference room.  I also like that they have a lot of resources of tour companies for shore excursions, pre- or post-cruise stays, etc. and can even assist with booking those as well.  I do enjoy researching myself, but prefer to have a good TA there in case something goes wrong.

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For our first cruise in 2008 we used a travel agent recommended on the Oceania site which they don't do anymore. It was the worst experience ever and actually cost us money. Once we were on board we asked fellow cruisers (and friends) who they used and we ended up using an on line agent that many used who is not an Oceania "connected" agent. She is wonderful and we get great discounts and credits. I am silver on Oceania and booked all of our subsequent cruises through her as well as Viking and Azamara. The perk of using a TA (travel agent) when it comes to cruising is the discounts and OBC (on board credits) that they give you. Be aware that once you book or transfer your Oceania booking to an agent then all communications with the cruise line is through the agent. This can be a good thing since they seem to have better communications with the cruise line then an as an individual but I would imagine it depends on your TA. I only use a TA for cruising. All land travel I do on my own.

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For our first Oceania cruise in 2019, our first cruise in a decade or so, we booked directly with Oceania and everything was fine.  Except, as we later learned, TAs can provide benefits not available with direct booking, such as OBC and complimentary gratuities.  The next O cruise was booked through a TA, which was OK but it was not one of the Oceania's Cruise Connoisseur's Club TAs.  We now use one of those Cruise Connoisseur TAs and it is a world of difference in the level of service and knowledge.  Incidentally, our TA is based on the West Coast and we live on the East Coast, and the response time is the same as if they were local. In summary, use a TA that is a Oceania's Cruise Connoisseur's Club Consultant, not necessarily local.

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1 hour ago, shank63 said:

For our first Oceania cruise in 2019, our first cruise in a decade or so, we booked directly with Oceania and everything was fine.  Except, as we later learned, TAs can provide benefits not available with direct booking, such as OBC and complimentary gratuities.  The next O cruise was booked through a TA, which was OK but it was not one of the Oceania's Cruise Connoisseur's Club TAs.  We now use one of those Cruise Connoisseur TAs and it is a world of difference in the level of service and knowledge.  Incidentally, our TA is based on the West Coast and we live on the East Coast, and the response time is the same as if they were local. In summary, use a TA that is a Oceania's Cruise Connoisseur's Club Consultant, not necessarily local.

What this post just did was a dual use of TA. Travel Agent and Travel Agencies are different. OCC members are Agencies not Agents. 
 

If you want to use TA for both, please be specific for which you speak. Agents work for Agencies. Oceania doesn’t have contracts with Agents, they are with Agencies. Oceania doesn’t make payment to Agents, they make them to Agencies. Travel Agents work, and are compensated,

under a long list of different scenarios by their Agencies. 
 

Please do not use TA for both entities. As stated above, doing so creates false impressions and scenarios.

 

Rant over.

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Nursinadream,

I think you got the message from the posts I read, a Travel Agent is a valuable resource. We started cruising with Oceania when we saw one of their brochures and decided we had to take a “Once in a Lifetime” luxury cruise in 2007.  We had a wonderful experience and met so many great guests.  Well, once in a lifetime became one or two more cruises and then we fell into a deal on a Back 2 Back Mediterranean trip with friends. We were hooked on Oceania and in December 2019 we qualified for our 20th Free Cruise as a Platinum Club member.  Now we just have to sail as we have had 5+ cruises cancelled but we are persistent. Just to show our support for Oceania, when the market tanked, we bought shares in NCLH so we are owners and earn SBC on every sailing.  Of course all cruise lines offer the same “owners” benefits. Once you have sailed Oceania, you too will become an Oceania groupie. 
Since we have a little experience to share, feel free to send us an email, bgesker@gmail.com and we can answer some of your first timers questions. Really that is one of those things about Oceania cruisers, they are a wealth of information and are always willing to talk about their favorite cruise line.  
Ciao, Gerry

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9 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

The person you named (in the post I just hid) is an Oceania employee (also known as a 'Cruise Consultant').  CC guidelines also prohibit naming Cruise Consultants [I'm not sure of the reasoning, but it is a strictly enforced rule.]  BTW ['by the way'] once you get on her list, you'll never get rid of her...

 

One final acronym explanation:  TA usually means Travel Agent, but sometimes it stands for Trans-Atlantic cruise.  Thankfully the context usually helps figure that out. 😀

So are you the moderator for this thread? Just curious.

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4 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

When Ponant cancelled our cruise the first time, they were adamant that I couldn't have my money back (despite their T&C clearly saying I could).  I still wanted to do that itinerary, so I rolled it over to the next year.  When they cancelled THAT one they also said 'no refunds' – but my TA was able to pressure them into sending me a check.  [Received and immediately cashed!]  Another Ponant customer recently posted that he finally got his money back, but only after getting the NYS AG to intervene – it was much easier for me thanks to a good TA!

Just so you know, the US Dept of Transportation actually has authority over that. Both domestic and international corporations. So it's good that your agent helped you but it was within your power also.

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2 hours ago, shank63 said:

Except, as we later learned, TAs can provide benefits not available with direct booking, such as OBC and complimentary gratuities.  

But you can get both. We've booked with an O agent at a nice price and then transferred it to a travel agent who gave us the gratuities.

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39 minutes ago, pinotlover said:

What this post just did was a dual use of TA. Travel Agent and Travel Agencies are different. OCC members are Agencies not Agents. 
 

If you want to use TA for both, please be specific for which you speak. Agents work for Agencies. Oceania doesn’t have contracts with Agents, they are with Agencies. Oceania doesn’t make payment to Agents, they make them to Agencies. Travel Agents work, and are compensated,

under a long list of different scenarios by their Agencies. 
 

Please do not use TA for both entities. As stated above, doing so creates false impressions and scenarios.

 

Rant over.

And while we’re at it, folks:


FCC has 2 meanings for Oceania.

Future Cruise Credit (in lieu of refunded $ or as a bonus compensation gesture)

Future Cruise Certificate (purchased onboard for future unspecified booking in order to get the discount etc)

 

And don’t get me started on the confusion caused by the term “back to back” cruises. Oceania doesn’t market B2B cruises.

 

Multiple segment cruises on Oceania are packaged in one of two ways  (“extended journey”  or “custom cruise” [Grand Voyage is an artifact still found in the glossy brochure- historically, they were cruises of three or more consecutive segments])

Each version has its own set of rules/O Club perks/cruise credits. So, the name becomes important in making sure folks are talking about the same specifics associated with any particular multi-segment cruise.

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Just to add to the confusion.......

There are layers of travel agencies and their relationship to cruise lines.

The Connoisseur Club Consultant is the most often recommended venue on this forum. It's true that they have a knowledge of the Oceania experience.

There is also a level of Preferred Agencies. Our particular agent has sailed on Oceania for quite a few years and is also familiar with the fleet, staff, and itineraries. Her pricing and perks have met or exceeded the Connoisseur agents that we have also worked with. The difference is that she has known us via the internet for many years and is proactive and supportive. Her Agency advertises as an Oceania Preferred Agency. 

There are other agencies that sell Oceania but are neither of the above. They may or may not have the expertise that our Cruise Critic friends promote.

I know it's confusing but a cruise travel agent is an asset in dealing with Oceania.

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