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Hi friends-

 

I'm wondering if there is any obvious benefit to using a travel agent versus booking directly with NCL for a summer greek cruise. Normally, I use Delta's Skycruises to get a few extra miles for the trip but I am wondering if the extra step if needed to work with a travel agent if something changes is a good idea in this somewhat fluid environment? I am going to book the air flights for the cruise on my own since I will use miles for one of our two tickets and I am planning to spend a few days in Croatia ahead of Athens to use up some hotel vouchers from aborted travel last year so I will have to sort that on my own as well. In theory, a travel agent should have better information and provide higher service than I can on my own but my experience during the COVID cancelations was that it was just another person I had to wait on hold with for a much longer period of time and then again while they contacted NCL on my behalf so not feeling like there was much benefit. What do others think?

 

Also is anybody else out there considering travel ahead of the Greek cruises and if so any insight on whether there will be additional complexities entering Greece via another country (e.g. a flight from Croatia) as opposed to a direct run from JFK to ATH? We are both fully vaccinated which seems to be all that is required right now to enter both Croatia and Greece.

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Since you may not name travel agents on CC, let’s just say big warehouse stores offer additional perks on the cruise and gift cards to their store for booking. 
 

Greece still has restrictions on who may enter and testing requirements. Reference state dept info. You need to spend part of your Croatian vacay hunting down a valid COVID test center. 
 

https://gr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

 

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For me it’s mainly about saving $$. We booked with a TA for our Greece back-to-back cruises in Oct. Balcony cabin. I gave her my preferred location, she found a cabin we could stay in both legs and also offered input from her experience sailing on the Jade. All good, but more significant to me is the $300 OBC we’re getting on each cruise. 
 

I have a hard time understanding why many cruisers are hesitant, or even solidly against, using TAs. $600 is a solid sum of money to me. We didn’t have to wait on hold as she seemed to book directly into NCL’s system during our call. 
 

We’re flying directly from US to Athens for a few days prior to the cruise so sorry not able to give any guidance on that question. Seems our vaccination status is definitely favorable but all seems to be a moving target right up until travel date. 

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You can book with NCL, book online, or book with a Travel Agent.

When you book with NCL, someone employed by NCL inputs your trip into a computer.

When you book online, you input your trip into a computer.

When you book with a Travel Agent, the TA inputs your trip into a computer.

The difference is a TA can provide perks that you won't get elsewhere.

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I booked directly with NCL and just had my booking transferred to a "big warehouse store" (as mentioned above by BirdTravels) and got a lot of extras - about $300 worth.  I don't know why I went direct with NCL without checking around in the first place other than I got so excited that Alaska was opened up.  There are limitations to transferring such as it has to be within 30 days of the original booking and cannot yet be paid in full.  Not sure what impact price changes might have since the price on my cruise was still the same a week later. 

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I've found that when things go smoothly, it's a TA.

 

But if there are issues, having a middleman can be a problem.  If the TA isn't getting paid (cancellations after cancellations) they just aren't motivated to put in more time and work.  Or if there's a price drop...and you have to wait to speak to the TA!

 

 

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26 minutes ago, MsTabbyKats said:

I've found that when things go smoothly, it's a TA.

 

But if there are issues, having a middleman can be a problem.  If the TA isn't getting paid (cancellations after cancellations) they just aren't motivated to put in more time and work.  Or if there's a price drop...and you have to wait to speak to the TA!

 

 

Depends upon the TA.  Mine, a woman owned small business, answers emails and returns urgent phone calls even on weekends.  She is very service oriented.  

One thing I really like about her is that she does business with all the cruise lines.  Once I had to cancel two cruises on different lines and rebook those two cruise on even different cruise line.  If I had been dealing directly with the cruise lines, that would have been four phone calls and who knows how much time on hold.  With her, it was one phone call.  Total time five minutes and all was done.  She has also gone to bat for me to get things that I alone couldn't have done.  Like I say, it depends.

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, RocketMan275 said:

Depends upon the TA.  Mine, a woman owned small business, answers emails and returns urgent phone calls even on weekends.  She is very service oriented.  

One thing I really like about her is that she does business with all the cruise lines.  Once I had to cancel two cruises on different lines and rebook those two cruise on even different cruise line.  If I had been dealing directly with the cruise lines, that would have been four phone calls and who knows how much time on hold.  With her, it was one phone call.  Total time five minutes and all was done.  She has also gone to bat for me to get things that I alone couldn't have done.  Like I say, it depends.

You are absolutely correct....depends on the TA.

 

I found one thru the "agents give you prices" website.  This guy was a bit lower than the others, so I picked him to book with last summer.  The problem was, whenever I wanted a change I had to hang on the phone while he called the cruiseline...so no time saved for me.  In addition, he was not e-mail oriented (never responded) and only did agent work part time.  I canceled one cruise and he charged me a fee (not complaining...he did work) that I could have used as a credit for any booking in the future.  I'll never be using that credit.

 

The one I've been using for the past couple of bookings messed something up about a year ago (I asked him to book something...DH and I both had covid so I wasn't following up closely.....he didn't book and price went up) so he throws in a few dollars extra OBC.  But...I follow him like a hawk now.

 

ETA...as a former small business owner, I like to give "the little guy" some business, so no big box stores for me.  

Edited by MsTabbyKats
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I am one who likes direct control over all my travel arrangements.  So I always book direct.  However a good TA is like owning gold.  If you find a good one stay with them.

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1 hour ago, MsTabbyKats said:

You are absolutely correct....depends on the TA.

 

I found one thru the "agents give you prices" website.  This guy was a bit lower than the others, so I picked him to book with last summer.  The problem was, whenever I wanted a change I had to hang on the phone while he called the cruiseline...so no time saved for me.  In addition, he was not e-mail oriented (never responded) and only did agent work part time.  I canceled one cruise and he charged me a fee (not complaining...he did work) that I could have used as a credit for any booking in the future.  I'll never be using that credit.

 

The one I've been using for the past couple of bookings messed something up about a year ago (I asked him to book something...DH and I both had covid so I wasn't following up closely.....he didn't book and price went up) so he throws in a few dollars extra OBC.  But...I follow him like a hawk now.

 

ETA...as a former small business owner, I like to give "the little guy" some business, so no big box stores for me.  

I found mine when someone screwed up and mentioned her by name here on CC.  I called her several years ago and I wouldn't use anyone else.   One thing I like about her (besides the 8-10%) discount is that I can use her to book practically any type of cruise.  NCL, Princess, European or US river cruise, pretty much everything.

 

To be honest, I don't call her much.  I decide on the cruise, the cabin, etc., and send her an email.  She calls me back to get the CC number and I'll get an invoice from her within 30 minutes.  As I've said before, I can send her an email on a Saturday, even if I specify that it's not urgent, I'll get a call or an email in at most an hour or so.

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36 minutes ago, RaftingJeremy said:

I typically book myself or directly through my PCC.... it’s pretty much the only phone I actually answer 

You're not booking directly since every avenue requires a person to sit at a computer and input your request.  Does it really matter if that person is employed by the cruise line or by a TA?  It's really the same thing.

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30 minutes ago, RocketMan275 said:

You're not booking directly since every avenue requires a person to sit at a computer and input your request.  Does it really matter if that person is employed by the cruise line or by a TA?  It's really the same thing.

If I do it myself the. I don’t think it’s the same thing.  I also stated that sometimes I call and they do it for me.  It would be different if that person works directly for them.  

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I used to hate the idea of a TA, then someone introduced me to a site that you can have your already booked cruises transferred to so that they mange the booking going forward (as long as you do it within 30 days of your original booking). 

 

If you book suites or Haven rooms - the OBC you get just for letting them have their name on your booking is insane. It's roughly 10% of the cruise fare, so in a 10K Haven suite that comes out to 1K in OBC. 

 

Still haven't sailed yet to see if there will be any snafus, but if all goes well I will certainly enjoy finding ways to use up that OBC. Gratuities and excursions alone will put a big dent in there, and there's always the gift shop to stock up on bottles of something to bring home if needed.

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I have an acquaintance who works for an online travel agency (initials VTG). I know they specialize in cruises and I was able to find my cruise on their website. Price/features listed there are pretty much identical to what I got going through NCL website, except they don't have the second airfare free promotion listed. They do mention an extra $75 OBC. I have my itinerary on courtesy hold but pretty sure I will be paying the deposit soon.

 

Does it make sense to connect with this person about transferring the booking to them? Should I expect to still get the $75 OBC? I would also like for someone to monitor if there is a price drop but not sure how realistic that is? I'm not even sure if what I booked is a really good deal or not. $5000 total for 2 people balcony room free at sea package including airfare from Texas. This is for the Sept 5 Jade Greek Islands sailing.

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I think this comes down to a personal choice.  I have a friend that loves to have control over everything, do his own researching, calls, plans, etc.  It works for him.  As for myself, we're long time cruisers, know what we want and I enjoy sending an email to our TA and tell her what we want and have her email me back the booking and details an hour later.  

We were booked on NCL's transatlantic this fall from Rome to NY on the Escape.  The morning we got the email that it was cancelled, an hour later she had us booked on the Epic for almost the same cabin, and same cruise except for a couple different port stops with all the discounts and goodies included.  We didn't do a thing but forward her the original email that our cruise was cancelled.  At the point of life I'm in now, I enjoy simplicity.

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I have not read all the responses.  Everyone will have a different take on what to do or what they have done.  Here is my take.

I do a much better job of research then any travel agent I have ever used.  I also don't like that when I use any agent other then the cruise lines, I am not the client to the brand.  I the agent is.  So direct contact if I have an issue is through the TA.  They never fight as hard as I do for issues.  

 

All that being said, I have an American Express Platinum Card.  I usually stay in the Haven.  I get a minimum of $300.00 On-Board-Credits and a dinner for two in the French Restaurant as a perk.  To use the card I have to book through American Express Travel of a TA That provides those AMX perks.  I use a travel Agent.  

 

My point in addressing this topic this way is;

  • Travel Agents when things go wrong are not always your best choice for the few dollars they can discount or provide you with Perks.
  • If you are going to use a travel agent, use one that has been around for a while.  They have to know the ropes and have relationships with the brands.
  • If your agent says you should use another brand then NCL, use someone else.  They don't like the brand for what ever reason.  I know, this happened to me.  Not a good situation.

 

I hope in some ways I have been helpful. 

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The one (and only) time I booked using a TA, he talked me into a layover on the flight to Barcelona on a cheaper airline.  I could have booked direct on American for approximately $200 more for each of us.  He was like "Wouldn't you say it was worth an extra 1 - 2 hours of your time to save $400?"  (The answer is no now).  The airline was British Airways and they kept changing my flight and changing my flight, until it took us an extra 5 hours in layovers on the way over...and 10 hours on the way back!  UGH!  We were in an airport or flying for over 26 hours...which included a 45 minute layover in NY *(BARELY enough time to make it through international customs and back through security!).  Now, I take control of my own destiny...

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Did anybody see where the ASTA convention is going to be held in Chicago in August?...get robbed before and after the conference. What was the next choice city?   St Louis??😁

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On 5/30/2021 at 6:20 AM, RocketMan275 said:

You're not booking directly since every avenue requires a person to sit at a computer and input your request.  Does it really matter if that person is employed by the cruise line or by a TA?  It's really the same thing.

 

Not true, even in the previous century I preferred to deal directly with reservation computers via my laptop and not use any person as intermediary. Computers are obedient and patient for endless queries. I once spent 40 hours exploring and setting up a miraculous chain of ferry arrangements, and no meat puppet is gonna handhold me thru that.

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On 5/31/2021 at 6:01 PM, Sailing12Away said:

I used to hate the idea of a TA, then someone introduced me to a site that you can have your already booked cruises transferred to so that they mange the booking going forward (as long as you do it within 30 days of your original booking). 

 

If you book suites or Haven rooms - the OBC you get just for letting them have their name on your booking is insane. It's roughly 10% of the cruise fare, so in a 10K Haven suite that comes out to 1K in OBC. 

 

Still haven't sailed yet to see if there will be any snafus, but if all goes well I will certainly enjoy finding ways to use up that OBC. Gratuities and excursions alone will put a big dent in there, and there's always the gift shop to stock up on bottles of something to bring home if needed.


I’ve been hearing these stories for years so I tried to finally take advantage of it with a cruise I just booked. I reached out to a few different travel agents that I found by doing a search for the best ones to transfer a cruise to. It’s been two days and so far there’s been no response from three of them and one offered me a whopping $100 onboard credit. 🤔
 

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1 hour ago, LincolnLog said:


I’ve been hearing these stories for years so I tried to finally take advantage of it with a cruise I just booked. I reached out to a few different travel agents that I found by doing a search for the best ones to transfer a cruise to. It’s been two days and so far there’s been no response from three of them and one offered me a whopping $100 onboard credit. 🤔
 

It really depends on your reservation. If your total cruise price is only $2,000 then you will only see ~$50 or so. If you're in a fancy Haven suite on the newest ship Prima where the cruise is costing $20K, that's when you see the bigger OBC perks show up.

 

We're not allowed to say TA names here (I don't understand why), but if you search for CRUise CONsultant and send them an email, they may be able to help you out.

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 5/29/2021 at 11:49 PM, BirdTravels said:

Since you may not name travel agents on CC, let’s just say big warehouse stores offer additional perks on the cruise and gift cards to their store for booking. 
 

Greece still has restrictions on who may enter and testing requirements. Reference state dept info. You need to spend part of your Croatian vacay hunting down a valid COVID test center. 
 

https://gr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

 

I'd also like to point out that the website at "Mysterious Warehouse Store" was great to use for looking at the decks and available cabins. Some of these online sites have great research tools. 

 

Hold times can be crazy at some of the bigger agencies right now, because everyone is rebooking. It might be faster to work with the cruise line if your TA doesn't have email. 

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Remember that if you book through a travel agent that they own the booking and, if anything goes wrong you have to wok though the TA.   

Ask many Australians who were on the Spirit from Dubai to Cape Town in 2020 about the troubles they had.

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