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How are you handling your bookings?


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In the past, I would contact several TAs and ask for a quote for a particular sailing. In this way I could sometimes get some additional amenities. I'm actually reluctant to do this right now, though the sailing I'm interested in is for 2024. I'd hope to high heaven that things in the cruise industry would be chugging right along by then. What do you think? Price things out like I used to or just book it through Carnival. Or??

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Lately I've been going through a TA, I get the exact same price as shown on the Carnival site along with additional OBC that they throw in.  So far I see no reason to change.

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I've decided to book directly through Carnival. I can't use Easy Pay because my card expires before the Easy Pay-ments would come to an end. 

 

I know I've complained a lot over the years about Carnival, but I'm THRILLED to be on the Mardi Gras for our anniversary in 2024. I have a fresh new opinion of this fresh new line!

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Posted (edited)

Even before the pandemic, I’ve always booked directly with Carnival. Whatever “perks”, I could get through a TA weren’t enough incentive to book through a third party. Base fare is almost always the same whether booking direct or through a TA. 
 

However, for other cruise lines, it does pay off to shop around and book through a TA. Some, like Holland America and Princess, do provide substantial savings if you book through a “preferred” TA. 


I currently have 3 cruises booked. One on Carnival, one on Celebrity, and one on Princess. The Carnival one is a direct booking, the other two are through a TA. 

Edited by Tapi
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I haven't booked directly with Carnival since I was on the Breeze back in 2013.  Currently dealing with 2 different TA's.  One gives OBC and the other gives me a discount.   Both are always giving me a cabin from group space that their agencies have inventory of.

Covid has forced me into retirement about 4 years sooner than I wanted, but now my cruises planned are substantially higher than normal and my bucket list can start to have boxes checked off from it.

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I do all my own research call up my Carnival PVP which we've had for 8 years? and book through her. I like to be in control. I stay with the PVP cause she is very responsive even on her days off. I know there may be a few small perks with a TA but just not worth it for me.

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12 minutes ago, CJinFLA00 said:

I do all my own research call up my Carnival PVP which we've had for 8 years? and book through her. I like to be in control. I stay with the PVP cause she is very responsive even on her days off. I know there may be a few small perks with a TA but just not worth it for me.

Same situation for us. Your post could be my exact response (apart from the 8 years, it’s been longer with our PVP). 

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17 minutes ago, CJinFLA00 said:

 I know there may be a few small perks with a TA but just not worth it for me.

There are positives for dealing directly since your PVP can take care of you, but dealing with agencies that have group space rates locked in when bookings open can be a cost saver. I'm saving over 200 on an inside cabin for a 9/22 sailing on the Mardi Gras and more on more expensive cabins on other lines.   That 200 + covers the gratuities for us.

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I'll chime in.  We've always booked Carnival through our PVP as the cost savings going elsewhere are minimal.  We've gotten great deals on Princess using a TA. 

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My TA is a rcl specialist, but will book other lines. I'd say my oasis cruise is about $200 cheaper but the main advantage of group rates on rcl is they are refundable rates, good when booking so far out. 

 

Most of my closer in were just good deals I'm paying full price for when covid was raging. My dec liberty was a jan jewel cruise price i lifted and shifted price protected to dec 2021. The 4 early in 2022 also lifted and shifted ..sept 2022 starts regular rates and group rates.

 

I've had 6 cancelled and my TA keeps detailed records of how much fcc I have not applied to my rcl cruises which are a mess. Keeping track of FCC is worth it to me. 

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I used to go the Carnival PVP route, but gave that up. I use a TA for other lines, like Tapi mentioned. I suppose now I can transfer the booking to an agent for some amenities? Do you think I should try that? I've never done the "transfer to the top-bidding agent" before, kind of a competing for cruises on my own, but I've heard of others doing it. I think I have a couple of weeks to decide. I'm still making payments, but I don't think that would make a difference, would it? Standing by for words of experience...:)

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44 minutes ago, fyree39 said:

Oh, and what category is a cove balcony? I'm iffy on the codes.

 

On our Vista sailing Aug. 21-28, we have booked a cove balcony and the category is 7C.  

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Handling it myself these days. I like the control. I have done a TA once and it was a frustrating experience trying to change/adjust things since the lines won't even talk to you. I found the whole process rather stupid and ridiculous to be perfectly honest. Calling someone to call someone and telling someone something to tell someone else. Redundant. I would consider using a TA if there was some kind of really good deal. Costco Travel and Expedia Cruises have good deals sometimes, especially for last min stuff, though booking early seems to yield good results so I have been doing that and probably will continue.    

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41 minutes ago, cruisingguy007 said:

Handling it myself these days. I like the control. I have done a TA once and it was a frustrating experience trying to change/adjust things since the lines won't even talk to you. I found the whole process rather stupid and ridiculous to be perfectly honest. Calling someone to call someone and telling someone something to tell someone else. Redundant. I would consider using a TA if there was some kind of really good deal. Xxxxxx have good deals sometimes, especially for last min stuff, though booking early seems to yield good results so I have been doing that and probably will continue.    

Its great you havent had any problems where you needed someone on your side. With carnival I've had a few issues where my pvp sided with carnival and I was mad. Like I boarded and found out carnival switched my cabin. I booked the cabin I wanted. Her reply was carnival has the right to change your cabin, it says it where you click to agree before you print out you boarding pass and besides carnival might have thought it was a upgrade to move you to that hc cabin because in the past I've asked for shower chairs and stuff ..which wasnt for me. 

 

Twice during covid my TA has gone to bat to save my bookings and prices and spent days arguing with the revenue dept of rcl. And made not a penny during covid rebooking cruises that didnt go. Yes I know first time commissions are protected, but only first time. Mine have gone thru the ringer.

 

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I book online with Carnival. Most of my bookings are refundable and easily switched around.

 

I occasionally use a TA if a cruise is sold out but group space is still available or if new sailing is announced but not yet on carnival.com.

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I have had excellent experiences with my TAs. There was one I felt wasn't a fit for me, so I cancelled that cruise completely and rebooked it with a different TA. I agree there are times when it would be SO much easier to just call the line, but I have had some excellent deals through TAs on other lines. I used to always book through my airline TA that earns points via the credit card, even Carnival, but we're flying less and I don't want to pay the annual fee anymore, so I may dump that credit card and TA and do something else, whatever that is. 

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2 hours ago, Saint Greg said:

I'm still using a TA. He earned his money with me over the past year that's for sure. I had 8 cancellations.

And he only earned his money if all 8 were fully paid.  I had two RCI cruises cancelled last year that I took refunds on and that agent made zero.  I had another cruise cancelled from January of 2021 on Princess that I paid through gift cards.  Had a conversation with my TA and he told me that he only got paid on the last cruise that people actually sailed on if they kept rolling over deposits on multiple sailings.  But, he did earn his commission if those cruises were paid in full.  So, I paid off my Princess cruise in full and when it cancelled, he got his commission. If I hadn't done that, he would have made nothing.  I got a 125% FCC and rolled it over to a B2B next April on a Mexican Riviera/California Coastal.  When they sail, he'll earn his commission on both.

I scratched his back by making sure he got paid on my cancelled Peincess cruise and I know he has scratched my back with the discounts I'm getting on the subsequent bookings I have given him.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, SNJCruisers said:

And he only earned his money if all 8 were fully paid.  I had two RCI cruises cancelled last year that I took refunds on and that agent made zero.  I had another cruise cancelled from January of 2021 on Princess that I paid through gift cards.  Had a conversation with my TA and he told me that he only got paid on the last cruise that people actually sailed on if they kept rolling over deposits on multiple sailings.  But, he did earn his commission if those cruises were paid in full.  So, I paid off my Princess cruise in full and when it cancelled, he got his commission. If I hadn't done that, he would have made nothing.  I got a 125% FCC and rolled it over to a B2B next April on a Mexican Riviera/California Coastal.  When they sail, he'll earn his commission on both.

I scratched his back by making sure he got paid on my cancelled Peincess cruise and I know he has scratched my back with the discounts I'm getting on the subsequent bookings I have given him.

 

I believe they all were. I pay with gift cards that I've just been rolling over to other cruises so my next three are paid for and I have enough to pay for another. But my agent works for a pretty good size agency and never mentions any of that.

 

I did try a smaller family agency once that I didn't like. The guy wanted to conduct every transaction over the phone and was obsessed about his commission and wanted to make sure I knew how little he was going to make off of my booking after upping the OBC to match my regular TA's offer. I really don't care. I just want the OBC. Otherwise I'd just book it myself. If it's not worth it to him he shouldn't have begged me for my business.

 

Edited by Saint Greg
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