Originally Posted by krunch
Thanx for your input Donna, but there MIGHT be advantages that Carnival can offer that travel agents may not. Not only that, but Carnival spells them out for you, and, gives you options to choose your "Group Perks".
Have a look at this:
Shipboard credit is always appealing to every cruiser I'm sure, but the "Family & Friends" cruise we are attempting to plan, via the link above, allows me to choose an option for example that gives my group a one hour, open bar party. This would be great as some of our potential guests we have not seen in a few years.
Now, maybe travel agents can offer similar perks, but essentially I assume it would still be through Carnival's "Fun Points" system.
I will consider calling a travel agent to bounce this group cruise off of them but my gut feeling is that they are "Middle Men" and if I can eliminate the "Middle Man" I should gain something from it, as I am essentially acting as the travel agent for my group and dealing directly with Carnival.
I am not saying anything bad about travel agents. For 3 of our 4 cruises I technically used a travel agent, which is what Air Miles Canada is, but I was using their reward miles for our cruise making our cruise free, except for having to pay the taxes and fees. The forth I booked online via Carniva's website and feel I paid a fair price.
You will not get any better prices or perks if you book this yourself vs. booking with a TA..... despite your "middleman" theory, the TA can often offer you MORE than the cruiseline can regarding "perks" above what the cruiseline is going to provide to you. As far as pricing 2012 cruises as a guideline..... hard to say if that will work given the volitility in the cruiselines fluxuating rates at any given time.
In most cases, ES fares are going to be LOWER than if booked as a group, but of course comes with stricter guidelines. Also, once the group rate is "locked in", you will not get lower fare adjustments or OBC as you would if booked thru reg. rates.
The TA can be very assistful regarding collecting deposits, payments and handling all the details, questions, etc..... well worth the commission they are paid by the cruiseline
! Are you sure you want to take on that headache ??? JMHO