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  #1 (permalink)  
Old January 20th, 2012, 03:40 AM
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Default So many ways to book a cruise!

While many folks often suggest using a Travel Agent to book a cruise, we know that there are many different ways and styles to finding the cruise that is right for you.

So my question......How do you book your cruises???

I myself always start by checking Vacations to Go website as almost every cruise and price is listed there. They actually provide a nice service to cruisers by doing that. Then I view several different cruises that would actually work out for us looking at Destination, Price, cruise line and ship.

I have used T/A's, cruise lines booking and even Vacations to Go myself. I always look for the best deal after I have decided which cruise I want. I surf the web, make a few phone calls and make my best deal.

I also normally pay the deposit and pay on the cruise over time because if the price goes down, you can normally re-book at the better rate, whereas if you pay it all up front, some places will not give you the better price.

Thats my story, what yours?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old January 20th, 2012, 08:35 AM
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Default What not to use..

So *edited for content* strictly bans discussion of TA's. I come here hoping this fine site allows it.

Anyway, I also usually start at VacationsToGo. They are easily searchable and have good deals.

Con (of VtoGo, or really any other phone-based TA): I am a computer person, I like to key in my own personal information, so I can confirm it is correct. With VtoGo, you still have to call them to register. I hate having to spell my name. They don't always get it right. Last time, they skipped the child's age and just put dummy data // "TBD - 7yr old". I feel like they (and other TA's) do this because they push you to go ahead and book because "you can always cancel before final payment", nd the fastest way to get you booked with minimal info, is what they go for.

Also, I like seeing a choice of cabins, being able to click on a map in another browser window, then coming back to finish the reservation. With a phone-based TA, I feel like they read you a few options based on your preference, but not everything that is on their screen. So I may not be looking for a balcony, but on a particular cruise for my state passengers, it may be a particularly good deal.. Other factors like deck level may "sway" me to book a category I was not originally planning for -- I like this opportunistic shopping and feel that having the TA talk me through everything can be tiresome for both of us.

I also used the Cruise Line's own TA. I like this option because there is one neck to choke, and they seem to have more current information on the cruise. They can better describe the services. One time, a friend used VacationsToGo, and I used NCCL's own TA. I got a call that our cruise is cancelled due to drydock repairs. He got the same call a week later. I was upset as I already booked airfare, but was glad to know this news sooner than later!

Finally I used Orbitz a few times. Pro: I already mentioned the benefits -- you see what you are buying, you can change your mind based on what you see, and you see all your charges itemized, all your personal info, before you click buy. i.e. no surprises. Also, you see where the deals are, given your State Resident / Senior 55+ / Veteran status -- only some are on sale, e.g. balcony, but you instantly see that and can do "opportunistic buying".

Con: You would think cutting out the call center gets you the best deal, like buying on amazon or ebay vs going into a store. Nothing could be further from the truth, unfortunately. They charge a $25 booking fee, do not provide perks like $100 on board credit and/or free travel insurance, plus a bottle of wine waiting for you on top of that, that TA typically you can often get. They offer a $70 free excursion, which seems comparable, but it is with an outside vendor -- not the cruise line -- and forces everyone else on your group to use this (in my case I forfeited it because I did not want to drag everyone along, they wanted to use the cruise line's own excursions).

Last edited by Trip; January 20th, 2012 at 09:53 AM.
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Old January 20th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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I always start by looking for a ship, itinary and time I can go and do a lot of homework first. Also, checking prices for differerent weeks that work and when I can get off work...Once everything is in place, I simply have a good travel agent book it for me and in most cases that is it. I like the added security of having an agent do the booking, just in case there is any problems, etc.
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Old January 20th, 2012, 10:12 AM
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In the olden days, we sat down with a travel agent, in the office and discussed it all, face to face! Imagine that!

Time marches on, and, for me researching a cruise online is fun,and by the time I call the travel agent, and book! I just love the looky loo processof hopping form site to site.

And for me, it will be with a travel agency. I don't understand not going with a cruise professional, with years of experience, under their belt, vs, the person in a call center, with the possibility of being a new hire, or has never cruised. Being pro active has served me well, in other aspects, and I just feel, with no cost to me, an experienced agent, just makes sense.

Then, the waiting begins,and all the chit chat around it...finding others on the cruise, planning excursions, etc, and just coming to Cruisemates
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Old January 20th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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Default examples of a "real" TA

It sounds like VacationsToGo is not what you are referring as a traditional full-service travel agent, since V2G is also a call center with varying levels of experience in the customer service reps..

What is a good starting point to finding a good TA like the one being described, since I completely agree why not since it is at no additional cost to me.
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Old January 20th, 2012, 09:49 PM
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We've used the same TA for years. She's knowledgeable, has cruised on almost every ship, and can "unscramble" what I want and make it into what's available! She checks prices regularly (although I check them more often ).

She always sends a small gift (for us, a bottle of Jim Beam ), and she finds all of the discounts we can use (military, previous cruiser, stockholder, etc.). We only go to her office to pick up our documents and she treats us like the only clients she has !

Since it costs you nothing to book through a TA, I don't know why anyone wouldn't?

VTG, IMHO, is not a TA ... .
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Old January 20th, 2012, 09:57 PM
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Jama, this is our travel agent, we have been using for years to book the Cruisemate group cruises. Fern I agree, I need the presence of someone to talk to...ask a zillion questions,and have them answer every one..VTG is a good site to see what, where, and, when, only, then call your ta...:

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Old January 20th, 2012, 10:00 PM
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Default TA's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Truck Cruiser View Post
While many folks often suggest using a Travel Agent to book a cruise, we know that there are many different ways and styles to finding the cruise that is right for you.

So my question......How do you book your cruises???

I myself always start by checking Vacations to Go website as almost every cruise and price is listed there. They actually provide a nice service to cruisers by doing that. Then I view several different cruises that would actually work out for us looking at Destination, Price, cruise line and ship.

I have used T/A's, cruise lines booking and even Vacations to Go myself. I always look for the best deal after I have decided which cruise I want. I surf the web, make a few phone calls and make my best deal.

I also normally pay the deposit and pay on the cruise over time because if the price goes down, you can normally re-book at the better rate, whereas if you pay it all up front, some places will not give you the better price.

Thats my story, what yours?
We had a fantastic TA for but unfortunately he retired .Since then we have been using TA's but they cannot compare with him .
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Old January 20th, 2012, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fern View Post
We've used the same TA for years. She's knowledgeable, has cruised on almost every ship, and can "unscramble" what I want and make it into what's available! She checks prices regularly (although I check them more often ).

She always sends a small gift (for us, a bottle of Jim Beam ), and she finds all of the discounts we can use (military, previous cruiser, stockholder, etc.). We only go to her office to pick up our documents and she treats us like the only clients she has !

Since it costs you nothing to book through a TA, I don't know why anyone wouldn't?

VTG, IMHO, is not a TA ... .
I do exactly the same thing, and my travel agent sounds like yours.

TM
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Old January 22nd, 2012, 02:02 PM
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An experienced cruiser, who knows what they want and are looking for, in my opinion can save money by booking with a order taker, many times, compared to a T/A.

I would never suggest someone who has never cruised before or has only cruised a time or two try to book without a good travel agent.

I also make sure I do my homework, view the ship deck by deck, looking for that secret cabin that is in a great location. Cruisemates can also be a great help finding that secret place!

I was surprised to find that VtG also was able to add me to a group of cruisers booked on the same cruise, much like a regular T/A will do, thus saving me money . Like I said though, I don't hold to any one agent or service, I shop around for the best deals, thats half the fun!
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