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lisam March 17th, 2003 01:47 AM

price drops
 
Hello,

I am planning my first cruise next month and I have a question regarding a drop in prices on my cruise. When I booked last october, I was told by my TA that if the price drops we would get the lower price but that we could not be charged more than the price we booked at.

Now that my cruise is getting closer , I went online to read some reviews on the NCL Dawn which is the ship we are sailing on. I happened to find a website that was offering substantially lower rates than what I paid ,so I checked other sites and found the same on many of the sites. One site actually uses the same system called cruise-path to give quotes as the travel agency I am using and everything was the same except the price of the cabin , which was about 50 % less on the other website.

I called my TA to inquire and she said she would check with NCL. The response I got was they could not provide an explanation why other sites were offering lower rates and basically received a lecture on the risks of booking online instead of with a local agency. She said that the rate we have is still less than what is on the NCL website, which I believe are called "brochure prices" but I don't think anyone pays these rates.

I guess what my question is , whos price has to drop to get a refund, NCL brochure prices, my travel agency's or what. I am feeling pretty ripped off since I could be paying $600 less for my cruise or at least be in an oceanview with a balcony for the same price I am paying for my lowest level inside cabin. Oh my TA said I could get a balcony upgrade but it would cost me $400 more. I can't really tell if my TA is being truthful or just doesn't want to give up her commission. Do I have any recourse? My TA said I could call NCL myself, but will they do anything? I did call them once and she told my to call my TA and they should lower the price , but I am not getting any help from them. I doubt NCL will book many more cabins because of the War and new SARS disease going around, do you think they will give me a ship credit or at least an upgrade to a better cabin? I don't think you should be penalized for booking early , which seems like what happens

I know its not that much money difference , I guess it is just the point of it. If there is nothing I can do, I just want to get over it because its starting to put me in a really bad mood and I would have to ruin my vacation over this. Any suggestions?

Lisa

PS. This website is a wealth of information. Thanks !

nushnakka March 17th, 2003 08:15 AM

Re: price drops
 
Have you paid it in full yet? Are you eligible to get a refund and then go thru another agency? I've had price drops but not to the extent you have. In one case I had only made the deposit so I got the credit to my account. In another case I had already paid in full so I got nothing. The big question is in getting a refund and rebooking it elsewhere. Whenever I do cruise and I only learned this after my 3rd time is that I shop around big time and when the price is where I am willing to pay then I book. I have to be satisfied with the price and while it may go down it isn't by too much because I already got the best deal I could.

ErnieMCC March 17th, 2003 08:51 AM

Re: price drops
 
Lisam's post states that she is traveling next month... which would indicate that she's paid in full and well within NCL's cancellation period.

It is the cancellation period which basically determines whether or not one can cancel a booking and rebook. If she was outside of that period, she could cancel, have her deposit refunded and rebook elsewhere. However, the chances are very good that the price drop was instituted by NCL AFTER the cancellation penalty period was in effect, which means the amount of the reduction would have to be larger than the penalty to make canceling and re-booking a viable option. If the price reduction was put in place AFTER the cancellation period, the chances are that it carried the caveat "new bookings only".

The idea of these price reductions is to sell what cabins may remain, close in to the sailing date, not to reduce the price of all the cabins previously sold on the sailing. This is no different than sales we see in the retail trade, automobile industry and so forth.

While this case seems quite extreme, and I think Lisam's t/a could do a better job of explaining... it goes to the complicated nature of cruise pricing, particularly in stressed times... pricing schemes which defy generalizations.



Post Edited (03-17-03 20:36)

Don G March 17th, 2003 05:49 PM

Re: price drops
 
ErnieMCC -

If you are booking a guarantee cabin, do you believe it is smarter to wait until the last minute to take advantage of the final offers or book early hoping for a better cabin assignment?

nushnakka March 17th, 2003 07:02 PM

Re: price drops
 
Oh Ernie, my bad!! Thanks for correcting me.

Lisa, never mind my prior post. I'm sorry that happened to you. I don't know the TA can do anything but there are always lots of fantastic last minute deals going on and maybe that was one of those?! Don't let it ruin your vacation. There will always be someone or somewhere that has paid/offered the same for less, period! I try not to dwell on that subject. As a friend told me when the need is there and you made the purchase, yoy got the best deal and you have to learn to accept that. He told me this when I was griping about the cost of electronics because I paid more for something that had gone down in price. This made so much sense to me that I have learned to apply this. Happy sailing to you!

Thomas March 17th, 2003 09:25 PM

Re: price drops
 
I think you have a bad TA! But as Ernie says it may have been that you are now seeing "new bookings only." Which in my opinion is a strategy for the cruiselines to maximize their profits.

I would recommend booking last minute but getting your airfare early. Just be aware you are going to be limited by what cabins are available when you book and have to settle for that.

Regards,
Thomas

ErnieMCC March 17th, 2003 09:41 PM

Re: Re: price drops
 
As I said in my post, cruise line marketing strategies and pricing defy generalizations... there are too many anecdotal events. Having said that, I would say that, overall, you are always better booking well in advance than waiting for last minute deals.

If you need to fly to the ship... or get time off from work... or get the kids taken care of... or if you have special needs on board, then waiting for the last minute may not be an option. Also, if you cruise as a vacation once or twice a year... and spend a good deal of money in the process, then you may want the comfort and security of knowing (1)that you are actually booked and will be sailing (2) that you are in the cabin or category in which you will be happy (3) that if the price does drop prior to the cancellation period you will get the lower price (thereby having the best of both worlds!).



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