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Old September 25th, 2008, 09:11 PM
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Default Grad Student Thesis: How do people book cruises???? HELP ME

Hi Cruisers!

I'm a grad student doing a research project on how people book cruises. I would love to get a sense of the whole process from when you get the idea to cruise to the actual booking and EVERYTHING in between.

Any comments would be extremely helpful. If you want more information please send me a private message.

Information that would be helpful include:
understanding why cruises over traditional vacations?
How did you research your cruise?
How did you book? Did you use an Agent?
What was the most important factors in your decision?


Thank you in advance!!!

Just A GRAD
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Old September 26th, 2008, 09:28 AM
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Hi Grad,
I think a lot of us do our basic research on the internet, using the cruiseline's web sites, looking for ships and itinaries that meet our time frame. For me, I always book with a travel agent, but by the time I contact one, I already have an idea of the time and a few ships, then get prices and availibility and go from there.
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Old September 26th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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Thanks for the response Donna!

Your first touch point are cruiseline website. How long do you start the research before you ultimately book? What other sites do you visit?

How do you find a travel agent to book? And do you tend to use the same one for other cruises?

How important are referrals to Agents for you?

What's the most frustrating part of the booking process for you?
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Old September 26th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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We have sailed 32 times so our experience may be a bit different from newbies.

Getting the itch:
Several kinds of itch:
Wanna' go someplace specific i.e. gee, I've never been to Rome
Need to get away, i.e. there's a beach calling my name and I don't care where it is, just get me outa' here
An offer I can't refuse i.e whatdya mean I can cruise Glacier Bay on the Island Princess for $349/ person!

Research:
For itch #1 - go to a site such as Vacations To Go and enter specifics and find out which lines cruise my area. i.e Rome, Venice, etc. The site also gives you itinerary, base cost in each category. From there I go to the indivual cruise line web sites for more info.

I happen to keep a full complement of cruise line brochures, but if I happen not to have one, I call the cruise line and have one mailed. I am old fashioned in that I like printed material. I love the info on demand of the internet, but it's hard to peruse you laptop while soaking in the tub.

I then go to CruiseMates and read the professional and reader reviews.
If I have questions I can ask them on the appropriate board.

If I am in itch #2 mode I go to VTG and check the 90 day ticker and see if I can find a bargain.

Itch #3 comes from receiving too many emails from cruise lines and TA's!!

How do I book:
Well, I have used a local TA at times but they have gone out of business and we do not have a local TA any longer.

I have used several different online TAs in the past with mixed results. Usually they have been fine but often time it is necessary to do all the leg work on your own. Which is okay with me because by the time I call, I know what I want.

I have booked with the cruise lines directly, especially when it is a very short time between booking and sailing or when I have some special needs.

Additionally, I use a credit card(s) that accrue points like frequent flyer miles so when researching I always check my available points and what is available through that line first.

Most important factors
Well, that sort of depends on whether I'm on a destination cruise or a get away. But I'd say it's embarkation port (can I drive or do I have to fly)
itinerary, cruise line, cost.

What other sites do I use - well we refer to it here as "the other board". You can find it easily with a google search, but they are not as friendly there as here and you're more likely to get slammed.

How long before I book: not long, when the fever hits the only way to get it to abate is to book something! Honestly, I'd say a week or two, although some cruises, especially when it's a real super deal, I book the same day.

How do I find an agent.
One of the great toos is CruiseCompete which is accessible by a link on this site. It allows you to post your specs and receivre multiple quotes via you CM email and not be bugged by phone or overload your personal email acct. Often time agencies will offer spacials such as free travel insurancr, OCB, etc. and if those are offered it will be in their quote.
I have used prior TA's but I have found that in the internet travel world often times the agents change frequently and it is really the agent who makes the deal. I had a fabulous agent for years and she retired and referred me to a friend within the agency Her friend was just very complacent and scatter brained so I moved on.

Referrels: always something to consider

Frustrating:
Agents who will not respond in a timely fashion.
Agents who have web sites which are not user friendly.
Cruise lines who will not speak to you directly if you used an agent, even if it is a situation (i.e. financial misposting) that does not involve the agent

I do not book my air via the cruise lines, but from friends who have, I know it is very frustrating to not receive your flight info until a week or so prior to departure.
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Old September 26th, 2008, 04:28 PM
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Default Re: Grad Student Thesis: How do people book cruises???? HEL

Quote:
Originally Posted by justaGRAD
Hi Cruisers!

I'm a grad student doing a research project on how people book cruises. I would love to get a sense of the whole process from when you get the idea to cruise to the actual booking and EVERYTHING in between.

Any comments would be extremely helpful. If you want more information please send me a private message.

Information that would be helpful include:
understanding why cruises over traditional vacations?
How did you research your cruise?
How did you book? Did you use an Agent?
What was the most important factors in your decision?


Thank you in advance!!!

Just A GRAD
The reason I cruise is because I love the sea, the ship, and the fact that we get to go to three or four ports in a seven-day cruise. Many friends who have gone to land based vacations have less than 1/4 of the picutres taken and stories of the ports and excursions/shopping in each port are short and very limited. Most resorts, with the exception of a few, don't have the range of activities a cruise ship can offer.

The decision of when to go and what ship to goes on depends on where I want to go, where have I gone, and what ports do I truly want to see again. I also have to keep an open mind when booking for hurricane season, which came in handy for my Liberty cruise when Hurricane Ike decided to roar through two of our four ports, so the cruise line rerouted us West and gave us a four port cruise. The ship is very important, but the ports are just as important...so 50/50 ship/ports. I will book a ship based on the ports, which is what I did for the Valor. The Valor's decor is very American--too american for this Canadian!, but I wanted to see the ports, so I can get past the overabundance of everything american on the ship and have a good time!

I am loyal to Carnival right now, so when I decide to go I look at the brochure when no computer is accessible, but when I can be at my computer searching, I am on the website searching for the ship/or ports I want to see!

I prefer to use a travel agent because they can go to bat for you if something does go wrong and resolution/assistance is needed. Also, they are supposed to be knoweldgeable about their products. Unfortunately, I have not had the best experience with some of the travel agents, it is as if they want the money and that is all--they couldn't even get the ship name or date right. One agent I went to for information took the info I told her and called me back and told me Carnival doesn't do that route, and then I told her that in fact they did do it because I had the brochure with the information and it is on the website....I didn't use that agent...I have found a good agency and they are very friendly and willing to help, so they will get my business..

I want to go for a vacation and I want to have fun. I'd be flying in from a long distance and I want it to be seven days of sun, fun, food, and more fun!!!!!! I even did a meet n greet with members from another board on the last cruise and I had an amazing time with several of the people at the meet n greet!!!!!

Happy Thesis writing!!!!
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Old September 26th, 2008, 05:46 PM
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For our first cruise in 2005, husband decided to try a cruise for our 30th anniversary so we started by going to a local TA and get some info. Then I started looking everywhere I could find on the internet. We found a cruise we were interested in and I found out the company I worked for had an agreement with the line and it was much less expensive booking online with the cruise line using the corporate link.

Since then we have booked a cruise when we see one in an ad for an online company that we like both the ports and the price. Of course if there are extras without extra costs that makes it better. I have only once gone to a TA for more than one cruise and I don't think I will use him again. Just getting off vibes this time.

Most of the time we book with less than six months till the cruise. When we decide on a cruise I will check as much as possible online for informtion about where we are going. I check here at Cruisemates, other cruise forums and of course for websites from the different countries.


So far we have been on 4 different lines and only one have we not been real happy with but may give them another try on a different ship.

Hubby says he is checking ports to see where he wuld like to go to spend a week but so far has not decided. Of course we will still continue to cruise.
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Old September 26th, 2008, 07:12 PM
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There has been a cruise or two that I've booked over a year in advance, so I basically am always checking ships and itinaries.. I would say, when on one cruise, I already have another in mind :-)
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Old September 27th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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I suggest doing a search one each one of these topics one at a time. The best search is on our front page - even for searching the message boards.

I would prefwer it if you didn't ask all the questions in one post - its too much information.
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