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Old February 27th, 2004, 12:43 PM
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Default Local TA or online TA....

After finding an incredibly low rate with an online TA, I decided to use my local TA instead.

I couldn't ever find anyone who has *used* this particular online agency and that made me a little nervous since their rates were considerable lower than everybody else. My TA came up with a rate only $130 more (total - for 3 people) than this low rate. There is something to be said for having a TA within 2 miles of my house who has been in business for 20 years.

I always thought I'd end up one of those savvy online TA shoppers, but......

What do you folks use? Online or local TA or both?

dorothy

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Old February 27th, 2004, 01:03 PM
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Default Re: Local TA or online TA....

I've booked my two previous cruises directly with Carnival. When I found a lower price on-line with my first cruise, I received a ship board credit from Carnival. I just booked my third cruise with Carnival, and then found a considerably less fare through an on-line TA that advertises on this site. I was, however, able to get feedback on this TA, and so switched my booking to save $220 total for the cruise. That's a lot of money.

I was leary also about using an on-line TA, and I wouldn't have switched my booking except for the positive feedback I received.
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Old February 29th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Default Re: Local TA or online TA....

When you choose an agent, make sure that agent will honor any price drops in the cruise price. I've read on these boards that when one uses a local TA, they have not honored the price drops. As far as online agents. We've used www.travelocity.com
3 times now and have never had a problem. You dont have to use them directly online. You can call just as well. They have good prices and will honor the price drops. The procedure there is, when you continue to check on the rates, and if you see that it drops before you sail, you call them, and then they call carnival. They have always issued the credit to us, and if not, like on one occasion, they honored us a 200.00 ship board credit. Which is great also. But always look for a company who will honor the dropped prices. Good luck.
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Old February 29th, 2004, 11:20 AM
David Petrick
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Default Re: Local TA or online TA....

Consumer Reports says that for one's first time, it is best to use an agent, so I tried to. I went to some cruise agents association website and got names and numbers of "certified" staff who had undergone rigorous training. I had set my sights on the Royal Carribean Voyager of the Seas or a carnival 7 day.

So I called my certified agents. At AAA, the certified staff were gone and the woman who helped me was rude and never called me back. The next agent was very professional and nice, but, she told me the Voyager was sold out and gave me a price of about $1500 for Carnival Victory.

I had an inkling to call Royal Carribean myself and a rep said that there were several staterooms available for $1750. Then I told him that I had been dealing with an agent and he confirmed that what the local agent had told me was untrue.

So, then I researched it and through Anne Campbell, an authority on cruises, found out that there's one major company that does most of the work for these websites. It's a big company run out of new york, 24/7, with over 1,000 employees. I tried to book online and it kept getting all messed up. Icruise.com was my favorite, but they kept having an error message and saying airfare couldn't be included. So then I went to book airfare myself, and that was very, very complicated unless I didn't care about departure and arrival times. If I had booked online, I would have paid about $1600. As it turns out, I called the help number for cruises.com, and they were very helpful. It was that big company. They do many other websites--they outsource it to this big company. The big company works out very good rates, but still it was about $1100 with no airfare.

So, finally, I called carnival and booked directly. They were extremely helpful and interested, much moreso than the local agents. I ended up getting my cruise for $1300 including airfare, transfers, and an extra nights hotel stay afterwards.

My advice, therefore, is to book with whoever can help you immediately over the phone (local agents like to do the call back thing due to their lack of connectivity) and who is polite and can give you the best rate. Be sure to call the line directly. If I hadn't, I'd have spent $300 more and had much more hassle.
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