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Old June 2nd, 2004, 11:36 AM
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Default travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

I am still trying to decide who to book our summer 2005 cruise for family of nine with. i had a call from a very nice young lady from carnival and really liked her. i talked to my local AAA rep. and liked her too. i am skeptical about booking on line myself just because that is me and paranoia about someone professional doing this for me. i really wanted to do everything, the cruise and airfare with the same person and have everything wrapped up in one tidy package. also with the airfare through the cruiseline, problems are taken care of by the cruise line. the next question is what about the difference in cost for the cruise depending who you book with. is there really a big difference? i do want the best deal but not at the expense of my nerves being shot wondering if things are being done right without problems. thanks patty
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 11:43 AM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

Other types of vacations, I've always booked online, but for cruises, I like to have a TA representing me just in case. I use a large TA chain, like Liberty or Empress Travel, for prices almost identical to online prices. Plus, we often get upgraded or some other perk that the cruiseline gives to customers of that particular TA.

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Old June 2nd, 2004, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

There's a bit of a myth about "online agents". MANY online travel agencies actually are land based travel agencies, with offices, etc. It's just that they are also doing business online, as well as in their local area.

There's also a bit of a myth about cruise line giving customer's of a particular agency upgrades etc, The "upgrade fairy" or other perks are often part of the benefits of a group, or sales plan to push a particular sailing... and in most cases available to any agency doing a significant amount of business with a cruise line.

For some reason, I've always found AAA to have pretty high prices. Perhaps it's their policy not to discount, I don't know.

If you book directly with the cruise line, and also purchase air from the cruise line, you are going to end up paying considerably more for your total package, than if you shop for a good agent.

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Old June 2nd, 2004, 12:22 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

My husband & I went to AAA to discuss a vacation, and weren't impressed. We now have a TA that we've used for years, not related to any big travel agency, but he's ALWAYS given us good service and discounts when he can. He even saves the coupons from the Entertainment Books to give to his clients! I like having someone to call if there is a problem or question and let him spend the time on the phone finding out the answer and calling us back...I think a good TA is worth his weight in gold...I would not be comfortable dealing w/someone online only who does not have an office I could go to...

Just my 2 cents!

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Old June 2nd, 2004, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

*****There's also a bit of a myth about cruise line giving customer's of a particular agency upgrades etc, The "upgrade fairy" or other perks are often part of the benefits of a group, or sales plan to push a particular sailing... and in most cases available to any agency doing a significant amount of business with a cruise line.*****


This is exactly what I mean Kuki...Liberty Travel (and other large travel agencies) does a significant amount of business with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc, and therefore having them handle your booking has a better than average chance of yielding some sort of perk due to the larger volume they generate. When I called to let my TA know that we received a tremendous upgrade on AOS last year, she told me that Royal Caribbean had given most of her clients big upgrades that particular season.

Regardless, the best reason I prefer a TA for cruises is that he/she serves as your representative when setting up everything, should a problem or question arise. For example, this time, we are traveling with an infant, and need a crib, high chair, water to prepare formula, etc. She is arranging it all for us, which is much easier than doing it ourselves, and if it isn't done properly, I have her to call to intercede on our behalf.



Post Edited (06-02-04 12:46)
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

Hi All! I am travel agent in a small agency. Basically when clients come in our office we give them the best rate available the cruise lines give to us. So if you were to call the cruise line and come to our office you are getting the same price. I too use entertainment coupons on my clients because I feel they should get the best rate. Sometimes for our good clients we use our commission as a discount however in this day and age commissions can be low on inexpensive sailings and our rent is going through the roof!

Carnival not to long ago instituted a new policy. According to Carnival all agents are getting the same rates these days. Its widely advertise in travel industry newpapers. So Liberty and the mom and pop agency gets the same rate. It is up to the agency to discount and use their commissions for better rates. Also too some agencies hold gruop space. By doing that it can lower the price. As for upgrades with certain agencies Im not sure how that goes. But I think the volume helps. Upgrades are always mysterious to me but I am still waiting to get one myself!

And watch out! I too thought booking my clients air with cruise line puts the responsibility on the line. What I find with cruise line air is that it is normally expensive and the schedule is nuts! And the catch is if you want certain flighgts they charge a fee for that service plus the differance in airfare. Read that fine print! I once had clients miss a cruise on Holland America. The cruise left out of Puerto Rico and they gave our clients a late connecting flight from NYC. Anyway the second flight was delayed and they missed the ship. I was on the phone with line the day it happened. All I was told was to refer to the ticket contract! But thankfully my clients purchased insurance.

But book your cruise soon the summer is right around the corner.

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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:07 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

When we first decided to book a cruise, I visited the Carnival web-site just to see what was out there. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a Carnival rep , and I ultimately booked directly with her. After I started reading some of these postings and visiting other cruise-tip sites, I wondered if I had made a mistake by going that route. I ultimately contacted a local travel agent, who was willing to take over the booking since I hadn't yet made final payment, but when I told her what price we'd been quoted, she actually admitted that I had actually gotten a good deal and that the main advantage I'd have by transferring the booking to her was that she'd be able to watch for specials or potential upgrades and I could just sit back and relax. I ultimately decided just to stick with what I'd already done, and, in fact, our Carnival rep continued to send me regular promotional information via e-mails, and I ended up getting an upgrade from a lower to a higher deck for the original price.

Anyway, I will probably still go through a TA next time just so I don't have to fret so much about it all. Also, we are driving to our port this time, so air fare wasn't an issue.

I actually have an aunt who is a TA and she was a little put out with me that I didn't use her services, but she never offered to take over the booking either ,and she was critical of my booking in July (too hot) although that's the only available time for us to take off from out jobs. Anyway...live and learn.

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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:21 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

I have used both online agencies and a rep through 800-Carnival (not a pvp but just a rep. reps don't call you back or email you but they do give you their extension and their hours so you can deal directly with them all the time if you want). Mostly I have found that I go with who will give me the lowest price and who will lower the rate before final payment if Carnival lowers their prices. As for air, it is almost always better to do it on your own as you have control over flight times and days and the price is almost always much less expensive. I feel a must to buy is travel insurance but not with the cruise line. Go with an independent such as Travel Guard. You can go to insuremytrip.com and get comparative pricing for many different companies. Insurance covers you for many things including missed connections and missing your trip because of it. Read all about it before purchasing! I have read online many stories about people who bought air through Carnival thinking that would help things if something went wrong but lo and behold it did not always. They do not always hold the ship for you, etc. Anyways, the point is if you have a good travel agent that you deal with regularly you might want to go with them if their prices are in line with online and Carnival. If you do not have a regular travel agent who you trust and does not overcharge I would check pricing online and possibly go with Carnival. My last cruise I went with Carnival and called my rep once a week to check to see if price went down. She said no problem and told me to call up until the day of sailing if I wanted! there are a lot of good reps out there including at Carnival.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

forgot to mention that a few cruises ago the online company (which also had an 800#) I used said that they monitor for price drops. Well, in my case they did not notify me but I had to call them when I saw the price went down! so just because a travel agent says they will monitor prices does not mean that they do! Don't just go on their word.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: travel agent, carnival rep. or self on line???

Of course a travel is going to be 'happy' to take over your booking from Carnival, they get paid commissopn from the cruise line and if the Carnival rep and yourself have already made the booking they're getting commission for doing nothing.
The last person who has the final word in holding the ship for late passengers is the Captain. If there's a lot of delayed passengers he may hold it but trust me if it's only 2 or 3 people he's not going to hold it. It costs a cruise line a lot of money to hold a ship. The point about having your air booked through Carnival is that they know which flight you're on and monitor it from the ti e it leaves until it lands. They know if it's delayed or if they've put passengers on another flight etc etc. If you book your own air then Carnival has no idea which flight you're on or where you are. If you read the website, the brochure and your ticket contract it states that Carnival is not responsible for any carrier caused delays. I don't think an airline would hold a plane if a ship was delayed getting into port either!
Most of the big online agencies are one and the same, owned by the same group, under different names.
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