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Old July 2nd, 2004, 09:52 AM
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Default Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Hello everyone,

I need some advice. I have been on these boards reading alot and just gathering some very useful information. The problem I am having is trying to figure out how to go about booking my cruise. This will be my very first cruise and I don't want any decisions I make be the wrong ones. I have spoken with a Vacation Planner from Carnival and this guy has been on my case about booking so quickly to the point were i'm not sure about this route. I also read some where on the boards that Vacation Planners are not the best.

I would love some opinions from experienced cruisers.
How did you go about booking your cruise?

Thanks
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Old July 2nd, 2004, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Carnival's PVP do seem to push you to book quickly. That was my situation. I requested info from their website and was called the next day by a PVP who got me to book that day. She wasn't really pushy, but I have a feeling if I hadn't, she'd have called me on a regular basis until I did. I ended up having to change our reservation twice after that because the original date I booked clashed with the vacation schedule on my husband's job. It wasn't really a problem because we booked early and had several months in which to make changes at no penalty. Overall, it's worked out okay so far (we don't sail until July 11th so that may be a premature claim) At some point, after doing some more research and reading posts, I did talk to a local TA who confirmed that I had gotten a good rate for what we booked. Also, I did eventually get an upgrade to a higher deck for the same rate (but I had to call and request it). In hindsight, I probably would have shopped around a bit more before booking, maybe checking out some of the online high-volume agencies. Next time, I do plan to use a travel agent (either online or local) just so I don't have to worry so much with all the details. If you're not ready to book, just say so and tell him "I'll call you." Good luck.

Post Edited (07-06-04 15:22)
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Old July 3rd, 2004, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

I'm happy with my PVP. Glad I can call or email him with questions anythime without having to go through a TA first.

sls
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Old July 3rd, 2004, 06:00 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Are you sure you want to book with Carnival for you first cruise?

Peter
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Old July 4th, 2004, 07:27 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

If you can find a local TA who can get a good price AND give you good service, you would probably be better off. A good TA can really make a difference, particularly if you run into any problems.

dorothy

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Old July 4th, 2004, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

When booking with a cruise line direct, they will charge you the "going rate" including the full commission.

When booking with a travel agent, MOST will discount from the commission.... and therefore offer a lower price.

If you have a problem that needs to be addresses with the cruise line, a travel agent is working for you, a PVP works for the cruise line.

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Old July 5th, 2004, 12:11 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Just curious. I see the statement alot that a good TA can make a difference, especially if there are problems. What does that mean? What kind of problems? And exactly what can a TA do that I couldn't do myself?

Peter
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Old July 5th, 2004, 12:27 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Ty,
I booked a cruise for my self but I didn't use a travel agent or vacation planner instead I went on the webb and I typed out singles cruises because I was looking for a cruise for single people and there must have been at least 50-60 different groups to look at.

After much searching I found an agency that caters to single people who want to go on a cruise and I found out that it was a very popular agency with 250-500 people that go on these cruises and I booked it with them.

The name of the agency that I booked my cruise with is singlescruises.com and I will be going this comming February on a Mardi Grass cruise out of New Orleans.

That is just a suggestion
Amy
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Old July 5th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

I have used the same TA since 1998. She has always gave me great service and good prices. I have tried several times to beat her prices by shopping on my own, but never have. She has always gave me upgrades when ever possible,without me asking. On our last cruise, we went from an outside ocean view midship, to an outside balcony room on the rear of the Conquest .

There's nothing wrong with cruising with Carnival on your first cruise. Carnival has gave us great service on every cruise.I would try to sail on one of the bigger newer ships if possible. If not, the Inspiration is a great ship !
However, RCCL and Princess are great cruise lines with some beautiful huge ships ! I hope to try them out oneday.

Happy Cruising to all;
David
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Old July 5th, 2004, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Example of helpful TA: I always book my cruise a year in advance. One year, the end of school date changed and I had to have the TA change my cruise date. There was a small fee, but at least the TA was able to make this happen for me. I do not have access to cruise bookings.

Price is another thing that I am interested in, I check with several TA's for the best rate for my cruise.

Does anyone know these answers? If you book directly with a cruise internet service, how do you know if you received a good price? Is there anyone to contact if you have an emergency and need to change your booking? Can you get your money back providing you have an emergency if you book through the internet?
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Old July 6th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Amy.....Thanks alot, I will look at that website.

Also thanks to everyone who posted, you guys give great advice.

I have one more question......How does a Travel Agent get paid? And if I wanted to go to one of these popular travel websites to book, where would I go?

Sorry that was two questions :-)

Thanks
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Old July 6th, 2004, 12:13 PM
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Default Re: Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Always used TAs in past thinking they were there for any problems. Not last time. We booked 9 months in advance, picking out specific cabins for our Alaska cruise. When documents came, cabins had been moved from Port side to Starboard side - for a southbound cruise. Our TA was out "sick" and the agency said, sorry, not my booking. Found out from Carnival that our deposit was not sent in or not received when it should have been so they gave our cabin away. Whose fault is that?? I don't know, but will definitely use online agency for next cruise. P.S. cruise was great anyway, but did cause a stressful 2 weeks.
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Old July 6th, 2004, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

To bjkeen - you know you got a good price because you did your research online before you chose which online agency to book with. There are dozens to check. There is always someone there to talk with (with maybe a couple of exceptions and those people respond to emails faster than some answer the phone) and you can get your money back as long as its before final payment - just like your TA.

To lstrong - go to www.cruisecompete.com and you will see that this site lets you post the cruise you are interested in and then dozens of online agencies will submit a bid to you for that cruise. The best of all worlds.

Peter
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Old July 6th, 2004, 02:59 PM
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Default Re: Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Hi all,
I have been somewhat obsessed with finding out info about cruises. Aside from hitting the web I also checked out some books. One of the books said a TA is working for the cruise ship, unless they charge you a fee. If they charge you a fee then they are working for you. Basically the book said that most people are under the assumtion that a TA would be working for them, this was my assumtion too.
Part of the reason TA's started charging fees is because their commision was lowered. Not all TA's charge and if they don't then they are getting a commision from and therefor working for the cruise lines.
TC
Laylow
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Old July 6th, 2004, 03:31 PM
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Default Re: Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

All very interesting info....

After I booked with Carnival, I did contact a local TA two weeks later who quoted me the same price that Carnival had, so I just left it alone. She was willing to take over the booking since I hadn't made a final payment, but I ultimately decided to leave it as it was. I have an aunt who is a TA, and she chastised me for not using her....maybe next time.

It's all been a great learning experience for me. The planning is almost over....we sail in five days!
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Old July 6th, 2004, 09:48 PM
SANDY M.
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

Use a Travel Agent, they usually will get you the best rate, and somethimes, depending what ship, date etc, you may get amenities from shipboard credit, photos, wine etc. No travel agents do not work for the cruise lines. And most of the TA do not charge a service to book a cruise. Their commission is from the cruise line.

Also, with most TA, you get personal service that you don't get from a website!!!

I'm sure yoy have friends that go on trips, check with any of them to see if they can recommend a good TA in your area.

Good luck you all
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Old July 7th, 2004, 09:21 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

We took an NCL cruise about 17 years ago (wow, I just now realized how long ago that was), and we used a local travel agent for that one. We never did get an upgrade or any ship credits, but she did have a nice bottle of champagne and a fruit basket waiting for us in our cabin. I think the cruise industry has grown a lot since then and is a lot more competitive, so TA's probably do tend to go that extra mile to complete a bit for your business. Next time, I will definitely shop around before committing to anything.
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Old July 7th, 2004, 09:54 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

What can your TA do for you that you can't do for yourself?

MIne saves me time and money. I still do research online, but I know that her rates, at least for the 2 cruises I've booked with her, are the lowest I've found ANYWHERE. I did less research for the 2nd cruise, because I saw that she would get me the lowest rate.

She knew we were going to book for a fall cruise and called me one day to say "Book NOW - the 3rd person rate is at a ridiculous low (and it was!!).

If you get a good agent, they are always working for you - even if you aren't currently booked!

If something goes wrong, your TA has a relationship with the cruiseline that you probably don't have.

dorothy

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Old July 7th, 2004, 10:09 AM
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Default Re: Travel Agent vs. Vacation Planner

When you talk about the big, online cruise agencies like cruise.com or crucon.com, you're talking about companies that book tens of thousands of cruises per year. The leverage that they have with the cruise lines is astronomically more than some local TA or even the AAA network. If something goes wrong that I can't work out with the cruise line, the person that booked my cruise could step up an use that leverage.

As far as the best price goes, I've offered this same challenge over the years on all of the message boards I follow and no one has ever accepted: tell me the best deal you have from a "brick and mortar" TA for a future cruise and I'll find you a better online deal.

Peter
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