We spent a lot of time researching our last cruise and booking it directly with the cruise line (thinking we had gotten the best deal) only to find out after the fact that a travel agent could have gotten us a better price.
All of the cruise lines have very good web sites that encourage cruisers to "call now" & "book now" and give the customer the impression that they will get the best deal, but I'm not sure that is the case at all?.
The cruise line would have paid our travel agent a commission, and yet the travel agent can still beet the best price that we shopped around for directly with the cruise lines.
Seems to us that dealing directly with the cruise lines (in an effort to save a few hundred dollars) actually costs you money??
Seems to us that dealing directly with the cruise lines (in an effort to save a few hundred dollars) actually costs you money?? True!!
Though of late the cruise lines really are trying to "screw" the TAs. A good TA will save you $$$$.
The cruise lines pay the TAs commissions, and from that commission most TAs will discount at least a small %. The customer does NOT pay commission to the TAs for the their service.
If the cruise lines would share their savings (from not paying TA commissions) with the customers then there might be some reason to book directly. But that is NOT the case.
If something happens and you need to contact or negotiate with the cruise lines, your TA should act as your representative. If you've booked direct with the cruise line, you're on your own!
You are absolutely right....sometimes the TA can get a better deal. I am a TA and worked last year for a group cruise agency and we always beat the cruiselines price on many sailings since we did such a large volume we got great discounts from certain cruiselines and were able to pass those savings onto our clients. Also, we did such a large group business that we were able to discount sometimes hundreds of dollars less for a certain category. If anyone was interested in a sailing with a large group, they did not have to be part of that group per say,, but just book under that group rate for that sailing and get the discount.
My experience is that this is incorrect. I researched the CRAP out of booking my first cruise (in 14 days , thank you). I tried three different TAs. I had 2 over the phone, person to person coversations that gave me the INDENTICLE price (to the penny) that my Carnival salesperson gave me. The price from cruisebrothers.com showed a higher price. My observation was that the original price that the TAs gave me was FAR cheaper, but when it came time to pay they added in port fees, taxes, and their fee whicah all added up to the exact same price from Carnival.
My carnival agent spent an hour (I'm a little "type A" when it comes to spending money on somehting I don't know about) on the phone with me answering all my questions. In the end I booked my cabin TBA (cat 7A, obstructed view balcony), and 2 weeks later I received my cabin assignment, 2 decks higher up and no obstructed view! How's THAT? Also my Carnival guy works 6 days a week and most weeknights. It's a toll-free call at that.
In closing, my thought is why would I involve a 3rd party in this? Do you think your TA cares about whether you are near the elevator or not? They can always NOT do the work and blame Carnival for putting you in the engine room.
Since I have the only dissent on this post (so far), I am open to the possibility that I consulted bad TAs. That's my disclaimer.
Everyone has there own opinion on this matter from personal experience. After 5 cruises on Carnival, I have never been offered a better deal from Carnival (directly). My TA always beat there prices that was when we had a group of just one couple. Our TA always mentioned to us where the obstructed areas were and where to book to avoid them. We have always had a bottle of champayne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us when we boarded (compliments of out TA). Also we have never gotten anything less than a 2 Cat upgrade and never any further than 5 doors from the nearest elevator! My vote has to go to my TA, but everyone has there own personal opinion! Ricky
One should note in this discussion.. that in it's attempt to take business from travel agents, Carnival has instituted a policy where travel agents are NOT allowed to advertise lower prices than Carnival is quoting.
They are however still allowed to sell for whatever price they want to.
End result--- searches on travel web sites will likely result in finding identical pricing. Phone calls or e-mails to the agencies will get you the real .... likely lower... price they are willing to offer.