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View Poll Results: Do you usually book through a cruise specialty agency?
Yes, always 21 45.65%
I did once but never again 5 10.87%
Sometimes 20 43.48%
Voters: 46. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 15th, 2008, 08:58 AM
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Default CRUISE COMPETE -- NEED FEEDBACK

I usually book directly with Carnival. However, I have recently booked two cruises 10/08 and 5/09. After booking, I used cruise compete to get quotes to see if I could do better. So far, several companies have responded with better quoted prices.

Does anyone have any experience with: Cruise Value Centers, Cruise-n-More or Cruise Vacation Outlet.

Also what is the down/upside to booking through an agency as opposed to going to the cruiseline directly?

Any experience (positive and especially negative) would be appreciated.

If this is not allowed on this board, please pm me your opinions.

Thanks guys.
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Old June 15th, 2008, 11:00 AM
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With the past 4 cruises, we booked with a TA. this last one in May, we book with a Personal Vac. Planner from Carnival....so much better.

We will always do it this way now. She had first hand information and got us some really good prices, discounts and cabins.

Darlene
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Old June 15th, 2008, 11:11 AM
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I have used CVC in the past and do find they have great rates and also include trip insurance as booking with the cruiseline direct you have to add the trip insurance.
Also my cruise next week the rate went down last month and I called CVC and they did credit my account for the difference.

I use CVC or Best Price Cruises out of Florida. Love them both.
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Old June 15th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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So far, I can say I have met and talked to all of the agencies listed in this thread and I think they are all credible and thetypes of agencies I would use to book a cruise.

CruiseMates has said (in articles) many times that you can often get a better deal going to a travel agent than you can going directly to the cruise line. Here is a caveat about that. Not all travel agents are created equally. Some of them sell mass quantities of cruises and make their profit on the volume (like the ones listed in this thread). As mentioned, there are agencies that include free travel insurance and even pre-paid gratuities. No cruise line will do that (that I know of).

If you found these agencies through cruise-compete then that is fine. What worries me a little about some other agents at cruise compete are the ones I haven't heard of before. They don't do anything to pre-qualify those agents, except ask for a few credentials. The problem is, these days there are MLM companies selling the use of company credentials to individuals who may have no experience selling cruises at all.

The agencies who can give you the best deals on a cruise are the ones who sell the most cruises, because their commission rates are based on their volume. For example, an agent must sell over $1,000,000 in cruises for one cruise line before they get the highest commission rate (16%), if they sell less, they only make 14%, and so on down the line.

Their commission level is their working capital, so when a high volume cruise seller sells more cruises at a higher commission they have more working capital and bargaining power to get your business.

Now, of course the Expedias, Travelocitys, Hotwires, etc also sell a lot of cruises, but they don't specialize in them. There is a limit to how high you can go on the commission ladder, anyway

So, the sweet spot for the best agents are the high-volume cruise specialists. They will get you the best rates, the best add-on incentives, and because cruising is their only business, they are the most knowledgable.

I suggest looking around at all the agencies you see advertising in CruiseMates (including our classified ads, Google ADS and all) and make a list of sites. Go there and get a feel for their prices (compare a specific cruise), for their volume, years in business, if they have won any awards from the cruise lines, etc. You should be able to figure out pretty quickly who you should be dealing with. And you can always ask here as well.

We just ask that no one go overboard in "hyping" a specific travel agent.
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Old June 16th, 2008, 06:35 AM
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Do these agencies also get you a good deal on airfare?
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Old June 17th, 2008, 12:36 AM
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I have decided to go with CVC (Cruise Value Centers). I agree with Paul and did not want to risk going with an unknown agency just to save less than $20 per cruise. I had already booked two Carnival cruises and they were able to just transfer the reservation over to their system. I am saving approximately $75 for each cruise by going through them. I also already have assigned cabins on both reservations.

I will report back on how it works out but I am not expecting any unusual events.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old June 17th, 2008, 06:59 AM
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i always run my cruises thru cruise compete and have always gotten better prices (even on my group cruises, for which i paid more just to be with the group), sometimes another carrier will offer incentives like on board credit etc, but I know if i had gone thru them for my jan cruise on the conquest (i prob still will), i believe amex gave me the best deal on cruise compete...at more than 1,000 less for 3 people sharing 1 cabin. a huge savings!

Plus never hurts to run the numbers, you dont have to use thier TA's
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Old June 18th, 2008, 11:51 AM
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I have used cruisecompete to book my last 4 cruises I have used both cruise value center and cruises n more and I was very happy with both.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 02:41 PM
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Thanks. I have booked 3 cruises with Cruise Value Centers. I will keep the other in mind for future reference.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 04:09 PM
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I tried Cruise Complete three times. I got some really good prices. However, pulling back the covers, I found that the price did not include taxes or port charges.

In the end, I was better off with another agency or a TA that CruiseMates uses.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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I have used Cruise Compete several times. And have been a member of since 2005. Cruise Compete is a great research tool.

CVC- I have used them on 3 different cruises. Also, Stephen @Cruise-n-more has been always friendly and helpful to me.

Happy Cruising to all ;
David
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Old June 18th, 2008, 07:18 PM
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Thanks guys for the feedback. I also was curious about using cruise compete. Mary49
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Old June 26th, 2008, 05:36 PM
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Default We used Cruise Compete...

Last August I went on the Glory with a friend and we used Cruise Compete. The agents send you various quotes and then you call them to book. We booked through an agent down in Florida. We picked out room (an oceanview) and also each of us got $50 in onboard credit. We also did insurance through her (though it's actually through a different agency but she set it up). I must admit- at first I was a bit nervous booking it this way, but sure enough, within a day or two (I don't remember exactly but I know it wasn't very long) we could see our booking on Carnival's website. We had a great room and a great time... I would do it again this way in a minute! Feel free to message me if you have any questions!

Laurie
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Old June 27th, 2008, 10:21 AM
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I didn't have a good experience with CruiseCompete. I requested quotes for Category 6C on a specific Inspiration sailing to fit my family's needs. All I got were OV guarantee quotes , which looked cheaper, but were not "apples to apples." On the plus side, when I called Carnival for a quote, I mentioned that I had submitted a bid to CruiseCompete, and I wonder if that caused Carnival to dig a little deeper for discounts. Carnival came in $18 (or, from my point of view, 2 foofoo drinks ) cheaper than anything I found on the Internet and I liked that I have a real person to contact in case problems arise.
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Old June 27th, 2008, 10:32 AM
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www.cruiseone.com

they are the BEST.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 02:32 AM
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I used cruise compete 4 times, last time It was messed up, I booked through Cruises -N-More they gave me a OV guar which I thought, it winded up being a 5A cabin, it was terrible. I know book through vacationsnbeyond.com now they seem to be the best prices and will go out of the way. Bottom line is to watch out for cruise compete because alot of agents on there have no clue or give you false quotes.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 04:37 AM
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I have also used cruisecompete for my past 5 cruises. Cruise Value Center did have some good prices and booked through them. Also had good customer service using them and they really found the cabin that I really wanted. Bob
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Old July 27th, 2008, 01:18 AM
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I have recently completed my first cruise using CVC's quote from Cruise Compete. It went off without a hitch.

I have two more cruises booked through them and I expect seamless products.

Since I am an experienced cruiser, I know all the codes and categories. Therefore, when I book I have all the exact info and all the TA needs to do is enter it into the computer and charge my cc. There is little room for them to mess up. In addition, I always check Carnival's website after 24 hours to make sure their (Carnival) system accurately reflects my reservation.

So far using cruisecompete I have saved approximately 10% over Carnival's price at the time of booking. The only thing I may lose is the ability to get a price adjustment because CVC is already selling the price below posted rates. So far this is a non-issue because I have noticed that Carnival is not dropping their prices like they have in the past.
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Old July 27th, 2008, 11:42 AM
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I too have used Cruise Compete many times in the past. I have booked through several of their agencies. Always had good service. I find cruise compete to be great for giving me an idea where the median price is for any ship at any time.

Laura
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