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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:12 PM
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Default Question on Cruise specialists !

I have been on many cruises with Carnival. We love to cruise Carnival. Well here is my questions.... We have used one Travel agent for all of our cruises. She is no longer in business. Now we find out we were not getting good deals like we thought. Long story and I dont want to get into it all. Now I want to know what to do. I have contacted a new TA and Carnival itself. They are coming up with the same prices on a cruise we are planning on booking in 2 weeks. Its for April 24th 2010. We always book ahead of time. So now should I try a cruise specialist?? Carnival? I am so confused.... I have always been confident about our TA. Now to find out I was so wrong. I am booking 3 balcony and 2 inside cabins for that cruise. We are a family going. I take care of all the booking for everyone. So I want to get the best deals and do the best job for my family. Of course we are looking for a bargain. arent we all...? I am so afraid to trust anyone. So I am coming to my cruisemate friends for answers. HELP!!!!!!
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:20 PM
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Some travel agents that mainly book cruises, at times will book groups and therefore can offer some special deals. You may want to try the lady that books a lot of our group cruises and see if she has any groups or specials for when you want to go. Just go into the CM group cruises and find all her infomation and contact numbers. At least it will be something to compare.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:35 PM
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I love my cruise specialist Marla! She gives you different options and looks at all discounts possible, plus in the future she will send you emails on specials!
Let me know if you want to use her, I'll give her number
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Old May 15th, 2009, 02:25 PM
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A cruise specialist is a travel agent that primarily books cruise travel and are therefore experts. If you primarily book a certain line(in your case Carnival seems to be your line of preference), you should look for a cruise specialist that books that line primarily, as you will get the best deals that way since the cruise line will be more willing to go the distance to help an agent that will give them more business. Just keep in mind that they should be able to book everything you need including air, hotels, cars, and shore excursions for you, unless you want to do the extra work yourself. Expect a service fee for airline tickets from most agencies. Most agents will charge anywhere from $10-$30(Travelocity(owned by Computer Reservations System provider Sabre Holdings(which finds the best deals)) charges $15 unless they are running a no fee special). I would be careful to shop around even after you find a good agent. A good agent should at least be able to come close to matching the online prices for most suppliers. Good indicators of good cruise specialists are if they are members of IATAN, ASTA, and CLIA, at minimum. These three organizations regulate ethics, marketing, and ticketing practices. On CLIA's site, cruising.org, they have a section where you can go in to search for a nearby Cruise Counselor. I recommend you start your search there and find at minimum an ACC certified agent, then feel free to ask the agent any questions you need to feel comfortable. Remember, even though the suppliers pay them, they are supposed to work for you, not the suppliers, and certainly not for their own interests.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 02:41 PM
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Thank you all so much for all the info. sounds like I have a good start now to fining what I want to do next. I knew my cruisemates friends could help me. Happy cruising
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Old May 15th, 2009, 02:53 PM
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Not a problem. I would help you with the booking myself, but my agency is not legal yet.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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I'm just curious, how do you know the deals you were getting all along were not any better than Carnival's? There is no way for anyone, including Carnival's reps to go back and compare what your agent offered you in the past.

As for the current TA you tried, it would depend on the fare they are looking at... some of them cannot be discounted and therefor will be the same as Carnival quotes you direct.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 06:05 PM
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Carnival rates cannot be discounted any further than the prices on the Carnival site. It is against the regulations that have in place for travel agents.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 06:10 PM
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May be its just me but I have always booked my cruises directly thru Carnival on line. It tells me everything I want or need to know and I am confident I am getting a good deal. Granted, I dont get TA perks but I like to do my own bookings and if I screw something up at least I wont have to blame anybody but myself. I also dont have to worry about them going out of business like more and more TA's are doing. Like I said, its just me.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 06:23 PM
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Only the storefront operations are "going out of business". Really the agents are still there but most of them are home based now so they aren't as obvious. Same quality as before, just less overhead. I am opening as home based but am advertising aggressively.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
Carnival rates cannot be discounted any further than the prices on the Carnival site. It is against the regulations that have in place for travel agents.
That's not completely correct. An agent cannot "advertise" a price lower than what Carnival is selling it for. If you contact them directly then they can quote you a lower price. They can discount by rebating part of their commission to get you a lower price.

With Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara Cruises the agent cannot discount or rebate.

An agent can also sell "Group Space" at a lower rate for either Carnival cruises or RCI.

Take care,
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Old May 15th, 2009, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M
Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
Carnival rates cannot be discounted any further than the prices on the Carnival site. It is against the regulations that have in place for travel agents.
That's not completely correct. An agent cannot "advertise" a price lower than what Carnival is selling it for. If you contact them directly then they can quote you a lower price. They can discount by rebating part of their commission to get you a lower price.

With Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara Cruises the agent cannot discount or rebate.

An agent can also sell "Group Space" at a lower rate for either Carnival cruises or RCI.

Take care,
Mike

I agree, my brother got a rate from a TA in Dallas for our last cruise and when he called my Carnival Cruise Specialist, she told him to go ahead and book with the TA cuz she couldn't beat that rate. He was given a HA cabin with OV with an upgrade option if they needed the cabin for a handicapped person.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:06 AM
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Well, I get the commission thing, but I am talking specifically about the lowest possible base rate, not counting travel agent specials. It is quite complicated.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:26 AM
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I really cant get into all the specifics right now and here. But i found out some things that were going on that shouldnt have. Also we were all told we were booking a group cruise. even tho we were not enough cabins to be considered a group rate. But we were charged for way higher port charges/taxes. but that made the cruise the same price as a regular cruise rate. she jsut put it so we thought we were getting a better deal then we were. Thats about all I can get into right now. but I think i am getting some good ideas from cruisemates. Thanks again.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 02:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
Carnival rates cannot be discounted any further than the prices on the Carnival site. It is against the regulations that have in place for travel agents.
That is absolutely NOT true! While agents are not allowed to advertise lower prices, if you call or email for quotes agents are allowed to discount Carnival prices as much as they want to.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 02:44 AM
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If agents aren't quoting you rates lower than Carnival's rates you just haven't found the right agent yet

I love the agents who won't discount, telling you they can provide better service that way.

There's LOTS of cruise agents who'll offer discounted pricing and still offer superb service.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 02:45 AM
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Relax, relax. I am still learning all of this myself. It will take time before I get everything right, but I am trying to learn.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 02:49 AM
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Quote:
Good indicators of good cruise specialists are if they are members of IATAN, ASTA, and CLIA, at minimum. These three organizations regulate ethics, marketing, and ticketing practices. On CLIA's site, cruising.org, they have a section where you can go in to search for a nearby Cruise Counselor
Sorry Brad.. more RUBBISH! All of the organizations you mention are simply marketing arms for the cruise industry. They in no way regulate the agents. There is NO regulartory body governing travel agents (UNFORTUNATLEY).

To join those organizations all you have to do is pay the membership fee.

Some of them do offer some training, with accreditation for reaching certain levels of learning. But NONE of them offer any assistance when dealing with problems with their members.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 03:09 AM
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Kuki, I respectfully disagree. While I do admit that CLIA does help market the cruise industry, that is not all they do. ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, has nothing to do with the cruise lines and specifically requires a code of ethics to be followed by it's members. IATAN helps to regulate air ticketing procedures alongside ARC. The reason I recommend CLIA members with Cruise Counselor certification is the rigorous training they go through requires the experience necessary to specialize in selling cruises. I feel that most of the professional organizations have a place in the industry. I also think that you lessen your chances of getting a bad agent if they are members all 3 of these organizations. Membership requirements are no joke. To even qualify for ASTA you have to make $5,000 in commission IATAN requirements are even tougher. CLIA is easy enough to join, but then their primary purpose is informative and educational, and a good travel agent is always going to want to learn more.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
I feel that most of the professional organizations have a place in the industry. I also think that you lessen your chances of getting a bad agent if they are members all 3 of these organizations. Membership requirements are no joke. To even qualify for ASTA you have to make $5,000 in commission IATAN requirements are even tougher. CLIA is easy enough to join, but then their primary purpose is informative and educational, and a good travel agent is always going to want to learn more.
Brad... I'm not saying that training to learn the industry is a bad thing. But none of those bodies regulate travel agents.

If the "requirement" to join ASTA is $5000, that only means you've had to sell travel, not that you've had to be good. That sort of speaks for itself.

If you use an agent belonging to those organizations, and if you have a problem, none of those organizations will or can do anything to remedy the problem, or force the agent to resolve the complaint.

Of course professional organizations always have a place in the industry. However in many industries those organizations have regulatory powers which make them effective.

If you check my postings I'm very Pro travel agent. I think people always benefit by using them. But the organizations themselves are simply industry tools, and in no way act for the consumers to resolve problems with their members, and have no authority to do so.

As someone just trying to start out in the travel business I think perhaps you've just read to much of the promotional material for those organizations
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Old May 16th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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The cruise specialist I've worked with in the past had a much better deal to offer because she slotted me under a group that was already registered...many extras like a photo coupon, upgraded room, and "free" OBC. ***edited to remove advertising***
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Old May 16th, 2009, 09:50 PM
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Well, one of the things ASTA specifically watches is for ethical violations. They are always trying to get legislation passed that benefits the agent, supplier, and consumer equally. My point is that agents who do not belong to well respected organizations can be a bigger risk for the customer since they can easily arbitrarily make rules that benefit only the agent. I was not saying to trust only the membership, but to use that as a starting point and find a good one among the members. Besides, it is also one of the easiest way to find a good home based agent, as most are. A person should also look at word of mouth references, the agent's history, and their gut instinct.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 01:47 AM
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I agree w/what Kuki is saying as far as finding a good travel agent.
I have seen many of his posts and he is very pro-travel agent. We are
in the business and would like to mention one thing that is very important
to both an agent and a client. The agency should have an Errors and Omission Policy and if they don't you should find another agent. I would
not be afraid to ask any potential agency if they have that kind of policy.

Thats just our opinion!

Lee & Kelli
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Old May 17th, 2009, 03:10 AM
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I am remiss in not mentioning that. I forget clients do not know about this since I am so used to it being mention in the literature for agents. Thank you for reminding me to point that out from now on.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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I feel your pain!!! I always booked direct with the cruise line or on discount web sights. Prices were ok, but no service what so ever. No one to answer questions ( I've been on many cruises but still have the occasional bit of info I need). So I decided it was time to find a TA - and what a difference!!! I now use the TA (Nancy) that books the group cruises for CruiseMates. I found her info in the postings when I was considering booking the group cruise on the Conquest.

She's very professional and friendly and answers my questions very promptly. I'm very confident she is giving me the best price because she quoted lower than the Cruise Line for 2 cruises I was looking at - so I booked with her. So happy I have a TA now!!

I'm not sure its ok to list her name and info here - but you can find it on the group posting.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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The most important thing in finding a travel agent if finding one that will focus on working for you, the client. They should put that before their own bottom line and the needs of the cruise lines, while keeping withing the regulations set by the cruise line.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 05:41 PM
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Hi Sistergoldenhair,
I too always use Nancy, she's the best!
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Old May 17th, 2009, 07:17 PM
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Hi Donna - you're so right, she is the best!!! I wish I found her earlier - but I've got her now!!!
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Old May 17th, 2009, 07:21 PM
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You realize of course this is annoying to me. I would much prefer to be the agent of choice.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad813
Not a problem. I would help you with the booking myself, but my agency is not legal yet.
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