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Old September 29th, 2009, 02:17 PM
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Default Direct through company or via travel agent?

I'm just curious what other's opinions are here. I am not a first timer, but I am a relative novice still. In the past we have booked direct through Carnival, but I'm wondering about those who may have booked direct with an agent before. Are there any hassles with carnival if I go through an agent? Will an agent really be able to get me a better deal? Have any of you had positive/negative travel agent experiences you want to share?

I allready know about Cruise Compete and listed a couple of sailings I would like to take for quotes there allready. Thanks for any input in the meantime guys!
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:12 PM
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A good travel agent is the best way to go, in my opinion. Even if there is no difference in price, it still provides someone who is your advocate if there are any problems. Agents have more clout than individuals do. I have done it both ways and even had a really bad agent for one trip, but I still prefer using a professional to book through.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 04:28 PM
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I agree with Marty, a good Travel Agent is the way to book. If they can piggy back you with a group, you will be able to take advantage of a reduced group fare. I like dealing with an agent in person and discussing my requirements. Years ago, there was always a bottle of wine waiting for us in our stateroom from the TA, no more. However, if they have coupon books, they will pass them along to you and any other specials they are running (got free upgrades one year). And, an interested party in your corner if anything goes wrong on the cruise, is priceless. The TA is hoping to gain your business, not only for a particular cruise, but for all your travel needs. We have used the same TA for years and they have all our information and preferences in their computers and it's really easy to get thru a reservation.
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Old September 29th, 2009, 05:24 PM
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A few weeks ago, the weekly blog I write for CruiseMates was about exactly this subject. Here's a link it it, along with other reader's comments.

http://www.cruisemates.com/blog/2009...ng-buy-cruise/
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Old September 29th, 2009, 05:48 PM
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Can I ask for recomendations for some of the better online travel agents from anyone then? If you don't want to post it in the open feel free to PM me. I appreciate any help possible. Thanks for all of the input guys!
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Old September 29th, 2009, 06:54 PM
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The travel agent is there to be pro active with any issues. pre/post cruise...An advocate for YOU! The line will simply transfer the booking over to the TA...
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Old September 29th, 2009, 07:26 PM
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A good travel agent can get you some extras if they book Carnival often enough and can go to bat for you if you need assistance. A bad travel agent will just be greedy and charge you service charge after service charge without providing real service. The best travel agents will not charge any service fees, except possibly for airline tickets. Credit card transaction fees do not count as service charges.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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Normally I book directly with the cruise lines. Granted with a travel agent you have an advocate, but I rather deal direct and get my answers ASAP. This time we used cruise compete. Seems they were $200 (for the two of us) less then the Carnival site for the Spa balcony. We were still leary because of all the online travel agency horror stories. We did not book online with the cruise compete travel agent, but we called them and looked up their Better Business Rating. As luck was with us, they had a local office (about 30 minutes from our home) so we knew we had somewhere to go if they were crooks! All was good - and all is done. So just like the casinos - it can be a "Crap Shoot!"
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Old September 30th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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Ok I found a great deal on cruise compete, but question ... if I book with a TA instead of direct through Carnival, will I still be able to book my excursions ahead of time and speak to carnival if I have questions like when I booked direct before?
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Old September 30th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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You will still be able to book either Carnival excursions or independent excursions ahead of time. A good travel agent should be well informed on both. You will not be able to talk to someone at Carnival once you book through a travel agent, but the travel agent will serve the same function. A travel agent also has more pull with a cruise line than you ever would when problems arise. Remember, they will sell many more than just the one cruise you bought so that gives a travel agent priority. Travel agents even have their own direct hotline to the cruise line. If you want to look at the front page for the Carnival travel agent site you can go to bookccl.com and you will be able to understand some of the things a travel agent can do for you that a PVP cannot. I can give further advice on how to deal with travel agents through pm if you like. I won't really get into it on the main board because of the complexity of it and it would be easier to answer a direct question. I know some on this board may see this as an incorrect approach, but as a travel student myself I know there are many problems that require a direct answer.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoustonTodd
Ok I found a great deal on cruise compete, but question ... if I book with a TA instead of direct through Carnival, will I still be able to book my excursions ahead of time and speak to carnival if I have questions like when I booked direct before?
Many will say you must go through the TA if you booked through a TA. But if you have questions of Carnival just ask your question without GIVING info. As long as the question is not specific to your booking, Carnival will answer. Tell them you are booked through a TA and they will blow you off immediately. And 99.999% of answers are online, on cruise boards, on the cruiseline website, or in their brochures. READ, READ, READ, and become your own expert.

Unless you are determined to only sail Carnival branded ships forever, you could establish a relationship with a TA that can book you on any cruiseline.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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Just make sure it is a travel agent you are comfortable with and will provide good customer service.
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Old September 30th, 2009, 01:14 PM
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Thanks for the input guys. I did some looking around, I checked the cruise compete reviews and the BBB status of the company I chose, and I called and talked to them. I have chosen a company now, and put down my deposit. Now if only I could fast-forward 6 months so that we can shove off allready everything would be awesome 8)

I do appreciate everyone's thoughts!

edit - oh, and by using the agent, I saved well over $300 on the cruise, and got a great room in pretty much the exact location I wanted to be!
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