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  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 19th, 2011, 08:47 AM
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Default Why not book through cruise line?

I am getting ready to book a 4 night cruise out of Miami to Key West and Cozemel on Carnival. I have lots of options on who to book through but why should I not book right through Carnival? I guess I am wondering why people use other travel sites and not booking direct.
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Old June 19th, 2011, 09:10 AM
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There are a number of reasons "not" to book directly through the cruise line.

1. An agent works for you and not the cruise line. If there are problems they will work to resolve them and go to bat for you. A cruise line agent will only go so far and remember they work for the cruise line not you.

2. Many cruise line agents are nothing more than order takers. They have never been on a cruise and can only answer questions with answers on their database.

3. A travel agent can give you added benefits that you cannot receive from the cruise line. i.e. pre-paid gratuities, on-board credit, a bottle of wine or insurance.

4. A travel agent will work with you to book a cruise that is right for you. A cruise line agent just wants you to book a cruise and the options are limited to their cruise line.

The "trick" is to find a travel agent that specializes in cruises, has the experience to know how to work with the client and the cruise line. Look for someone who has been in business for a number of years: Has at least a MCC (Master Cruise Consultant) certification and responds to your questions in a timely manner. The sad part is that there are a number of agents who are not professionals. These people give the rest a bad name.

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Old June 19th, 2011, 09:45 AM
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I booked with a cruise line once,and immediately transferred it to an agent.
We hear this question often, and I have to wonder, what services does a cruiser get from booking directly with the line, other than booking the cruise?

Since the services of a travel professional are free to you, and, often offer you price reductions, upgrades, incentives, etc, why would anyone settle for less than having all that, plus,having an advocate in your corner?
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Old June 19th, 2011, 10:15 AM
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There is no advantage at all in booking with a cruise line.

You are much better off doing business with a good TA.

I have used a TA to book 16 cruises so far.

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Old June 19th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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I think the struggle for most is to find a good TA. I thought I had one when I booked our Eurodam cruise. I did all the leg work and the put the cabin on hold through HAL. I then contacted the TA, who was referred by a friend and asked him to better the deal. I asked for onboard credit and he gave it (it was actually a priced is count ~ I was fine with that).

He was VERY responsive, and i thought I had finally found a good agent. A few months later, we wanted to book another cruise .... this time I emailed him with some preliminary questions on booking options. He never responded. I followed up several times and he replied once to tell me he was very busy. I never heard from him again. I guess he figured I wasn't likely to book two cruises in such a short period of time, and was just wasting his time. His loss.

I found another agent now that I think I'm happy with. Her service has been good, but we'll see if it continues through to our next booking.

If you find a good TA, hold onto them!

It's sometimes easier to call the cruiseline directly (Someone always answers the phone!) and they can give you immediate feedback as to availability (websites don't always provide this). All you have to do is ask them to put the cabin on hold ... and then you can have it transferred to your preferred TA.
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Old June 19th, 2011, 01:10 PM
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I was highly recommended to a TA and booked my next cruise with the person .The only thing I got was a "have a nice cruise."We had a GREAT TA many years ago but unfortunately he retired .
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Old June 20th, 2011, 11:39 AM
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i totally agree with all of the responses
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Old June 20th, 2011, 02:14 PM
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I used to have a TA where I had previously lived and they helped out a lot especially when I wasn't sure where to go. However, now I usually book directly through the cruise lines. Never had any issues and I've used the same person multiple times. If you use a TA just make sure you use a reputable firm. The local person here skipped town with all the funds for a cruise and the group of individuals didn't find out until the showed up at the dock.
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Old June 20th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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We actually thought we had found a good TA in our area in 2008 .She provided excellent service for the first cruise we booked with her .The second was not too good but a lot better then the one highly recommended to us in 2011.
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Old June 20th, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Kaneals, just curious, if you have ever been offered an upgrade, onboard credit, free travel insurance, prepaid tips,or perks such as these?

Does the person who books your cruise, advise you to purchase travel insurance? Just Curious.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip View Post
Kaneals, just curious, if you have ever been offered an upgrade, onboard credit, free travel insurance, prepaid tips,or perks such as these?

Does the person who books your cruise, advise you to purchase travel insurance? Just Curious.
I have received an upgrade, but usually it's after I've research the best deals or they are offering a special. Not the other perks.

I'm not against using a TA. However, I live in a small town that has no TA companies. So everything would have to be done over the internet or telephone, so I figured why not go through the cruise line.

Do you think it makes that more of a difference? I cruise about approx. once a year or year and a half.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 03:52 PM
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My TA is 1800 miles away. I speak to her via phone and email and it's no different than going down to the brick and mortar agency. It's actually better. I'll receive the best pricing even though these days it is the same as the cruise line's website BUT I almost always receive an on board credit or other perk.

She is the one who is doing the Cruisemates Thanksgiving Cruise and she was able to get EXCELLENT perks for this cruise. Pre-paid gratuities worth $150+, on board credit and a cocktail party. Not bad.

On my last cruise on Carnival Liberty I was supposed to receive an on board credit from her but Carnival messed up and I didn't receive it. I just dropped her a note wondering about it and she responded though she was on an Allure cruise and let me know what the problem was. She sent a check for the full on board credit amount as soon as she got home. Most TA's would have said: Sorry, I can discount your next cruise for that amount.

Just because an agent isn't right down the street doesn't mean they can't give you equal or better service than someone thousands of miles away.

Take care,
Mike
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Old June 21st, 2011, 03:58 PM
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The local ta's, in brick and mortar are disappearing and speaking to someone many miles away, is how I have done it for most of my cruising history now.

Many times, your requrest can be included into an exisiting group the ta has on their books,and you can benefit from the perks that group gets.

As Mike described that paid gratuities a a wonderful perk, as is the free travel insurance, but the free tipping, is a pricier perk.
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Old June 24th, 2011, 09:01 PM
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I was the one who asked the question and made my decision. I called Carnival, spoke to Alan and he quickly and accurately answered all my questions and concerns. I told him I would talk it over with my wife and possibly get back to him. The next day I called him back and booked. I feel good about the decision, the sales people that work for the cruise lines should have the most knowledge about their ships and the one I spoke to had been on a few of them. After booking he gave me his personal cell # in case of any other concerns or problems should they occurr.
Bottom line is--- don't be afraid of the people that work for the cruise lines, they want their customers happy so they work for you too.
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