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  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 7th, 2002, 08:22 PM
Blackrobe
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Default Cruise Pricing

I have taken 6 cruises on three different cruise lines (Princess is my favorite). I have 3 more cruises booked (all on Princess). I have not used the same agent or agency for any of them. I have gone from using the local hometown travel agent to using an internet agency. I didn't want to use different agents but a previous agent could never come up with an acceptable price. This raised the obvious question: WHY? Being an inquisitive type of guy, I began to ask questions and put pieces of information together. This information may be useful to you in trying to find the best price for a cruise.

The three cruises I have booked were all shopped around. The difference in price is for two persons, same cabin, same cruise, same category. The first cruise is 7 days to Bermuda in October, 2002. The difference in price between the high price and the low price was over $700.00 after contacting 8 different agents/agencies. The second cruise is a 10 day cruise in the Caribbean in January, 2003. The difference between the high price and the low price was $600.00 after contacting 12 different agents/agencies. The third cruise is a 13 day cruise in the Western Mediteranean in October, 2003. The difference in price between the high price and the low price was over $2,100.00 after contacting 11 different agents/agencies.

One type of reduction concerns promotions put out by the cruise line. Agents/agencies have the ability to reserve cabins at these promotional rates. One would imagine that the larger the agency the more cabins they may be able to reserve. However, that might not be true because many agencies are related but operate with different names. The reason for this may be that by having different names they may be able to reserve more rooms. Agents/agencies can trade or use the reserved rooms held by another agent or agency with permission.

Another type of reduction concerns the commission paid to agents. The normal commission is 10%. On some cruises certain agencies may receive a 20% commission. The commission belongs to the agency and the agency can do whatever it wants with the commission. They can keep all of it, they can keep none of it (although they would go out of business if they did much of that), or they can keep part of it using the unkept amount to reduce the cost to the consumer.

A variation of the promotion reduction is the geographic preference. The way this works is that the cruise line wants to boost its presence in a certain area of the country and they offer special promotions for that geographic area.

Some agencies create group bookings to take advantage of one or more of these promotions or reductions. A group is created to to meet the necessary criteria. You are placed in that group (sometimes without your knowledge) so that the agency can offer you the price advantage of being in that group. Furthermore, when groups are created one or more members of the group can cruise either for free or a greatly reduced fare because they are group leaders. When the free or reduced fare is spread over the entire group the price is further reduced for each member of the group.

Of course, there are the prior passenger discounts.

If you request a cruise from an agent or agency that happens to have reserved a block of rooms for the cruise you are interested in at a promotional rate, or they have a double commission available on that cruise or they have developed a group, they can give you a deal that is not available from an agent or agency who does not have one of those reductions available. The key to finding the best rate is to price your cruise around to as many agencies as you have the energy with which to deal. After five or six you will have a pretty good idea as to a range of lowest prices. After that point it is really nickel and diming (actually $20.00, $30.00, $40.00 differences) and the effort outweighs the gain. As I learned, a bit of effort can yield mighty good returns. Needless to say, the $2,100.00 difference in price on one cruise is enough to pay for another cruise.

I hope this clarifies some of the mystery. If I can be of any assistance, please drop me an e-mail.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old June 7th, 2002, 10:39 PM
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Default Re: Cruise Pricing

There is so much in your post that is erroneous... and simply confused... that I wouldn't know quite where to begin. It is sort of some kind of a testament to the old "saw" that a little bit of knowledge can be ... well... less than helpful.

One thing I can promise you... switching from agent to agent, you will NEVER get the really good "stuff"... the special deals that we send to our "A" List.

Not once in your post did I read the key word... which is NOT price... but, rather "Value"... a melding of price, what you get for the price, service and other considerations. And, your "understanding" of pricing in the Industry and how it works... promotional fares... commission rates (here you are completely off the mark)... allocation of amenity points and the value generated to the cruise guest... groups and how they are priced, commissioned and sold... and more, simply is wrong!

I sense that you have no understanding at all of how cruise pricing works and how one can get the best value for his or her money. Frankly, your post is totally off the mark.

What counts, frankly, is value... what you pay and what you get for it... net net net. Marketing gimmicks, discount programs, commission rebates... all of that doesn't have any meaning at all. Just worry about what you pay and what you get. That is really the secret.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old June 8th, 2002, 06:39 AM
donnajo
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Default Re: Cruise Pricing

I agree Ernie. There is definitely something to be said about being a "repeat customer".
The trick for me was finding an agent who would give a great price and shop around for the deals out there! My husband and I are somewhat flexible with our vacation time usually looking to go April/May on a long (10 or 11 day) cruise. Finally found an agent (she's in Arkansas - I'm in Chicago) who will offer different options to me within that April/May timeframe.
For example: we always have two or three sailings that we are interested in- one was the Sun princess, one was the Brilliance and I think the Splendor was the third. To request quotes on all of these was pretty time consuming!
(I know I tried via the internet).
I finally decided the Sun Princess was going to be our best bet. Internet prices ranged from 1899pp (balcony cabin) to 1599pp.
My agent found me the Sun for 1416pp with a 100pp shipboard credit! She is amazing!
FLEXIBILITY is the key, IMHO more than anything else. She finds the deals, discusses our budget and timeframe and then looks at what's available, what's on special promo etc.
She's been consistantly good at giving us what we want at a price we can afford. Not to mention all the little "extras" she throws in.
While I agree price is a concern, I don't want to deal with three different agents on three different sailings. I say, find a good agent and then stick with them!

Donna
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Old June 8th, 2002, 08:09 AM
Blackrobe
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Default Re: Cruise Pricing

Thanks Ernie for your post. As I indicated, I am just a curious guy trying to figure this out on the level of a passenger as compared to the level of an agent. However, there is so little information available and the industry seems to want to keep everything a secret.

I would really like to use one agent and I agree with you concerning value. I do not believe that cheapest is always the best. Having said that, I don't want to be overcharged for a cruise either. In my earlier days of cruising I payed brochure price because I thought dealing with a local agent who had my interests in mind would work best for me. Boy was I mistaken! What I would love to find is an agent who works for me and gets me the best price on a given cruise. When I say best price I do not equate that with lowest price. I do mean in the lowest range of prices.

Ernie perhaps you can explain to me since I "have no understanding at all of how cruise pricing works and how one can get the best value for his or her money." Perhaps you can tell me why an agent I have used and respect cannot come within $700.00 of one of the cruises I booked and $1300.00 of the other cruise. Perhaps you can explain why the agent told me that I should book these cruises with the another agent because that price could not be matched? I want to be educated. Please tell me what the other considerations are when considering value beside what I get for the price and the service of the agent. I want to be able to evaluate what is best for me. It is going to have to be a heck of a lot of service and other considerations to make up for $600.00 to $2,100.00.

Ernie please tell us how we can get the best value for our money.
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Old June 8th, 2002, 12:56 PM
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Default Re: Re: Cruise Pricing

Donna... I think you have it exactly right!

Ernie
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old June 9th, 2002, 09:19 PM
nic
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Default Re: Re: Cruise Pricing

I have been on two cruises and have two more booked between now and the end of the year. I have used a different means for each one. The next one (June 30, 2002) we went directly through the Princess. The only reason for this was a local agent tried to double charge for each passenger in the room. We also managed to get $860.00 off last week when I called Princess and requested an upgrade. They advised me that it was difficult to upgrade when you have 4 passengers but did match the current discount price. I thought that this was too soon before the departure date for them to honor this but they did.

I have asked Carnival about this and they say they also match prices when they discount up to a certain date. The only difference is that Princess doesn't seem to have a date that they cut this off. You just have to call. I think in the future if you call the cruise line direct you can get the same or better of a deal. That is NOT a definate but it seems to me from my checking a number of different sources before making the final decision that this has been the case. In the past cruise lines would not book direct to the passengers. This has all changed in the past two years.

The last cruise we went on we booked two weeks in advance and were able to get a really good price for the time of year we were going. This was because they had a last minute cancelation. This will only work if you are flexible. The ships main objective is to get all cabins booked. If they can book a cabin and make something that is better than having an open cabin and making nothing. That said you are on the right track and you need to use whatever means you can to get the best price for you. I think the value of a cruise is great no matter what cabin type you are in. An inside cabin may not sound great but how often are you really in your cabin. For us it was only when we were asleep or getting ready to go somewhere. Good luck.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old June 10th, 2002, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Cruise Pricing

I'm repeating what I have said many times on the message boards. If a TA can't give you a better price than booking direct with the cruise lines you SIMPLY HAVE THE WRONG TA!

There are many other factors which make booking through a TA worthwile, but even on price alone in 99.9% of the cases the TAs prices are lower. And if they aren't, they SHOULD BE!

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  #8 (permalink)  
Old June 19th, 2002, 12:38 AM
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Default Re: Cruise Pricing

Would you mind telling me which internet sites you used to get your good prices?Blackrobe wrote:

> I have taken 6 cruises on three different cruise lines
> (Princess is my favorite). I have 3 more cruises booked (all
> on Princess). I have not used the same agent or agency for any
> of them. I have gone from using the local hometown travel
> agent to using an internet agency. I didn't want to use
> different agents but a previous agent could never come up with
> an acceptable price. This raised the obvious question: WHY?
> Being an inquisitive type of guy, I began to ask questions and
> put pieces of information together. This information may be
> useful to you in trying to find the best price for a cruise.
>
> The three cruises I have booked were all shopped around. The
> difference in price is for two persons, same cabin, same
> cruise, same category. The first cruise is 7 days to Bermuda
> in October, 2002. The difference in price between the high
> price and the low price was over $700.00 after contacting 8
> different agents/agencies. The second cruise is a 10 day
> cruise in the Caribbean in January, 2003. The difference
> between the high price and the low price was $600.00 after
> contacting 12 different agents/agencies. The third cruise is a
> 13 day cruise in the Western Mediteranean in October, 2003.
> The difference in price between the high price and the low
> price was over $2,100.00 after contacting 11 different
> agents/agencies.
>
> One type of reduction concerns promotions put out by the
> cruise line. Agents/agencies have the ability to reserve cabins
> at these promotional rates. One would imagine that the larger
> the agency the more cabins they may be able to reserve.
> However, that might not be true because many agencies are
> related but operate with different names. The reason for this
> may be that by having different names they may be able to
> reserve more rooms. Agents/agencies can trade or use the
> reserved rooms held by another agent or agency with
> permission.
>
> Another type of reduction concerns the commission paid to
> agents. The normal commission is 10%. On some cruises certain
> agencies may receive a 20% commission. The commission belongs
> to the agency and the agency can do whatever it wants with the
> commission. They can keep all of it, they can keep none of it
> (although they would go out of business if they did much of
> that), or they can keep part of it using the unkept amount to
> reduce the cost to the consumer.
>
> A variation of the promotion reduction is the geographic
> preference. The way this works is that the cruise line wants
> to boost its presence in a certain area of the country and they
> offer special promotions for that geographic area.
>
> Some agencies create group bookings to take advantage of one
> or more of these promotions or reductions. A group is created
> to to meet the necessary criteria. You are placed in that
> group (sometimes without your knowledge) so that the agency can
> offer you the price advantage of being in that group.
> Furthermore, when groups are created one or more members of the
> group can cruise either for free or a greatly reduced fare
> because they are group leaders. When the free or reduced fare
> is spread over the entire group the price is further reduced
> for each member of the group.
>
> Of course, there are the prior passenger discounts.
>
> If you request a cruise from an agent or agency that happens
> to have reserved a block of rooms for the cruise you are
> interested in at a promotional rate, or they have a double
> commission available on that cruise or they have developed a
> group, they can give you a deal that is not available from an
> agent or agency who does not have one of those reductions
> available. The key to finding the best rate is to price your
> cruise around to as many agencies as you have the energy with
> which to deal. After five or six you will have a pretty good
> idea as to a range of lowest prices. After that point it is
> really nickel and diming (actually $20.00, $30.00, $40.00
> differences) and the effort outweighs the gain. As I learned,
> a bit of effort can yield mighty good returns. Needless to
> say, the $2,100.00 difference in price on one cruise is enough
> to pay for another cruise.
>
> I hope this clarifies some of the mystery. If I can be of
> any assistance, please drop me an e-mail.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old June 21st, 2002, 05:12 PM
eeinusa
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Default Re: Re: Cruise Pricing

A good cruise agent makes all the difference in the world.

We'll be going on our fourth cruise since June 2001 (I guess we're hooked). We booked each one with the same agent. Always at a great rate that was better than the cruise line and many of the internet sites mentioned on the various boards.

Now that we're more experienced, we keep checking various internet agencies even after we pay our down payment. Until the $1500 verandah guarantee for the Dec Infinity transcanal cruise came up on the internet, the rates we kept getting on the various internet sites were consistently higher than what we had. And even with the $1500 guarantee fare - our agent told us about it before I saw anything about it on the web.

We're lucky I guess because our agent is not that far from where we are and we can pick up the phone and call her anytime -- she even hand delivered our Alaska cruise documents last June when they were overly-delayed.
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