Has anyone had any great successes with ta's online? I have found some good prices at iwantacruise.com and vocruises.com, but I'm not sure if I should go the brick and morter route. I want to cruise RCI this October on a 4 day to western caribbean and I have come up with several prices and I'm just hesitant to book after hearing about making sure you get the best price etc. HELP!!
The key word here is "value", not price. Of course, price is a component of value but when purchasing a cruise, there is a lot more to it. If you are looking for a "brick and mortar" agency (and many are both... on the internet and you also have real people to talk with and assist you), a good place to look is CLIA. (Cruise Lines International Association). CLIA is the trade organization of the major cruise lines. You can plug in your zip code and they will give you lots of local agencies, all of whom meet CLIA's standards. You can find them at:
a good place to look is CLIA. (Cruise Lines International Association). CLIA is the trade organization of the major cruise lines. You can plug in your zip code and they will give you lots of local agencies, all of whom meet CLIA's standards.
Ernie.. and what might CLIA's standards be? The ability to pay membership?
I recently discovered ... in a letter from CLIA.... that they are basically a marketing arm for their members, and have no regulatory control over any of their member agencies.
In fact, unlike most trades or professions, it seems no one has any regulatory control of TAs, other than the law. Probably one really good reason that people are so sceptical, and try to be so careful when choosing TAs.
About the only suggestion I could give would be to ask around. I booked directly through RCCL my first two cruises, but then on the advice of several friendly folks in here and on other boards, I used Buycruises.com for the upcoming cruise. I have been very satisfied and I think I got a great price. Definately lower than in you book directly with RCCL. Of course I won't have a final opinion until after we get back. Just ask around. I'm sure you'll get lots of ideas.
Since you already have some prices, you could just call up one of your "local" travel agents and see if they can come close to what you have found. Its always nice to have someone local handle all the details for you, but have had a lot of good luck with booking with an on-line travel agents as well. Just remember, the price is not the only thing you need to consider when booking with any travel agent.
In case you haven't, you can also try the "bargain finder" here at Cruisemates and hopefully find someone you feel will work for you and give you that value that ERnie is talking about, does make a difference.
Kuki... I know where you are coming from with your comments concerning regulation.
However, CLIA does have the only formalized training institute for travel agents and the only rating system for individual agents. They recommend first and foremost, agencies that have on their staffs individual agents who have passed these rather stringent training and background requirements. Their recommendation, and an agents membership in CLIA, also is important to the uninitiated potential cruiser looking for an agent, that a particular agency is recognized by all their member cruise lines and is able to make bookings and transact other business on behalf of the client directly with the cruise lines. The "CLIA" number is identical to the "IATAN" number.
In an under regulated Industry, sort of like hotels (), CLIA at leasts offers someone new to cruising some assurance that the agency and the individual agent has some standing in the Industry... and I think that is important.
I have had good fortune with both BUT "Cruise411" did jack up rates with no explanation which caused me to cancel a booking and RUN! Having good luck with my local "CruiseOne" TA now but I always compare and even he has recommended that I take a "group booking rate" that his company could not touch. The company I used to use religiously was swallowed up as "MyTravel" continues to gain a huge part of the industry (not that it's a bad thing when you want volume prices). Hope this helps a bit but compare, compare compare!
I don't want to bore you all with my long story, but to make it short, was scheduled to cruise on 9/15/01, was cancelled due to terriorist attacks, RCCL gave us credit for future cruise. The TA we used had already receive her commission on that cruise so she for whatever reason didn't really want to help in re-booking the new cruise. I told my tale on woes on the message boards and an angel named Aimee from Bonne Ammie Travel offered to help us even tho she got NOTHING out of it! Not only did she re-book us, she got us upgraded and sent a fabulous photo album and bag with the cruise docs. What a class act! I cannot reccommend her enough! www.bonneamietravel.com or call 1 866 302 0036
Thanks for all the feedback. I did have some luck at iwantacruise.com and buycruise.com (I think they are linked together). I haven't booked yet...I'm waiting for
my husbands lame friends to decide whether they (get this) WANT to go or not (I mean, what's the decision to be made here?). Anyway it looks like we are going on Monarch in October. Thanks again!
Has anybody looked into what membership requirements for the CLIA entail. NOTHING.
The following is a direct quote from the CLIA webpage (http://www.cruising.org/index0.htm) “"Any travel seller or department of a travel seller that is actively engaged in the business of selling cruise travel" can be a CLIA affiliate”. Reassuring isn’t it. If you want to pay you can play.
Additionally I feel that the title Master Cruise Counselor is misleading. Quote from CLIA website listed above
“CLIA's two primary sales training courses:
· "Selling to Special Interests-Niche Markets"
· "Creating a Cruise Marketing Plan"”
The titles don’t give an impression of teaching counseling. Neither do any of their “Fourteen outstanding training videos are available” with titles such as Training Your Staff for Profitable Selling, Motivating Your Staff for Maximum Profitability, Effective Telephone Selling Techniques: Made Easy, Closing the Cruise Sale, Turn Your Agency into a Cruise Vacation Store, Converting Landlocked Vacationers into Cruise Vacationers, Effective Direct Mail Techniques. I am sure the next video will be SUCCESSFULLY SOLICITING SALES ON CRUISE BOARDS. I cant wait.
I feel that a more appropriate name should be Master Cruise Sailsperson.
By the way I just bought my car from a MASTER CAR COUNSELOR.
I hope this has been useful. I am not saying that an MCC is bad, but they are no more a master or a counselor than my uncle Joe who has been of 63 cruises and never taken a course. Just remember don’t take things at face value, no matter whom you choose do some research. The best advice is talk to family and friends.
Happy Cruising and Remember, The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible.
Just some more info to show the excellent credentials of the CLIA travel agents. I hope it is helpful.
I have read every page on the CLIA website and nowhere do they mention teaching the ability to counsel the consumer. It seems to me they are more of a counsel to fellow MCCs if they puff up the status enough consumers will be duped into a false sense of trust exuded by the addition of a title to the end of their name.
Or in the words of the CLIA, under the title of “ACC or MCC: The Mark of a Lettered Professional” the CLIA states “The most prestigious credentials in the industy, both ACC and MCC designations provide a competitive edge by increasing your insider knowledge - and, in turn, your clients' confidence in you.”
Perhaps I would feel more confident if they said the customer relation skills and professional behavior increased your clients’ confidence in you. I wonder what their image of the consumer is if they think that three letters will increase the confidence in you. Do not be fooled by the letters MCC they are no more a counselor than the bartender in the schooner bar is a therapist.
As a mater of fact it is quite the opposite. Another quote from the CLIA website “By providing the most comprehensive and advanced sales training, CLIA's Certification Program is specifically designed to increase your cruise bookings, sales commissions and professional stature in the industry.”
Increased sales commissions? Hmmm! Is that where I want to purchase my cruise? Would you purchase a car from a salesman who boasts the highest commissions in the industry?
They continually fail to mention cruise counseling, only sales, bookings commissions and stature in the community/industry. Not encouraging.
Yet they are the Masters of the Cruise Universe and without them we would forever grovel at land-based attractions such as Las Vegas and Disney World. All hail the masters.
Do not take the above too seriously. There are some excellent Travel Agents who are MCCs and some who are not. There is no disputing the fact that they will have some knowledge above that of a regular travel agent, but that does not ensure that they will be honest, reliable, or low priced. It only ensures that they watched some videos attended some seminars and visited some ships.
Happy Cruising People, and Remember, a good catchword can obscure analysis for fifty years.
It is true that any travel agent may become a member of the CLIA, but to become an ACC or MCC is very difficult. To become an ACC members must complete 100 credits and to become a MCC members must complete an additional 100 credits. To do this must be very difficult indeed if they are to call themselves Masters.
I know what you are thinking to obtain 100 credits in a University Situation would take over 3 years. Remember though that these are the elite we are discussing. They can accomplish this in less than one week. The following is a quote from the CLIA website.
"CLIA Fall Institute
November 13-17, 2002
Don't Miss This Opportunity To Earn
Over 100 Certified Cruise Counsellor Credits
ACC & MCC Bonus - Complete your ship inspection
requirements in this one weekend!"
I would be interested in seeing the pass fail ratio for such condensed and intensive course schedules. I am sure that only the very best are able to accomplish this so therefore they should be qualified.
I hope this has been helpful.
Happy cruising and remember, it is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.