I have a question for you more experienced cruisers. We are planning our fourth cruise, and have always booked with online TA's in the past, based on who could give us the best rate. We checked out the agencies with the BBB, and have never had any problems.
So, for our next cruise we did the same thing (sending email quote requests to about 8 agencies, and picking the best). The problem is that this particular agency is just terrible at returning calls or emails. In fact, I have been trying to get ahold of them about a simple matter for over 2 weeks. (I wanted to decline an upgrade offer.) I know that they did book the cruise with Princess, since I can access the booking on the Princess web site.
Now I am wondering if I can change travel agents for this particular booking. We have only paid the deposit, and the cruise is still over 6 months away. What would other's do in this situation?
If you are really unhappy with this t/a, find one that will give you a good price and everything you are looking for, have them book it and cancel the 1st one. Now, that may be a problem if you can't get a hold of them??? Good luck and have a great cruise :-)
That's why many people will tell u, the lowest price isn't always the best price. I'm not saying any of us want to overpay for a cruise. But if u get a good price from an agent you've used before and have been happy with their service, I personally wouldn't switch to save $50 or $75.
I've used online agents with very good results.. but they are the same as "brick and mortar" agents. There's going to be good ones, and there's going to be bad ones.
U can quite easily transfer the booking to another agency.. even if last resort is cancelling and rebooking. The cruise line certainly wont guarantee the price, as they didn't sell u the cruise.
I think I may have resolved the problem. I contacted an agent who was recommended by another CruiseMates member, and she gave me the information needed to transfer the booking, the price won't change and she will throw in $200 onboard credit!
I agree that it would be nice to find one great agent and stick to him or her, but I've found that it is not so simple. For some reason, when I return to an agent I have previously used, they don't seem to offer as competitive prices. For example, with this cruise, the agent I most recently used quoted me almost $900 more for a quad cabin than the lowest quote. From what I can tell, these agents assume that because I am a returning customer, I no longer research prices. I would love to find an agent with consistantly good prices, even for returning customers.
YOU are your best agent. You can take the time ti=o search out a good deal. Most TAs take you for granted after you book. I usually book at most 2 cruises with the same agent. Then shop. Years ago I used only one agent. Was I stupid. After awhile, I realized that her price was very high. My spouse really liked her service so we continued until she uped the price over the brochure price.What nerve. Now I shop looking for a group. Many agencts put together their own group and everyone gets a great price. You can choose to dine with or without the group. Although we usually know nobody when we board,by the end of the cruise we've made many new friends in the "group'"'
FINALLY! Someone else validates what I have been noticing for a few years! Yes, I, too, have found I get the best prices the first time I book w/an agent. I have found a couple of very good agents, but travel on a tight budget & don't like feeling that I have to "sneak around" & get quotes so my travel agent can try to match them (& my T/A seems to like adjusting & matching prices less & less). I would love to have an agent truly give me the very best price each time I call. I realize some agencies have exclusive deals, however. (I tried to book through a very nice girl at AAA last year, & told the agent the prices I had been quoted. She seemed truly perplexed when she phoned the cruiseline - right in front of me - & the line acted like they didn't have ANY idea at all how some other agency could have possibly gotten that price! I did not, therefore, book the trip through AAA as it would have set me back an extra $200.)
Another problem is it can get really awkward when you do want to switch agents. I ran into a problem a while back. Out of several agents I checked with, only one had a particularly fabulous price on a balcony on a certain line & sailing. NO ONE else was even close, & it was an extraordinary deal. (Though I did go ahead & book the cruise, I later had to cancel due to a conflict at work.) However, when checking it out, I ran into difficulty since so many agencies are tied together (Cruiseline, Inc., Gold Coast, Cruisemates, etc. - all merged into MyTravelco or some such group. Then, when you call & are asked if you have dealt w/that agency before & say no, the new agent either looks on a computer & pulls up that you have - only through a different agent in a different office- or you risk really causing hard feelings. The new agent is scared to steal another agent's customer, or you anger your old agent, when perhaps generally you like them, but just want the much better deal. I am not married to my T/A & don't want any pressure. And I don't like the many ads with different phone #s, all different offices of the same company. You are given the impressions there are NO differences in price between the various branches or agents, & I have found this isn't always so.
Sorry this was so long, but I have wanted to get this off my chest for a long time & this is the first time I ever heard anyone else comment on the first timer price.
I really do not see a problem, using different T/A's. You don't always buy gas at the same place, or grocery shop at the same place. when you buy a car you shop around. So what is any different about purchasing travel ?