Sorry if this is not really a gripe, but more of an observation.
I placed my request for a cruise quote in the Bargain Finder section. This was great. I have received approximately 5-6 response so far. I have asked for quotes from the travel agency I normally work with and two other specific travel agents. The quote is for 3 cabins on a 7 day cruise. The prices I have gotten fall into 3 categories: 1) the lowest, 2) the middle group ($400 - $600 higher) and the highest ($700 - $900 higher).
I am so glad I did this as my natural inclination was to go through the travel agency that I normally use.
I have no idea why there is such a price differential, since I asked for the same thing from all of the agents/agency and ALL included port charges and taxes.
One reason for some of the different prices you've received is because sometimes travel agents will buy up book space on certain ships/dates and then they can discount their price and share in the savings. You can save lots by going with a group price, so that may be one reason you are seeing such a different price range. I'm sure therer are also other factors. Just make sure that if the travel agent isn't adding the port charges into the price that you do and make sure you are comparing the same cabin catagories.
Thanks for the reply. I still am amazed at the price differences I have gotten. The Travel Agency that I have used for my past 4 cruises (and is the highest of all the quotes I have gotten) said she had no idea why her price was so much higher than everyone else and that if the lowest price I was quoted was legitimate (which I certainly believe it is), that I should book it immediately.
As to the travel agents buying up the space, I would agree with that, but my planned cruise is not until June 2003 which seems quite a way off for them to buy the space in advance. Regardless, I am defnitely thrilled with Bargain Finders as it has been entirely hassle free and will let us save hundreds of dollars.
Donna was absolutely correct - as a former travel agent - agencies book group space and get a bigger discount and they pass that on to you, their customer. Also, higher volume agencies get a bigger percentage commission and sometimes pass that on to their customer. For example if the cruise quotes both agencies $1,000 for the cruise and agency A is making 17% commission or $170 and agency B is only getting 10% commission or $100 then agency A may be passing $70+ dollars on to you as a discount. PLUS if agency A has a group price and agency B doesn't, that makes the gap even larger . . .hope that helps!
Its good to hear that the bargain finder here at Cruisemates was a big help for you, I've also found it helpful. Its really not too early to start planning a cruise for next year, especially if you are going with your family and you want a certain cabin or cabin catagory, so if you find something good, go ahead and book it. You will still have plenty of time to cancel if something should come up and you can't go, good luck!
We are just waiting to hear back from one more agent (a friend of my wife's) and then we will be booking soon. I generally plan/book all of my cruises a year in advance. The sad part is that after we go on the Paradise in May, it will be 13 months before we cruise again (sure glad I have those two trips to Vegas planned in August and December
I will make sure that I tell everyone that I know about that is thinking of cruising, about Bargain Finder and this site!
Cruise pricing is an amazing phenomena... like airline pricing, if you check on a flight, no two people payed the same thing for the same flight.
This actually makes it very difficult, and not all that smart to not put considerable effort into shopping for cruise pricing. And the agent who has the best price on one cruise could quite conceivably be on the high end the next time you're shopping.