I was hoping someone could give me some advice/suggestions on their experience with online cruise booking. I came across some great deals on CruisesOnly.com and wandered if anyone has had a good or bad experience with them. We usually book through a Travel Agent, but thought I would check the websites out there to compare rates.
Can anyone help me???
jmsettles, before I actually booked online, I would call the company and ask a few questons, such as..if you have any questions come up will your agent be available to you or will you get a recording or a different agent each time you call. As far as prices, there are some great prices out there now and since all the cruiselines have pretty much gone to "equal playing field" you will get pretty much the same price no matter where you go to book your cruise. Most cruiselines have stopped the discounting by agents, so what you get when you book through an agent is the personal service. Someone who is going to get to know you and be available to you when you need them.
One more thought, check to see if the company charges a booking fee. You will find that most online agencies charge anywhere from $10.00 - $20.00 booking fee for usuing their service, usually this doesnt show up until after you complete the booking process...its usually somewhere in the small print on their site.
Another thought, make sure the price you see includes all the port fees, and taxes. I have seen some pretty low prices, but my TA has always been able to give me the same price and good service.
We booked once on line, whiles other might like it, I would not do it again.
This is so true, so many times the lead in price is also for the lowest catagory available, once you choose the cabin catagory you want and all taxes and gov. fees and booking fees are added it could be more than what you wanted to pay.
Whenever I have followed an on-line cruise booking the price gets higher with each drill down, Port taxes, then availability of the cabins, etc etc until the come on price is no longer any better than other sources. I have booked through AAA twice and it was good, especially since I needed some last minutes changes that would have been hard through the web. My last 3 cruises have been booked directly through Carnival, we have found an excellent "Vacation Planner" who is helpful. The prices are no more than I see elsewhere and once considerably less as she asked about me and found a better rate because I was going to be over 55 by cruise time. She chats with my wife and doesn't seen pushy at all. We have her direct extension now. Once we had a death in the family and Wendy was able to tell us how to arrange for credit (we did not even have insurance) but wrote a letter and were granted a 50% refund on a later cruise. I like having a person to speak with. The only drawback is Wendy is apparently popular and it may take a couple of days to ring through.
I have had really good luck booking on-line directly with the cruise line--in my case, Princess and Holland America. The price structure is always perfectly clear and no hidden or last minute charges. And all bulletins and documents come directly to me, not to the travel agent first. And there is always someone at the 800 number if I have questions or concerns.
The other thing that happen to us using an on line service is lots of spam. Our TA know what we like, and lets us know about those deals only. She too has an online site but we just call or walk in to see her. http://www.oakcrutrvl.com/
I agree with CruiseDad! I have had excellent service in dealing with a Carnival TA. I booked one on Princess with just an agency found online, but I did not get the personal feeling that I have with the 2 Carnival cruises that I booked. Jeffrey Born (Carnival TA) is wonderful to deal with and really works with you. Just a suggestion....
I've always booked directly with Carnival. They find me better rates than I've found online, and like someone in an above post stated sites (like Expedia, for example) charge a booking fee. Carnival will give you excellent rates, and if you find a better advertised rate within 24 hours they'll give you that rate. I also had a group cruise in Sept that was booked in April. The rates went down significantly about 3 weeks prior to sailing, for ocean view rooms (we were booked in interior). We didn't think they'd do anything, but tried anyway and they gave us ocean view rooms PLUS $80 onboard credit PER PERSON to make up for it!! I love Carnival
Sovereign of the Seas, Royal Caribbean 11-17-03
Fascination, CCL 2-14-05
Fantasy, CCL 2-05-06
Elation, CCL 9-24-06
Carnival Victory, CCL 1-28-07
Sovereign of the Seas, Royal Caribbean, 9-24-07