how can I book the cheapest way? book the cruise? then book the airfare? travel agent? expedia? or just airfare and cruise thru carnival? I have plenty of time,not looking to cruise until june 2010.any suggestions???I wont be going on any excursions so wont need to book them.
The problem is, no matter which way you book, there's always another promotion that comes out. The cruise lines are like the store having the Going Out of Business Sale for ten years. Use a Travel Agent that will research and book the best rate for you. They can keep an eye on your cruise to see if any new promotions qualify for a lower rate. Booking early 6-9 months out is usually best. Airfare booked through the cruise line in most cases is higher. Carnival will be changing their policy on booking airfare through them. Previously it has included the airport to pier transfers. This will be changing in October. Bookings made October 3rd and after which include the cruise line air won't include the airport transfers. It will be a separate option for purchase.
mike- Cruise fanatic gave you good advice. She left out some important info though (which she normals includes... )
1) booking through a travel agent does not mean you will pay more. The cruise line pays the TA for making the booking.. if you book online directly with the cruise line you would get the same price (the cruise line just gets to pocket the money they would have paid the TA) So use a TA for the knowledge benefit.
2) Booking through expedia or travel velocity is dangerous since making changes to your booking is difficult and almost always involve some form of change fee... And while I don't know if its still true, but it used to be that the prices quoted on these sites look cheaper but didn't include port taxes and fees, so when you were done booking the price that seemed cheap suddenly became equal to the cruise line price quote.....
timc- I used to do it that way, and there is nothing wrong with that, especially if you are as experienced in cruise as you are, but for someone new to cruising a travel agent can be very helpful. I stopped booking on my own when my PVP stopped being a PVP, then I turned to my now travel agent and figured its less work on my part to book with them and they can the commission. I still search around looking for deals, but when I am ready to book, I give the "deals" I found to my TA and let them check into them to find the true best deal... its a win win in my book. I get great service and they get a commission. I also figure that if I have problems on vacation I can contact my TA and they can work to resolve the issue while I enjoy myself. (although I really haven't had to do that yet)
I realize it comes down to personal preference, but it nice to know that either option is available and the costs are equal.
i do all the research on the internet.i have a blast searching for the deals!. i go through 3 travel search engines and i find the best deal and book it on my own.
And after you've spent all your time researching three sites what guarantee do you have that a professional travel agent couldn't have gotten you an even better deal? Such as an upgrade, OBC, or other amenities.
I'm sure your Travel Agent appreciates you a lot.
Even experienced cruisers should continue to use a TA. TA's do this on a daily basis, it's their profession. There's simply just things they know that novices won't know. This is true for cruises and land vacations. IE: There's something strange about the new Carnival Dream's quint cabins.
I've told this story before, but it is worth telling again.
For our 2008 Alaskan cruise we booked it in 2007 with our agent. At the time her price was the same as anywhere else, which is typical. About 6 months later she called me and said she had several others looking at the same cruise so she had obtained some group space and was moving my booking to the group. Oh, and my cruise fare was now a couple hundred dollars less and I was also getting an OBC and a bottle of champagne.