Holy cow, how did I miss this thread. I have some insight on this one.
Maloney6, there is never a bait and switch situation ever. The inventory changes and the pricing is a live feed direct from the cruiseline daily. Form time to time between feeds the categories sell out, thus the pricing changes without notice. That happens on every site, with the cruiseline direct and every MoM & Pop agency in the world. If you ever see a cruise price without the disclaimer "Subject to availability" book your cruises there. I suspect you'll be looking a long time. There is a finite # of cabins in promotions, categories, etc. They do run out and will be updated on all the sites asap, it's autonmatic and electronic on the major booking sites, therefor more accurate. Also where did you ever get the idea that they don't buy blocks any more? See jr.'s post below yours post and above mine. VTG buys thousands of block per year with Carnival alone. They represent 27 different cruise lines and buy blocks from all of them that offer exceptional savings or benefits for doing so.
Jill SC, I love ya' and don't even know you.(enough said)
TexasTraveler1953, happy to hear you've found a site that takes good care of you and also price matches. Beware of free, it's often worth exactly what you pay for it when you actually try to use it. But if it fits your needs and they treat you well you should stay exactly where you are.
phensgrl, Whoever told you that they don't honor price drops is shooting the messenger for delivering bad news. Those decisions are not up to VTG or any other T/A. They are based on the cruiseline's policies. If a rate was not matched for you, it was not the T/A who denied the drop. Unless you were dealing with someone unethical who was trying to protect their commission and violation the company policy of the above mentioned company. Not impossible, there is pretty serious turnover in this industry. When a slug is accidentally hired, their customer service drops, jobs and income are both based on CS at VTG. They don't stay long without customer service in the 80%+ "Exceded clients expectations" range.
jr., one question, its retorical, an answer is not expected. How much is the same balcony outside of the group price? If it's a great value book it. If you can get the same or better price and service elsewhere go there.
PA Steve, I love you too man. If you're more comfortable with CCL direct use 'em, by all means. VTG will however also lower the price for you when it drops, as long as the cruiseline will allow it. Carnival is one of the best companies about lowering rates when this happens. If you sail with some of the other lines, the rules are different. They have the right to make their own rules, we in the industry have to follow them in order to be approved agents for the line.
Mgades, comfort is indeed worth more than $20. I'd never do business of any kind with anyone I was not comfortable with.
As most of you know by now I have a vested interest in this particular topic. I'll leave it at that, I don't want to violate any Cruise-Chat rules. This is one topic that I am qualified to speak on, if nothing else. For those that are most comfortable booking direct with the cruise lines and have had good experiences I'm thrilled for you and happy the cruiselines are taking such good care of you. Those of you who have T/A that do a great job, it's good for the entire industry that everybody in it is professional and provides such stellar service. Stick with your T/A and support them. But please don't always believe or pass on the negative stuff unless you personally have been negatively affected by the company you're posting on.
Sorry for the long post, and no hard feeling of any kind toward anyone here.
I have to say you did a masterful job at making your post as neutral as possible, given your actual situation!
I have to say that I do visit VTG often to check prices - it is a faster site on which to see prices without having to do a bunch of make believe booking nonsense. And my sister has booked three cruises with VTG and was quite pleased with the service in every case.
Neil, I want to chime in also: excellent post and reply. A cool-headed reply with factual information is the best way to counter half-truth, innuendo and hearsay. You are a credit to your company and your profession.
I appreciate your comments more than you know. I was a little concerned about the post as I was writing it. My presence here is to enjoy the exceptional people I've encountered like each of you and discuss a topic I enjoy personally and professionally.
It's a pleasure being accepted gere and reading each of your posts. I don't want to jeoparize that. I just couldn't find a way of writing it more transparently or I would have.
I look at the VTG website to see who is going where and at what price. I also look at Affordable cruises to see what they have. I use a TA but only after I have done my research. My question is this...if you book with VTG or Affordable and problems come up (you need to alter your flight arrangements, you were given first seating when you really like the second seating, and so on) do these sites really have the experience to help you?
Sorry for the slow responses fruby and Steve... the slow period at work has ended.
fruby, I can't speak for Affordable but VTG has trained cruise counselors. There is no way to book online, you don't just put your credit card in a hope for the best. You get an agent that is responsible for your booking just like any local travel agency but you can't drop in and visit. Everything is done by phone and email. You'll have an extension for your personal agent and their email address, etc. All the things you asked about, you just call and ask or drom him/her an email.
Steve, not correct. They and many other agencies are what we call direct booking agencies. All the rules that apply when you book direct are exactly the same as their rules. If it drops, you call your agent and ask them to have it adjusted. If inside penalty and they are offering OBC or upgrades they are also available through VTG. For those of you who have booked through such and agency you'll notice that there are no fees. None of the money that is charged to you CC goes into their account. It all goes to CCL or whatever cruiseline you book. In most cases it's electronic and goes through the booking engines most T/A's use.