Just going to say..yes in agreement. Find a good Agent and stick with them..if they are good. It is the same price, and they have access to the same rates. If you get one that is only interested in the up-sell, for a one time sale, instead of building a long term relationship.. ditch them. But most are good and will look after you more for the longhaul relationship. JMHO.
In Re: Neil's quote:
~I made enough money to buy Miami, but I ****ed it away so fast.
It's not that Carnival isn't an option. I happen to be going to Florida on business in October, and my conference ends the day before the NCL cruise we're interested in. I've heard a lot of great things about Carnival on this board so I may give them a try in the future. We have a friend who went on NCL Dawn last year and loved it, so that's why we're giving NCL a try.
IC, you stated that agents all get the same price. I've read that same thing here a lot. Many times that is exactly right. There are times when it couldn't be further from the truth. There are rate codes for promos, sometimes 30 or more promotions all running at the same time. The promos available to small agencies may well be the best rates. From time to time there will be promos that are directed to agencies that produce massive volume, kind of a reward system. Sometimes large agencies buy blocks of space. When this is done, sometimes on a huge scale, hundreds of sailing at a time, those agencies get rates way below what even the cruiseline agents direct can offer.
The rate may be the same wherever you look for some sailings. There are instances when not shopping could cost you hundreds of dollars on another sailing. On some sailings, some agencies can't even advertise the pricing. We have to email them or find alternate ways of promoting such pricing. We cannot publish the pricing on the websites or risk losing our abailtiy to recieve such promos in the future.
There are however things more important than the price. I'm going to agree with other posters that a good agent a valuable resource. If you have one who takes very good care of you, support them.
Neil, Thanks for clearing that up in a great post. What I was trying to say is that Travel Agents can get the same rates as the Cruise Lines advertise directly. I see what you are saying about the specials. Thanks again, I love learning this stuff.
I have used a TA for the last 2 years this year did it own my own no difference with the priceing
was a tad worried about getting my tickets but they came yesterday so only waited 3 days to get them in the mail.
IC and others, even the advertised price can be dramatically different. All of these price issues depend on a whole bunch of factors.
1. The rules of the cruiseline.
2. The promotion (available to all or some agencies?)
3. Block/group space purchased. Many agencies buy as a group and sell as individual space.
4. Special rates based on volume of the agency.
5. Military rates, often segregated into the everybody military rates and "On-base rates" which are often different, especially with CCL.
6. Community appreciation rates (police, firefighter, teacher)
7. Interline rates (airline employee and afiliated like UPS or DHL for some lines)
8. Senior rates (except HAL and Princess)
9. Kids sail free promotions.
10. Past passenger rates.
The above is a very small list of dozens of things that may affect your cruise price at any given time on a specific sailing. If you have an agent who cares enough and is knowledgable enough (some of these rates are not published, you have to know they're there or ask specifically for them. Hence the need for an agent knowledgable about the cruiselines and their rules/promotion/etc.) to find you the best value based on your particular circumstances. In order to do that there should be some questions involved. If you're not being asked appropriate questions during the booking process, you may be paying more than you should for your cruise.
This is why I say if you have an agent who treats you well and looks out for your best interest support them. I know there are many here that go out of their way for their clients, I've read their posts. Many go beyond what I'm willing to do. They actually keep an eye on your cruise pricing and notify you if it drops. That's amazing to me, I simply could not provide this service. I have to make it the clients responsibilty to watch it. I simply can't do it with the volume of cruises required in my circumstance. Every agent brings something unique to the table. Find one that is a good fit for you. Sorry for the long post.
I would just add that good travel agents check to see if cruise prices for your category have gone down. If you book through the cruise line, they'll never tell you when their price has gone down. They don't tell agents, either. Agents have to be proactive in keeping up with price drops.
I book directly with Carnival and they have called to let me know of a price drop.
I can also call anytime I want to check on price changes.
Larry, you had a very unusual cruiseline agent. I can't even get calls from them for important information to the cruise like itinerary changes sometimes. I've never had a call from the cruiselines res agents for a price drop in thousands of bookings.