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-   -   Ready to book! Need advice (http://www.cruisereviews.com/forum/general-cruise-chat/31113-ready-book-need-advice.html)

Donna D 06-07-2007 12:04 PM

Hello everyone,

My husband and I are ready to book our NCL cruise! What's the best way to book? We used a travel agent last time, which was fine, but she didn't give us any better deal than I could have received directly through the cruise line. I have heard some horror stories about some of the bargain online cruise booking services. Anyone have recommendations?

Thanks!

LisaP 06-07-2007 04:48 PM

Hi Donna, and welcome to cruise-chat!

There are several ways to book, and each has its proponents and critics. So, what follows is JHMO.

We've been on a couple of dozen cruises, and continue to use a travel agent. We've used the same TA for several years. We tend to value knowledge and excellent service more than saving what amounts to just a few dollars, if anything.

My suggestion if you choose to use a travel agent is to go to CLIA -- Cruise Lines International Association -- and search for a TA with CLIA certification. There's a search box on the lower right in which you enter your Zip code.

Cruise Fanatic 06-07-2007 07:25 PM

Many don't realize Travel Agents don't have the flexibility to just set any price and give someone "a deal". Support your local Travel Agents. If you don't want to use the same one as before then check the CLIA site Lisa provided. A Travel Agent is there to answer all your questions. They are there before, during, and after the cruise if problems arise. They are your advocate to write letters to the cruise line or make phone calls if needed. They will go over your docs with you when they come in. Travel agents attend conventions, trade shows, seminars, and take ship inpections to keep up on changes with all the cruise lines. They will give you unbias information and help you choose the right cruise line and ship.

Cruise Specialist 06-07-2007 09:40 PM

Cruise Fanatic...you stated that so well, all I can say is ditto...

Sandy 06-08-2007 06:53 AM

Fanatic: well said!

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.

Sandy

PA Steve Rocky Mount 06-08-2007 07:06 AM

One little question Donna...

Why have you narrowed your search to NCL? Want an unsolicited opinion...I went on Norwegian Sun last March...very ordinary!! Not a great cruise. Might want to ask your travel agent for advice!!

Donna D 06-08-2007 08:58 AM

Hi PA Steve:

We went on RCCL Voyager of the Seas a couple of years ago and I felt not only nickel-and-dimed-to-death, but also couldn't stand RCCL's arrogant attitude if you had a problem (we didn't, but others in our party did). Also, the entertainment selections happened only very late at night (like 9:30 or 10:30, and I'm a day person) and unless you wanted to play bingo they offered few daily activites like lectures or fun classes. We decided to try more casual, freestyle cruising this time and the dates worked for us.

PA Steve Rocky Mount 06-08-2007 12:38 PM

Carnival isn't an option???

I agree with you on RCCL. I didn't have a great experience with them either. Good cruise...not great.

Carnival offers 2 shows for most of the entertainment. If you eat early...there's a 7:00 show. Eat late, there's a 9:30 show. And as the commercials i think rightfully say...at any one moment, there's a million things to do!

And again, freestyle dining means you never get the same waiter twice...so EVERY night you have to explain who gets coffee, who gets tea, who gets decaf...etc. Plus, I found that freestyle means "nothing scheduled!!" So just go ahead and do what you want. I really didn't like it!

Dave 06-08-2007 12:54 PM

This just shows how perceptions and tastes vary. I happen to like RCCL and Carnival very much, and if I never cruise with NCL again it won't bother me. As for nickel-and-diming....they all do it so it isn't exclusively an RCCL thing.

Use an agent for the booking. I am in the same boat (hardy har har) as Lisa in that we've used the same agent for over a decade - and she has always looked out for our best interests.

TrvlPro 06-08-2007 01:35 PM

I wish a cruiseline would nickle-and-dime me. Seems the cruises I've taken they $20-and-$50's me to death! Especially if I hung out in the casino much.


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