I have always used an agent who is a cruise specialist. The price for a cruise booked with an agent is no different than the price you pay using the other methods, plus you have someone who is much more than just an order-taker.
Using an agent is especially important for a new cruiser. However, I've been cruising since 1992 and still use an agency - actually the same agent since 1996.
I've always used an agent--until recently. I've found it very easy to book on-line with Princess; of course I have a history with Princess and don't really have any questions; I know what I want, right down to the cabin number, so it's really a no-brainer. And help is always availabe an 800 number away.
Having said that, I went through an agent for my upcoming HAL cruise since it is my first cruise with them and it involves international air transportation, transfers, etc.
But of course Dave is absolutely right: a new cruiser should definitely go through a cruise specialist.
I always book with an on-line agency. It seems I get better pricing than booking direct with the cruise line. Although, I have only been doing this since we started sailing Princess. Also, I have not found a land based travel agent. Would they get the same rates as the on-line agencies? We are already booked for this year (with an on-line agency), but are planning a group cruise next year on the Caribbean Princess. I would feel alot better dealing with someone face to face. Also, I have placed all of our friends on the Princess referrals and need to make sure that they get the sign on bonus' that are available to them once they book. I am wondering if I need to book directly with Princess for this cruise.
Thanks, Dave. I am going to try to find a land based TA. This will be my first group cruise and alot of people are counting on me!!
That stupid groundhog. No shadow?? Early spring?? We're getting pounded with more snow than we've seen in three years!! I need a cruise!!
I do the research first (cruisecompete.com is great) and then call the line directly. If they are able to come close to the prices I found, (and so far they always have)I book with them. I prefer to deal with a live person rather then a website.
Originally posted by Dave Beers:
If the rules are being followed, then the price is not supposed to be any different no matter who you book it with.
If the rules are being followed? Who in this day and age follows the rules? Think about it! The point..."buyer be aware"
Shop around and do your research. Many of the folks on this website are travel agents. Dave's quote alone implies that the rules are not always followed. Right?
Also look at land based destinations and compare your costs and what you get for your dollar. Don't forget to add in all of those on-board fees and excursion costs (double the price if booked through the cruise line or most agents). If you want a "canned vacation" a cruise is fine. If you want " romantic heaven on earth" shop around - it is out there trust me. There are also possibilities of taking cruises on much smaller boats ( 100-250 ppl) - a really cool alternative indeed! Each option has its own advantages. Think about what you want from the experience and look at what each will offer. Don't just settle for the vacation in a bottle - this is too important for you and your honey.
If the rules are being followed? Who in this day and age follows the rules?
That is a pretty sad statement. So I assume you don't follow rules?
My statement was based on pricing policies which at least two major cruise lines implemented a couple years back, and was meant to be a general comment and not an absolute. Carnival and RCI said that unless specifically approved by them, all prices would be the same no matter where the booking was made - with them, with an agent, or with a website. Are their exceptions? Sure. But only for specific cruises or sellers which have made a deal with the line. This was all brought about because agents/websites were rebating commissions and undercutting the pricing offered by the cruise lines - so they stopped it, at least officially. Sure it still goes on, but it isn't supposed to be. RCI was more bold in their policy - they said they would ban any agent caught rebating.
And that is the story. For every cruise I have taken since that policy came about, I have checked with the cruise line, on websites, and with my agent. In every case the price was the same. But then I have an honest agent who follows the rules. Apparently a rarity in your book.