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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2004, 08:31 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Greetings All..

I want to book a trip to Alaska for my in-laws.
I have done quite a bit of research and I know when and which ship (May-Saphire)..

However, I am wondering are there any consequences using travel sites like Expedia, cruise.com or one of those rather than going directly through Princess? I can save around $200 on Expedia and get $100 shipboard credit..

Have any of you ever booked this way and did you have positive or negative experiences?

Also, are you more likely to get an upgrade or a better cabin placement going directly through Princess?

Thanks for your help!!!!!
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2004, 08:31 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1
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Greetings All..

I want to book a trip to Alaska for my in-laws.
I have done quite a bit of research and I know when and which ship (May-Saphire)..

However, I am wondering are there any consequences using travel sites like Expedia, cruise.com or one of those rather than going directly through Princess? I can save around $200 on Expedia and get $100 shipboard credit..

Have any of you ever booked this way and did you have positive or negative experiences?

Also, are you more likely to get an upgrade or a better cabin placement going directly through Princess?

Thanks for your help!!!!!
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Old 12-18-2004, 11:35 AM
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Location: Illinois
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Petunia, always remember - you get what you pay for. You say this trip is for your in-laws - have they ever cruised before? Are you planning to go with them? Have you cruised previously? If your in-laws are newbies, and especially if you are also, I strongly recommend booking through a travel agent, preferably one you can deal with on a personal level. Expedia is a large travel agency and you may or may not deal with the same person each time, who may or may not be a cruise specialist. Agents who are experienced in cruise vacations will be able to offer you all sorts of tips, advice, help, and will be able to back you up if there is a problem. You will not get that level of service by booking directly with the cruise line, and you are not likely to if you book through some large online agency like Expedia.

Price isn't everything, although most agents should be able to find a cruise for your in-laws at a cost near, and often below, that of the big advertisers.

Ask around your area if someone can recommend a good travel agent, and at least visit with them and give them a chance to match quotes with an online agency. You may be pleasantly surprised!
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Old 12-19-2004, 05:22 AM
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I asked my travel agent some time ago if she could beat the prices offered by the on-line sites. She said she couldn't. However, she could book some cabins that weren't offered on-line. Lately, I have been booking my cabins through the cruise line' customer service representatives. Obviously, these folks are cruise specialists.

I will study (and study, and study) the deck plans of the ship at a particular “travel” site (which, by the way, I believe has the best interactive deck tour available on-line). Then, after deciding which cabin I would like to reserve, I call the cruise line’s toll-free number and speak with one of their representative. I’ve also learned that these people can book *any* open cabin for you, whether or not it’s offered on-line or to travel agents. But, you may pay a little more booking through these representatives since you won't get the discounted rates. It has also been my experience if I want to change cabins, or change any cruise specific preferences for that cruise, the line’s representative will do so without the additional “service charge” you’ll pay to some of the on-line agencies, which can be $25 or more per change.

I have also booked on-line at the cruise line’s web site. However, I find the offerings there as limited as those on other on-line sites. However, after getting my foot in the door, I’ve been able to change cabins (for the applicable up-grade charges), without having to pay the “service” charges.

Recently, I booked a cabin on another cruise line for an October ’05 cruise, and the representative was also able to put my name on a “waiting list” for a cabin that I really preferred, but was already booked (in case it becomes free).

See if you local travel agent can be has helpful. Otherwise, call the cruise lines’ representative and see just how helpful they can be. Paying a few dollars more the extra service may be worth it to you.
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Old 12-19-2004, 06:15 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by cruisedoggy:
Lately, I have been booking my cabins through the cruise line' customer service representatives. Obviously, these folks are cruise specialists.


Hi,

well, they are not necessarily cruise specialists. They are often callcenter agents that have never been on a cruise themselves.
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Raoul Fiebig

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Old 12-19-2004, 03:11 PM
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We always book our cruises with the same AAA travel agent. AAA charges $25 for the service but we've found that this is cheap since she does all the phone calls, finds the best deal on insurance (strongly suggested) etc. She also usually has a bottle of wine in our room. I'm sure you can do it yourself if you choose to but for us $25 is a cheap price to pay. Have a great time
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Old 12-19-2004, 03:48 PM
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askdad

I am a member of AAA Michigan and my wife is also an employee. We used to use their services but stopped about 3 years ago because we got better results from a independent TA. We take at least 4 trips per year and the AAA service rep was aware of this. About a year ago she called and asked why we haven't used their services and I told her that we got better deals and upgrades from a TA and we also got a bottle of wine in our room. She said that they were not allowed to do this. Have things changed? Or were we being taken by the AAA rep? Also I don't understand the $25 fee. If you are paying $25 all you are doing is paying for the bottle of wine. We use a independent Ta and don't pay anything. The prices are the same or less than those posted on the web.
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Old 12-20-2004, 07:31 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by askdad:
We always book our cruises with the same AAA travel agent. AAA charges $25 for the service but we've found that this is cheap since she does all the phone calls, finds the best deal on insurance (strongly suggested) etc. She also usually has a bottle of wine in our room. I'm sure you can do it yourself if you choose to but for us $25 is a cheap price to pay. Have a great time


AAA Travel in Florida charge nothing extra to book a cruise through them. Carol at our local office has booked all our cruises except one. It was the only case where we found a cheaper price through Holland America directly. Apart from that one instance she has always come in either the same as or cheaper than the prices I turned up on Yahoo or other web sites. She says that AAA Florida has some "special" deals with some of the cruise lines which is why she often comes out less expensive.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 12-21-2004, 04:23 AM
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We've paid the $25 dollar fee at two different offices since about 2000. In my estimation, my wife and I lead very busy lives between our jobs and other outside involvements. I guess this is why we like cruising so much. It gives us those few days to get away from it all (to sound cliche'). Any way I'm sure independent YA's are very good and certainly not all AAA agents are. The first one we used was terrible, which is how we got our present one. I'm also sure that we could eliminate the service fee by going elsewhere or using the internet but we like our agent and we just don't make the time to use the internet for travel. I've also had some bad experiences with internet bookings. For us, the service fee is good money spent. For others it may not be. As far as the wine, well maybe there's a company policy and maybe not. I've learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Thanks for the info. have a good holiday
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Old 12-21-2004, 08:12 AM
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OK, now you guys have me going. Here is my perspective on the discussion. 9/11 changed the very nature of the cruise business by creating mass cancellations and the loss of demand for international cruising. The cruise lines responded by lowering pricing to fill the ship and also move inventory into domestic (drive to) markets. The effort was successful, as they were able to operate the ships at virtually 100% occupancy.

On line discounters were enabled by this strategy as the lightning speed at which they could deliver results fed the needs of the cruise lines. During the months that followed 9/11, there is no question that the best deals were available from on line discount cruise sites. Do you remember the cruise auction sites that were selling cruises at prices that were unbelievable?

The cruise lines were able to create “on board” revenue streams to offset the lower up front revenue created by the discount pricing hence the all-inclusive nature of cruises became something different indeed.

The cruise lines discovered that folks willing to pay $299 for a 7-day cruise generally were “cheap cruisers” and didn’t want to spend anything further. They did not buy shore excursions, cocktails, photos, jewelry, dine in the alternative restaurants, gamble or otherwise bring additional funds to spend. While the ships were full with discount-motivated cruisers, the overall yields were so bad that the only way to remain profitable was to cut costs to the bone. The challenge then became increasing yield performance, not filling the ships.

Many of the cruise lines adopted distribution channel strategies focused on overall passenger yield performance. They identified channels that traditionally produced higher yields (higher cabin categories and on board purchases) and sought to evolve these channels into performing on behalf of the cruise lines. Today, channel strategy focus on yield is key to the cruise line’s performance as they move into a more stable inventory environment. As we all know, the new build boom is pretty much over, especially from an annual berth inventory percentage of increase.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and NCL have all restricted the ability of on line discounters to openly discount their products and are adamant that if a consumer wants to buy a cruise they should be able to get the same deal from the channel they select, rather than be forced to purchase the cruise from a particular channel. They are also keenly interested in promoting the value proposition a cruise represents, rather than a price motivated purchase. Understanding their focus on yield rather than load would indicate that the days of deeply discounted cruises are probably over unless another world or economic event dramatically affects demand.

Tom
 
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