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Old 08-08-2008, 06:27 AM
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OK you RCI veterans.
I need to book months in advance...here's my question. Will I get a better deal by booking with a TA or by booking directly with RCI?
Thanks
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:19 AM
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Use an agent who specializes in cruises. Their price will at least be the same as booking with RCI directly, but if they have group space it can be cheaper.
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Old 08-08-2008, 08:02 AM
 
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You will always get a better deal with a TA, although you should shop around among several agencies. We book about 5 or 6 longer cruises a year, and use a personal short list of 5 TAs that we can check on-line and via phone. With RCI, there is very strict price controls (from the cruise line) which make it interesting. Many TAs will add amenities since they may not be permitted to drop the price. Sometimes you can find things like pre-paid gratuities, on-board credits, etc. Actually, the most interesting deals are with Azamara (owned by RCI
) where we recently took an 18 day cruise and were able to get $900 in on-board credits (a record for us). It is against the board policy for me to list TAs, but you should be looking at the larger national TAs.

By the way, the reason we say to use a TA is that the cruise lines will not match the amenities (and sometimes group rates) that are offered by TAs. One warning about TAs is that most of them now will charge a concellation penalty (can't blame them for not wanting to work for free) so you should always ask about this before booking.

Hank
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:53 AM
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We work with a TA in Minnesota who bill themselves and cruise specialists. They have group rates that are less than we can get through RCCL directly and they also offer chartered air--everybody on our plane is usually boarding a cruise courtesy of their booking agents--at somewhat of a discount over standard air prices, and more convenient than the air arrangements usually offered by the cruise lines. It pays to shop around.
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Old 08-08-2008, 11:05 AM
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Using charter air for a cruise is very risky. You don't have a lot of back up if cancelled, or delayed for mechanical. Highly recommend flying in a day early and travel insurance.
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Old 08-08-2008, 11:13 AM
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I prefer loyalty to my agent rather than constantly running around trying to save a few bucks. I check the cruise I want, do some on-line research about available cabins, and then send my agent an e-mail asking her to book it. She has all my info on file so all it involves is my e-mail, and then usually within a few hours (or less) I'll have a reply with a copy of the invoice. On occasion she has seen my cruise getting popular so she has blocked some space on it and rebooked me to the group, which means a savings and usually a shipboard credit or something else. This is all done on automatic by her. RCI isn't going to do it for you if you book direct.
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Old 08-08-2008, 12:11 PM
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Dave, I would love to have the name of a good TA, would you mind sharing yours?
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Old 08-08-2008, 01:17 PM
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It is against the forum rules to publicly post information about travel agents. It is soliciting. We have to protect the rights of our advertisers, who have paid to solicit business.
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Old 08-08-2008, 05:53 PM
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We always buy travel insurance. Anything can happen. The charter air I referenced comes from probably the biggest travel/cruise provider in my state, and they claim they have never missed a cruise due to mechanical delays--apparently they are a big enough customer for this particular airline that a reasonable backup is in place. I know people that would, but we would not risk messing up a several thousand dollar vacation to save $50 on airfare. Weather however can get dicey. I sweat bullets every year until I am sitting on the plane and it is flying over Florida.

My parents traveled in a group of 6 senior citizens for a 12 day. They arrived at the airport what I think of as Sr. Citizen early--probably 3 hours. They were offered 6 seats on a flight leaving right away if they wanted it. They went for it: it was the last flight out of Minneapolis that day as a weather front was moving in and the rest of the group had to meet the ship at the first port of call (not fun).
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RCCL Adventure 2009

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Old 08-08-2008, 08:14 PM
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Like Dave, I am loyal to my travel agent because she watches out for the best deals for me. If you know the prices on the RC website, you'll have a price to compare to if you shop around.

Sonny
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