dave thats great thats a bunch of cruising, think of all that money you would of saved if you called rccl direct.... or cruise only.com maybe you would of been on your 65th with rccl... but what do I know maybe you dont like to save money... the person who started this thread was looking to save money so i am suggesting leaving out the middle man and have the tickits sent direct to you so you will have more money to spend during your trip instead of getting to your trip. mike
Well, as we're keeping score, I am also in my mid-40s and have been on 27.
I also use an agent. Through the years, I've had some good ones, one that was not so good, and one who is superb (my current one). As others have said, it's not just about the money. What differentiates the good agents from the not-so-good is the service. I'm not just talking about being an advocate when it comes to pricing, but knowing your likes and dislikes enough to help select the best cruise for you. Being on a cruise that doesn't mesh with your expectations or desires is going to be a waste of money, no matter what method you use to book.
As I said in my earlier post, the key is finding a "Good agent". No different then finding a good Lawyer, Doctor, or Accountant. You haven't found a good Travel Agent. The Travel Agent that gave you that information is badly mistaken. No TA in their right mind would talk like that. It simply isn't true you will get a better price dealing direct with the cruise line. I think often people that shop around "think" they are getting a better deal. But many aren't comparing apples to apples. The average person doesn't listen to the details a Travel Agent tells them. All they hear is "outside" @ $450. They don't hear the details of "better category", "better deck", "assigned cabin", "unobstructed". Then they go direct to the cruise line, or what ever on line site and get "outside" @ $400. That's all they hear. "outside @ $400" turns out to be lowest deck, forward, obstructed.
I have done cost comparisons and don't see a cost savings over a TA. Unless it's a site that is rebating. Which is an unethical practice, and why would you want to book with a company that operates like that? They certainly aren't going to provide you service or be there if something goes wrong. It's actually quite comical some of the sites out there that sell travel that have no business selling travel. They certainly aren't specialist. Many don't even belong to the proper travel organizations. Do you realize how many websites out there can look like they are a specific cruise lines website, when indeed they are not? The American Society of Travel Agents has a slogan "Without a Travel Agent, your on your own." No website or even cruise line is going to have your best interest at heart, only their bottom line and booking you matters. Do you really think RCI would say NCL might fit you better, or vice versa? Do you really think if you called NCL and asked for Pride of America, that they would take the time to ask you questions if you understood what kind of experience this ship will provide? If you called Costa or MSC do you think they would explain to you the difference of an Italian style cruise line? If you called a cruise line and asked for Alaska Cruisetour package 2A, do you think they would take the time to explain why 2B might suit you better? Travel Agents will ask you the right questions. They care about their clients and making their clients dream vacations come true. Without a Travel Agent you really are on your own.
I use an agent. Some prefer to do it themselves. But looking beyond the comparisons of service, advocacy, etc., the simple fact is that booking on-line is not always cheaper than using an agent.
An agent could have blocked out group space for a particular cruise, and can sell it for less than what on-line booking agencies can. Case in point - our recent Alaska cruise. I had already booked it. My agent saw lots of interest in that cruise so she reserved group space, moved me to the new group booking, and as a result my price went down and I also got an onboard credit. Do you think an online agency would automatically do that? Think again.
Everyone has there means in booking, only problem with booking through an agent is you have to go directly through them if you have any changes to the booking. When I booked my last cruise they knocked off 800 dollars off the total price and gave us an on board credit.
Make up your own minds I that.