Been on several RC cruises, but have never gone through a travel agent. I always book directly through the website, then arrange flights on my own. Would I get a better deal going through a TA? Someone please enlighten me as to why people book cruises through TAs!
I should really let our travel pros answer this; but from my own experience, if it's a simple 7 day Mexican Riviera that involves no flights of transfers, I just do it myself. If the trip is more complex, with international flights, hotels, things like that, I leave to the professionals. I don't like to get in over my head.
And because they sometimes reserve large blocks of cabins, agents can throw in "goodies" you won't get from the cruise line.
Will you get a better deal? Maybe; maybe not. But there is a lot to be said for having someone you have confidence in in your corner, looking out for your interests.
We booked our first cruise with a TA, and it went fine and dandy. The next two cruises, we simply found the RCCL phone number and made a call. Really no sweat-plus, they have the ability to tell you right then and there if a favorite cabin is available or not, the difference in cabin classes, etc. Paying for the cruise is done with them, using a credit or debit card, and so far, there have been NO problems.
I think I would be a little leary doing so on the web site. I like blabbing with people on the phone- just remember what you want, remember the questions you want answered, and go for it.
Booking an excursion on the web site is also no problem (I've found)
Have a Great Time!!
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I always use my travel agent. She has helped us out more than once. Her prices are the same as I would get from RCCL's website. Last October our friends would of missed their cruise if it wasn't for our T.A. The Buffalo airport closed down because of a freak snow storm, and she spent three hours on the phone until she got them on flights to Ft. Lauderdale. Something like that my never happen to you, but if it did, what do you think any website agency or cruise line would do? I just plain like the personalized service you get with a good travel agent.
jillianallison-Nowadays I use a TA I met via a website. I browse the site at my convenience but after I pick a cruise I contact the TA directly via an 800 number-it is sort of the best of both worlds-and I have gotten many fantastic deals.
I am a travel agent, should have said it to you guys before
obviously i am going to say book through a TA but then again to be honest you can do the same your self, i think its just you are on your own so if anything does hit the wall, you know you are up the creek because you have to do it yourself, whereas you can get the TA(me) to fix it all up for you!!!
As far as pricing, most times the TA's and the cruiseline do have the same pricing. Unless the TA has blocked off cabins. I know I have many groups that my prices are more than $100.00/pp less then the cruiseline at this time. But the difference with working with a TA vs the cruiseline directly is the personal service you are going to receive, the customer service if you have a good TA.
Also, its fine to book through the cruiseline, and even possibly have your favorite agent at the cruiseline, but always remember they work for that particular cruiseline, while a TA represents all the cruiselines. A good TA also gets to know what your likes and dislikes are, they will keep you informed of upcoming specials, and they can also book you onto any cruiseline. Most good TA's will look out for your best interest..they want to keep you as a client, they want you to feel comfortable with you using them and want you to refer them to your friends and family.
So many people think that it costs to use a TA, it does NOT, the cruiselines are the ones that pay the commission to the TAs, in fact some TA's can offer you OBC etc..whereas booking the cruiseline directly does not offer anything unless that particular cruiseline is running a special. Also, the agents at the cruiselines are basically working in a call center. I have found that some of the cruiseline agents have never been on a cruise before. Who do you want making recommendations and working with you, a call center person, or a TA that has trained, gone to seminars, kept up all their education on the various cruiselines and ports of call??
Also, keep in mind, TA's do not get paid anything until after you make your final payment. If you book your cruise say 18 months out, you call your TA and make changes to your booking, ask lots of questions (and most TAs welcome your calls and questions), then something happens after about 15 months and you cancel the cruise, the agent gets paid NOTHING, they have essentially worked for you for no pay. That is a chance we all take, and we don't get upset when you cancel, but we did not get paid anything for working with you for a year or so. When you decide to book again and if your TA took care of you during the first booking, then be loyal to that TA, give them the next booking.
I too am a travel agent (cruise consultant to be exact). Regarding using a TA- When you book direct with any cruise line they are working for the cruise line not you. When using a TA they work for you. Sometimes prices go down after booking a cruise. If you have a good agent they will know this and call you letting you know that they just saved you money. The cruise line will never call you and say hey we lowered the prices heres your money back.
This is my first time to respond but would like to thank everone for all the good information I get to pass on to my clients.