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About cangelmd

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Celebrity, princess
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  1. I think one reason cruises may have stuck around with travel agencies so long is that most new cruisers may not feel comfortable just booking a cruise, they depend on TAs, whether they be brick and mortar or articles on an online site plus a phone number, to allay their concerns about cruising. Many new cruisers do end up here asking questions, but I'd bet they are a small percent of all first time cruisers, and many have already booked their first cruise. I know that Celebrity is trying hard to reach out and induce new and younger passengers - they may be trying harder, but my guess is they aren't the only line trying to do that. If they didn't have the TAs to do some of the advertising and question answering for them, what would their in-house advertising and customer service budget have to be? Might be cheaper than the discounts to TAs, might not be.
  2. A side question - those of you who get super deals because you book very early - when do you think you see the rates begin to go up after the new cruises come out? Is there any rhyme or reason to it? And, do you book with perks or are these bare bones rates on the just released itineraries? I ask because we wanted to book on of the new Tampa cruises - we were actually on the Equinox when they were announced and could have gotten a good deal I think, but we really wanted to get BIL/SIL to go with us, and needed time to contact them and let them ponder going. By the time we got home and all this transpired, the rates had shot up, and our preferred cabins were gone. I realize all of that was partly because we were looking at the first cruises out of Tampa, and I think there was a lot more demand than maybe even Celebrity expected.
  3. Good to know. Taking those cards and buying gas makes total absolute financial sense - more than about half of what we have been talking about on this thread, LOL! If you gas up your car, you don't even go into the store to be tempted by the 10 ft prelit Christmas trees, giant packages of napkins and vitamins and the chips made out of some sort of ancient grain that is trying to fool you into thinking those chips are good for you! Using the rebates as gas cards is literally putting money in your pocket, taking savings from an optional and fun activity and using it to cover a necessity. It's just that we have to drive by too many gas stations to justify doing that I guess and knowing us, those cards wouldn't ever get used. If we had only cruised when our kids were at home...of course then the Big Box store hadn't been built yet in our city.
  4. Argh! I can’t believe it. I will have to go back to my Cruise Planner, I just booked Eden this past Sunday and I think I paid $65 per. I finally read enough reports that Eden booked up by 2nd or 3rd day on board, that I decided to prebook and not worry!
  5. T me the take home message is evaluate the terms and conditions of all Medigap and Medicare Advantage and regular Medicare for that matter. Look at what your health needs are now, and what your obligations will be if you have to go to the hospital under different plans. all of these are expensive, and their ultimate goal is to make money (and in the case of Medicare, not spend money), not to take care of you - all the advertising works very hard to obfuscate that goal, even for BCBS which technically doesn’t make a profit. You are the only person who has your own best interest, both financial and health wise, in mind.
  6. MD here - this is pretty common now with widespread pharmacy benefits management plans. Makes no sense to me, but I'm not the kind of MD that writes lots of scrips, so maybe there is something about the policy that I don't understand - I do know that it is NOT just pain meds and not just expensive non-generic meds either. I do think an MD can write you a new scrip or a bridge scrip as someone else mentioned, at least on non-Medicare plans. If you are a frequent traveler with multiple meds, consult with your pharmacist about options. Medicare rules are so obscure that I wouldn't be surprised to find out that you can't technically do what was mentioned above - I don't KNOW that , but I just wouldn't be surprised. When the time comes - traditional Medicare for me, with a strong supplement - no Medicare Advantage as long as I can afford the premiums!
  7. Oh and why don't we use the big box store - very simple, their rates are excellent, but a lot of the savings goes into gift cards, and we live just far enough from big box store to know that those gift cards would just sit around until they expire. We are keeping our membership because we might use them for travel in the future.
  8. Counting 2 cruises that I booked in the 90s, I've used every possible permutation you read about here - and I've booked on Celebrity, RCCL, Carnival and Princess - brick and mortar agency, called up the cruise company and booked direct, booked on board, used a friend of a friend who was a TA, put the cruise out on that bid for it website. The lowest prices seem to come from the booking onboard. But, putting the booking out for bid got me the same base price and offers that Celebrity was giving at that time plus additional onboard credit - widely varying amounts of onboard credit, especially on a transatlantic (up to $800 per cabin on a $3000 cruise), very little onboard credit in the case of an inside cabin on the Edge (started out at $100/ cabin, now up to $250). My first time to put booking out to bid, I found the TA that we used to be only OK - she works part time, likely from home, one time zone over from us, but worked odd hours and was not particularly responsive - we chose to not use her again). The second time we put a booking out, I think we now have a winner, we have booked a 3rd cruise with this TA. The percentage of OBC is going up a bit, with every booking - keeping in mind that the amount of OBC is related to the overall cost of the cruise, so going up proportionally (our Edge cruise total is about $1900, so I wouldn't expect $800 worth of onboard credit). Why I think this fellow is aa keeper is that he is very responsive, and he is monitoring the cruise prices, we have already rebooked 2 of those cruises, not at huge astronomical savings, but saving us about $400-500 total. I don't have time at this point to truly monitor those prices, and I respect him for passing those savings on to us - he will be rewarded with more bookings. I guess that is a long story to say, you might not get a good agent the first or even the second time - after my first TA experiences I would agree with your initial post. If you don't travel enough to build a relationship and find a TA you can work with (or if you don't just know someone) you are probably better off to book direct and monitor the prices OR use big box store (they are going to give you essentially cash and have good prices). I also want "good enough" - I would rather have someone who monitors prices for me than who gives me the largest amount of OBC possible - I don't feel like I have "lost" if I don't get the absolute best deal.
  9. We checked in to a Reflection cruise a couple of weeks ago and uploaded photos.
  10. The process for Equinox for suite guests is very relaxing, although I hear what you are saying about the seats, lol! It is also fast. It remains to be seen if the other ships, ie Reflection can follow the same procedure, I hope so, we board reflection in late Nov. Maybe we will know when reflection starts sailing out of FLL in a few weeks
  11. Maybe it is an upper suite that Celeb was talking about...
  12. I did not think you could book a suite without a drink package? Maybe not an upper level suite?
  13. You have more or less echoed our experience. Just a little bit more shade would make the area more usable. I know they would have to be cognizant of the wind, but just a couple of feet on those side awnings would help.
  14. Spot of Tea The Battle House Hotel has a beautiful interior and is a sight to see, very elegant, if that is more your friends' thing. Spot of Tea, though, breakfast and brunch is what they do, ginormous Bloody Marys
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