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About JIMinNC

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    North Carolina
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    Flying, Photography
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  1. We chose that same voyage. My wife's birthday is June 24, so we figured it would be better to do southbound so we could be on board for her birthday rather than doing the immediately preceding northbound cruise and having her birthday being the disembarkation day.
  2. So far we've managed to get pretty lucky with OBC, even with direct bookings. Our only recent TA booking, last fall's Azamara 8 day western Med cruise, came with $1800 of OBC, but only $200 of that came from the TA, the rest came from Azamara. Based on my pre-cruise shopping, that would have been available to us on a direct booking also. That was our first cruise in 11 years, so we opted to go the TA route, but after seeing the limited value provided by that agent/firm, we booked this year's Paul Gauguin cruise direct. We were able to get PG to add two promos to our booking and we came away with $600 OBC for the 7 nt June cruise. For our Greek Isles Cruise in fall 2021, we booked direct with Azamara and have $1100 OBC on that one, all from Azamara, but $500 of that was compensation for a major itinerary change that forced us to move our cruise from fall 2020 to fall 2021. Having OBC on Azamara is important as they are not quite as all-inclusive as Regent and even PG. We don't have any OBC for our June 2020 Regent Alaska cruise, but with Regent being so all-inclusive, that is less of a negative.
  3. Our market is dominated by two large multi-location TA organizations. There are other smaller independents but they have very little visibility in the market, so it's hard to evaluate them and know their expertise. I do know a few of the smaller ones focus on group travel, but obviously not all. Trying to sort out online agents seems even more of a crapshoot, especially when it's so easy to just DIY. In any event, our travel plans are more or less set through 2021 with Regent Alaska in summer 2020 and Azamara Greek Isles in fall 2021 already booked. Our other trips will revolve around our Marriott and Hilton timeshares, Marriott Bonvoy points, Hilton Honors points, and AAdvantage miles. TAs can't help much with that. If we book any cruises for 2022 and beyond, maybe by that time we'll learn of a TA that can provide some value. Open to try if that's the case.
  4. I'm sure our perspective is impacted by the fact we've never had good service when using a TA - frustratingly long waits for email replies and call backs, obvious input/clerical errors, finding better deals ourselves than what they said was the "best" deal, etc. If I have to double check everything they do, why not do it myself from the start...
  5. We just prefer to eliminate the middleman. We picked our suite based on the info in this forum, looking at the ship's deck plans, and avoiding those obvious problematic locations.
  6. We used a local travel agent for an Azamara Mediterranean cruise last fall (that was our first cruise in 11 years), and felt they added very little value - a small additional OBC and a small savings on air fare. We wound up booking our pre/post-cruise hotels ourselves because the prices we got through the TA were no different than what we could get through marriott.com. For our Paul Gauguin cruise earlier this year, we did it all ourselves direct with PG, Air Tahiti Nui, and Hilton and much preferred the direct approach and eliminating the middle-man. It's so easy to just book things online on your own, I see no reason to filter everything through a third-party like a travel agent. We booked our Regent cruise last Friday night and filled out all the forms online in less than 15 minutes. No need to wait for a TA to reply to messages or emails, which was always frustrating when we used the TA for last fall's cruise. Thanks for the clarification on what date the 270-day clock is based on. I'll probably reach out to Regent in the next week or so just to confirm exact dates and best process. We know when the pre-cruise starts, so we know when we'll be flying in to Anchorage, but we still need to decide how many nights we're going to stay post-cruise in Vancouver (one or two) to get our return date. We'll be booking our own post-cruise hotel.
  7. Thanks, I started reading the deviation thread at the top of the page, but it is so long, it is a bit imposing to get through, so that's why I posted the question. Still slowly going through it. We don't use Travel Agents any more, so I booked direct with Regent online. I guess my biggest question is when do I need to reach out to Regent? I read I can't do anything until 270 days out, but is that 270 days from cruise departure or 270 days from the start of our pre-cruise tour (we are doing the Denali tour pre-cruise, so will need to fly in about four days before ship embarkation. I know the flights that I want, so hopefully Regent will have space on those flights. We live at a big American Airlines hub city, so AA seems to offer us the best options with the most direct routings.
  8. We just booked our first Regent cruise this weekend - next June for Alaska - and am looking to educate myself on the whole air deviation issue. We are still about a month from the 270 day point, so I need to get it all figured out before then. All of our other trips and cruises on other lines we have handled our own air, so this is the first time for us to use included air. We are doing the Denali adventure pre-cruise (we embark in Seward) but may spend one or two nights post-cruise on our own in Vancouver. We'll probably just use our Marriott Bonvoy points there instead of paying Regent their exorbitant rate for what appears to be their only option - the Trump hotel in Vancouver. Can anyone suggest a thread or other source to understand the best way to play the air issue with Regent?
  9. Thanks for the input. Between Wednesday when I posted my question and tonight, three of the cabins we were considering in Concierge Suite category D and E must have been booked because they disappeared, so we opted to just go for Penthouse Suite C on Deck 9. Made the deposit online on suite 903 and doing Denali pre-cruise. Thanks again. Looking forward to our first Regent cruise. We did Azamara Mediterreanean last fall and Paul Gauguin French Polynesia a couple months ago.
  10. After deciding in post #9 above to probably delay our Alaska cruise until 2021, we're back considering it for June 2020. As I mentioned, most of the best cabins are taken, so we're trying to determine if what is available will be acceptable or not (i.e. noise or other issues). Since the consensus is side of the ship doesn't matter, of these general cabin locations, which would be preferable for Alaska on the Mariner. We're preliminarily looking at Concierge Suite D or E: 1) midship Deck 10 under the pool deck 2) midship Deck 8 above the tenders/lifeboats 3) aft Deck 10 under La Veranda Might give some consideration to a Penthouse C, and if so would likely be Deck 9 more toward forward. I'm assuming that's better than any of the above, but we may decide to save the $$ and go with D or E, so need some input on which would be the best option.
  11. ...and people wonder why people from other countries are often annoyed by American tourists. A few bad apples like these give us all a bad name. It was also enlightening (and somewhat troubling) to see how America is perceived by others now, talking to other passengers from around the world on our fall 2018 Mediterranean cruise and our June PG cruise.
  12. I'm not sure if PG offers a package that's just a day-room specifically, but if you book ANY offered pre- or post-cruise hotel package from PG, they will provide transfers even if you do not book your airfare through PG. You just give them your flight arrival/departure information and, as long as you have bought a pre- or post- hotel package, you are transported just like the people who actually bought the air fare from PG. We did our own air fare last month, but booked a two-night pre-cruise package at the IC Tahiti and all transfers were included and they were waiting for us at the airport when our flight landed. We did our own thing on the back end, so no PG transfer, but had we booked a post cruise hotel through PG, they would have provided transfers to hotel and then to airport. What I don't know is if they offer a package that's just a day room and doesn't include an overnight.
  13. I agree with David that seeing more of Moorea versus just spending the day at a hotel is what you should do. We cruised last fall on Azamara in Europe, but spent 7 days on Paul Gauguin last month. You need to see the Belvedere lookout, you need to see the scenery on the island. Take a snorkel excursion - you can swim/stand with stingrays and reef sharks in shallow water and see hundreds (thousands?) of beautiful fish. So many activities other than just sitting on a beach or going to a hotel. French Polynesia is a beautiful place - we love Hawaii and go often, but Moorea and Bora Bora are more beautiful and more unspoiled.
  14. We booked our RT air on our own, but since we bought a pre-cruise package from Paul Gauguin, we still got the transfers from airport to hotel and hotel to the pier. It was simple. We booked our post-cruise on our own since we wanted the Hilton Moorea and PG didn’t offer that property in their packages, so we were on our own once we got off the ship. So if you are planning a pre and/or post hotel package through PG, you can book your own air and still get the transfers.
  15. I disagree that "Greed" is the issue. Azamara's parent company RCL is a publicly-traded corporation whose stockholders want the company to maximize profits so the stock will go up. I don't own RCL stock, but I know that's how I want every company I do own stock in to behave. RCL only trades at about a 12 P/E ratio, so the market isn't valuing it as a "greedy" company, it is trading at a below-average P/E. Companies have to strike a balance between rewarding loyal customers and foregoing revenue opportunities to do so. I think RCL/Azamara know they need to keep their best customers happy, but they are also constantly challenged to be sure that revenue keeps growing at a rate that keeps their stock rising and their shareholders happy. It's not greed, it's a delicate balancing act.
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