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cheeseheads4ever

Booking directly through Celebrity or TA?

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I posted about a year ago asking what advantages there were to booking through a TA compared to dealing directly with Celebrity. We have taken 5 Celebrity cruises and also another 5 on various cruise lines all booking directly through the cruise lines.

To let you know we usually book a balcony or OV. We are not suite people because just out of our price range.

On a recent cruise we became bolder and actually asked people we became friends with what they paid and what perks they got. In all instances we got the better deal.

In the last year I made contact with a few Big box TA’s and just have never connected with them.

We just do not see the big advantage of using a TA and maybe I'm missing something. It really doesnt take long to book the cruise so just to have someone do it for us doesnt work. And doesnt make sense. The extra OBC you get from the TA doesnt seem to be worth it. One was going to give $50. Nice but big deal. With a TA you put one more person between yourself and Celebrity. Like I stated maybe Im missing something. People who book suites and higher dollar cabins yes you most likely get better perks but you are also spend more for the room too.

If anybody has had great success with a TA and would help me get my head out of the sand please respond.

We do like Celebrity although our Jan 2017 wasnt the best one..

Please help!

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I'm of a similar mind but I've read a good bit about people booking online or on board then transferring the booking to their TA. The point, as I understand it, is that the TA will then monitor for price reductions, specials and the like as well as providing additional OBC. Most of the postings I've seen for this have been positive.

 

So next month we'll be on Silhouette and plan to take the time to book our 2019 cruise while on board. We'll get a deal we're happy with then see about transferring to a TA with a "OK, how can you improve on this?" Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't but if we're content to start with it won't matter much. That's the plan,anyway. :)

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From what I've seen, the biggest difference is some TA's give a decent amount of shipboard credit. I booked a Med Cruise in July and got an extra $450 Shipboard credit and have only booked a 2B cabin. To me that is enough to relinquish control. I generally know what I want when I book so there really isn't much more for the TA to do.

 

Others have reported finding TA's who have a group booking and get rates well below what you see on the X website. I have not found that however.

 

I'm OK booking directly with X unless there is a good financial benefit booking elsewhere. The biggest thing to understand when dealing with a TA is what fees they charge to change/cancel and how responsive are they if you do have questions or need changes.

 

The Med cruise I've booked is showing up on the X website and it's a very reputable TA so I have no worries.

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I posted about a year ago asking what advantages there were to booking through a TA compared to dealing directly with Celebrity. We have taken 5 Celebrity cruises and also another 5 on various cruise lines all booking directly through the cruise lines.

To let you know we usually book a balcony or OV. We are not suite people because just out of our price range.

On a recent cruise we became bolder and actually asked people we became friends with what they paid and what perks they got. In all instances we got the better deal.

In the last year I made contact with a few Big box TA’s and just have never connected with them.

We just do not see the big advantage of using a TA and maybe I'm missing something. It really doesnt take long to book the cruise so just to have someone do it for us doesnt work. And doesnt make sense. The extra OBC you get from the TA doesnt seem to be worth it. One was going to give $50. Nice but big deal. With a TA you put one more person between yourself and Celebrity. Like I stated maybe Im missing something. People who book suites and higher dollar cabins yes you most likely get better perks but you are also spend more for the room too.

If anybody has had great success with a TA and would help me get my head out of the sand please respond.

We do like Celebrity although our Jan 2017 wasnt the best one..

Please help!

 

Hi Cheeseheads (and Go Pack!):

 

We are relative newbies, having taken only 2 cruises, but with 3 more scheduled at the moment. Our first was booked through a travel agent, and our second was booked onboard, then transferred to a travel agent. 3, 4 and 5 are all booked by us through travel agents, and none of them the same agent! (Which might be a mistake, but we will see.)

 

Anyway, I don't have much to contribute but want to follow this discussion. I will say that my belief is, that in at least several of these cases, we have obtained additional benefits with the travel agents, either loyalty points with a particular program, or extra OBC, or other benefits. Cruises 3, 4 and 5 we booked ourselves through agents at home, and we were able to book them while comparison shopping with the cruise lines and other agents directly (3 and 4 are Celebrity, 5 is a river cruise). But at this point we really haven't found that single, customer-service oriented individual that we would return to, time and again.

 

Tom & Judy

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We booked a Galapagos cruise while onboard another Celebrity cruise. Celebrity Galapagos cruises are all inclusive (gratuities, beverage, internet, etc.) and there is almost nothing to spend money on on the ship. When we got home, I called several TAs asking about additional benefits. One offered $1000 in air credit if we used Choice Air. If we booked air independently, the offer was a $1000 check after we completed the cruise. I transferred the booking and our airfare was virtually free ($12).

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I have both booked cruises (and other travel) directly and used a large online TA (one that often sponsors cruise critic newsletters and top 25 cruise deals). I have no problem making my own travel arrangements. We usually book concierge class and aqua class on X but have booked oceanview and verandah as well. We do have a travel budget that we try to stick with and always shop our cruises to make sure we're getting the most out of our travel dollars. We have booked all of our X cruises except the first one through this TA. Invariably we get either a lower price for the same cabin category (sometimes up to several hundred dollars per person) or the same price. The biggest difference is in the perks we receive. We generally receive at least 1 more perk (sometimes more) than Celebrity is offering as well as several hundred dollars more in OBC. The OBC offered by the TA is refundable, so if not used it gets handed back in cash on the last cruise day or credited back to our credit card. It cannot, however, be used for pre-cruise purchases, however the OBC that I've gotten from X on those same cruises can. (The OBC-N gets used first.) They also have a loyalty program which gives an additional small OBC to repeat customers and a referral OBC for referring new customers to them once they complete their first cruise. We have never been people who make multiple reservations with no intention of actually taking all of them, so we don't care about the $50 per person cancellation fee they charge, but that is a drawback to some. We also have to go through them to make changes to our reservations, such as upgrades, room changes, price drops, but they have done all of those things for us without problems or errors. Everyone has their own comfort zone when it comes to travel. Although I can, and have, and will continue to make our travel arrangements, I prefer using this TA because they continually provide us with the same cruise experience I can book myself at a better price with more perks. That is worth more to me than the inconvenience of having to go through them. I also can book my own airfare through Choice Air without having to do it through them. In addition, on the rare occasion that I have a problem, it's been valuable to have an ally with clout (thousands of bookings) in my corner to provide assistance.

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We've booked through TA's, booked directly and booked directly before handing over the reservation to a TA. Now we simply go through our big box TA from the outset.

 

Benefits? For our upcoming 14-night cruise (SV cabin) we received a $500 store credit. Got exactly the cabin we wanted and no fuss. After final payment prices dropped and we asked what they could do for us. The TA spent a lot of time speaking to Celebrity, and was able to secure what I consider to be one of the very best C1 cabins for no additional charge, and we also got to keep our beverage package. Had I made the original booking myself, I would have been out $500 and I don't know if I would have been as successful in getting the upgrade. Oh, because we had prepaid our gratuities and the C1 daily rate is higher, the TA absorbed the extra cost, just a nice gesture.

 

I'll always do the legwork in choosing my cruises and cabins, but once DW have made up our minds what we want, we'll go to the TA for the booking. As in the case of our upcoming cruise, I'll continue to monitor for price drops and the like after the booking has been made.

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I'll always do the legwork in choosing my cruises and cabins, but once DW have made up our minds what we want, we'll go to the TA for the booking. As in the case of our upcoming cruise, I'll continue to monitor for price drops and the like after the booking has been made.

 

I've read that one of the benefits of a good TA is that they will monitor for price drops and the like. Do you find that to be the case?

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Just booked a cruise on the Equinox. Booked a balcony cabin for two. I checked Celebrity deals and then through a group for seniors that I have a membership in. The travel department of the association for seniors was the best deal by far. Celebrity was having a sale. Price of the same cabin was the same through both X and the association. $300 OBC and free drinks was offered from Celebrity. I ended up getting the same cabin with $300 OBC and drinks plus an additional $275 OBC from the senior association. So for this cruise they beat X by $275.00 in OBC.

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We usually book directly with Celebrity (on the ship, when possible, for additional perks or OBC) , then move that deal to our big box TA. The ship deal always remains the same, with either additional refundable OBC, or a store credit voucher. The level of cabin doesn't matter, as the added bonus is a % based on the price you are paying for the cruise. Since we have inked our selected cabin at the right price, we don't see a reason for additional hand-holding, but the big box TA is really good at resolving any issue that may come up. Very satisfied. More than 40 cruises without a problem.

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I'm in a dilemma and maybe never book with my TA, they refused to upgrade me after final payment.

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I've read that one of the benefits of a good TA is that they will monitor for price drops and the like. Do you find that to be the case?

There probably are some TAs out there that do provide such services - but given the extra resources needed for such services I doubt they would offer as much OBC or other perks out of their commission as TAs that do not provide such services.

 

I had used a small TA for several cruises and received from 3 to 5% OBC but decided to use a big box warehouse TA for our most recent booking.

 

The total price of the booking, including taxes and fees was $5940.80 for the cabin (for some unknown reason $25.58 less than Celebrity.) The store gift card bonus from the TA will be $475 (you get the card after completion of the cruise.) This is 8% of the total cost and 8.3% of the total not including taxes and fees.

 

To me this is more than sufficient to justify a TA rather than direct booking with Celebrity.

 

Note that I had transferred our original on-board booking to the TA within 60 days; later we decided on a different cruise and had the TA transfer our reservation to the new cruise. They were pleased to do so and our booking still retained the on-board booking bonus OBC.

 

I do all of my own research and price tracking, so only use a TA for their bonus value. I also make sure that the TA has no hidden fees for changes or cancellations.

 

And to those that are concerned about potentially missing out on a sudden price drop while the TA is closed (big box TA I use is open 7 days per week but not 24-hours per day) - all you have to do is place an online 24-hour hold on a cabin to lock in the reduced price. Your TA will then be able to apply the hold and associated reduced price to your existing reservation without losing your existing cabin (assuming that the hold you placed was for a cabin in the same class as your existing cabin.)

 

Bottom line: nothing to lose and much to gain!

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For me it is about the money. I use a TA because there is a financial benefit to doing so. I do a lot of research and I know exactly what I want. I often book onboard and just transfer to the TA. Usually there isn't really anything more they need to do for me. I don't believe they are actively monitoring price drops but I do. I guess I'm lucky to book on the low end of the price (and usually more than a year out) because we have only had a drop once. My usual TA is a big one out of NH that others seem to be referencing here. Occasionally I have compared with a big box store that gives a cash card (store credit).

On my most recent experience with the big box store, they were unable to see the low price I was seeing at Royal Caribbean's web site for a 12/16/18 Allure sailing. They even called RCI who said they were so busy with end of the month Wave sales that they said for us to leave our information and they would book it the next day. I said no way was I going to trust that, so I booked it myself online. The TA told me to call back after the booking was completely confirmed and transfer it to them so I could get their cash card. The next day I called but was told that they couldn't tell me exactly what my offer would be until I actually transferred it (but she estimated it at about $125-$140). So I called the NH TA. I ended up going with them. I booked two oceanview balcony rooms on the Allure for $1797 each with $175 OBC coming from RCI. The TA gave me $150 OBC for each room, plus they give $50 per room loyalty OBC. So by using them I spent $3600 and got $400 OBC. Not bad. I will keep the big box store on my radar, but the NH TA has been great so far.

 

I know it helps to actually compare the numbers so I looked up some of our cruises. Here are the perks from the TA I used with these cruises:

2018 Celebrity Reflection 11-night Caribbean in A2: Cost $4398 NH TA perks: $200 OBC, $80 dining credit, $50 OBC for loyalty

2017 Celebrity Reflection 7-night Caribbean in C2: Cost $2798 NH TA perk: $275 OBC, $50 OBC for loyalty

2017 RCI Independence 5-night Caribbean in balcony: Cost $1500 NH TA perk: $75 OBC, $50 OBC for loyalty

2016 Celebrity Reflection 7-night Caribbean in C3: Cost $2800 NH TA perk: $275 OBC, $50 OBC for loyalty, $25 OBC referral bonus

2015 NCL Sky 4-night Caribbean in balcony: Cost $1200 Big box cash card: $40

2015 Celebrity Reflection 7-night Caribbean in C2: Cost $2400 NH TA perk: Pre-paid gratuities

 

Upcoming:

2018 RCI Allure of the Seas 7-night Caribbean in oceanview balcony: Cost $3600 (2 rooms) NH TA perk: $300 OBC, $100 OBC for loyalty

2019 Celebrity Silhouette 12-night Caribbean in A1: Cost $4798 NH TA perk: $400 OBC, $50 OBC for loyalty

2019 RCI Enchantment of the Seas 5-night Caribbean in JS: Cost $1926 Big Box cash card: $165

 

To me, I don't really feel like I'm giving up any control by using a TA because I don't really need much from them. I can still purchase excursions, dining, etc. from the website and that is mostly what I would need. The rare time I would need to cancel and incur a cancellation fee from a TA would be far outweighed by the OBC I have received so far. I will also add that we always upgrade our drink package and get a specialty dinner or two so we never have to find things to spend our OBC on. When I compare costs, I only calculate in the things that I know I would spend money on anyway such as gratuities, drink upgrades, dinners. If I can get OBC to cover those costs then I know I am reducing my overall out-of-pocket trip cost.

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I too usually book on board, then transfer to a TA for the OBC. I do feel like I'm giving up a bit of control, I constantly check for price drops and usually get adjustments 2 or 3 times per cruise. I'd prefer to do it myself rather than need to go through the TA each time, but for me the extra OBC is worth it. I typically get 6-8% back in OBC.

 

For our upcoming Scandinavia and Russia cruise we're getting 750 OBC from the TA and additional OBC from Celebrity. Totally worth it.

 

Mike

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We book both with a big box, membership required store and direct through a Celebrity vacation planner (CVP). With the big box we've gotten anywhere from $300 to $600 on a cash card after travel. I monitor prices myself using the fishy website which isn't perfect, but is much better than checking it periodically myself. Whether big box or CVP we've been able to call and get a price drop adjustment before final payment.

 

Lately though we've been really happy with our CVP. A simple email gets us a price adjustment and she has even re-booked a room that I had reserved online to get us a better deal. Recently when it was approaching time to transfer to a big box store I was feeling guilty about moving the reservation because she's been super responsive so I told my husband to ask her how much it hurts her if we move it. She said it did take away some of her money, but not all and offered us the same amount in OBC that the big box store would have given.

 

Going forward I think we'll continue to divide our bookings between CVP and big box. There are benefits both ways.

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We have booked just over 50 cruises with the same TA. I now normally book on a cruise, then transfer to our TA. I'm thinking we have 4 cruises booked right now. For the past 2 years we have been booking sky suites on all but one cruise in aqua. Using a TA just make my life easier. That leaves me to book hotels and airfare.

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We usually book onboard at the best deal available and also get a nice amount of onboard credit and lower deposit. We also turn over reservation to our local TA. We have used them for years and they have taken great care of us. Our TA also gives us a nice amount of on board credit also for the cruise.

This has worked for my wife and I and do not see a reason to change.

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Reflection - Iberian Peninsula - 9/6/19

DW is adamant about booking that Iberian cruise while on board Silhouette next month. I have no choice. :D

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I'm glad others are posting % rebates from TAs. I also got about 8% from my big box TA. Of course, the higher your cruise price, the higher your rebate - compared to a set $200 or $300 OBC. Worth considering...

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Ok, let;s see.....Cruise line folks...they never read this stuff, but there marketers. Oh TA's ...yes there is about 30-40 percent are all over CC to help out with these type of questions???? So with that in mind it is like a real estate representative, do you want to work to see if prices are lowering...or do it yourself? If you see that prices are lower do you want to call or email the Cruise line rep and ask for the difference? Up to you if you want to keep going to the site or keep asking your trusted TA if prices lowered. Yes some give more credits because they use there commish to get extra stuff. Some you never hear back on.

 

Well what's your pleasure?

 

 

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I often use a site that allows TA’s to bid on the cruise you want to take. I usually get 12-15% discount of some type, either OBC or reduced rates or perks. I really don’t get a relationship with the TA but I don’t need that having cruised over 25 times. Research is the key!!!

 

 

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I try to remain loyal to my local travel agent since she bends over backwards to answer my one million and one questions. I can drop her an email about anything and can count on a response from her within 24 hours. When she quotes a deal she always follows up with me if she hasn’t heard back. That really means a lot to me. I am one to scout around for a great deal and give my local travel agent a chance to beat it. Sometimes she is able to and sometimes she is unable to. For my most recent booking her company was offering a group rate with two perks on a 2C upgraded to a 2B that was way less than my two online sources that I get email promos from. Then she got Celebrity to apply the $200 off Sail Beyond savings (icing on the cake) to the group rate. Her OBC is $175. She is a keeper and knows how to go to bat with Celebrity. I would rather have her hanging on the phone with them than me. On my 2017 cruise on another cruise line she was not able to beat the TX based online agency, but this year they are priced the same as Celebrity direct on my chosen sailing. I was really surprised my TX rep did not follow up with me after I told him I found group rates much lower than his quote. This after I booked an expensive cruise with him last year. I guess his agency isn’t too desperate for my business. Another new copy cat online agency that sends out lots of emails quoted me a great rate on a C2 upgraded to a C1 aft, but it was more than I wanted to spend as their will be lots of excursions to buy on this cruise. Had this been an itinerary with more sea days I would have seriously considered spending the several hundred dollars more for an aft stateroom. My local agent had no group pricing on concierge or aqua classes. This thread has shined a few new lights on additional avenues for finding deals. I always forget about the senior association. Thanks to all for providing their feedback.

 

 

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I guess it's time for me to find a new TA. I did have one that I liked a lot as she got me exactly what I wanted years ago when I was taking my niece to Disneyland.

 

Last year she moved up in the company and isn't working with clients. So I switched to one of the other agents at the same company.

 

As far as I know this fairly large TA company in Canada and possibly the US isn't giving me anything. I think on Disney I maybe got a $25 OBC. I guess I should be shopping around now as I hope to find a good cruise deal when I'm on my cruise in September.

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As far as I know this fairly large TA company in Canada and possibly the US isn't giving me anything. I think on Disney I maybe got a $25 OBC. I guess I should be shopping around now as I hope to find a good cruise deal when I'm on my cruise in September.

Pretty sure I know which one you are with, and I think that the most I got from them was $25 OBC and a bottle of cheap wine. I now deal with a members-only big box store that has had a travel arm in the US for some years and finally added travel here in Canada a couple of years ago. I've been very happy with them, as my earlier post suggests.

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Whenever we see this topic on CC our response is always the same. Having booked more than 100 cruises (6 continents) we can always save 7-10% (when considering OBCs and other amentities) by shopping around for a good deal among our favorite high volume cruise agencies. Every time I see comments about "control" it just makes me smile. We travel about 7 months a year, always handle our own arrangements, and feel like we have control. Dealing directly with a cruise line gives us no more control then by using a decent cruise agency. In fact, if there is a problem it only takes a short e-mail or quick phone call (no being put on hold) to our Cruise Agent...and then they can deal with the cruise line. Since we use high volume agencies they have a lot more clout with cruise lines then we do :).

 

In that past we have sometimes booked a future cruise while aboard...but quickly had it transferred to one of our favored cruise agencies...once we shop around and determine which agency will give us the most "enhancements" beyond what we are getting from the cruise line. Again...we expect OBCs (or similar) of 7-10% of the cruise price (not counting taxes and fees). Sometimes our savings exceed 10%.....but the norm would be slightly less.

 

When folks post that they cannot get these deals from "their travel/cruise agent" our response is that they should do some more shopping around :). Because they are obviously using the wrong agents/agencies. I do not personally use the Big Box stores....but even they will always beat the deals offered by booking direct.

 

 

Hank

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