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ghstudio

Book directly with Celebrity or a TA - an example

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We just completed a cruise and while on-board, we booked a B2B cruise in late 2020 with refundable rates.  Priced on board...1A cabin at 1B price + 2 perks for both cruises $12000 but had the booking held by Celebrity, not assigned to a TA.  We emailed three large TA's we've used to see what they were offering.   Astonishing replies.  1 said they couldn't discuss pricing in emails...call them (I know I could have called for free from guest relations, but that's a crazy marketing policy...and they charge a cancellation fee anyway so I just crossed them off); 1 didn't reply at all....the day I returned from the cruise, I got a note saying "sorry I didn't get back to you sooner....." (and they are a very large internet TA...unforgivable).  The third confirmed in minutes that what we saw on their web site was correct, we chatted back and forth in email clarifying refundability and change/cancellation fees and later that day we returned to future cruises and changed our booking to an A1 cabin at A2 prices $14000, we chose our cabin and had it assigned directly to the TA. It was very easy...the reps get credit just for booking you...not if you book with Celebrity or a TA. Within minutes we had a confirmation from the TA that our price for our A1's was now $12000 (that's $2000 less than Celebrity wanted) + four perks (vs 2) plus the Celebrity on-board booking OBC plus a little more OBC.....The low promotional deposit offer didn't apply because it's part of a group rate deal, so I had to increase our deposit, but it's still fully refundable until final payment is due. 

 

I know we could have moved the reservation within 60 days of the original booking after returning home...but it was actually easier just doing it on the ship since we had the internet package...sitting outside enjoying the fresh sea air.

 

I always advise folks to book on-board, book refundable and then check to see what deals you can get on-line for transferring that reservation.  Lock in your cabin now....then check the deals.  I just wanted to highlight how much moving that booking may be worth....  

 

Edited by ghstudio

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Thanks so much for detailing your experience.  I often wondered how this transfer worked and if a TA would honor additional discounts if you booked via future cruise desk.  We'll be sure to look into this next time we're onboard!

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Glad this worked  out but  for us it is too much work!   We pick the ship , itin and cabin we want.  If it fits our budget we book with X from home..easier that way...

 

We have  gotten good pricing, perks and locations by  booking early! But we are only cruising 2  max 3 per yr these days!

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We usually book about 4 months out. If you are flexible on itinerary, cabin location and timing.. I still find the best deals around the 90 day mark. Now I am talking non refundable no perk fares... We did a next cruise last fall... it was a cruise that included Columbia... but as we got closer we changed to a cruise this Sept... over the course of the year the cost has come down some.... but lately I am seeing shorter less flashy cruises within 2 months that are quite attractive if all you want to do is cruise... but with one scheduled in Sept... I hesitate to have them so close together.... without being a back to back.

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Great example of the wide variety of deals as well as service by various TAs

 

I have sent email multiple times to a large internet TA and gotten the kind of poor response the OP mentions. 

IMHO Poor customer service on the front end spells disaster if something goes wrong later

 

 

 

 

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Congrads to the OP (we have used a similar strategy in the past).  We suspect your post has the following impact.  1.  Those of us who routinely shop around (and usually save at least 10% on every booking) agree with your strategy.  2.  There is also a group of folks here on CC who seem to have no interest in saving money and will continue to book directly with the cruise line or a specific Travel Agent who does not offer great deals.

 

For several decades we have wondered about that latter group (it is no just with Celebrity but every cruise line) who dismisses the idea of saving hundreds or even thousands on each booking.  We actually met one gentleman on a cruise who insisted that the deals do not exist (he became a believer when I later showed him an invoice).  On the HAL boards there are quite a few who have "bonded" with their Personal Cruise Counselor (PCC)  (a cruise line reservation agent) and happily (according to them) pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more for the privilege  with that cruise line employee.  And they sometimes express dismay that their favorite PCC will lose a commission if the cruiser books elsewhere.  As a stockholder we do salute those willing to pay more to help boost the bottom line :).

 

For those that are interested we simply suggest "shopping around among a few reputable high volume cruise agencies for the best overall deal."  In many cases you will not save money on the actual cruise price, but will get amenities such as on board credits which can be substantial.  We normally advise that one should look for savings in the 7 - 10% range although there are some deals that can far exceed that 10% amount.

 

Hank

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4 hours ago, Hlitner said:

We normally advise that one should look for savings in the 7 - 10% range although there are some deals that can far exceed that 10% amount.

Thanks @Hlitner - I always appreciate your insights and experience. 

 

I have trouble finding those levels of benefits from Canadian TAs. I'd love to hear success stories from others in Canada, if they have been that successful ...

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We just got off the Millennium yesterday and booked a 10 night Iberian peninsula itinerary on the Apex for May 2020, will transfer to my TA in the next month or so. So far we’ve gone with a big box retailer and have been happy with their service, quite often we get a group rate (this will mean a bigger deposit under Celebrity’s new policy) OBC to the tune of about 8-9%, plus quite often a specialty dining voucher. From what some of you say there are TAs who do better, but I don’t know how to find them! The ones I’ve contacted charge for cancellation, and/or don’t give as much. 

 

All said, the OP is very right, you can do better than going with just Celebrity...

Edited by prish

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6 hours ago, Shadow9612 said:

Thanks @Hlitner - I always appreciate your insights and experience. 

 

I have trouble finding those levels of benefits from Canadian TAs. I'd love to hear success stories from others in Canada, if they have been that successful ...

 

 

You can book with a US TA 😉.

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7 hours ago, prish said:

We just got off the Millennium yesterday and booked a 10 night Iberian peninsula itinerary on the Apex for May 2020, will transfer to my TA in the next month or so. So far we’ve gone with a big box retailer and have been happy with their service, quite often we get a group rate (this will mean a bigger deposit under Celebrity’s new policy) OBC to the tune of about 8-9%, plus quite often a specialty dining voucher. From what some of you say there are TAs who do better, but I don’t know how to find them! The ones I’ve contacted charge for cancellation, and/or don’t give as much. 

 

All said, the OP is very right, you can do better than going with just Celebrity...

 

Depending on this or next month's offers you mean?

 

Regarding your question; I tend to be a smart cruiser. Most of the times and very happy.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, FreestyleNovice said:

 

Depending on this or next month's offers you mean?

 

Regarding your question; I tend to be a smart cruiser. Most of the times and very happy.

 

 

I booked with Celebrity and then started wondering about TA benefits and asking around. I'm glad I did because I got and extra $600 of onboard credit in addition to the OBC from Celebrity itself.  If you don't at least look into it, you're giving away money. I will use this TA from here onward.

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27 minutes ago, Greenymac said:

I booked with Celebrity and then started wondering about TA benefits and asking around. I'm glad I did because I got and extra $600 of onboard credit in addition to the OBC from Celebrity itself.  If you don't at least look into it, you're giving away money. I will use this TA from here onward.

Don't tie yourself to one TA....different TA's often have very different offers...some are better with Celebrity, others with Princess, etc.  We currently have cruise bookings through 3 internet TA's. 

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2 hours ago, villauk said:

 

 

You can book with a US TA 😉.

True, I have read about success here on CC from UK cruisers using US agencies.  I don't know why I've been reluctant to try - fear of the unknown I suppose 😫:classic_blink:. I should just do it lol!

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12 minutes ago, ghstudio said:

Don't tie yourself to one TA....different TA's often have very different offers...some are better with Celebrity, others with Princess, etc.  We currently have cruise bookings through 3 internet TA's. 

I misspoke, I meant I will be using TA from here on out, not this specific one. I shop around on everything.

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14 minutes ago, Shadow9612 said:

True, I have read about success here on CC from UK cruisers using US agencies.  I don't know why I've been reluctant to try - fear of the unknown I suppose 😫:classic_blink:. I should just do it lol!

 

European here, happily using US based online TA with zero complaints. Also much better deposit and cancellation policies.

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1 minute ago, FreestyleNovice said:

 

European here, happily using US based online TA with zero complaints. Also much better deposit and cancellation policies.

Ok, so I really need to take the plunge into looking at cross-border-TA's.  

 

So I should pay attention to cancellation policies/charges, right?  Anything else I should make sure to look out for ??

 

Or, from a different angle, I suppose I would just ask the same questions, or look out for the same things I would in my own country's TA's, correct?

 

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9 hours ago, Shadow9612 said:

Thanks @Hlitner - I always appreciate your insights and experience. 

 

I have trouble finding those levels of benefits from Canadian TAs. I'd love to hear success stories from others in Canada, if they have been that successful …

We know some Canadians that have (for many years) booked most of their cruises through a high volume cruise agency located in Florida.  Of course you do have to deal with the currency issue.  I would assume that any transaction done with a US agency will be handled in US Dollars.  

 

Hank

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7 minutes ago, Shadow9612 said:

Ok, so I really need to take the plunge into looking at cross-border-TA's.  

 

So I should pay attention to cancellation policies/charges, right?  Anything else I should make sure to look out for ??

 

Or, from a different angle, I suppose I would just ask the same questions, or look out for the same things I would in my own country's TA's, correct?

 

 

One thing you should be aware of when doing this...booking with a US agent...is that your booking will be covered by US laws.  I believe those booking in the UK (and surely other countries) have some legal coverage that may not apply if you make a US booking.  For most, this isn't an issue....but if it's an issue for you....obviously book where you are comfortable.

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12 minutes ago, Shadow9612 said:

Ok, so I really need to take the plunge into looking at cross-border-TA's.  

 

So I should pay attention to cancellation policies/charges, right?  Anything else I should make sure to look out for ??

 

Or, from a different angle, I suppose I would just ask the same questions, or look out for the same things I would in my own country's TA's, correct?

 

 

Yep, just like any other. There was a time (or perhaps there still is with some lines) that international bookings were less allowed by cruise lines but nowadays most websites have a "Non US/International" box to tick in their reservation forms. :classic_smile:

 

 

4 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We know some Canadians that have (for many years) booked most of their cruises through a high volume cruise agency located in Florida.  Of course you do have to deal with the currency issue.  I would assume that any transaction done with a US agency will be handled in US Dollars.  

 

Hank

 

Correct. Benefits us most of the time. There is a transaction fee but the US offers (as in price, perks, deposit and cancellation deadline) outweigh that by far.

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To add fuel to this fire, we recently booked b2b cruises through a T/A and inadvertently received the invoice charged by the cruise line instead of the T/A.  The markup was 27 percent.  That is a lot of leeway to a T/A to play with in offering their own perks to entice using them instead of direct with the cruise line.  

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Our online TA is currently offering up to 10% in OBC of total fare (excl. tax and fees).

 

Combine that with Celebrity's two perks and let's say somewhere around 150 credit from booking on board for an average balcony on a 7 night cruise.

 

That plus price drops makes it very interesting, more interesting than leaving a booking with Celebrity.

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6 minutes ago, Globehoppers said:

To add fuel to this fire, we recently booked b2b cruises through a T/A and inadvertently received the invoice charged by the cruise line instead of the T/A.  The markup was 27 percent.  That is a lot of leeway to a T/A to play with in offering their own perks to entice using them instead of direct with the cruise line.  

 

Always wondered what the margin was, thanks. Nice.

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2 hours ago, FreestyleNovice said:

 

Depending on this or next month's offers you mean?

 

Regarding your question; I tend to be a smart cruiser. Most of the times and very happy.

 

 

 

Want to give myself some time to shop around within the 60 day period. No complaints about our current TA but still want to see what else is out there. Any suggestions from the OP, greenymac and FreestyleNovice...?

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