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MandyMooToo

Still don't see why I should use a TA...

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So I have read on the boards over and over about how using a TA gets you extras, better pricing possibly and is all at no cost but you have to give over control of your reservation.  Well, we have only one local TA office and it is not regarded well so I did a bit of looking around and found one with excellent ratings about half an hour away.  I contacted them and explained our cruise style (they specialize in cruises) and received a nice answer with some info on a river cruise my husband and I want to take in a couple of years.  I then contacted them and said I had booked a cruise, spur of the moment due to a good price, and asked about transferring the booking to them and what benefit that would be for us.  The TA told me they could book pre and post cruise accommodations, flights if we choose to fly and they would monitor for price drops automatically.  Otherwise the pricing is the same and no mention of OBC, extras of any sort, etc.  So again, I just don't see what the point is unless you are taking and involved trip, going overseas or maybe the river cruise we are looking at for 2021/2022 as it will be a bit more difficult to manage.  I can book a hotel and flights on my own as I have been doing for years.  Am I missing something?  

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You need to look at on-line travel agencies, not small brick and morter, mom and pop ones.  

 

Have you heard about the  website where you enter the cruise, date and then TAs compete for your business?

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3 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

Am I missing something?  

Yes, you're missing something. Travel agents can save you significant amounts of money via on board credits, fare discounts or rebates even on a simple cruise booking that doesn't involve airline fights and hotels. We just saved a couple of hundred dollars on a relatively inexpensive simple one week cruise on a ship that ports an hour's drive from our home simply by booking with a travel agent that had a special offer on that sailing.

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What mafig just wrote. Or your friendly big box warehouse store. 

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1 minute ago, njhorseman said:

Yes, you're missing something. Travel agents can save you significant amounts of money via on board credits, fare discounts or rebates even on a simple cruise booking that doesn't involve airline fights and hotels. We just saved a couple of hundred dollars on a relatively inexpensive simple one week cruise on a ship that ports an hour's drive from our home simply by booking with a travel agent that had a special offer on that sailing.

 

The (somewhat local) agent I spoke with offered nothing beyond managing my booking and offering to set up flights/hotels and price monitoring.  He specifically said the pricing would be the same booking through him or though the cruise line.  

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Just now, CPT Trips said:

What mafig just wrote. Or your friendly big box warehouse store. 

 

That may be the problem then, I went looking for someone local that  could visit and see face to face.  I suppose I should look online.  Thanks everyone, I just couldn't see the point if I was not going to get a benefit.

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10 minutes ago, mafig said:

You need to look at on-line travel agencies, not small brick and morter, mom and pop ones.  

 

Have you heard about the  website where you enter the cruise, date and then TAs compete for your business?

 

Just found it, thanks!

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

 

That may be the problem then, I went looking for someone local that  could visit and see face to face.  I suppose I should look online.  Thanks everyone, I just couldn't see the point if I was not going to get a benefit.

There can be a benefit other than a better price. A good travel agent can get to know your needs and recommend the best cruise for you...something you may not even have been aware of. They can also be a lot of help in dealing with any problems that might arise...as sometimes they do. Travel agents can have better access to more knowledgeable people higher up on the cruise line food chain than you would be able to contact directly.

Edited by njhorseman

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8 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

 

Just found it, thanks!

One other suggestion for them.

I have not had the best of luck with them on weekends.  Some (not all) of the quotes will be computer generated.  Just so you know.  If you get some like that (and you can tell because they almost all offer just guarantees), just cancel the request and re-file it tomorrow.  Good luck!

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2 minutes ago, mafig said:

One other suggestion for them.

I have not had the best of luck with them on weekends.  Some (not all) of the quotes will be computer generated.  Just so you know.  If you get some like that (and you can tell because they almost all offer just guarantees), just cancel the request and re-file it tomorrow.  Good luck!

 

Thanks!

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I don't even know how many times I tried a TA and wasted my time. The best offer I ever received was an extra $25 obc. I tend to book lower categories. I've been on enough TA websites to see they clearly give perks if you are buying some premium balcony for $6000, but little to nothing for a lower category. There is not enough markup in those rooms to give you much. It's like people who tell you they got a free macbook with the purchase of their car. Little did they tell you, they bought a high-end Mercedez at sticker price. You sure swindled them. Most people bragging about their free bottle of wine or gratuities paid, aren't telling you how much they spent on their cruise. Also, they "found the best, secret TA"

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54 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

So I have read on the boards over and over about how using a TA gets you extras, better pricing possibly and is all at no cost but you have to give over control of your reservation.  Well, we have only one local TA office and it is not regarded well so I did a bit of looking around and found one with excellent ratings about half an hour away.  I contacted them and explained our cruise style (they specialize in cruises) and received a nice answer with some info on a river cruise my husband and I want to take in a couple of years.  I then contacted them and said I had booked a cruise, spur of the moment due to a good price, and asked about transferring the booking to them and what benefit that would be for us.  The TA told me they could book pre and post cruise accommodations, flights if we choose to fly and they would monitor for price drops automatically.  Otherwise the pricing is the same and no mention of OBC, extras of any sort, etc.  So again, I just don't see what the point is unless you are taking and involved trip, going overseas or maybe the river cruise we are looking at for 2021/2022 as it will be a bit more difficult to manage.  I can book a hotel and flights on my own as I have been doing for years.  Am I missing something?  

We always use TA’s . Many times a TA has group rates which can be considerably lower than the cruise lines.

In 2008 we began using a TA who gave gifts to people for booking with her.One time she gave us binoculars,really good quality. Another time she gave us luggage. She was available 24/7 for inquiries .

 

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43 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

 

Just found it, thanks!

There are far better deals to be had then what a "competition" TA website will provide (though it is useful in determining price points.

you said you've read the posts here on CC about the benefits of using a TA. But you must have missed the zillion I've posted over the years about how to find the right TA (specializing in your preferred line and willing to share commissions (at approx. 5-10% of the commissionable fare) and provide other $ value via cruise line incentive and/or consortia perks available to them.

Please search again.

And don't buy that malarkey about losing "control" of your booking: whose phone call will be answered immediately and with satisfactory solution: someone who sells millions of $ per year for your cruise line or you (a rounding error in the cruise line's bottom line)?

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20 minutes ago, Joebucks said:

I don't even know how many times I tried a TA and wasted my time. The best offer I ever received was an extra $25 obc. I tend to book lower categories. I've been on enough TA websites to see they clearly give perks if you are buying some premium balcony for $6000, but little to nothing for a lower category. There is not enough markup in those rooms to give you much. It's like people who tell you they got a free macbook with the purchase of their car. Little did they tell you, they bought a high-end Mercedez at sticker price. You sure swindled them. Most people bragging about their free bottle of wine or gratuities paid, aren't telling you how much they spent on their cruise. Also, they "found the best, secret TA"

 

I never paid $6000 for a cruise.

Sometimes you have to call the TA to get better deals, they cannot advertise them on their website.

When a TA offers something like free gratuities, that is for all levels of cabins.

 

One of my better deals was $600 obc …. and it was for a mid-level balcony.  The deal was $300 if paying with a certain credit card (which I luckily had) and only $100 from the travel agent.  When I got my final invoice I noticed it said $600 obc.  Did she make a mistake, I thought?  I called her and she said "oh, I found a group to put you into and you got more obc."  

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13 minutes ago, Joebucks said:

I don't even know how many times I tried a TA and wasted my time. The best offer I ever received was an extra $25 obc. I tend to book lower categories. I've been on enough TA websites to see they clearly give perks if you are buying some premium balcony for $6000, but little to nothing for a lower category. There is not enough markup in those rooms to give you much. It's like people who tell you they got a free macbook with the purchase of their car. Little did they tell you, they bought a high-end Mercedez at sticker price. You sure swindled them. Most people bragging about their free bottle of wine or gratuities paid, aren't telling you how much they spent on their cruise. Also, they "found the best, secret TA"

 

You have tried the wrong TAs. We have used a local TA and now use a big box TA. The local TA only offered $25 in OBC, but handled everything, including flights. We used her twice.

 

When we started reading CC we learned how some TAs were more generous. The big box TA we now use offers benefits in several ways depending on the promotions they have going on - often as additional OBC, and sometimes as gift cards, and occasionally even as store credit. As an example, a Princess cruise to Alaska a couple years ago cost us about $4500 fare for a balcony. We received OBC of $450 from Princess as a promotion. We also received and additional $490 from the TA, plus two specialty restaurant vouchers. Using that TA gained up over $530 extra savings over what we would have had to settle with by booking directly with Princess.

 

Who doesn't like saving $500???

 

Try again. Not all cruises gain the higher TA benefits. It probably depends on agreements with the cruise lines, which can change by season and itineraries. 

 

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5 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

There are far better deals to be had then what a "competition" TA website will provide (though it is useful in determining price points.

you said you've read the posts here on CC about the benefits of using a TA. But you must have missed the zillion I've posted over the years about how to find the right TA (specializing in your preferred line and willing to share commissions (at approx. 5-10% of the commissionable fare) and provide other $ value via cruise line incentive and/or consortia perks available to them.

Please search again.

And don't buy that malarkey about losing "control" of your booking: whose phone call will be answered immediately and with satisfactory solution: someone who sells millions of $ per year for your cruise line or you (a rounding error in the cruise line's bottom line)?

 

I read at least one post of yours about the agent you found on the west coast that saves you quite a bit. My issue is that there are only a couple of travel agencies anywhere near me, one is terrible and I actually thought they had closed, the other is half an hour away and the one I mentioned speaking to. I do not mind driving 30 minutes or handling things by phone but these are my “local” choices and I am not sure how I am supposed to find a super secret amazing TA that will save me hundreds on my bookings unless I find one online. And that makes me nervous really, I just don’t know how reliable an online agency is. 

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I also looked at one of the big box places but having to purchase a membership to their “club” and then the closest club being two hours away doesn’t seem to make sense either. I guess I will just keep searching. 

 

We typically book inside rooms for the dark (husband needs darkness to sleep after years of shift work as an officer) so maybe we just don’t spend enough money to get any perks. We are trying a balcony next month to see if we can get the the room dark enough for him to sleep well and then may move up a category if it works but until then it’s an inside room. 

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You'll have to find one on line and you'll also have to get over your nervousness.  :classic_smile:

 

When I first joined cruise critic you were allowed to mention travel agencies.  I got a few names and used them for years.  

 

You can Google the name of the travel agency and see what their ratings are.

There are also other cruise discussion boards where you can ask what other's experiences are with that agency. 

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Posted (edited)
55 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

I also looked at one of the big box places but having to purchase a membership to their “club” and then the closest club being two hours away doesn’t seem to make sense either. I guess I will just keep searching. 

 

We don't use big box stores for daily purchases. But we are fine with paying the $50 or so annual fee in order to gain discounts and better pricing on costly items such as cruises, land vacations, TVs, computers, etc., all which can be purchased on-line or over the phone without ever visiting a store.

 

When we can gain $200+ benefits on cruise perks alone by paying $50, we find that is a good return on the annual fee investment. 

 

Edited by SantaFeFan

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37 minutes ago, MandyMooToo said:

 

I read at least one post of yours about the agent you found on the west coast that saves you quite a bit. My issue is that there are only a couple of travel agencies anywhere near me, one is terrible and I actually thought they had closed, the other is half an hour away and the one I mentioned speaking to. I do not mind driving 30 minutes or handling things by phone but these are my “local” choices and I am not sure how I am supposed to find a super secret amazing TA that will save me hundreds on my bookings unless I find one online. And that makes me nervous really, I just don’t know how reliable an online agency is. 

I have never yet met (in person) a cruise travel agent that we use. In our current collection, we have folks from Seattle, New Mexico, Florida and SoCal. We're in NorCal.

Fortunately, we cruise almost exclusively with one premium line that caters to frequent world cruisers, and whose ships are small enough, such that asking around regarding "which TA do you use" often elicits the same names. 

We also primarily "book onboard" and then "shop around" the purchased cruise among our group of preferred TAs for transfer within the allowable 30 day window. The "shopping" remains important because different cruises/dates may mean different perks (beyond commission sharing) available for time sensitive pass-through from the cruise line or any TA consortia to which the TA may belong.

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2 hours ago, mafig said:

You need to look at on-line travel agencies, not small brick and morter, mom and pop ones.  

 

Have you heard about the  website where you enter the cruise, date and then TAs compete for your business?

 

 Can you provide a hint? I’m having a brain freeze. 

 

I have been using a travel agent in our city who works for a very large online cruise travel agency. At the very least, every cruise I get from her $25  for each of the four of us and the specialty dining reservation as well. This works out to over $200 that I would not otherwise have received. She’s also managed to get us 3 excellent free upgrades in the last six cruises. The first one, from a quad interior to a deluxe balcony on the then 5 month old Regal Princess on a Christmas cruise makes her worth her weight in gold! She advocated for us as the price had come down after final payment and we couldn’t take advantage of it. She sends them enough business that her word was worth far more than ours would have been. Also, travel agents who specialize in cruising have been on most of the major lines and can provide advice on what might be a good fit for you.

 

With my travel agent, I have not found any difference between the Princess direct price and her price. I believe Princess does not allow travel agents to discount their prices? 

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We use a local TA, it keeps the money in the community. I like the idea of supporting the economy where we live. It is almost like purchasing gasoline from a local independent dealer, rather than a national chair. It is gas and it keeps the car running, but more of the money stays in the community.

 

Jim

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Joebucks said:

I don't even know how many times I tried a TA and wasted my time. The best offer I ever received was an extra $25 obc. I tend to book lower categories. I've been on enough TA websites to see they clearly give perks if you are buying some premium balcony for $6000, but little to nothing for a lower category. There is not enough markup in those rooms to give you much. It's like people who tell you they got a free macbook with the purchase of their car. Little did they tell you, they bought a high-end Mercedez at sticker price. You sure swindled them. Most people bragging about their free bottle of wine or gratuities paid, aren't telling you how much they spent on their cruise. Also, they "found the best, secret TA"

Let's clarify one thing. A lot of folks who buy premium foreign cars (occasionally myself included) never pay sticker price (or even the dealer Invoice price). With a little research, it's easy to find what unpublished manufacturer incentives are currently being paid directly to dealers as well as what might be their fleet pricing. And "free" basic electronics "gifts"? Gimme a break!

Luckily, those of us who grew up in Brooklyn usually have been able to remember the childhood mantra taught to us:

Never Pay Retail!

Edited by Flatbush Flyer

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2 hours ago, MandyMooToo said:

So I have read on the boards over and over about how using a TA gets you extras, better pricing possibly and is all at no cost but you have to give over control of your reservation.  Well, we have only one local TA office and it is not regarded well so I did a bit of looking around and found one with excellent ratings about half an hour away.  I contacted them and explained our cruise style (they specialize in cruises) and received a nice answer with some info on a river cruise my husband and I want to take in a couple of years.  I then contacted them and said I had booked a cruise, spur of the moment due to a good price, and asked about transferring the booking to them and what benefit that would be for us.  The TA told me they could book pre and post cruise accommodations, flights if we choose to fly and they would monitor for price drops automatically.  Otherwise the pricing is the same and no mention of OBC, extras of any sort, etc.  So again, I just don't see what the point is unless you are taking and involved trip, going overseas or maybe the river cruise we are looking at for 2021/2022 as it will be a bit more difficult to manage.  I can book a hotel and flights on my own as I have been doing for years.  Am I missing something?  

 

Do you think everyone here is lying about the benefits they receive?   And you are missing the fact that using a TA for a RIVER cruise is not the same as using one for an OCEAN cruise.  And I'd bet that most people booking their cruise through a TA do their flight and other bookings themselves.

One poorly researched experience with a TA is not a good basis for making a sweeping judgment.
 

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1 hour ago, MandyMooToo said:

 

I read at least one post of yours about the agent you found on the west coast that saves you quite a bit. My issue is that there are only a couple of travel agencies anywhere near me, one is terrible and I actually thought they had closed, the other is half an hour away and the one I mentioned speaking to. I do not mind driving 30 minutes or handling things by phone but these are my “local” choices and I am not sure how I am supposed to find a super secret amazing TA that will save me hundreds on my bookings unless I find one online. And that makes me nervous really, I just don’t know how reliable an online agency is. 

 

Most of the better deals come from online TAs. 

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