Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
MandyMooToo

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

Recommended Posts

7 minutes ago, sloopsailor said:

 

So what is your point? That you got perks that everyone else booking with Princess would get? If you used a good TA, you probably would have doubled the amount of perks you got. Not sure why someone would be proud about losing money!

Tried a few and each and every one (including online) tried to up sell and suggest itineraries and cruise lines I did not want. Not worth the hassle to get a cheap bottle of wine or alleged champagne and a few bucks more of obc. No thanks. I know what I want and do not want alternate suggestions about a cruise line they are paid to shill for that week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, SantaFeFan said:

 

Keep in mind that when you call them some TAs will quote you a price that does not include taxes and/or port fees, making their prices seem lower than their competition. While not being against the cruise line's fare advertisement requirements - they are quoting the actual non-fee price - they are low-balling the final price to give the shopper a perceived lower price. 

Actually my TA gives the price without the extras and then the extras and finally adds it up for a bottom line price. I'd just as soon have him start with the bottom line since that is what is important to us, not how it is broken down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, Doug R. said:

Tried a few and each and every one (including online) tried to up sell and suggest itineraries and cruise lines I did not want. Not worth the hassle to get a cheap bottle of wine or alleged champagne and a few bucks more of obc. No thanks. I know what I want and do not want alternate suggestions about a cruise line they are paid to shill for that week.

 

I never encountered any attempt to up sell of suggest other itineraries. Not sure where you were looking, but it certainly wasn't where I look. I do my research first because like you I know what I want. Then I either book with the cruise line and transfer the booking to a TA, or contact that TA and book through them directly. Never a problem getting only what I wanted - and with the benefit of added perks as a bonus. 

 

You are free to do what you want, but claiming that TAs only try to up sell or "shill" and twist your arm towards something you don't want is not what happens for many of us. And, as I stated in post #15, the perks are much better than "a cheap bottle of wine or alleged champagne and a few bucks more of obc." More like several hundred dollars plus dining vouchers. Those perks were very much worthwhile.

 

Keep your mind closed if you can afford to throw away money. After all, it's your choice to do what you want. 😉

Edited by SantaFeFan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

Actually my TA gives the price without the extras and then the extras and finally adds it up for a bottom line price. I'd just as soon have him start with the bottom line since that is what is important to us, not how it is broken down.

 

Then ask him to price it that way. He still has to look up the base fare first and then add the extras. Just ask him to do that calculation before quoting a price. He can't quote the cost of the perks until the cruise and base fare is known.

Edited by SantaFeFan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, RocketMan275 said:

I understand your concern about apples to apples.  That's why I often post that my TA will give 8-10% discount of the base line cruise fare.   That's for any and every cruise line with one exception, Carnival, due to their low prices.  I've booked balconies and suites on multiple cruise lines.  Still 8-10%.  

 

And, yes, that's 8-10% of the advertised cruise line price.  Before, I call my TA I've looked at the cruise line websites.  I've selected the cruise line, the itinerary, the class of cabin, and the actually cabin number, as well as the date.  I'm picky about my cabins so I want to know if the cabin I want is available on the cruise I want before I call.  So, I know what the cruise lines will charge before I contact my TA.  Sometimes I call her.  Sometimes I just email her with the information. I'll have her invoice with the price I will pay within the hour.  I normally do this several months in advance.  Price drops are not a problem.  Usually, an emailed request and here comes a new invoice.

 

Now, here's the issue.  If you're booking seven day in the Caribbean, you could be paying as little as $330 PP for an inside guarantee cabin. That's $660 for the cruise.  A 10% discount might be as little as $66.  That may or may not be worth the hassle.  If you're booking a seven day cruise in a suite, you might be looking at $3500 PP or $7000 for the cruise.  A 10% discount might be $700.  In that case the discount is more than the cost of the inside guarantee cabin.  That's probably worth the hassle.

 

I hope that is an 'apples to apples' comparison.

 

Hi Rocketman

 

So, what you are saying is what I have read and understood in the past.

 

I have sailed with Carnival more than my share, mainly because they have made some fairly good offers (beyond normal offers). I don't gamble enough to get any of their really good offers. I would like to get them, but I have this tendency of leaving the casino if I am losing (which tends to be more often than not).

 

I will be sailing solo more often now, so I likely will be searching for cruise lines that don't always charge the 100% solo premiums, which might squeeze Carnival out. 

 

Like I said, local TA's don't give any special perks. If I could get an extra 10% rebate on every cruise, I would stick with a TA that could do that for me.  Expanding my search for different cities seems a bit extreme. For non Carnival cruise lines, I have seen some better pricing online, so I will keep looking for those perks, when available, but for best solo pricing what I have seen is the last minute NCL cabins. As long I can make the next weekend cruise, the prices they are asking more than make up for the perks I may or may not get.

 

Anyways... thanks for your input.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Nic6318 said:

 

Hi Rocketman

 

So, what you are saying is what I have read and understood in the past.

 

I have sailed with Carnival more than my share, mainly because they have made some fairly good offers (beyond normal offers). I don't gamble enough to get any of their really good offers. I would like to get them, but I have this tendency of leaving the casino if I am losing (which tends to be more often than not).

 

I will be sailing solo more often now, so I likely will be searching for cruise lines that don't always charge the 100% solo premiums, which might squeeze Carnival out. 

 

Like I said, local TA's don't give any special perks. If I could get an extra 10% rebate on every cruise, I would stick with a TA that could do that for me.  Expanding my search for different cities seems a bit extreme. For non Carnival cruise lines, I have seen some better pricing online, so I will keep looking for those perks, when available, but for best solo pricing what I have seen is the last minute NCL cabins. As long I can make the next weekend cruise, the prices they are asking more than make up for the perks I may or may not get.

 

Anyways... thanks for your input.

 

 

With Carnivals' low prices, there isn't as much of a margin of profit to be able to provide the bigger perks that you may see on the other lines. If you want bigger benefits, you need to be willing to spend money on other than a budget cruise line. 

 

And you won't get a 10% rebate on any cruises. The "discounts" aren't really rebates. And they aren't at the same percentage value. They are perks offered by the TAs to earn your business. The perks come out of the TAs profits, not the cruise line's. The more business the TAs do with a cruise line, the more generous are the commissions they receive from the cruise lines, and the more they can offer their customers out of those commissions. If a TA only does most of their business with a small list of lines, those will be the lines that better offers will be available for. For lines they do less business with, they will make less commission and be able to offer fewer perks. 

 

Plus, the perks are often related to the itineraries as well. For popular itineraries, the TA's perks may be less because the cruise lines don't need TAs to help sell cabins, and their commissions are lower. And, there are other factors that affect how good the TA perks may be, such as seasonal.

 

It isn't a "one size fits all" situation. Every TA has their own perks program, and every cruise line has their own working arrangements with each TA.

Edited by sloopsailor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Sloopsailor

 

So, am I understanding you right? For a budget minded cruiser like myself, who isn't going to book a suite, or going to pay for a Haven or Havana or a Yacht Club type cabin and likely won't opt for any of the "luxury" lines, the TA perks aren't going to amount to anything much. I always thought that was the case, but when reading some peoples' raving about their TA's, you have to wonder.

 

After all, I usually am just looking for a trip to break up the seasons... mostly winter. For now, I am not willing to travel for much more than a week at a time, so that excludes a lot destinations. I have in the past been satisfied with my research, if a cruise isn't competitive enough, I am perfectly happy to go to an AI resort. I do have a cruise booked for November, but I am also going to an A.I. in September. 😃 I would much prefer to go on 2 or 3 less expensive trips than 1 more expensive cruise. I have always felt happy for those that are willing to spend more on the ship, because I feel that subsidizes my cruise fare. There are options for everyone. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Nic6318 said:

Hi Sloopsailor

 

So, am I understanding you right? For a budget minded cruiser like myself, who isn't going to book a suite, or going to pay for a Haven or Havana or a Yacht Club type cabin and likely won't opt for any of the "luxury" lines, the TA perks aren't going to amount to anything much. I always thought that was the case, but when reading some peoples' raving about their TA's, you have to wonder.

 

After all, I usually am just looking for a trip to break up the seasons... mostly winter. For now, I am not willing to travel for much more than a week at a time, so that excludes a lot destinations. I have in the past been satisfied with my research, if a cruise isn't competitive enough, I am perfectly happy to go to an AI resort. I do have a cruise booked for November, but I am also going to an A.I. in September. 😃 I would much prefer to go on 2 or 3 less expensive trips than 1 more expensive cruise. I have always felt happy for those that are willing to spend more on the ship, because I feel that subsidizes my cruise fare. There are options for everyone. 

 

If I may answer for Sloopsailor, there is no predicting what the perks will be per stateroom class on various cruise lines, itineraries and times of the year. The best bet is to book your cruise as you would normally do and then contact various TAs and ask what they offer. If they have an attractive offer, transfer your reservation to the new TA.

 

Even insides cabins can gain enough perks to make it worthwhile, understanding of course that different seasons on different cruise lines may find a wide variety of offered perks. Sometimes the perks for more expensive cabins aren't as good as at other times. It fluctuates and is not always a routine % of the fare.

 

As with most things, usually the cheaper the fare paid, the fewer perks will be available. Much like flying coach class won't find the better meal choices as flying first class. 

Edited by SantaFeFan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, sloopsailor said:

 

So what is your point? That you got perks that everyone else booking with Princess would get? If you used a good TA, you probably would have doubled the amount of perks you got. Not sure why someone would be proud about losing money!

Ain't that the truth!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, sloopsailor said:

 

So what is your point? That you got perks that everyone else booking with Princess would get? 

 

That is a very good point.  Savings should be based on the going rate.  Not on the brochure price, which no one every pays (I hope).  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to deal with this type of topic by using a real time example.  So I just pulled up a very popular longer (over 30 day)  cruise (on a popular mass market cruise line) and priced it out on the cruise line's web site for a specific cabin category.  The  site returned a price of $19,288 with a $600 OBC or a net cost of $18,688.  I then priced out the same exact cruise/cabin category on the web site of one of our favorite cruise agencies (they are very reputable and been around for decades).  The price on the agency site was $15,945 with no other amenities!  I am not posting more details because CC prefers we stay away from detailed pricing info in our posts.  These are real prices for a real cruise that I could book at this very minute and, in fact, we might actually book this cruise within the next few days.  Using the cruise agency would save me $2,743 or a little more than 14%!

 

I used a longer more expensive voyage to emphasize the point that shopping around can really pay off.  If you are booking a much less expensive voyage your savings will certainly be a lot less.  If you were booking an even more expensive voyage your savings would generally be a lot more.  Percentage savings will really vary and we think expecting 7-10% savings (by shopping around) is a very reasonable expectation.  

 

As to "control"  if I were to book this right now on the cruise agency web site (a few clicks of the mouse) I would immediately get a cruise line booking number which could be confirmed by logging onto the cruise line's web site.  The payment (via major credit card) would be handled by the cruise line.  The only difference between using the cruise agency vs the cruise line is the web site used to book the cruise.  Many cruise agencies are directly linked to the cruise line booking systems so the reservation is immediately confirmed by the cruise line.  Not all cruise agencies work this way (with a direct link to the cruise lines booking system) and some will need a few hours to manually handle a booking.

 

While I have previously done a few bookings directly with a cruise line and later transferred it to a cruise agency we found this is not worth the hassle.  Doing a transfer can involve some forms (depending on the cruise line) and coordinating with two parties (the cruise line and the chosen agency).  There are also times when not having a booking (with the cruise line) can give you more leverage with the cruise/travel agency.  I do not generally see any reason why I should spend the extra time and steps to play the transfer game....and several cruise lines have recently tightened up their requirements for transfers.

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When we first started taking cruises in the late 1980s, I found a wonderful local travel agent at an agency that specialized in cruises. She steered us in the right direction several times. She retired around 20 years ago. I now use the internet to find cruises I'm interested in taking. The last time I booked a cruise directly with a cruise line was 10 years ago when I saw a special over the weekend. I tried moving my booking to the TA I had found on the internet, but it was after the final payment date. That's when I learned about placing a hold on a booking instead.

 

Since that time, I have used several of the big internet agencies. I like the website that lets agencies compete by giving me quotes on a specific cruise. I've also booked through the big box store. For our upcoming cruise next month, we're saving a little more than 8 percent off the base fare of the cruise. We booked the lowest category of inside cabin (as a guarantee). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, geoherb said:

 

 

Since that time, I have used several of the big internet agencies. I like the website that lets agencies compete by giving me quotes on a specific cruise. I've also booked through the big box store. For our upcoming cruise next month, we're saving a little more than 8 percent off the base fare of the cruise. We booked the lowest category of inside cabin (as a guarantee). 

 

 

Hi

Once again this kind of statement is not very clear. When you say 8% off the base fare. What base fare? What is it that you are saying is a "base fare"? 

 

You booked an inside guarantee cabin. That is sold at a specific booking rate. The price you paid is the "base fare" for that cabin type with that booking rate. That price goes up and down based on supply and demand over time. Where does the 8% come in?

 

What others are talking about is an rebate/additional perk or whatever you may want to call it given by their TA out of their commissions, above and beyond the lowest price that you can find. For instance, my credit card has an affiliated TA, if I use my credit card, I get my normal 2% cash back, but if I use their TA I also get an additional 5% back to my card for any travel purchase. The only problem, is that I can't always get the same offers through their travel agency.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, SantaFeFan said:

 

Then ask him to price it that way. He still has to look up the base fare first and then add the extras. Just ask him to do that calculation before quoting a price. He can't quote the cost of the perks until the cruise and base fare is known.

actually, it's not that big a deal. I was responding to the post that some TAs unethically give a price without the port fees and taxes to make it look like they have a lower price.

 

Actually, the cruise lines sort of do that. When I receive a brochure in the mail, it lists a price (and lower down mentions that price is only for a specific date), and then mentions port fees of up to and gives an amount may be additional.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, small update.  I took everyone's advice, did more research and found a TA that is semi local to me that is also one of Royal's highest producing agencies (if not the highest).  I have decided to transfer my most recent booking to them just to see how it works out.  So far they have been very receptive to me, even answering emails when they were supposed to be closed, so I appreciate that.  I do not know if I will receive any real perks or free extras with this inexpensive booking but the relationship may be worth it, especially when it comes to booking more complicated trips and such.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found a good TA that gets me about 10% back on my cruises unless I book a casino deal on Carnival.  From previous experience with him, I know he can't beat the casino deal so I always book those direct and use discounted Carnival Gift Cards I get from Meijer or AARP for an additional 10% off my casino rate.  Otherwise when I call my TA, it is after I do my research so I know the ship, sailing, and cost for the specific room I am looking for.  I just need him to book my cruise for me and he gives me approximately 10% more OBC than I could get booking direct with the cruise line and sometimes he has a lower rate as well if he has a group booking on that sailing.  I have had times when the prices have dropped.  I would just send him an e-mail with screen shots of what I am seeing and he takes care of it with the cruise line.  I'm all for saving money where I can.  Keep in mind that these places cannot advertise a lower rate than the cruise line.  You need to call them directly and get a quote from them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We all know the old saying about "leading a horse to water" and I sense some of that with a few recent posts.  When we talk about saving money (usually in the 7-10% range) it is real savings.  In some cases (like the one I posted last evening) this can be authorized (by the cruise line) discounts to the actual cruise price.  In other cases there are firm price controls (imposed by the cruise lines) on the actual cruise price but the savings come from the granting of extra "On Board Credits (OBCs)," pre-paid gratuities (essentially as good as cash), or other amenities (this varies by cruise line and agency).  The comment about taxes/fees is silly since those will be the same from all bookers (these are controlled by the cruise line and the standard somewhat dictated by a few class action settlements).  For those curious, those so-called taxes-fees cover items like port taxes (imposed by the various ports), fees such as the fare to go through the Panama Canal, and possibly fees to cover the cost of mandated port or regional "pilots."  These items are kept separate, by the cruise lines, for various accounting reasons and because they are not commissionable to the cruise/travel agencies.  

 

As to whether these OBCs are real discounts, they truly work that way.  We have a couple of cruises coming up (in the next two months) where our OBCs are in the thousands of dollars.  Some of those OBCs are actually refundable so if not used they will be refunded by the cruise line (in the past we have received both checks and credit card credits from various cruise lines).  In evaluating amenities we like to put a real value on each amenity for comparison purposes.  So while an OBC is akin to real cash savings, a perk such as a drink package might have far less worth then the value put on it by the cruise lines.

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MandyMooToo said:

Okay, small update.  I took everyone's advice, did more research and found a TA that is semi local to me that is also one of Royal's highest producing agencies (if not the highest).  I have decided to transfer my most recent booking to them just to see how it works out.  So far they have been very receptive to me, even answering emails when they were supposed to be closed, so I appreciate that.  I do not know if I will receive any real perks or free extras with this inexpensive booking but the relationship may be worth it, especially when it comes to booking more complicated trips and such.  

 

I already know that you regard blunt honesty as being rude, but I have to ask, why would you transfer your booking to an agency without knowing if they will give you perks?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, MandyMooToo said:

Okay, small update.  I took everyone's advice, did more research and found a TA that is semi local to me that is also one of Royal's highest producing agencies (if not the highest).  I have decided to transfer my most recent booking to them just to see how it works out.  So far they have been very receptive to me, even answering emails when they were supposed to be closed, so I appreciate that.  I do not know if I will receive any real perks or free extras with this inexpensive booking but the relationship may be worth it, especially when it comes to booking more complicated trips and such.  

You should have asked about benefits of transferring.  The time to do so is before you agree to transfer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Toofarfromthesea said:

 

I already know that you regard blunt honesty as being rude, but I have to ask, why would you transfer your booking to an agency without knowing if they will give you perks?

 

I believe in blunt honesty but not rudeness.  And I did ask about perks, I was told would receive "amenities" that would be more than what other agencies may be able to offer as this agency is one of Royal's top producers.  My perks will depend on the booking and I did not bother to ask him exactly what they would be as this is such a cheap cruise that I know I will not get much for it.  This is something of a test to see how we enjoy (or utilize) a TA for our more expensive and involved bookings.  The agency was actually closed when I made the decision to transfer to them and emailed him last night.  Oddly enough he got back to me immediately and I made the transfer.  They are closed today but he said as soon as he gets in and processes it I will hear back from him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, RocketMan275 said:

You should have asked about benefits of transferring.  The time to do so is before you agree to transfer.

 

 

See above response 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/11/2019 at 6:59 AM, 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?  

Yes.... your not using a good travel agent.... you need to shop nation wide for them.  Ask hard questions...  what OBC do you give   how many cruises of this line do you book a a month a week a year  Do you do cash rebates.....

.Go select the cruise line... look up for a list of their top travel agencies... they have special  names like club or group.  Interview 3 or 4 agencies.   Let them know how frequently  you intend to travel.... forge a relation/team.   You both help each other.

   Like shopping for a home or a car,  you dont get what you deserve  you get what you negotiate.   If you get a good deal show loyality    Book everything through them.   Do not be a bargain basement shopper  jumping around

 

 Pick the cruise,  tell the agency.  not the Cruise line... because you will have leverage  the agent can use.    If you call and book with the line  and then transfer, your agent has no leverage......  Like showing your  cards to the dealer.. and others at the table...  BAD

 

Dealing direct with the cruise line will never ever get you a better deal.    The cruise line will NEVER undersell an outside top agency that works for commission only....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi OP,

I am in  the same camp as you are.

I have been booking cruises for about 30 years and have never found a TA that worked for me. I have tried quite a few, you are not alone.

That said, I have really not found a TA that gave me the perks that people have stated on here. I believe the variables are all different and that makes a big difference.

  • Have booked with a big on-line agency with good perks but had to pay for any changes; they never watched for price decreases even though they were asked
  • Have tried to book with a  big-box store; I do not need store gift cards
  • Have tried to book with an online agency that wanted me to lie to the cruise line to get the price and the perks; not doing that!
  • When and where the cruise goes to makes a big difference in offers
  • Worked with an agency that said they were the lowest (military) but refused to match even though they said they would
  • When I worked local, had to chase OBC they 'gave' to us after the cruise
  • A well advertised here online agency was so bad they were never able to find my cruise in their database; I worked directly with the cruiseline which indicated this is a usual problem with that agency

I now work with the cruiselines which has been great in my experience. IMHO, a no hassel experience if something goes wrong, and I have had major issue with a cruise (Oasis of the Seas crane crashing on the ship), has always been good. 

I now feel that the risk of not being able to rely on a TA is not worth it; not worth the hassel.

Best of luck OP.  😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TA is totally YMMV, to be honest you think TA come from the the a deeply trained and highly intelligent pool?  

 

What an experienced TA brings is to novice and those not familiar some options, but the reality with Google and smart looking at various online and brick-mortar big-box wherehouse can't be beat.  All about business, and those who bring volume usually get both price and bonus, I have yet to see anyone beat my onestop look at Bnrsbn, of course my SO always compares across the many sites, but rarely find a better deal than Bnrsbn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Our on line TA never tries to upsell us.  In fact, the only time she calls me is after I have called or sent her an email message.

 

We call or email to tell her the ship, cat , and date that we want.  She confirms the price and OBC by email.  Then we call her with our credit card details.  Done deal. 

 

The only time she will call us back is if she has had less than positive reviews of our selected ship in the past few months OR to make us aware of a a more attractive offer on a competitive ship for the same itinerary and approximate date.

 

Otherwise....we never, ever hear from her.  She is too busy to troll for business.  I suspect many of her long time customers are like us.   From time to time we have booked through a big box store.   Same, same except that the rep simply books the ship we asked for with little comment.  And never, ever an upsell attempt or call at some later date to drum up custom.

Edited by iancal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...