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XuGator

On board credit from TA - not available until on board -Is this normal?

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We booked a 14 night European cruise through an online TA and they were offering 800 dollars of shipboard credit.  We planned on using this to book many of the expensive excursions in the Celebrity planner but recently it was conveyed that this would not show up for us until we have been on board the ship for 24 hours. I was wondering if this is standard practice  within the travel agency industry? This practice inst very beneficial as we are now forced to spend our own money on excursions in order to prebook excursions (so they dont sell out). Our booking includes all 4 perks so we don't really have any use for all of those funds once on board.  I guess I have 3 questions

 

1. Is this common in the industry?

2. Are there any TA's that add the on board funds coming from them at the time of booking instead of waiting until we are on board?

3. Is there a way to prebook excursions on my credit card now and then refund my CC on board and apply the on board credit funds instead?

 

We just wanted to get some insight from others on the best way to handle this. We definitely would like to apply the 800 towards excursions and just want to know the best way of going about that. Thank you

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Can only use OBC from a TA when onboard. That is because the TA puts the money on your shipboard account so cant “pre use”.

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Yes, it is common in the industry. 
 

As for booking your excursions now and then canceling onboard to repurchase with OBC, I have found that to be a risk. I was once told when I got onboard that there was a waiting list for that particular excursion and I would move to the bottom of the list.


Have you confirmed that your TA OBC is “refundable?” I know it would be a long wait to get your refund, but you could use the refund after the cruise to pay yourself back for the prepurchased excursions. 

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I guess I would need to check about it being refundable. I would be ok if I got the money back at some point. That makes sense about the excursion waiting list. I guess it might only work if the excursion isnt sold out.   We have booked with various TA's over the years and their on board credit always showed up in our cruise planner ahead of time so we could book excursions with it. Is this a new practice or something that has been adopted in recent years?

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That amount of OBC is a combination of OBC that the cruise line is making available at the time of booking and some that the agent  is adding as an incentive.  It is odd that some of the OBC is not already available to you.  

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1 minute ago, begood2me said:

That amount of OBC is a combination of OBC that the cruise line is making available at the time of booking and some that the agent  is adding as an incentive.  It is odd that some of the OBC is not already available to you.  

I dont think Celebrity is providing any. We just booked yesterday and the only perk celebrity is offering is the drink package. So we have that and then the 800 cash coming from the TA. Its just very inconvenient that we want excursions that will eclipse 800 dollars, will have to pay for them ahead of time using our own money and then when we board the ship, we will have 800 sitting in the account that we will have little use for. We would just be blowing it on things we normally wouldn't since we have all the perks already and tips included.

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3 minutes ago, begood2me said:

It is odd that some of the OBC is not already available to you.  

 

Indeed it is. If the OP has the 4 perks already, that means some OBC is already included.

This OBC should appear on the cruise planner.

Re: excursions. I'd book now those that are "best sellers", and at boarding I'll check if those excursions aren't full. If they aren't, I'll cancel and rebook with TA's OBC.

 

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2 minutes ago, XuGator said:

We would just be blowing it on things we normally wouldn't since we have all the perks already and tips included.

 

Isn't one of the perks OBC from X? Usually, the 4 perks included are: OBC, internet, drinks and gratuities.

 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, dani negreanu said:

 

Isn't one of the perks OBC from X? Usually, the 4 perks included are: OBC, internet, drinks and gratuities.

 

Sorry I need to clarify.  The 300 dollar OBC from Celebrity, we already used up on specialty restaurants. Its the 800 coming from the agency that we were hoping to apply.  Thanks for the insight Dani - we will look for the best sellers.

Edited by XuGator

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Even though it appears that you have a big credit from your travel agent, in fact it could be a mix of money from him/her and Celebrity. Sometimes the Travel agent rebate some of their commission as extra OBC. Sometimes Celebrity kicks in special offers to travel agents. It is not immediately clear how much comes from Celebrity and how much comes from the travel agent.
 

And yes, it is common that the travel agent credit is not available until you were actually on the ship.

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10 minutes ago, XuGator said:

Thanks for the insight Dani - we will look for the best sellers

 

You're mostly welcome.

 

As I've mentioned, you have nothing to lose while booking now the "best sellers" -- either you'll be able to cancel and rebook, or wait for the refund at the cruise's end😁. From experience -- It is applied immediately.

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Our TA OBC has never been available for booking pre-cruise, but perhaps it is TA specific. 
 

In our experience, however, the excursions are priced higher once onboard, not even accounting for any sales Celebrity may be having. 
 

We recently compared our prepurchased excursion prices (no sale) with the brochure once we boarded and found the excursions anywhere from 5-15% more once onboard. Of course, this may be cruise specific and YMMV. 

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If the $800 is refundable obc, whatever you don't use will be refunded to your credit card a day or two after you get home. If it's nonrefundable it's use it or lose it.

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I have been cruising for 20 years and I have never seen TA OBC available for use before boarding the cruise. Just be sure all the TA OBC is refundable :usually all is, but there may be some incentive given the TA by Celebrity that is not refundable. You can cash out any remaining refundable OBC on the last day of the cruise at guest services. You don't have to wait for a refund, tho' ours have always shown up in just a few days. 

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4 hours ago, XuGator said:

Sorry I need to clarify.  The 300 dollar OBC from Celebrity, we already used up on specialty restaurants. Its the 800 coming from the agency that we were hoping to apply.  Thanks for the insight Dani - we will look for the best sellers.

OBC from the Travel Agent has only been available upon boarding!! If you don't use it all, it will be refunded at the end of the cruise. Unless things have changed since our  January Reflection sailing, Celebrity's OBC policy has been "use it or lose it".. 

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5 hours ago, 39august said:

Just be sure all the TA OBC is refundable :usually all is, but there may be some incentive given the TA by Celebrity that is not refundable.

 

I have this situation on an upcoming cruise where a joint promo between Celebrity and my TA provided $100 OBC in addition to what he normally gives me.   The $100 did show on cruise planner in advance with the other OBC from Celebrity.   So I would assume that OP's $800 is refundable but would advise to confirm with their TA.

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Well, here's what I would do.  I would call the TA and find out how much of the $800 OBC has been provided by the TA (hopefully all of it).  If that is the case, then I would book whatever excursions I would like. If the OBC is totally provided by the TA, then it will be refundable and it will come back to the credit card used very quickly after the cruise is over.  We have always received refundable OBCs to our CC a few days after ythe end of the cruise.  Are these excursions cheaper now?

 

Sorry if I missed this, but when is this cruise?  Have you posted on the roll call for the cruise?  I just have to say, we never book excursions with the ship.  We book them with the roll call people.  Much cheaper and smaller.  Also better.  OP, I hope you have a great cruise.  I love Celebrity and I just have to say they have treated us very well in this COVID horror.

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9 hours ago, cruisestitch said:

And yes, it is common that the travel agent credit is not available until you were actually on the ship.


And the reason for this, as I understand it, is because the TA doesn’t “purchase” the OBC (put their money out there for it) until you sail. 

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11 hours ago, XuGator said:

I guess I would need to check about it being refundable. I would be ok if I got the money back at some point. That makes sense about the excursion waiting list. I guess it might only work if the excursion isnt sold out.   We have booked with various TA's over the years and their on board credit always showed up in our cruise planner ahead of time so we could book excursions with it. Is this a new practice or something that has been adopted in recent years?

You will be pleased.  In my experience any OBC from Celebrity (non refundable) has shown on my account.  All OBC from my TA (refundable) shows on my account on board only.  My TA does not offer a discount for Celebrity cruises, but offers the refundable OBC instead.  I usually get some cash on board to use for extra gratuities and then get a refund for what I do not use.  This is our normal process since we also have the four perk package.  

 

Enjoy your cruise.

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We've cruised on 7 lines and have never had the TA OBC issued precruise.

Since you recently booked check your cruise planner in a couple of days to see if you might have a little OBC in your planner. If there is X OBC it may take a couple of days under the current circumstances for any amount to show up.

And I totally agree that private excursions are far better than almost any cruise line tour. I can only think of a few ports where a cruise line tour is advantageous and the only advantage is distance from the port.

The other thing to keep in mind is to watch for excursion sales. You can cancel and rebook.

The best way to monitor and get the best for your sailing AND join others for tours will be to join your Roll Call.

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I've had OBC from my TA that was totally refundable. Once when I used an online TA, X gave an OBC incentive to the TA who passed it along.  That was non refundable.  I usually go to Guest Services once onboard to find out what's refundable. I've never had it show up on my online planner.

 

If any of it is refundable, I ask for the cash instead of having it charging back to my credit card. That way I get to keep the card's cash back bonus instead of it being debited back upon the OBC refund hitting my card. Then if I use  my credit card to buy anything on the ship, I will get the cash back on that too. 

 

Costco's card gives 3% cash back on travel.

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Has anyone considered the possibility that the TAs won’t be in business or won’t have the funds to provide the OBC?  They haven’t had any income in months and some may not have large financial reserves.

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Totally normal.  It will show up most likely on the first full day of the cruise.  If you don't use it all and it's refundable, you will get a credit after your cruise is over.

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2 hours ago, ipeeinthepool said:

Has anyone considered the possibility that the TAs won’t be in business or won’t have the funds to provide the OBC?  They haven’t had any income in months and some may not have large financial reserves.

 

Celebrity is protecting the commission for the cruises cancelled by their suspension.  While no doubt their incomes will be reduced by people who are cancelling on their own I believe at least in the short term they will still have some income.   I believe they will also receive commission on the FCC portion when people start using that on future sailings.  So while no doubt they will take some hit to their income I don't think it will be as severe as some other small businesses.  Most perks they provide their customers come from their commissions so they should be able to provide in the future.

 

I don't begrudge them this but I believe they are paid full commission on suspended sailings and since you won't be sailing they are able to keep the full amount and not be giving a portion to the client via OBC or other perks.  I say I don't begrudge them this as no doubt they have had extra work to do during this time servicing these suspended reservations.

 

Just my $.02.  If any of my understandings are wrong I hope one of the many TA members will correct me.

 

I do appreciate my TA and have sent him emails telling him that over the last couple of months as he continues to work on my behalf.

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Thank you everyone for their insight and expertise.  It is much appreciated. The cruise is a Northern European July 2021 cruise.  We usually like to book our excursions independently also but some ports such as St Petersburg (where a group visa is apparently required) and Berlin (3 hour trip into the city) we would feel a little more comfortable on a celebrity sponsored excursion so our goal was to use the OBC for that purpose. If this is all refundable then I guess it really doesn’t make a difference. 
 

I guess my last question is - if OBC from TA doesn’t show up until after first night on board- has anyone had an experience where that credit does not show up? What happens then - are we stuck calling TA from sea on a 6 hour time difference or will celebrity step in?  I just like to be organized and have everything in order pre cruise so don’t want to have to worry about this kind of stuff on vacation. I’m sure the credits are almost always there and it’s probably a non issue but I know mishaps happen. 
 

Also - someone mentioned cashing out the Refundable TA OBC while on board. Can you do this on any day or do you need to wait until the last day to do this ? 
 

Thanks again

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