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jargey3000

Best way to book a cruise?

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Been awhile since we cruised. Last couple of times we used online com pete site   to get pricing. Is that still one of the better ways to get the best pricing?  Comments?

Edited by jargey3000
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The CC Board rules prohibit us from recommending a specific site.   We have long recommended shopping around among 2 or more high volume cruise agencies and then comparing their overall offer (which takes into account things like On Board Credits) to the deal you can get by booking directly with the cruise line.  In most cases this can all be done online in a few minutes.  We have personally booked over 100 cruises and, in every case, we have saved significant money (7-10% +) by using decent cruise agencies.  

Hank

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It took us a while to find a good TA.  We have now used her for 26 years.

 

We like the idea that we can call her -- or just stop in and see her.

 

I am not one to use online TA's or even book through the cruise line.

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The best way for us is I book directly with the cruise line as soon as the itinerary we want is released, and get a cabin we know we will like.

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We always book through the cruise line to get their offered perks and then transfer our booking to our online travel agent to get her perks, too.  Over the years, our agent has given us enough discounts to pay for a couple of cruises. I recently saw a price drop of $120 on our booked 2020 cruise.  I called our online agent and had the cruise repriced with the new price - it took 5 minutes and we still have all the original perks and the same cabin.

 

Also, a good agent has far more incentive to help us if we have a problem with the cruise line.

Edited by Bookish Angel

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Direct with the cruise line and preferably on the website.

 

Cut out the middle man.

 

Some outside agencies and folk do offer cheaper prices but this seems to get less and less and the amount of posts on here with people moaning about TAs and companies and whatnot.

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35 minutes ago, Velvetwater said:

Direct with the cruise line and preferably on the website.

 

Cut out the middle man.

 

Some outside agencies and folk do offer cheaper prices but this seems to get less and less and the amount of posts on here with people moaning about TAs and companies and whatnot.

After reading your post I decided to do an actual comparison and chose the Dec 1, 2019  Celebrity Silhouette 12 nt cruise.  For comparison I picked a Cat C3 Concierge cabin.  I also used the "Go Better" option and chose free classic beverage package plus free tips.  If booking directly with Celebrity it priced out at $4726 (for two).  If booked with one of our favored major cruise agencies the same thing would be $4428 plus an additonal $300 OBC.  This is about a $600 savings for a simple booking on only a 12 day cruise by using a cruise agency vs booking direct.  Now you may not think that $600 is much, but many folks would disagree.  And that particular cruise agency often runs special sales where they would kick-in an additional $100 OBC which would boost the savings to $700!  We normally book much longer cruises where our savings are in the thousands of dollars by using cruise agencies.  

 

We just did this mock booking to prove a point.  I should also mention we have booked more then 100 cruises using several different cruise agencies and never "moaned" about the agencies.  In fact, when I wanted something extra from a booking it was nice to have a high volume agency using their clout with the cruise line.

 

Just the facts sir.  No baloney here, no whining, no preaching.  The facts speak for themselves.

 

Hank

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I've tried to go through TAs multiple times, and the best I ever got was an extra $25 OBC. I tend to book interior cabins, early saver, off-peak season, on Carnival. There simply isn't enough markup in that for a TA to offer me savings like most of these TA fans lead you to believe. The post above shows when a TA is a good bet, but not a scenario that applies for everyone.

 

My credit card points pay for the cruise completely and insure the trip for no additional charge. There is no deal that suits me better than that. Not even close.

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36 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

After reading your post I decided to do an actual comparison and chose the Dec 1, 2019  Celebrity Silhouette 12 nt cruise.  For comparison I picked a Cat C3 Concierge cabin.  I also used the "Go Better" option and chose free classic beverage package plus free tips.  If booking directly with Celebrity it priced out at $4726 (for two).  If booked with one of our favored major cruise agencies the same thing would be $4428 plus an additonal $300 OBC.  This is about a $600 savings for a simple booking on only a 12 day cruise by using a cruise agency vs booking direct.  Now you may not think that $600 is much, but many folks would disagree.  And that particular cruise agency often runs special sales where they would kick-in an additional $100 OBC which would boost the savings to $700!  We normally book much longer cruises where our savings are in the thousands of dollars by using cruise agencies.  

 

We just did this mock booking to prove a point.  I should also mention we have booked more then 100 cruises using several different cruise agencies and never "moaned" about the agencies.  In fact, when I wanted something extra from a booking it was nice to have a high volume agency using their clout with the cruise line.

 

Just the facts sir.  No baloney here, no whining, no preaching.  The facts speak for themselves.

 

Hank

 

There does seem to be savings on your side of the Atlantic but I think your example is an extreme one.

 

I have only found one company here that offered me good savings and I booked. It was ok but I prefer to sort my own things out as I am sure many do.The OP asked the best way and I simply answered. Simple as that.

 

I didn't say everyone moaned about their TA etc but there are quite a lot of posts on this forum that do make bookign with a TA or similar a less tempting choice.

 

No need to call me sir as I have matching chromosomes.

Edited by Velvetwater

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I found 3 good online TA's from asking fellow passengers on my cruises and I get great deals from them.  One gives an average 12-15% off cruisefares of some lines and OBC/gifts, the other 2 give VERY generous (talking hundreds and thousands of $$) of OBC and gifts.  I ask each one for a quote and choose the best one.  All are easy to get hold of or call back quickly. 

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This topic is really a great example of the saying that "you can lead a horse to water but cannot force them to drink."  For many years we (and others) have been telling potential cruisers to shop around for the best deals.  I always add to shop around "among reputable high volume" cruise agencies.   Many choose to ignore that advice for their own reasons which is fine.  But that does not change the fact that substantial money can be saved by shopping around.   The cruise lines are well aware of the extra discounts and deals offered by agencies (who they authorize) and are happy to get the business.   We meet folks on our cruises who tell us they hear about good deals but "my travel agency only gives me a small OBC or a bottle of wine."  My comment is always, "so why don't you shop around among a few other agencies."  And the predictable answer is "because I like my travel agent!"  But of course then then complain (again) that they cannot get good deals from that same travel agent.  Go figure.

 

Hank

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14 hours ago, Joebucks said:

I've tried to go through TAs multiple times, and the best I ever got was an extra $25 OBC. I tend to book interior cabins, early saver, off-peak season, on Carnival. There simply isn't enough markup in that for a TA to offer me savings like most of these TA fans lead you to believe. The post above shows when a TA is a good bet, but not a scenario that applies for everyone.

 

My credit card points pay for the cruise completely and insure the trip for no additional charge. There is no deal that suits me better than that. Not even close.

Off-peak inside on Carnival can still run $500 pp. My big box TA would thus give me $40 pp or $80 per couple - nothing much but still worth it. Other online TAs might well give you $100 per couple.

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21 hours ago, NantahalaCruiser said:

Off-peak inside on Carnival can still run $500 pp. My big box TA would thus give me $40 pp or $80 per couple - nothing much but still worth it. Other online TAs might well give you $100 per couple.

 

I went through multiple TA sites on itineraries costing a little bit more than that. That was the best I was offered by one TA. Everyone else offered me nothing more than Carnival's offer.

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On 10/21/2018 at 7:31 PM, Hlitner said:

This topic is really a great example of the saying that "you can lead a horse to water but cannot force them to drink."  For many years we (and others) have been telling potential cruisers to shop around for the best deals.  I always add to shop around "among reputable high volume" cruise agencies.   Many choose to ignore that advice for their own reasons which is fine.  But that does not change the fact that substantial money can be saved by shopping around.   The cruise lines are well aware of the extra discounts and deals offered by agencies (who they authorize) and are happy to get the business.   We meet folks on our cruises who tell us they hear about good deals but "my travel agency only gives me a small OBC or a bottle of wine."  My comment is always, "so why don't you shop around among a few other agencies."  And the predictable answer is "because I like my travel agent!"  But of course then then complain (again) that they cannot get good deals from that same travel agent.  Go figure.

 

Hank

 

It's also a great example of some folk realising that not every system is the same as the US. TAs and companies have certain trade limitations here and other bits of red tape which means less savings with a TA. It's a bit like we can't go crazy couponing here but over there you can.

 

I would never moan about my TA offering me measly thinks purely as I don't use them. On the one off occasion I did find a good deal that was worth it I booked.

Edited by Velvetwater

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11 minutes ago, Velvetwater said:

 

It's also a great example of some folk realising that not every system is the same as the US. TAs and companies have certain trade limitations here and other bits of red tape which means less savings with a TA. It's a bit like we can't go crazy couponing here but over there you can.

 

I would never moan about my TA offering me measly thinks purely as I don't use them. On the one off occasion I did find a good deal that was worth it I booked.

We have met a few Europeans and an Australian man who book many of their cruises in the USA or Canada.  This is not possible with all the cruise lines, but some could care less.  Our Aussie friend books mostly HAL cruises which is a line that requires that he only book in his own country (at oft higher prices).  His solution is to use a Canadian address (belongs to a friend) which has served him well for many years.

 

Hank

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In the US a certain big box store often offers discounts and lots more OBC than the cruiselines. Not sure if it beats the online agencies but it quite good. 

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49 minutes ago, Cairn Mom said:

In the US a certain big box store often offers discounts and lots more OBC than the cruiselines. Not sure if it beats the online agencies but it quite good. 

Actually, several big box stores always beat booking direct with the cruise lines in terms of extra amenities such as OBCs and even gift cards.  But there are some very good major cruise agencies that even beat those big box stores :).  My point, as always, is a smart consumer/cruiser shops around for the best deals.  Its kind of a funny thing.  There are some folks that will spend hours shopping for a new widget, and they will check out several local stores and look online.  But that same person will just plop down thousands of dollars for a cruise without any comparison shopping.  And we are talking hundreds and even thousands of dollars difference (after factoring in all the OBCs and amenities).  Go figure.  

 

Hank

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20 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Actually, several big box stores always beat booking direct with the cruise lines in terms of extra amenities such as OBCs and even gift cards.  But there are some very good major cruise agencies that even beat those big box stores :).  My point, as always, is a smart consumer/cruiser shops around for the best deals.  Its kind of a funny thing.  There are some folks that will spend hours shopping for a new widget, and they will check out several local stores and look online.  But that same person will just plop down thousands of dollars for a cruise without any comparison shopping.  And we are talking hundreds and even thousands of dollars difference (after factoring in all the OBCs and amenities).  Go figure.  

 

Hank

For us shopping for cruise bargains is out of the question. MIL is an agent and expects us to use her no matter what. She makes commission on our trips and does not refund it to us. DH says what ever makes her happy. We often travel with friends who always have much better perks than us and sometimes even lower fares. Families lol.

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