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Brattle

No Travel Agent For Me

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20 minutes ago, tbenson81 said:

I hate to break it to you but you arent saving any money.

So tell me, where I'm going wrong? When I booked my last cruise, which was this past June, the TA's price and that of the cruise line were identical, as were the cruise line's promo perks. However, I also received over $1,000 in OBC and annual cash back from the TA that I would never have received had I booked direct. Subsequent to making the booking, I tracked prices and at no point was there a difference between the cruise line's price and that of the TA. Nor did the price drop, either before or after final payment. While the situation didn't arise this time around, in the past the TA has had the booking re-fared when the price did drop.

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On 9/24/2019 at 3:50 PM, Brattle said:

I am booking a 7k Sky Suite on Celebrity. After hearing about all the great TA deals I decided to do my due diligence and offer it to a travel agent. I used bigbox stores and the biggest online cruise sales companies that I could find. I probably used 9 different agents. Figuring that they make a 10-12% commission (or more) I thought there might be some room to make this profitable.-NOT  The worst offer that I got was a $65 pp obc and the best offer was $150 pp obc. I also found that some bigbox companies came in with higher prices and then offered larger rebates that brought the price back to what everyone else was offering. 

Good luck to those who have success with a TA and maybe it is just this particular cruise but I just did not find the value in giving up control of my 7 thousand dollar booking for a few hundred bucks. I hope that you do better.

 

My TA gives around 10% for Sky Suites.  My total OBC next January at least 1200 dollars.  We got some for booking on board but the rest from our TA. 

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2 hours ago, hiccups said:


I disagree.  An individual isn't going to be able to get a group booking rate.

 

Absolutely right.

My agent almost always gets us in one of the group bookings she has access to and ALWAYS at great prices.

 

As I stated in a prior response my agent booked me in a 10th deck midships veranda on RC's Anthem. I had my choice of several cabins in that area, none of which showed up as available on the RC booking site since the agency had them group booked. These are choice veranda staterooms.

 

I called RC and checked out the price for the same category cabin directly on the other side of the ship where all the cabins showed up as available. 

 

We are Diamond members on RC and Elite on X.

 

The RC booking required a $900 deposit within 24 hours and the deposit was NON-refundable.  There was also a $100 dollar OBC for a veranda booking.

----------------------------------------------------

 

My TA came up with a fare that was $900 less than the RC price

The deposit was not due for 30 days and IS REFUNDABLE.

A $75 dollar OBC as well as dinner for two in any of the specialty restaurants.

And there is NO penalty from my agent if I cancel.

-------------------------------------

That amounts to a price almost $1,000.00 lower than the cruise line even with their BOGO and reduced veranda sale prices. 

 

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TA's are great for group bookings. Not so well on Suites or even AFT Cabins. They book quantizes and most times not even the best locations. I've called numerous ones and they tell me the same thing...I book for location and for whatever reason they do not get access to the locations I want and they have issues booking b2b's. I booked 5 b2b's  and no TA would or could deal with it.  

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15 hours ago, korryp said:

TA's are great for group bookings. Not so well on Suites or even AFT Cabins. They book quantizes and most times not even the best locations. I've called numerous ones and they tell me the same thing...I book for location and for whatever reason they do not get access to the locations I want and they have issues booking b2b's. I booked 5 b2b's  and no TA would or could deal with it.  

 

The staterooms held in group bookings are dependent on the group or consortium that reserves the staterooms.

Some reserve better cabins and some don't. 

In the past my agent has always provided staterooms in excellent locations although rarely in full suites.

On X when there was a real difference between a regular cabin and a concierge (larger veranda and room) cabin there were always a few concierge to choose from and always ay great rates.. 

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2 minutes ago, boscobeans said:

 

The staterooms held in group bookings are dependent on the group or consortium that reserves the staterooms.

Some reserve better cabins and some don't. 

In the past my agent has always provided staterooms in excellent locations although rarely in full suites.

On X when there was a real difference between a regular cabin and a concierge (larger veranda and room) cabin there were always a few concierge to choose from and always ay great rates.. 

The difference in size of Concierge cabins is dependent on the class of ship. The Concierge cabins are larger on M Class ships, but the same size on S Class ships. Group bookings go through the Group Booking Department and price changes available to those who book at non Group rates may not be available to those with group bookings.

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7 minutes ago, Orator said:

The difference in size of Concierge cabins is dependent on the class of ship. The Concierge cabins are larger on M Class ships, but the same size on S Class ships. Group bookings go through the Group Booking Department and price changes available to those who book at non Group rates may not be available to those with group bookings.

 

Having sailed with X from back in 2001 and enjoyed every type of stateroom from Royal Suites to interiors and several Concierge on the M class I am aware of the difference between the new S class with the same size for all from Aqua class down as far as cabin and veranda size. We actually sailed on the Silhouette's first cruise out of Cape Liberty and on the first night our table for 8 in the MDR collapsed luckily before the water glasses were filled..  LOL.

 

Along with the extra perks and lower fares one must always understand that price reductions may not be honored for a group booking.

 

 

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On 9/24/2019 at 7:10 PM, Brattle said:

 

 

I am clearly doing something wrong. Maybe I will try again tomorrow.-Brick and mortar if I can even find one and online. So far I am just not seeing it (5-8-10%)

Counting 2 cruises that I booked in the 90s, I've used every possible permutation you read about here - and I've booked on Celebrity, RCCL, Carnival and Princess - brick and mortar agency, called up the cruise company and booked direct, booked on board, used a friend of a friend who was a TA, put the cruise out on that bid for it website. The lowest prices seem to come from the booking onboard. But, putting the booking out for bid got me the same base price and offers that Celebrity was giving at that time plus additional onboard credit - widely varying amounts of onboard credit, especially on a transatlantic (up to $800 per cabin on a $3000 cruise), very little onboard credit in the case of an inside cabin on the Edge (started out at $100/ cabin, now up to $250).

My first time to put booking out to bid, I found the TA that we used to be only OK - she works part time, likely from home, one time zone over from us, but worked odd hours and was not particularly responsive - we chose to not use her again). The second time we put a booking out, I think we now have a winner, we have booked a 3rd cruise with this TA. The percentage of OBC is going up a bit, with every booking - keeping in mind that the amount of OBC is related to the overall cost of the cruise, so going up proportionally (our Edge cruise total is about $1900, so I wouldn't expect $800 worth of onboard credit). Why I think this fellow is aa keeper is that he is very responsive, and he is monitoring the cruise prices, we have already rebooked 2 of those cruises, not at huge astronomical savings, but saving us about $400-500 total. I don't have time at this point to truly monitor those prices, and I respect him for passing those savings on to us - he will be rewarded with more bookings.

 

I guess that is a long story to say, you might not get a good agent the first or even the second time - after my first TA experiences I would agree with your initial post. If you don't travel enough to build a relationship and find a TA you can work with (or if you don't just know someone) you are probably better off to book direct and monitor the prices OR use big box store (they are going to give you essentially cash and have good prices).

I also want "good enough" - I would rather have someone who monitors prices for me than who gives me the largest amount of OBC possible - I don't feel like I have "lost" if I don't get the absolute best deal.

 

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Oh and why don't we use the big box store - very simple, their rates are excellent, but a lot of the savings goes into gift cards, and we live just far enough from big box store to know that those gift cards would just sit around until they expire. We are keeping our membership because we might use them for travel in the future.

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On 9/24/2019 at 5:45 PM, Oville said:

It’s not hard to get a refundable 10% OBC.  We always book directly with Celebrity and transfer to one of two TAs.  Try big online TAs, we use one in Florida and another in New Hampshire.

 

We also use one in Florida who gives us 10% OBC. Not only that, but her customer service is absolutely amazing. I've recommended her to countless people.

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On 9/24/2019 at 5:42 PM, CharmCity2000 said:

This is my experience as well.  I love reading on here about how people get OBC.  No matter who I call, what words I put in the search engine, I get very little.  Mine was a $9K trip on Celebrity for which they offered me $50 OBC in total.  $50 isn't worth giving up control of my reservation.

I find the same as well.  I always get three quotes (not just for cruises but for everything) and no travel agent has been able to save me more than $100, most less.  I will do it myself when the difference is that negligible, I like making the plans and speaking directly to the cruise line.  I find on other sites that the people who say "call your TA", or "your TA can save you thousands" are mostly travel agents.  Nothing wrong with that as long as you identify yourself as such.  

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I also just booked (four days ago) a sky suite for a Feb. Edge cruise.  After many Celebrity cruises booked directly and with a TA (who only offered onboard credit as a bribe after finding out we had booked a cruise onboard and NOT transferred it to him-it worked) I decided to try an online agency.  The service was fast and we did get $200 more onboard credit than if we had booked direct.   The email documentation listed everything correctly including perks.  And I only tried one company.    I’m sorry you had such bad luck!  

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I love the smell of a Travel Agent thread in the morning!!!!!!!

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On 10/6/2019 at 5:47 PM, NCHPcruiser said:

I also just booked (four days ago) a sky suite for a Feb. Edge cruise.  After many Celebrity cruises booked directly and with a TA (who only offered onboard credit as a bribe after finding out we had booked a cruise onboard and NOT transferred it to him-it worked) I decided to try an online agency.  The service was fast and we did get $200 more onboard credit than if we had booked direct.   The email documentation listed everything correctly including perks.  And I only tried one company.    I’m sorry you had such bad luck!  

For a Sky Suite, you should have gotten more than $200 from your Travel Agent.  If you paid (for example) $6,000 total for your Sky Suite, a good TA would give you, at a minimum, $500.  🍷

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On 9/24/2019 at 5:39 PM, Robb said:

We have used the same TA, local brick and mortar, for at least 18 years.  Over the years we have developed a great travel relationship with her.  I would never attempt to go it alone, she takes care of every tiny detail.  I travel worry free.  I guess it just depends what your experiences may be.

 

Happy travels.

 

Same here as far as a reliable agent for about 18 years now.

 

Just booked a cruise for 2021 as an example.  I priced through the cruise line and got a decent price on a midships veranda. 

Got all the discounts my loyalty level offered as well.

 

Showed the quote to my agent and she got us the same cabin on the other side of the ship, same level and location and because it was part of a group booking the price was $1,000 less with a specialty restaurant night and a decent OBC thrown in.. 

 

 

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On 10/6/2019 at 1:59 PM, cangelmd said:

Oh and why don't we use the big box store - very simple, their rates are excellent, but a lot of the savings goes into gift cards, and we live just far enough from big box store to know that those gift cards would just sit around until they expire. We are keeping our membership because we might use them for travel in the future.

If you are talking about the big box that rhymes with Getgo...the cards never expire..but I understand your issue with the distance to the store.  

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I would suggest using one of the sites that allow Travel Agents booking Cruises to "Compete" with bids against each other.

 

We found substantial savings/perks/OBC on 3 Veranda rooms on a 7 day Caribbean Cruise that way. 

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On 10/6/2019 at 1:59 PM, cangelmd said:

Oh and why don't we use the big box store - very simple, their rates are excellent, but a lot of the savings goes into gift cards, and we live just far enough from big box store to know that those gift cards would just sit around until they expire. We are keeping our membership because we might use them for travel in the future.

 

7 minutes ago, PTC DAWG said:

If you are talking about the big box that rhymes with Getgo...the cards never expire..but I understand your issue with the distance to the store.  

With HAL, the big box store gives refundable OBC, a much better idea IMO. While we use the store sufficiently to take full advantage of the cash cards given for Celebrity cruises, I understand the difficulty for those without a local store.

 

One question that comes to mind: can you apply the cash card awarded for one cruise towards the deposit or later payment of a subsequent cruise? If so, there'd be no need to have a store nearby.

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11 hours ago, boscobeans said:

 

Same here as far as a reliable agent for about 18 years now.

 

Just booked a cruise for 2021 as an example.  I priced through the cruise line and got a decent price on a midships veranda. 

Got all the discounts my loyalty level offered as well.

 

Showed the quote to my agent and she got us the same cabin on the other side of the ship, same level and location and because it was part of a group booking the price was $1,000 less with a specialty restaurant night and a decent OBC thrown in.. 

 

 

I am just curious as to why you needed to change cabins? Was it because of the group rate?

 

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On 10/6/2019 at 10:59 AM, cangelmd said:

Oh and why don't we use the big box store - very simple, their rates are excellent, but a lot of the savings goes into gift cards, and we live just far enough from big box store to know that those gift cards would just sit around until they expire. We are keeping our membership because we might use them for travel in the future.

Not all lines...Celebrity sadly they do. We looked at them for a Princess cruise and it was $865 OBC. 

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We always use a big, online travel agent and always get at least an extra $100 OBC and a $50 loyalty OBC.  We generally book during one of their big sales and get an extra $100 OBC on top of that, or sometimes more.  We almost always get at least one more perk than Celebrity is offering for the same price, and sometimes other things like specialty dinners.  Occasionally we also get lower, group rates.  We also sometimes get a reduced price to upgrade to 'Best' or whatever 4 perks are called now.  The only downside is a small cancellation fee should we need to completely cancel ( we are loyal customers to them, so changes to bookings do not incur this charge, although we rarely do that)

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We just booked a B2B on Reflection in Sept. from an online TA. When I compared the price to the X website we saved a total of $2,375 for the cruises + we got an extra $325 in OBC, Gratuities, WiFi and the Premium Beverage Package on both of the cruises. I know this was a Group Rate and they don’t have group rates for all cruises, but it really paid off for these 2 cruises. We also beat the deadline for having to pay the extra $28.00 per person per day for the Beverage pkg. That saved another $644 for the 23 nights.

 

This is an extreme example of savings, but we always get 1 extra Perk plus some additional OBC in the range of $50 - $150 as a minimum. 

 

This is is not meant to be a criticism for anyone that books off of the X website. It’s what we are comfortable with even though there is a small Non-Refundable deposit that can be transferred to a new cruise within next 6 months. 

 

 

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I would love to book direct with Celebrity but... what I have found that if you book a Suite the travel agent price is the same as the cruise line... but you can book all other cabins with a group booking with my big box travel agency and save $1,000's over Celebrity's pricing.  I have no use for a on board credit to buy over priced tours, gifts, etc. I get all four perks so what else is there to buy, the $300.00 on board credit which is one of the perks is more than enough and hard enough to spend.

I do love Celebrity Air program for flights!

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On 10/9/2019 at 10:38 AM, PTC DAWG said:

If you are talking about the big box that rhymes with Getgo...the cards never expire..but I understand your issue with the distance to the store.  

Good to know. Taking those cards and buying gas makes total absolute financial sense - more than about half of what we have been talking about on this thread, LOL! If you gas up your car, you don't even go into the store to be tempted by the 10 ft prelit Christmas trees, giant packages of napkins and vitamins and the chips made out of some sort of ancient grain that is trying to fool you into thinking those chips are good for you! Using the rebates as gas cards is literally putting money in your pocket, taking savings from an optional and fun activity and using it to cover a necessity. It's just that we have to drive by too many gas stations to justify doing that I guess and knowing us, those cards wouldn't ever get used.

 

If we had only cruised when our kids were at home...of course then the Big Box store hadn't been built yet in our city.

 

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A side question - those of you who get super deals because you book very early - when do you think you see the rates begin to go up after the new cruises come out? Is there any rhyme or reason to it? And, do you book with perks or are these bare bones rates on the just released itineraries?

 

I ask because we wanted to book on of the new Tampa cruises - we were actually on the Equinox when they were announced and could have gotten a good deal I think, but we really wanted to get BIL/SIL to go with us, and needed time to contact them and let them ponder going. By the time we got home and all this transpired, the rates had shot up, and our preferred cabins were gone. I realize all of that was partly because we were looking at the first cruises out of Tampa, and I think there was a lot more demand than maybe even Celebrity expected.

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