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Book direct with cruise line or through travel agent?


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We have been on several ocean cruises, but never on a river cruise.  Is it better to book on line directly with the cruise line, call the cruise line, or book through a travel agent?  What are the differences?

 

We are thinking of the New Orleans to Memphis river cruise.  Which direction is better, or the same?

 

Please share advice.

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On 5/21/2024 at 8:48 AM, georgiacat said:

We have been on several ocean cruises, but never on a river cruise.  Is it better to book on line directly with the cruise line, call the cruise line, or book through a travel agent?  What are the differences?

 

We are thinking of the New Orleans to Memphis river cruise.  Which direction is better, or the same?

 

Please share advice.

My limited experience booking an ACL cruise:

 

>I saw the fare was $8100 at AmericanCruiseLine.com.

>Called the TA we've used for the last 15 years, same $8100 price, BUT he promised a "rebate" of $600 at the end of the cruise.

In both cases ACL wants a $1000 deposit with only half of that refundable until the final payment. Ouch! Their CFAR insurance for our cruise is $880 - does not include medical, evacuation, lost luggage, etc, etc. Double ouch. 🤑

 

I've heard that is one books while on an ACL cruise, the price is discounted 15%. That sounds like the best way to book a future ACL cruise.

 

We're doing NOLA to NOLA.

 

 Doug

 

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Yes, there's a 15% discount for booking onboard; but the OP is thinking of an initial cruise.

 

If you have a travel agent you trust, use him or her.  Our TA also gives a small rebate and/or shipboard credit; but some TA's do not.  For good and bad, the TA runs interference for you if you need it.  That's mostly good; but the downside is that, if you use a TA, ACL does most dealings with the TA, not with you.  After we booked our shore excursions, for example, the confirmations were sent to the TA, who forwarded them to us.

 

For trip insurance, get quotes for true insurance, including medical, evacuation, etc., before you book any cruise line's insurance.  Most of the time, independently purchased insurance is better than cruise line insurance - but it pays to check both types. We've had a few dozen cruises since our first cruise in 1998, and have never used the cruise line's insurance.

 

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20 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

If you get the 15% onboard discount, can you still transfer the cruise to a Travel Agent when you get home?

That's a good question; I hope for an answer here also. My guess is Yes, but I've not sailed with ACL yet so I don't know if they do things differently.

 

I know it's possible to transfer the booking made on one of the large cruise lines (HAL, Celebrity, Princess, etc), or with one of their corporate agents on the phone, to a regular TA without any difficulty. I've done that once or twice in the last 40 cruises.

 

Rarely I have found the cruise line's CFAR insurance to be slightly less than my regular insurance company. However, the cruise line insurance never provides adequate medical, evacuation, etc for our needs, so we end up with both if the cruise line CFAR portion is better....once again, for our needs.

 

 Doug

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I don't change my mind about cruises, unless circumstances force me to.  So I never buy CFAR.  When I have had to cancel, it was for a covered reason and we got our money back hassle free.  The only time we were about to cancel (at the beginning of Covid because we foresaw New Zealand shutting down the country while we were there), New Zealand shut down and Ponant cancelled the cruise the day before I was going to pull the trigger.

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11 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

I don't change my mind about cruises, unless circumstances force me to.  So I never buy CFAR.  When I have had to cancel, it was for a covered reason and we got our money back hassle free.  The only time we were about to cancel (at the beginning of Covid because we foresaw New Zealand shutting down the country while we were there), New Zealand shut down and Ponant cancelled the cruise the day before I was going to pull the trigger.

We have not had to "change our minds" about a cruise, but then we always try to book cruises with a refundable deposit. I have had to cancel a couple of those over the years. We were fortunate during the Chinese virus <aka COVID> time that we only had refundable deposit cruises and were able to cancel without trouble.

 

However, out of the 4-5 cruises where we had a substantial non-refundable deposit, we did insure that deposit amount a few days after booking. Before the final payment was made, we of course continued that CFAR with the updated dollar amount.

 

We have been fortunate that we only had to use a CFAR clause once out of our 40+ cruises, and that decision wasn't made by us, but by life. Getting old can be a real *****! Something occurred that would not have / might not have been covered by a non-CFAR clause, so we are very glad we had it that time! So, everyone's situation is a bit different. Heck, when we started cruising I don't remember having any cruise insurance, but that was when cruises cost us about $2000 and we were so very, very young <and naive>.😁

 

 Doug

 

 

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On 7/11/2024 at 5:00 PM, Host Jazzbeau said:

If you get the 15% onboard discount, can you still transfer the cruise to a Travel Agent when you get home?

Yes, I forward my ACL confirmation to my TA. If I recall she may have to then call them but it does transfer to her. She provides a post cruise rebate for booking through her

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35 minutes ago, surmy555 said:

Yes, I forward my ACL confirmation to my TA. If I recall she may have to then call them but it does transfer to her. She provides a post cruise rebate for booking through her

If you booked that ACL cruise while on board, did you get the 15% discount plus something from your TA? That would certainly help with the price!

 

 Doug

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