CHOOSING A TRAVEL AGENT..or...WHY DO YOU EVEN NEED ONE?

OK...you're a newbie...mebbe you've cruised once, or never...everybody starts someplace..you can get advice from lots of sources...sometimes from people who don't know what they're doing either. Cruiseline websites and deckplans can be daunting...until you get used to them. T/A's can speak in tongues..sometimes you have a ton of questions and they don't have a ton of time..NEXT!!...you bump into people who claim to get all kinds of "stuff", either from the cruiseline or their T/A..and you got what? Sometimes you meet folks with a better cabin or packages that you didn't know existed.... Lets all remember what it was like in the beginning...your best advice?

16 Answers

We actually have 2 TAs. The one that we have had the longest is for our group cruises, back when we used to cruise with Green Bay Packer players. When it became too expense to have the players cruise with us, we have kept up many in the group. This TA finds the best cruise deals for February, which is when we like to cruise. She blocks off a group of cabins for the best price. She also arranges the pre-cruise hotel and the shuttles. We always have a 2 day pre-cruise because weather can be a big factor and we get the party started earlier!

Our other TA is Mitchell at Vacations 2 Go and we have used him for all of our other cruises. This includes 3 Alaska cruises, Panama Canal, Australia/NZ, Norwegian Fjords, Baltics and our recently completed Canada Snowbird cruise. He does an excellent job.

1. Your TA must be responsive to your requests

2. If the price goes down after you book (which it probably will if you book early) they should let you know so you can get rebooked.

3. If the line comes up with a promotion that wasn't available when you booked, the TA should try to get that for you too.

4. A really good TA might give you OBC that is not part of a ship promotion

I'm the first to admit that travel agents are very helpful for many travelers. On our first cruises we used travel agents, part of the reason we did was due to the requirement by the lines we like that you had to book through a TA.

Today though, my wife makes the first move by looking at brochures. I then check it out on the line's website. If we like it, I book online. But follow up by calling the cruise line agents to fine tune it and make sure I didn't miss out on something. Now, I used to be in the air travel game for years and had close affiliations with agencies. I never had a problem with them then and enjoyed working with that element of the industry.

However, after we began world travel, we experienced a number of real stressful problems, not only on cruises but coach tours as well, which were a direct result of errors and omissions on the part of an agent. There is nothing worse than to be in a travel predicament on the other side of the globe, in a remote time zone, and have to try and get in touch with your agent, who happens to be out for the week, in order to get them to untangle the mess they created for you.

When the day finally came where all lines set up their current systems, under which we can deal directly with the cruise line, it was like a breath of fresh air. Since then, no more grief or unexpected booking disasters. Maybe an agent could get me a better deal now and then but I doubt it and even so, elimination of the "middle man" is worth paying a little more as far as I'm concerned.

So far so good. We have used the same TA for 10 years and she is awesome. She has gotten us out of a couple of scrapes and we really appreciated the timing and assistance she provided us. She has also gotten us some really decent deals on hotels, flights, etc by searching and researching time after time.. We will continue to use our TA- one of a kind.

If you have a bad TA, it makes sense that you would want to get rid of him/her and do it on your own. However, you might be better off finding a TA that does know what they are doing. We just booked HAL Koningsdam to Hawaii for next November and got a really good deal from the current promotion from the line. We found out that the TA's company is kicking in $150 OBC on top of the good deal we are getting. He spent about an hour on the phone with us finding an available cabin from the list we ave him, discussing possible hotels, setting up insurance andt he air/sea package

JB...yes but...how does one "find" a "good" TA?...trial and error can be costly, and worse....asking someone? well, mebbe...some of you folks have had a "relationship" with your TA for so long its automatic..but if a newbie is starting from scratch??? Im not your best witness on this..we do it ourselves, and enjoy the process...

I have no idea. Someone mention good fit and I think that is important. The right TA for one person might not be the best fit for another. Probably, the good ones outnumber the not so good ones by a good margin. Speaking with one, or meeting, if they are local. should give a person a gut feeling.

Well...that's the point...in the old days, where there was a TA on every corner, folks actually went and sat down with them. Or at least had long, warm conversations...After all you're only spending thousands of dollars eh? Cruising was a VERY big deal..not anymore...Now, the chances are you'll never actually meet "your" TA...theres even a possibility you'll never even speak on the phone. They're probably just a person with a headset and a puter working in some corp somewhere..or even out of their house......given all that, and being just a bit cynical, I think theres an equally good case to be made that the fly-by-nites and inept ones can outnumber the "good" ones. Additionally, Im glad some folks actually get something "extra", that is, over and above what they would have gotten direct from the cruiseline anyway. Seems to me those are the folks who KNOW what they're doing anyway..Im also glad that some experienced cruisers have developed a good relationship with their TA over the years. But my original question stands...how do you start?

One of ours cruises with us every year. Happy

Emails don't cut it, but talking to the rep on the phone or in person should give a clue.

You're cheating...heheheheh so i guess you have to rely on a recommendation from a "friend", or who might have the glitziest ad...

When we went on our first cruise, it was at the urging of our son. He worked with a real great TA. We went to her office to discuss what would be best for us. Well, the meeting started well and by the time we finished the meeting along with a couple of bottles of wine and a great steak dinner at the restaurant across the street, we knew we had found our person. When she announced her retirement, we went to the same restaurant and met her replacement. We use her for every holiday, trip, weekend getaway and cruise. Yes, we do our research, and we check airline prices, and we due our due diligence. But we call her or go see her and let her do her thing. We have not had any issues.She handles ALL the travel for our group and family. Yes, make sure you meet with the TA if you are new to any travel. Once you find your match, keep the lines of communication open. You will benefit from the experience.

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