Is it best to find your own cruises or hire a travel agent?
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With dozens of cruise lines, hundreds of ships, thousands of itinerary combinations and countless promotions changing regularly, an experienced cruise agent can be an invaluable asset in planning your dream vacation. They should help guide you to the perfect cruise for you and ensure you get the best value for your money. Happy cruising!
We have had endless, huge threads re this. The "old days" where you actually sat down with a TA are over, for all practical purposes. (Unless you have one in the family...) Assuming a complete stranger half a continent away or working from their garage, or call center will get you what you want is naïve, and lazy. The hang up on previous discussions is when I asked EXACTLY how you know that "person" knows what they're doing, or will be available to unscrewup a screwup. No one could really answer it. There seemed to be a hang up on EXACTLY how to find that person. Someone telling me they have had a marvelous relationship with "ELMER FUDD" at 1-800-MEGATRAVELOPOLIS is less than meaningless. The best way is to LEARN how to do it yourself. Easy? no. simple? no. Do TA's "get you stuff?" most of the time its perks you would have gotten anyway. Sometimes for regular customers, they just might. In this day of the internet, for me, I'll do it myself. Been cruising for years, next one is #23, not counting land trips in between. Have I screwed things up? only rarely, and not of epic proportions. Did I know what I was doing waaay back in the day? I don't remember anything so horrible that it couldn't be fixed. Now, when the bug bites, we sit down at the pc, settle in, and bang away. EVERYTHING you need is right there. I find it absolutely incredible that someone could spend bux on a big ticket item, not once, but many times, and remain basically clueless. I think the cruiselines count on it.
After you do it yourself once (or twice) and learn the mechanics of it navigating different lines websites, you'll probably never use a TA again. The biggest complaint I've ever had is occasionally having to wait on the phone if I had a question. and then, not so much. GOOD LUCK!!!
We always use a TA and have for several years. Our TA has gotten out of a few tangles and always keeps us posted on deals, price alerts, etc. We will continue to use our TA.
We book direct with the cruise lines mainly because half the fun is looking researching and finding the right cruise. It can be almost as addictive as cruising.
We always do a pre-research portion, then we reach out to the family's TA to fill in the gaps. She has been taking care of all our needs, for all vacations and breaks we need. Do we save more using her? Maybe, maybe not, but having and ace in the hole is a great resource. If you can do it all yourself and feel great about it, go for it. To each there own.
The "old days" where you actually sat down with a TA are over, for all practical purposes. (Unless you have one in the family...) Assuming a complete stranger half a continent away or working from their garage, or call center will get you what you want is naïve, and lazy.
Travel agents aside, I’m intrigued by this viewpoint. I don’t meet in person with my accountant, my lawyer, my financial advisor – heck, our jeweler is 2,000 miles away! (We did meet our jeweler locally but stayed loyal after we moved and couldn’t find anyone nearly as good.) I know people who don’t even see their doctor in person for a lot of things. Using the internet and the telephone, I can connect with the best and brightest in the world, instead of relying on whoever happens to work in my neighborhood.
Right here on Cruiseline.com we’re all making friends with and taking advice from folks all over the world. That “complete stranger” has a new definition; I don’t need to sit with you or even see your face to respect your opinion or value your advice. You’ve proven that yourself Yankee47 with many, many insightful and helpful posts.
Thanks for the compliment. I replied in some detail, and have no idea what happened to it. Bear with me. it may turn up. If not, I'll try to reconstruct it. The site says its there, but its not.
I doubt if this version will be as good as the first one, that got "eaten". I can certainly understand your "modernistic" viewpoint. For me, it would be impossible to entrust my accountant, lawyer or financial advisor with the most intimate details of our lives without knowing them PERSONALLY. I'm not even going to discuss MD's! I've known those individuals so long its embarrassing.
And yes, I do pick up tidbits online, not only from this board, but others. When I see something that interests me, it invariably causes yet more key banging and surfing. I have long since passed through the know-it-all stage and entered the "I don't even know how much I don't know" stage.
Lets assume you're a total newbie. How you go about finding that reliable, responsible, knowledgeable TA? who somehow knows EXACTLY what you're interested in, when you don';t even know yourself? A referral from a friend? How do you know that THEY know what they're doing? How do you know you're getting the best bang for the buck? I read where people brag about what they're "getting". while I'm sure it does happen, I have noticed, repeatedly, they're not getting anything they wouldn't have gotten themselves. How do you know this "person" is gong to available to "unscrew a screwup"? What happens when this "person" isn't there (wherever that is) anymore? "John isn't here anymore, but I'm Mary. What can I do for you?"
The last time we had this subject thread, I kept harping on the ORIGINAL QUESTION..How did you find that TA? Way back in the beginning? Folks who have posted in here for years seemed to have some difficulty answering that. Dumb luck ain't my thing.
I'm in complete agreement with OGW, who opined that the process of doing it yourself can be as much fun as the actual voyage. Were we born with some magical ability to make reservations, crank up an itinerary, attend to details? nope...Don't know how it happened, but we've always trusted ourselves more than any 3rd party, especially people we've never met.
I find that the process invariably leads to other possibilities. The mere act of learning to surf around cruise lines websites, (or a multitude of others), opens doors to places and things your didn't know existed, and researching those things to get answers is, for me, quite enjoyable. The internet knows more than any TA ever could. And interestingly, I'm sure you must agree, its as impersonal as one can get. I find I can do about 99% of my travel through the internet. The other 1% requires a phone call (and wait times) to get someone who "sounds like" they know what they're doing. I'm sure you know the type.
HAPPY CRUISING!! and again, thanks for the compliment!