Do you use a travel agent when you book a cruise? If yes, why? Do you get a better price, more perks, more on board credits or just want someone to intercede for you if a problem develops?
Using a Travel Agent
When we first started cruising, we booked directly with the cruise line. Now we always book through a travel agent. She sometimes gets us a better deal, a better cabin for the same price and gives us more on board credit than offered by the cruise line. She also gives us a bottle or more of wine depending on the length of the cruise. Sometimes we get free shore excursions or dinner for two in one or more specialty restaurants. The longer the cruise, naturally the better the perks. She also knows what we like and makes suggestions accordingly. For example, she knows that I want to cruise on the Oasis when the ship moves to our local port. She found a good deal on a particular sailing and sent us an email. She also makes calls on our behalf to the cruise line for answers to our questions saving us wait time on the phone. Not only that but she is always available for calls or emails even on Christmas Eve or other holidays. She always answers us right away even when she is on a cruise. We couldn't ask for better service. There is no extra charge for us to use her services.
Always use a qualified agent. I have mentioned before that our first cruise was made an even better experience because of the agent we used. She knows us personally and made sure we knew all information that we needed before we left. I have used the agent at NCL for a short cruise to Bermuda, We had our own itinerary planned before we left and experience no trouble.
We have mentioned it before on this site. Always use an agent. There is never an extra charge and often go above in exceeding expectations.
I think travel professionals can be invaluable. We have booked a couple cruises through one and she has already found us $1200 in savings because of a new campaign. We never would have picked that up on our own. She does it automatically.
We also found her very helpful when we booked a land-sea combo trip with B2B cruises. It was all very confusing to look at on a website, but she made it extremely easy and I have full confidence that things are going to be just perfect.
For simple, straightforward bookings, we are DIY kinda folk.
When I started to cruise I used a TA, back in those days the internet was not around. I used the TA that my parents had used for the last 20 years. I then started to use an internet based company as I got better prices. I was mostly doing the Mexico cruises that I had done before since in those years I was working and only took a week off at a time.
When I was planning my month long European land see vacation I tried a couple of TA's but was able to get better prices and land locations on my own. Sure it took days to research what part of Rome to stay and in and what hotel (I wanted American style, sure European style hotels have charm, but at 3 AM walking down a common hall to a common bathroom is not my idea of charm. I want on on-suite bath). I am semi-retired and have the time to do the research. My choice was good enough that I spent a couple weeks in the same hotel the next year.
When I booked in London I used a booking service (Londontown) for the hotel that was very helpful, they got me in a reasonable hotel (for less then I had found on the net) that was just 2 blocks off of the tube line that ran from Heathrow (non stop, non transfer), told me of the Oister card and sent a book of what to see in London and how, get around and a 1 hour river cruise.
For Cruises I like using Vacationstogo.com. I have worked with a few people there and have found one that is great to work with and gets me extra perks. I still do my own air and hotel, so I kind of piece the trip together. I enjoy the research on line and learn a lot about the places to go and see.
Thanks everyone for replying. I enjoyed reading all your comments. We have plenty of seasoned cruisers on this site and I value all your opinions. We learn a lot from each other. It makes the site fun, too.
I am using a TA for the first time on my upcoming trip. I really have no complaints about their service, however I feel like I have no control over the reservation.
Perhaps when I move closer to his location in about 4 years, I may reconsider, however for now I will make my own bookings.
I feel like I have no control over the reservation.
As soon as I have the cruise line's confirmation number, I go to the website and start planning excursions, beverage packages, and other extras. This helps me feel much more in control of the booking.
I do it both ways, due to we almost always book last minute. Depends on who,offering the best perks.
We used to. Now, with our medical and needing a handicap cabin, I book over the phone, while I am online. Although, I do recommend a TA over a Carnival PVP.
When I call the TA I tell her which cabins we are considering. I ask if she can find a better price with a promo that we don't know about. She knows what we want. It is not what she would book but she understands that. She calls us back after she puts a hold on a cabin at a particular price. We say yes or no. I never feel that I have lost control. I am only annoyed when a cruise line then only wants to deal with her. So she calls the cruise line and gives permission for them to deal with me.