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
Yes for a couple of reasons. They seem to have access to an allotment of cabins that come with better pricing than you find on the cruise line website. Also while I've booked directly with cruise lines, navigating the sites tends to be more difficult in finding desirable cabins, and there's no discussion of how to get a better cabin or discounted price. We do end up getting on-board credit (OBC) From our agent above and beyond the room package. They also help us find cruises offering "perks" - drinks, gratuities, internet etc. They'll also throw in a embarkation surprise like champagne or wine.
Finally, seems the online and phone line service you get from the cruise line call centers is often disrupted, or requires long hold times. Agents seem to have better access to the reservation reps and alleviate that frustration.
Long answer - but yes - TAs are great, just find one that specializes in cruises and they'll take care of you.
We use vacationstogo.com - they specialized in cruises and have a very useful website for looking for last minute deals.
T do all the research and decide exactly which cruise, category and sometimes even the cabin I want. I book with the cruise line, then call some travel agents to see if they can offer me a better deal if I transfer the booking to them. If their deal is significantly better I will give them the booking, but if not, I keep it with the cruise line so I can deal with them directly if prices come down and I want a reduction or a better cabin category.
I always book flights and hotels myself and usually get considerably better pricing, particularly for hotels. On occasion, flights are better through the cruise line, especially is one way flights are needed.
We use Vacations 2 Go and love the rep we have. We also have a local one that we really like.
One thing we must remember, the cruiseline sets their prices. CTC's and TA's must abide by those prices. What the TA or CTC can do is give you perks such as, dinner at specialty restaurants, paid gratuities, onboard credits and so on. They also book blocks of cabins in advance and will at times give you a complimentary upgrade.
When I first started cruising back in 1996 I always used a TA. I have since educated myself on how to research and maintain my own reservations. If there is a price drop I know how to request the adjusted price. I understand that everyone don't have or don't want to spend the time doing this and it is time consuming. In that case I highly recommend that they use a CS (Cruise Specialist) CTC (Certified Travel Consultant) or an experienced Travel Agent.
We have an excellent TA at Vacations to Go. By buying blocks of cabins, they get them cheaper. I the price goes down after we book, they let us know.
Always use a TA. Got us out of a tight situation with air travel. These people know the system.
I routinely use a internet Travel agency, and I have found I save $100-200 over booking directly through the cruise line
I use a travel agent on everything that I book. I like that I have access to my TA and can call her with questions. The more you use the same TA, the more they will know what you like and can keep you in mind when deals come up that may apply to you. The best thing is that they will watch for price reductions and apply them to your reservation when found.
As far as control, you can control your reservation by logging in to their cruise website. The cruises that I use I am able to reserve my dining, entertainment, and shore excursions.
I use TAs 99% of the time and been pretty happy. Found 2 that we work well together. A couple of times I've booked cruises while on a ship to get an incentive, like lower deposit, then turned the booking over to the TA. Its work well, BUT on the latest occasion, I booked on-board a Celeb ship for a good deal (low deposit), then turned over to TA because they offered a few extra $$ OBC. They took the booking then said I needed to give them a larger deposit. Thought that odd - had not been asked in the past to increase my deposit. Is that normal? The whole reason I booked onboard was for the lower deposit on a far off cruise - 18 mo. Thought asking for more after booking direct was odd.