Contributor Level: Admiral

What Is the Best Way to Choose a Travel Agent or Cruise Specialist?

Most of us have used travel agents or a cruise specialist at some point in our travels.  What is the best way to go about choosing one?  If you do not use an agent, why don't you?  I think a lot of newbies would appreciate your knowledge.  I know that anytime someone questions me about cruising, they always ask about whether they should book directly with the cruise line, book online, or use a local travel agent.  What is your advice?

Tags: Using a travel agent using a cruise specialist book directly through the cruise line book online

12 Answers

Contributor Level: Captain

I do not use a travel agent because most of my cruises also include a land vacation and I have better success with AARP-Expedia Travel Center and Alamo.  Southwest Airlines is my go to choice for air fare because of the two free bags policy and the ability to reschedule without penalty. I book directly with Princess via my account and/or offers I receive from them.

It is difficult to work with a travel agent for my trips because I make decisions about the trip as I research it...

Contributor Level: Captain

I do as much research on line as I can, the I call "my" representative at the cruise line with what I think is the best deal, but ask if I missed something.  I know that they can see cabins that are available that do not show up on my computer. I prefer to book the air and hotel myself as I know what times work best for us and sometimes where we like to stay (esp. for points). Like Debbie, we prefer SW airlines because of the two bags, cost and some sometimes direct flights.  Early is our cruising "career", we used a travel agent and didn't feel that our best interests were being met,  We tried another with a similar result.  I know there are probably some good ones out there but after being disappointed twice I wasn't willing to try again.


So for newbies, I suggest you call the cruise line directly if you have an idea of what you want.  But if you have no preconceived idea, talk with a travel agent to get guidance.

Contributor Level: Staff Captain

Had a terrible experience with a TA, who got my cruise cancelled.  I wouldn't have known if I hadn't been checking for a price drop and saw my cabin back in inventory. 

I am much more comfortable booking everything myself, and if something goes wrong, I don't have to go through a third party to get it fixed. 

Someday, when we get to travel abroad, I will use a travel agent because I think the booking process for that would be over my head.  When that time comes, I hope to turn to some of my friends here for advice and recommendations :)

Contributor Level: Cruise Director

I use Carnival's booking agents as they are in the know more than the travel agents.  I see a hot item on the travel agents site, I call Carnival and they explain the deal, most likely the same deal Carnival itself offers.

Contributor Level: Captain

I previously used a travel agent that I didn't feel did much for me -- I transferred the booking to him after I made it, and asked if he would keep an eye out for price deductions. He informed me that I would have to do that, as he was too busy.

I then transferred to one I met on this site. He and his wife ensured that I was wanting for nothing, and found several price reductions that ended up getting me over 30% of the fare back. They also contacted me after the cruise to make sure that everything went well, as well as asking if they could help with my next cruise (they will be!).

Contributor Level: Staff Captain

I book through CCL directly.  Easy peasy and done.  Pay through the site, done.  Book my own hotel. Done.  I don't need a middle man

Contributor Level: Captain

We used a travel agent for our first cruise and would never do that again! She was a cruise specialist, but really just wanted to upsell us to a different cruise line than we wanted, and for a longer time. She wouldn't apply for price drops either, saying we didn't qualify. Speaking with another agent in the same office proved her wrong, so we had the file transferred. Never again! 

Our next couple of cruises were booked theough The Cruiseline with one of their vacation planners, but the first one we dropped when we learned that she didn't abide the company's privacy policy. 

We booked the last one ourselves and planned to continue to do that, but couldn't resist booking and getting onboard credit while we were on the Sunshine. The ship's travel expert was wonderful, and she even applied for and got us some extra onboard credit that wasn't showing online. 

Contributor Level: Captain

We used to use a TA, then I just started booking on my own because I felt slighted ( personal matter ).    However, I recently transferred our next cruise to a TA.

Can someone explain to me how you go about transferring a booking from one TA to another? I booked through AAA and they didn't get me anything I couldn't have gotten by booking it myself

direct with the cruise line.  When I went on the cruise line site, even they said to use a TA because they could get me deals I couldn't get through the cruise line. Things like free specialty dinning and reduced pricing on drink packages.

Contributor Level: Purser

I had a worse experience in booking cruise via an agent. They always have a huge cut on the actual amount of cruise ticket. When I learned this I never booked cruise via any agent rather I started booking it online. I did my last cruise booking through Cruisemeout where they are giving $25,00,000 of insurance cover on every ticket. Also, I got a good discount on booking my second cruise holiday from them. 


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