Cruise agent due diligence

Old Feb 27th, 2023, 08:05 AM
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Cruise agent due diligence

iíve done extensive international travel, but Iím 73 and physically less able. Iíve done very little cruising, only to cheap carnival cruises. Iím going on a crossing on the queen Mary, two on April 30, and then going on a celebrity 14 day cruise in January from Buenos Aires to Antartica and back. Some people suggested I check prices on cruisecompete.com and I did. I got one extremely low price quote from an agent named Carrie Volpe at a company called Cruise one. But when I search, I canít find anything either positive or negative about her or her company other than whatís on her own site. Has anybody heard/used her/Cruz one? Iíve been told never to book directly with the cruise line, but that a good agent can get you a better deal and or upgrade and over cabin location. thanks in advance for any ideas and hopefully someone on this forum has heard of her and can give me a recommendation or tell me to stay away. Thanks again.
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Old Feb 27th, 2023, 09:54 AM
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I don't know about that agency but I've used Cruises Only, Vacations to Go and Pavlus. Call all three and find out who will offer the best terms.
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Old Feb 27th, 2023, 10:45 AM
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I booked directly for a QM2 crossing & was able to get a discount & upgrade as it got closer to the time & they became available through the Cunard website. They allow those who've already booked to take advantage of the special offers as they become available after the original booking date. I had booked an inside single & was upgraded to a balcony for less money. That's what I'd do again.

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Old Feb 27th, 2023, 04:40 PM
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I have booked directly with several cruise lines and found the service great. Their cruise line reps knew everything about the particular ships, cabins, etc. They made recommendations based on my needs and wants and usually (not every time) matched prices of discounters. I like having a more personal interaction with an agent who represents only that company. Such specific, knowledgeable service was a huge benefit most times.

I have used vacationstogo several times. They seem best when I know exactly what I want in a cruise, which possible ship and which cabins, and they also gave the lowest price nearly every time. Many of the agents gave good general itinerary advice.

I never got better offers through cruise compete and had to sort through what the various offers actually included.

I do not know the agent mentioned. If I wanted to use a private agent, I would get personal recommendations from some of the very experienced cruisers here on Fodors. Several have mentioned that they had wonderful agents. Hope they post.
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Old Feb 27th, 2023, 06:31 PM
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What is the very low price on, Celebrity or the QM2?

I use Vacations to Go as a search engine. Be sure you are looking at "singles" price and not getting a quote for half of a two-person booking.

You do have to call VTG to get the full price including taxes and service charge. They are listing the base price on the website.

I've used Gabe Pollard from VTG in the past, his extension is 7105 (note that all agents there have different hours). All of the VTG agents I've spoken to over the phone have seemed knowledgeable, unlike some of the newest dedicated agents at the major cruise lines. Not all of the cruise line "Personal Cruise Consultants" are good.

A lot has changed in cruising since the pandemic. Not all lines are allowing you to refare after final payment. You might want to start watching some of the cruise "vloggers" on YouTube. Gary Bembridge travels regularly on Cunard, his channel is "Tips for Travelers".
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Old Feb 27th, 2023, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
What is the very low price on, Celebrity or the QM2?

I use Vacations to Go as a search engine. Be sure you are looking at "singles" price and not getting a quote for half of a two-person booking.

You do have to call VTG to get the full price including taxes and service charge. They are listing the base price on the website.

I've used Gabe Pollard from VTG in the past, his extension is 7105 (note that all agents there have different hours). All of the VTG agents I've spoken to over the phone have seemed knowledgeable, unlike some of the newest dedicated agents at the major cruise lines. Not all of the cruise line "Personal Cruise Consultants" are good.

A lot has changed in cruising since the pandemic. Not all lines are allowing you to refare after final payment. You might want to start watching some of the cruise "vloggers" on YouTube. Gary Bembridge travels regularly on Cunard, his channel is "Tips for Travelers".
You made excellent points about how things have changed. I just saw some FB groups where more experienced cruise travel agents were helping new ones who have little experience actually cruising and are not fully familiar with new ships, products, itineraries, etc.
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Old Mar 1st, 2023, 05:45 AM
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One other suggestion is to try a travel agent to see if they can get you a group rate. We've done this several times and saved hundreds. Our TA specializes in cruises and you can call her if you wish. Her name is Kathy Biancalana out of cruises international in Schaumburg Il. 847 303 2020.

Good luck!

Larry
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