Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Travel Topics > Cruises
Reload this Page >

Do you book cruises through a travel agent?

Do you book cruises through a travel agent?

Dec 17th, 2004, 03:16 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 84
Do you book cruises through a travel agent?

My husband and I are looking forward to our first cruise next year, on the Radisson Seven Seas Mariner to Alaska. We're independent travelers who enjoy the details of planning a trip and have never used a travel agent. (Actually, that's not true: We used one once and had problems!) We're using frequent-flyer miles for the airfare and just need to book the cruise, transfers, and a few hotels. (We also need travel insurance this time.) Is it best to use a travel agent for cruises, or is it fairly simple to book directly with the cruise line?
Kathyngs is offline  
Dec 17th, 2004, 07:09 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 21
My wife and I have been on 25 cruises. The last 23 have been with Royal Caribbean. We tried a few different travel agents until we found one we really like. We met her and her husband on a cruise in 2001. When we booked our next cruise it was with her. After the cruise was booked she called us 3 separate times with a lower price on the same cabin. We ended up paying $300 less that what we thought we had to pay. I never had an agent work like that for us before. She knows what we like in a cruise and lets us know if any real good deals are available. I still call Royal Caribbean to check prices and Ellen (our agent)is never higher. If I book a cruise while on a ship I get a $100 on board credit and Ellen will get the credit for the cruise as if I booked it through her. I'm glad RCCL does that. Ellen also gets our insurance for us. We never had to use it but it's worth the peace of mine until we board the ship. We always arrange our own airfare. I talk to a lot of people on cruises about agents and when I tell them about Ellen they ask be for her information. My advice is talk to some people you know that use an agent. It doesn't matter where they are located. We live in Wisconsin and Ellen is in MD. When you choose one, give them a call. It is best to use a travel agent. You can still call the cruise line for a price, I do Good luck

Sonny and Esther
Racine, WI
SonnyV is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 12:15 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
Kathy,
Since your first cruise is with Radisson I can highly recommend a travel agent for you (works almost exclusively booking Radisson ships and is so knowlegeable and easy to talk to) BTW, you're going to love the Mariner!! I just got off last month!

If you'd like to, please email me:
[email protected]
petlover is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 12:41 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,210
If you use a travel agent, do not make the mistake we did. Use one who has some specific expertise in cruises - we just went to a general travel agent (had used office before and had good general recommendations from friends) and got nothing we could not have gotten on our own - plus they made a billing mistake that almost cost us our deposit.
gail is offline  
Dec 18th, 2004, 04:17 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 42
Directly is a misleading word here. Booking directly implies avoiding a middle man to save money. Exactly opposite case with cruises. If you book "directly" with cruise lines, you pay the highest price and get no service. A good travel agent will give you a discount and will provide you with all info you need, free of charge.
happycruiser is offline  
Dec 19th, 2004, 02:55 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,072
I research on line the cruise websites such as Vacationtogo.com cruise compete.com, bookacruise.com, etc. and then call tollfree numbers when I think I have found what cruise price wise and destination would be what I want to do. I think doing your research first is the way to go without fully relying on a travel agent.
maryanne1 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 04:00 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 277
I've found that when booking a cruise on a luxury line, it is very important to book with someone who specializes in that specific cruise line. Most TAs sell many different mass marketed cruises which is fine. You mention Radisson so you want to work with a TA that only (or close to only) sells Radison. A heavy booking TA for a specific line will likely be advised of specials and get the last minute perks to pass down to you.
traveller333 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 10:39 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 485
We book all our cruises direct with the cruise line. I am well aware that an agent would most likely be able to get a better price, but for us, who are control freaks, we like to book direct, as it minimizes miscommunciations that can occur when a third party (agent) must pass along your requests and preferences to the cruise line. Also, keep in mind that if you book with an agent, you must call the agent for all questions you have about your booking, as the cruise lines will not talk to you if you about your booking if you booked with an agent. Whether to book with the cruise line or an agent really comes down to is what matters more: more control over your own booking or lower price.
Miramar is offline  
Dec 20th, 2004, 11:32 AM
  #9  
megsterl
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
i find going online and finding prices and then showing them to travel agents,they usually will meet these prices
 
Dec 20th, 2004, 03:20 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 37
I would recomend going to www.virtuoso.com and finding a Virtuoso agent near you. Not only do they get preferential pricing but on many cruises there is a complimentary shore excursion for passengers booked through a Virtuoso agency.

We are doing the Mariner in June and have a complimentary shore excursion in Juneau.
globetrekker is offline  
Dec 21st, 2004, 06:14 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 651
Kathy:

Absolutely use a travel agent. On a high-end cruiseline like Radisson, you can often save thousands of dollars vs. going directly to the line. As recommended above, CruiseCompete.com will allow you to get multiple quotes from competing agencies--several of whom may be holding group space on exactly the sailing you want and can offer you a much lower price.
triathlete is offline  
Dec 25th, 2004, 09:25 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 480
I have concluded that taking a succesful vacation requires plenty of research, careful communication, but still ultimately depends on luck and follow-up, follow-up, and more follow-up.
No matter with whom I'm dealing, I now have a sheet of paper with all of the information (type bed, location on ship or in hotel, non-smoking) I want to pass on to the travel agent, hotel reservation clerk, cruise line agent, etc. I read it to them, I have them repeat it back, and about 20 percent of the time something is still wrong or missing in the initial booking.
Most recently, I booked a RC cruise through an on-line travel agent with cruise.com. He was much more knowledgeable and helpful than the travel agent with whom I talked at a travel agency specializing in cruises. And the price was lower.
However, when I got my confirmation, I examined it and there was a mis-spelling in my street address. Ordinarily, who cares, but with all of the heightened security, it might matter if the address on your cruise documents doesn't exactly match the address on your personal identification.
Later, I looked at my record on the RC web site, and my dinner seating was not what I requested. I looked back at my confirmation, and it was correct on there, so either my cruise.com agent misread it to RC, or more likely, someone at RC either misheard or decided to change it. Luckily, I had followed up, and I was able to change it back to my preferred seating.
Unfortunately, everyone makes mistakes, including me, so you must examine every document and other source of information related to your trip as far as advance in possible -- and twice.
Regarding one previous comment, I have been able to get agents at RC to answer some generic questions for me without being referred back to my travel agent. They have been very helpful.
mscarls is offline  
Dec 25th, 2004, 07:43 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 262
As independent travelers, you should do the planning yourself. Try the obviouse on-line cruise websites to get a feel for the prices. You already know the cruise line, ship and itinerary you want. Then go to cruisecompete.com and post your sailing; many other on-line agencies will offer you their best shot.

There isn't a "brick and mortar" travel agent that can beat the on-line prices. Cruises will surely go the way of the airline and hotel business - do it yourself on-line. Can't wait.

Peter
PumpkinEater is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 06:18 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 228
Kathy, you mention that you are cruising on Radisson. Knowing this I would not consider using an online booking agent but stick with a TA very knowledgeable of the Radisson product. I used a specialist in Dallas for Radisson and she was so knowledgeable that she actually told me not to book a specific cabin I was going to choose because the closet was a foot or two shorter than the closet in the cabin next door! If you email me I'd be happy to suggest a TA if you need one.
newyorkgolfer41 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 12:39 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 262
I'll take the couple hundred savings and live with a closet two feet shorter.

Peter
PumpkinEater is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 04:12 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 228
Pumkin Eater.
The cabin with the 3 ft. (I double checked) smaller closet was the same price (same category) as the one next door. Without someone very familiar with that particular ship, I wouldn't have known this. There was no difference in price.
newyorkgolfer41 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 08:08 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 262
newyorkgolfer41 - my point is that the price your specialist got for you would not have been the lowest fare for either cabin - online pricing rules. You might get pointed to a larger closet and you might get a cheap bottle of wine, but its not worth the extra couple hundred.

Peter
PumpkinEater is offline  
Dec 28th, 2004, 01:53 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 890
PumkinEater, I would normally agree with you about on-line agencies offering the best fares (this is often the case) but on the Luxury lines, my experience has found the best prices are NOT through the on-line agencies but through TA's that book ONLY the luxury cruise lines and nothing else. They do such an abundance/high percentage of the bookings on these ships and many have personal relationships formed. The luxury cruise lines will bend over backwards to keep these "specialist" happy since this is their bread and butter.
petlover is offline  
Dec 28th, 2004, 02:20 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 26
Going with the travel agent won't so much get you a different price as much as get you their service. If you like having this contact person and can find a good one who knows your cruise then you lose nothing by going through them.
spottiew is offline  
Dec 28th, 2004, 03:19 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 63
We went on our first cruise a few years ago, and booked it through a cruise specialist. Travel agency that just specializes in cruises. We booked early and received a free cabin upgrade and $120.00 off our cruise. I have friends who have booked through regular travel agencies and never had problems before. Maybe find a reputable agency or look for cruise travel agencies. Hope this helps!
canuck11 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:38 PM.