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There IS a difference between a travel and cruise agent..

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I was just so impressed with my travel agent, just wanted to write about the value of a travel agent vs. a travel booker for cruises (didn't realize it would turn out to be a book, well a magazine article maybe.) Expedia which I wanted to use often for their travel points is just an order taker, they know little about the rooms or ships, they will most likely NOT keep you apprised of price drops after booking or if you have problems with the cruise line after the cruise they will not do anything for you. I used to pick agents only by price staying loyal to practically no one, but just one. Recently I inherited money from sale of housing in the S.F. Bay area and knew that my cruising would increase quite exponentially and cruising a lot I would not be able to monitor cruise prices and I wanted to find any agent that would really value my patronage. I had asked my present agent if she would notify me of price drops even after final payment (can't get a refund but may get an upgrade) or maybe the agency itself will extend me some cruise credits but she said she wouldn't and I can't blame her as she would not gain any more monies for the extra work. I was shopping for cruises and contacted a couple of agents but then wanted to take a break but there was one agent who was very persistent and initially I was annoyed, but finally I gave in and had a talk with him and asked him to give me an example of what he did to show that he was more than an order taker.

He told me that one time a women called and she said he was the SEVENTH agent she had talked to. She had a booked a Viking cruise specifically because she wanted to go one particular destination but shortly after she paid it they removed it, as someone who traveled a lot, she had traveled to the other locations before and didn't want her money back but wanted to change the dates so when it DID sell a sail to that location again, she could go on that cruise. Well, the original booking agent claimed s/he couldn't help and the other six (perhaps because she didn't book with them) claimed they could not help her, and he told her he could see what he could do. He got ahold of his agency's contact with Viking but the person also told him that Viking would not help, so he asked what was the number of the rep. for Viking which his colleague was very reluctant to give but he did and he called Viking and was also told that there was nothing that could be done and he told them, "I have clients that travel in the class of ships that Viking is, if you don't help her, I will certainly not recommend you to them," the women got her alternate sailing date. He is helping me now (and still nothing may not be done but he is making the effort) to see if I can get some additional cruise credit due to an error of mine. I never really bothered to read the rules of my loyalty tier for NCL and did not know that long ago (when just a silver) I am a platinum now, that you can get 10% off booking excursions but had to check in the shore excursion desk. I always wondering why people waited in the long lines, I always booked on the sheets and dropped in the box and now realized all the money I lost. He could take the attitude of one agent I talked to who said since she didn't make the original booking and it's in the past, there's nothing that can be done, but he talked to the cruise rep. and I AM impressed by that (and he was very busy at the time with all the hurricane rebookings.)

When I was on a NCL cruise, there were a lot of solos traveling and one traveler's travel agent somehow got ahold of her on the ship, maybe it was just an email and told her that the Chile to Argentina part of the cruise (14? days) had dropped dramatically to $399 for a SOLO cabin, NCL never told their passengers already abroad the ship about it. I used in the past Vac. To Go to book a transatlantic cruise and then saw it continued from MIA to LA and decided to pay for both cruises, If THAT agent had been he was like the agent I have now, he would (and SHOULD) have told me that on the ship if you make a future booking that they will give you cruise credit for that cruise AND the agency gets a commission, the only thing that you had to consider is whether that particular cruise would be sold out. Since I booked the first cruise only a week before it sailed, was not too concerned about the second cruise selling out as it still had many cabins 3 weeks before that cruise, but it would have shown that the agent really put my considerations over short term profit. I even sent my current agent some quotes from Cruise Compete after final payment and asked if his was still the lowest and he DID check that for me. I also was going to take a Caribbean cruise which had many benefits of Distinctive Voyages which included credit toward airfare and hotel, since I couldn't use it on that cruise wondering if I could use it on the first cruise, other agents simply said no, he at least asked as Zsa Zsa says," you don't ask you don't get!" This is long enough so I won't go into THAT story but you can write me and as,k just put Zsa Zsa on the subject line! He told me that his clients stay with him not just for the lowest prices (most prices are pretty much the same no matter where you book) but his clients stay for the service.

If all you want do is book the lowest priced cruises, with no expectations of problems, either do it yourself or find one on Cruise Compete (it's always best still that you use an agent) but if you really want to have one that will go to bat for you, contact me at this email address you will get an automated email with that info, I am afraid if I put his info on here, it may break some rules and the whole post will be removed (I don't care if people know this email address as I usually use it for spam mail) The only hesitation I have in posting this as that he may get so many new clients that he won't have time for ME LOL!!

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