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LindseyFoley

Travel Agents

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I have never booked a cruise through a travel agent. I have always booked directly through the cruise lines website. I was just curious what are the differences you get when booking through an agent vs directly with the cruise line? Are there any special perks or is it cheaper? Any knowledge on the subject would be appreciate!

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Good question, Lindsey! The big differences are service and amenities - and sometimes price. Though agents are no longer able to discount cruises the way they used to (one exception is Princess), they will sometimes have groups that are priced less. Most of the time, though, they will offer onboard credits, wine, free gratuities, or gifts. More importantly, they will guide you with their own personal experiences and choose a cruise that works best for you - not just one cruise line. A TA can assist with pre and post-cruise hotel stays. Cruise lines only have two or three hotels they partner with in a city - an independent agent has access to them all. An agent can help you find less expensive ways to tour ports of call over the price of the cruise line - if that's what you prefer. An agent is especially useful for someone looking for their first cruise, who might be overwhelmed with all the choices and needs guidance in where to begin. :smile:

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First off, there is a difference between a "Travel Agent" and a "Cruise Agent". A Travel Agent (aka T.A.) usually dabbles in various forms of vacation needs such as airfare, hotel packages, car rentals etc. A Cruise Agent or Cruise Agency (not the actual cruise Line) will focus primarily on cruise vacations where they can incorporate added options such as car rentals, airfare and post-cruise hotel stays. Because the Cruise Agencies sell mostly just cruises, the cruise lines may offer them discounted cruise rates that T.A.'s don't get. Many T.A.'s because they don't primarily sell cruises will only be able to offer the brochure rate. There was a time years ago where many Cruise Agents could offer their customers greatly reduced rates for cruises because of the sales they made of a particular line or because the cruise line wanted the cruise agent to focus on just THEIR line. Times have changed and the cruise lines have come more "in line" with the discounts they offer customers. Cruise agencies buy "blocks" of cabins in various sailings on cruise ships in different categories so you may not always be able to get the cabin you want in a specific category. The cruise line can offer you any cabin in any category if the one you want isn't already sold. A cruise agent may also offer you "On Board Credit" (aka OBC's) that are offered directly from them and not the cruise line. This OBC can be added to any other OBC you get from the cruise line if offered and in some cases can double your OBC!! Rule of thumb Lindsey is shop around. Call the cruise line and see what your cruise will cost through them. Then, call the other cruise agencies and see what they are offering for the same cruise. And when shopping around, make sure the agency is a member of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). I have used the cruise line to book a cruise once in the last nine cruises I have taken. The other eight times, I have used a cruise agency which I have used since 1990. Just seems that my cruise agent is more "personal" then dealing with the cruise line. Hope this helped! :smile:

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I have a TA who is a cruise specialist and works for a company that does cruises mainly. She is knowledgable and does help a lot, especially with group bookings for a cheaper rate, a discount and even for hotel recs. so for me it's an advantage from a service POV. Actually I could get a bigger discount booking with Costco. Yes they do have a travel club buts he provides great service so for us it's worth it.

Look into a good TA. It's worth your time.

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Thank you for all the information yall have provided. I may look into booking through a travel or cruise agency next time around. Seems like it has some perks that may be interesting to try out. Thanks again!

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Thank you for all the information yall have provided. I may look into booking through a travel or cruise agency next time around. Seems like it has some perks that may be interesting to try out. Thanks again!

Not only that, but you'll be helping to support a local small business!

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First off, there is a difference between a "Travel Agent" and a "Cruise Agent". A Travel Agent (aka T.A.) usually dabbles in various forms of vacation needs such as airfare, hotel packages, car rentals etc. A Cruise Agent or Cruise Agency (not the actual cruise Line) will focus primarily on cruise vacations where they can incorporate added options such as car rentals, airfare and post-cruise hotel stays. Because the Cruise Agencies sell mostly just cruises, the cruise lines may offer them discounted cruise rates that T.A.'s don't get. Many T.A.'s because they don't primarily sell cruises will only be able to offer the brochure rate. There was a time years ago where many Cruise Agents could offer their customers greatly reduced rates for cruises because of the sales they made of a particular line or because the cruise line wanted the cruise agent to focus on just THEIR line. Times have changed and the cruise lines have come more "in line" with the discounts they offer customers. Cruise agencies buy "blocks" of cabins in various sailings on cruise ships in different categories so you may not always be able to get the cabin you want in a specific category. The cruise line can offer you any cabin in any category if the one you want isn't already sold. A cruise agent may also offer you "On Board Credit" (aka OBC's) that are offered directly from them and not the cruise line. This OBC can be added to any other OBC you get from the cruise line if offered and in some cases can double your OBC!! Rule of thumb Lindsey is shop around. Call the cruise line and see what your cruise will cost through them. Then, call the other cruise agencies and see what they are offering for the same cruise. And when shopping around, make sure the agency is a member of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). I have used the cruise line to book a cruise once in the last nine cruises I have taken. The other eight times, I have used a cruise agency which I have used since 1990. Just seems that my cruise agent is more "personal" then dealing with the cruise line. Hope this helped! :smile:

Good commentary Tim. :thumbup:

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We have booked many cruises through a cruise agency. The reason I prefer them to the Cruise Line is because of the personal aspect which Tim has already touched on. They usually give you an OBC which you can add to your OBC from the cruise line if you booked through their onboard program. Also we enjoy the bottles of wine and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us in our stateroom upon embarkation!!!

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As mentioned, an agent who’s a cruise specialist can be a great asset. You may get a better price and you may get perks (it’ll depend on the cruise and the agent) but you probably won’t get those things direct from the cruise line.

A good agent should give you excellent service, firsthand knowledge of ships and ports, tips, tricks and the best deal available. (In your case, military personnel, past passengers and residents of certain states may be eligible for special perks or pricing.) They’ll also help you keep an eye out for any offers that come along after you book and get you the best deal they can.

And if you find an agent you click with, don’t be surprised to find you become good friends too. They’ll get to know your interests and likes, friends and family, special occasions – and they’ll do everything they can to help you create wonderful memories!

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