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So today after much consideration i bit the bullet and booked a cruise 🙂 Nothing unusual about that, as it's something some on here do on a monthly basis lol ( yes i'm jealous )

HOWEVER

When i booked my first and to date only cruise i had no idea what i was doing, i had no idea about sales, costs or additions such as OBC, in fact i had never actually seen a cruiseship before. 

After spending time on this site i realised that there is so much more then just hitting confirm on the UK RC booking screen, so today in the name of research i booked my next cruise with MEI Travel in the US

My plan is to check each sale and see what the cost would be at that time taking into consideration freebies such as OBC, Wifi, etc to determine whether booking in UK or US is best for UK residents and also what the best deal is.

The cruise itself is 7 nights on FOTS 28th June 2020 to the ABC Islands & St Maartan from Peurto Rico.

Current Deal

UK Oceanview Balcony  £2,356.78 + free Wifi 

US Oceanview Balcony : £2036.50 + $50 obc ( RC ) + $50 obc ( MEI Travel ) THIS WAS BOOKED 🙂 

the OBC i received will be used to cover wifi for my wife 

So today because i booked with blog sponsors MEI TRAVEL i am £320.28 better off 🙂 

Now i'm not stupid i realise exchange rates will vary, or that UK may get a deal that is way better ( drinks pack included ) But the way i see it, come June 2020 i will know whats the best deal for me for all future cruises.

i will update this thread for each sale as they happen 

 

Ray 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for undertaking this comparison. I will follow this thread with great interest. I have only just realised that MEI will now accept bookings from the UK. Regardless of pricing, the level of service they provide, particularly when it is proactive, is superior to anything I have seen in the UK.

As an aside, I often use Next Cruise on board ship for future bookings simply because they will give the choice of booking using the current UK offer or the US offer. I think the US offer has, in every instance, given me the lower price, even taking into account drink packages etc. If it looks as if I can gain the same advantage by booking directly with MEI, then that would be the way to go.

 

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51 minutes ago, twangster said:

I suppose too if exchange rates swing in your favor you could pay down a significant portion of the cruise to further maximize the benefit.  

i use the Revelut prepay mastercard for paying for hotels, flights etc that are not in GBP.

i top up in GBP and can convert into numerous currencies at the same time. right now 1GBP is worth over 1.30USD which is a more than any bank etc. 

By using this card to pay directly in USD it removes international transaction charges by banks for converting currency, so i save even more 🙂 

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8 hours ago, Jason12 said:

I find it swings and roundabouts booking with our US travel agent.

our Allure cruise for,2 adults 

UK, park view 2s cabin £2144 includes deluxe package worth £1500

US, park view 2s cabin £1427 includes $25 obc 

😀

will be good to see for myself so i know in future what deal to go for and where. 

Pretty sure this cruise will cost more than if i waited but thats life! cant take it with me so may as well spend it 🙂 

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We wanted a ultraspacious ocean view cabin for 3 people on Harmony of the Seas sailing on 11th August. Cheapest deal we found in UK was Iglucruise for £4582. Two US agents (MEI travel and American Discount Cruises) both comfortably beat that price, with the lowest price being American Discount cruises - £4367 with $400 onboard cash. Definitely worth looking into. 

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Just to add to this research, I have placed on hold 2 B2B cruises with MEI. The price comparison is:

Anthem 11 night Caribbean cruise from Port Bayonne 26th January 2021, Spa Junior Suite

Current UK price: £6,494

MEI / US price: £4,106 (using conversion of £1 = $1.30)

Anthem 8 night Bahama cruise from Port Bayonne 6th February 2021, Spa Junior Suite

Current UK price: £3,292

MEI / US price: £2,108

This is a direct comparison as the UK price for 2021 does not include any additional offer - not even wifi. I noted, though, that 2021 pricing, is much higher than the same cruise on the same ship in 2020. So, there may be lower prices or drinks packages offered in the future. I will track this and report back.

Total saving at current prices and exchange rate is: £3,572.

That's a bit of a no-brainer!

Thanks to Stephanie at MEI for a very quick response.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Further to my last post (above), I continued to work with Stephanie of MEI to finalise a booking for 2021. In the event, I decided not to book the cruises on Anthem (the itineraries and dates were not quite what I wanted). Instead, Stephanie has booked B2B cruises on Freedom for me, sailing from San Juan in April of 2021.

For information, I have given the details of these bookings along with a US to UK price comparison. As before, I have used a conversion rate of £1 to $1.30 and the comparison is direct for a J4 Junior Suite, with no extras (such as WiFi or drinks packages) included in either case. 

Freedom of the Seas 2021          
  US Price   UK Price   Difference
           
04/11/2021 £2,665.38   £4,070.78   -£1,405.40
04/18/2021 £2,505.36   £3,850.78   -£1,345.42
           
Total £5,170.74   £7,921.56   -£2,750.82

MEI have now booked this for me, so it is definite. There are three observations to make, however.

  1. The deposit required is higher than would have been the case in the UK; $250 per person for each cruise (total $1,000 approx. £770) as opposed to £150 per person with the 2 cruises together treated as a single booking (total £300).
  2. Obviously, these bookings are not covered by ABTA (ABTA is the leading association of travel agents and tour operators in the UK, providing expert travel advice, guidance, protection and help in resolving travel complaints.)
  3. Stephanie was able to place the Anthem and Freedom cruises on hold for 2 weeks whilst we tried to decide between the options. Our travel agent in the UK has not been able to guarantee placing reservations on hold for more than 24 hours in recent months.

Again, thanks to Stephanie at MEI for facilitating these bookings. I will track the impact of US and UK offers, price changes and currency fluctuations as time goes on, and report back.

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It definitely pays to compare the US price as sometimes there can be quite a big difference...

I booked our Navigator cruise for $966 AUD ($688 USD) less by paying in US dollars. Only issue was deposit is larger due to exchange rate.

For our Symphony cruise there was only $200 AUD difference but the Australian price came with extras (soda packages / johnny rockets) so I paid that one in AUD.

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Thats a BIG difference.

We had been looking at doing a TA in a year or so but doing it from the US and ending up in Southampton. This this has giving me reason to price things from the US site and see what we would get from there. Never would have thought that the difference would be as much as that.

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I love this thread already, I constantly look at the US site also and do some price comparisons. A big factor for me is the drink packages offer they have in the UK.

 

However ... when the drinks package 'offer' is on the UK site the prices do tend to increase at a rate that is close to the cost of a drink package. But it is certainly worth checking with the Us prices before booking.

I have not booked any from the US site so far in my cruising career but it is certainly an option I look at every time.

 

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19 hours ago, JohnUK said:

Further to my last post (above), I continued to work with Stephanie of MEI to finalise a booking for 2021. In the event, I decided not to book the cruises on Anthem (the itineraries and dates were not quite what I wanted). Instead, Stephanie has booked B2B cruises on Freedom for me, sailing from San Juan in April of 2021.

For information, I have given the details of these bookings along with a US to UK price comparison. As before, I have used a conversion rate of £1 to $1.30 and the comparison is direct for a J4 Junior Suite, with no extras (such as WiFi or drinks packages) included in either case. 

Freedom of the Seas 2021          
  US Price   UK Price   Difference
           
04/11/2021 £2,665.38   £4,070.78   -£1,405.40
04/18/2021 £2,505.36   £3,850.78   -£1,345.42
           
Total £5,170.74   £7,921.56   -£2,750.82

MEI have now booked this for me, so it is definite. There are three observations to make, however.

  1. The deposit required is higher than would have been the case in the UK; $250 per person for each cruise (total $1,000 approx. £770) as opposed to £150 per person with the 2 cruises together treated as a single booking (total £300).
  2. Obviously, these bookings are not covered by ABTA (ABTA is the leading association of travel agents and tour operators in the UK, providing expert travel advice, guidance, protection and help in resolving travel complaints.)
  3. Stephanie was able to place the Anthem and Freedom cruises on hold for 2 weeks whilst we tried to decide between the options. Our travel agent in the UK has not been able to guarantee placing reservations on hold for more than 24 hours in recent months.

Again, thanks to Stephanie at MEI for facilitating these bookings. I will track the impact of US and UK offers, price changes and currency fluctuations as time goes on, and report back.

Fantastic saving 👍 

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1 minute ago, Jason12 said:

Been watching prices for a while now and it’s seems any offer they do in the UK pushes prices up, I’ve got my best deals when there no offers at all. 

In general, I think your observation is correct. But there are exceptions...… for example, the total price I paid for a cruise next year on Independence went up by around £200 (for 7 days) when they changed the offer to include the drinks package. Usually, the new price rises to, would you believe it, an amount approximating to the old price plus the price of the drinks package (or more). I am sure that is purely coincidental!!

It is always worth checking as some of the exceptions have saved me an awful lot of money over the years.

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  • 1 month later...

So the US RC site has a buy 1 get 1 half price sale on with free wifi  🙂

sounds like a good deal so checked price compared to when i booked and im pleased to announce its $300 more expensive for same type of room 🙂

will keep on checking both UK and US sites when deals are on 

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Just a question to people doing this research....

Have you checked the "gratuities" on UK vs US pricing?

I looked at US pricing and thought I was getting ripped off on the Australian site... until I realised the Aussie price included the gratuities and the US one did not.

I'm not sure how it works with the UK pricing.

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41 minutes ago, Balsam said:

Just a question to people doing this research....

Have you checked the "gratuities" on UK vs US pricing?

I looked at US pricing and thought I was getting ripped off on the Australian site... until I realised the Aussie price included the gratuities and the US one did not.

I'm not sure how it works with the UK pricing.

UK pricing does not currently include gratuities as standard although there are sometimes deals where gratuities are included. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Another sale on the UK website..up to £1000 off 🙂 

So i check dates of my Booking as £1000 off is not to be missed 🙂 

Original cost on UK site with free wifi was  £2,356.78 , cost today in sale with up to £1000 off is £2,337.64 with no wifi 😂

So to date US site is still the cheapest 🙂 

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On 4/1/2019 at 1:08 AM, JohnUK said:

Further to my last post (above), I continued to work with Stephanie of MEI to finalise a booking for 2021. In the event, I decided not to book the cruises on Anthem (the itineraries and dates were not quite what I wanted). Instead, Stephanie has booked B2B cruises on Freedom for me, sailing from San Juan in April of 2021.

For information, I have given the details of these bookings along with a US to UK price comparison. As before, I have used a conversion rate of £1 to $1.30 and the comparison is direct for a J4 Junior Suite, with no extras (such as WiFi or drinks packages) included in either case. 

Freedom of the Seas 2021          
  US Price   UK Price   Difference
           
04/11/2021 £2,665.38   £4,070.78   -£1,405.40
04/18/2021 £2,505.36   £3,850.78   -£1,345.42
           
Total £5,170.74   £7,921.56   -£2,750.82

MEI have now booked this for me, so it is definite. There are three observations to make, however.

  1. The deposit required is higher than would have been the case in the UK; $250 per person for each cruise (total $1,000 approx. £770) as opposed to £150 per person with the 2 cruises together treated as a single booking (total £300).
  2. Obviously, these bookings are not covered by ABTA (ABTA is the leading association of travel agents and tour operators in the UK, providing expert travel advice, guidance, protection and help in resolving travel complaints.)
  3. Stephanie was able to place the Anthem and Freedom cruises on hold for 2 weeks whilst we tried to decide between the options. Our travel agent in the UK has not been able to guarantee placing reservations on hold for more than 24 hours in recent months.

Again, thanks to Stephanie at MEI for facilitating these bookings. I will track the impact of US and UK offers, price changes and currency fluctuations as time goes on, and report back.

Hi John, 

 

Thanks for this detailed post. 

How you planning to get to San Juan? 

cheer,

 

John

 

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