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Next Cruise vs Agent vs Self Booking


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I’m getting ready to cruise next week and already know I’m booking a cruise over Christmas this year. I am wondering your thoughts on booking with next cruise vs an agent vs yourself direct with Royal Caribbean. I’ve always booked direct and never used an agent or next cruise. Am I missing out on anything?? 

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48 minutes ago, Matt said:

I firmly believe you only stand to benefit by booking with a good travel agent.  A good agent will save you time, and perhaps money.  They are your advocate and free you up, especially if there's ever an issue with billing, cancellation, price change, etc.

Even if you don't save any money, you have somebody who does the work and saves you time. I would strongly recommend somebody using a travel agent for their first cruise. They can answer all the questions you have as a newbie. I had no idea what I was doing first time around and it was very overwhelming.

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Nearly 50 cruises on the books among different lines and 99% were booked through an agent.

Next is disappointing to me.  I research fully and know what I'm looking for and what an agent has already quoted me.  I still check every cruise but rarely book with Next, the numbers don't work for me.

The trick to saving money is knowing when peak seasons are and booking early.  If you wait a few months to be on board and hope Next gets you something you will usually have been better to have booked it months earlier on land.  

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I’ve never used a travel agent and I’m open to it but wondering a few things:

1. How are the agents compensated? Flat fee via consumer or is everything passed off to the cruise line and bonus paid off bulk?

2. Will they do the leg work for a question like “can you find me the cheapest rate on a star class suite onboard any Oasis Class ship for 2019”?

3. If you are a casino player do they have the ability to cross reference any discounts based on your play?

Thanks!

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I can not see any reason NOT to use the next cruise option.

On the longer sailings(like T/A, etc.) I get $250 obc and then transfer to my agent for their perks(grats, obc, etc.). I feel like I am leaving money on the table otherwise.

Prior to the cruise we have the next booking picked out(price, cabin, etc.) and spend a grand total of about 15 minutes at the next cruise desk. I figure 15 minutes is worth $250........maybe if I was rich, I might skip it.:1_grinning: 

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19 minutes ago, tonyfsu21 said:

2. Will they do the leg work for a question like “can you find me the cheapest rate on a star class suite onboard any Oasis Class ship for 2019”?

Can't directly address your other two questions..but I know that the agents can't sell cruises for less than what is shown on the cruise company's website.  They can offer perks but they can't flat out undercut the price.  I know the agents get commission from the cruiseline, so if they're selling cruises at the same price as the cruiseline when you book directly the cruiseline is keeping that commission.

You can use the agent to do the search for you just as you mentioned.  There are plenty of agents out there who will do this and there's no fee or obligation for getting a quote.  You might as well throw it out there and let them see what they can come up with.  My last quote matched the lowest possible price I was able to source myself on Royal's site, but what sold me with going with the MEI is I got some OBC and free gratuities added in for booking with them.  

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21 hours ago, tonyfsu21 said:

How are the agents compensated? Flat fee via consumer or is everything passed off to the cruise line and bonus paid off bulk?

The cruise line pays them a commission.  So it's a percentage based on your cruise cost.  This comes out of the cruise line's end, so no additional cost to you.

21 hours ago, tonyfsu21 said:

Will they do the leg work for a question like “can you find me the cheapest rate on a star class suite onboard any Oasis Class ship for 2019”?

A good travel agent should be able to do that, yes.

21 hours ago, tonyfsu21 said:

If you are a casino player do they have the ability to cross reference any discounts based on your play?

Travel agents can apply any casino credits/rates you get from Casino Royale.

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