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If you ever wondered if using a travel agent was a good idea or not...

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For those who have ever vacillated over whether or not using a travel agent was in your best interest or not, let me assure you that a GOOD travel agent is priceless.


I have proven that to myself this week with the disaster that Royal Caribbean created with its cancellation of the Empress sailings in March and April.


As everyone now knows, Royal Caribbean cancelled 6 sailings on the Empress of the Seas, due to sail beginning in late March through mid-April.  Dan and I were booked on the April 11, right, smack dab in the middle of that cancellation cluster.  It was a psychological blow to us as well as a potential logistics nightmare.  All I can say is THANK GOODNESS I had Michelle Cunningham with MEI as my advocate.  I can say, without any doubt, I would have killed myself, Dan or someone on the other end of the phone line before I managed to get it all straightened out if I had had to do this by myself.  Imagine.  1800 passengers times 6 sailings.  Over 10,000 people are trying to either rebook or cancel their cruises.  No thanks.


Not only did Michelle manage to salvage our cruise but she saved our $1,000 OBC that Dan had earned on our Allure sailing (from Club Royale), which was in real danger of going bye-bye.  Our out-of-pocket costs, as a result of this monumental BLUNDER - that was 100% Royal Caribbean's doing - is only going to be ~$200...which will be some airline change fees that RCI is too damn cheap to reimburse us.  Thanks to Michelle's diligence and persistence, we were able to get $200 of the $400 reimbursed.  She got us rebooked on the sailing of our choice in the same room that we original had (Owner's Suite 8506) for the same price.  Actually, we got a $28.68 refund so she actually got us money BACK on the resked.


...and let me assure you, she did not do this without considerable interference from me !  We changed our minds, and changed them back again at least twice, not to mention the numerous emails that I sent, inquiring as to her progress over a 48 hour period.  She never complained (at least, not directly to me although she would have had every right to do so !) and came through like a trooper.


EVERYTHING has been rescheduled...the cruise, the hotel, the excursions, the airfare.  Everything.  We couldn't be happier, considering.  This is all the result of excellent service from Michelle and no thanks WHATEVER, to Royal Caribbean.


So Michelle....thank you for everything you had done for us over the past 72 hours.  You are a gem, a great friend, a consummate professional and a credit to your Agency.

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Happy it worked out for you. Royal really did not treat you right here, the way I see it you are a highly value passenger, the kind of passenger any line would want to have. In your case I believe the right thing for Royal to do would be to make you whole again and cover any loss that resulted from their cancellation. Travel agents are a very good idea for some people and others can go without them.  It is a choice everyone needs to make. 


One I do not like is when Royal makes offers to the public and takes away other offers already made or earned. Like this:




Dollars off is not combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts or shareholder benefits. 30% Savings is combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts.

All Offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.


If you have earned Crown & Anchor or other benefits you should be allowed to use them, offers should be combined. If you want to use a Travel Agent all offers available to the public should be offered through the Agent. But so many times the lines give the commission the Agent would have earned to the discount.

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I was also on the cancelled sailing of empress on the 11th of April, as well as the sailing before on the 7th.  I could not agree more with Raye about how Royal has done nothing short of slapping it's passengers in the face, who trusted them to keep a schedule.  1000's upon 1000's affected with little shown by Royal to make us feel as if they actually care about our business.


So many people, including myself, do not have flexibility in travel dates and can not just switch to another sailing at a later date as they seem to think is easy peasy and what they offered us.  Oh, or you could switch to the VERY tired Majesty on a shorter sailing to garbage bahamas ports, nothing like originally booked.  I was offered to trade my 4 AND 5 night sailing's in for a 3 and 4 night on majesty for the same price.  How sweet of them.  ALSO, I was in a Junior suite, to which they did not have any available to accommodate me, but AGAIN it would be the same price.  SO 2 less nights AND 11 less crown and anchor points.  ALL for the great price of what I already paid for 9 nights and 18 points.  They would do nothing to match the points that I originally would have gotten as well.  Thanks.


I called immediately mid day Friday when it was announced, and already at that time Majesty had next to nothing available.  My total time  in one phone call was over 4 hours followed by a few 30 minute ones later on.  So YES, a TA would have been amazing to have is what my point is lol.  


We ended up switching to OASIS on April 9th in a JS for 7 nights.  Same price, in fact about $80 cheaper.  18points-14 means 4 points less than originally booked.  Makes us 4 points shy of the big status Diamond after sailing.   :(  Pretty disappointed as I've worked hard to get there by 31.  Also got $200 obc added to the sailing as we had 2 sailings cancelled.  SO all in all are we still going to be on an amazing cruise? Yes.  Is it what we wanted? No.  We already have oasis booked for Sept.  Maybe will be making the switch to the group cruise now!  We shall see haha.  


Also vs switching flights which were MUCH more expensive now, which Royal could not even come close to taking care of with the $200 offered, we had to book hotel for an additional 2 nights before the sailing at the cost of 400$ since not much available this close to the date.


Pretty disappointed in my cruise line for all that has happened not only to us, but many more people on several different sailings this year.



Rant OVER now, sorry.  

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Woo Hoo!  well first and foremost, clients like you are great and I appreciate the public vote of confidence - as well as all the private one's

What I hope people can understand its my job to be your advocate, you don't have 4 1/2 hours to spend on hold during these predicaments who does!  but I also have the knowledge of "what to say to the cruise lines" to get things done I think faster - I've done this 23 years, I better know the words by now.   

And its so disappointing to clients - I could care less in these predicaments about my bottom line - your dream trip has been disrupted

and I need to fix it!  No not every agent out there can or does believe that but our office has some of the best around!  not just me but ALOT of agents in our office work this way.

Long story short - it worked out and they get to cruise!   Happy for you and Dan both!

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  • 3 weeks later...

it was very interesting for me to read of your experience with Michelle as your cruise travel agent. We got a recommendation from a friend, and our agent seems okay, but he is not terribly responsive to me. I have sent numerous emails with questions (first timer) with no response and even when I've asked for a phone call, I haven't heard anything. If we don't lock this 5 day cruise for my family of five (Is $3000+ not that big of a deal to get some attention? I don't know. Seems like a lot of money to me) down in the next day or two, I'm calling Michelle!

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Trust me, you WILL get a response back from Michelle.


Just a note...she is currently on a trip to Europe but will be back on April 12. 


There are a couple of other MEI affiliates who belong to this blog group as well who would help you if you need immediate help.


Good luck !  Life is WAAAYTOOO short to mess around with unresponsive travel agents !

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