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Travel Agent pros and cons?


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I am trying to manage 4 reservations simultaneously and am finding it to be a bit overwhelming. I've read a number of posts on this site from individuals who are either thrilled or have regrets from booking under an agent. Would you please share the benefits of having a travel agent manage your reservation? Can I still try for Royal Up? Am I effectively severing my ability to communicate with RCCL altogether? Appreciate the experiences!

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I am sure I will miss many benefits but here goes: TA takes care of booking, final payment, price adjustments, following for and applying FCCs if applicable, CWC if applicable, you can receive TA perks such as OBC, they are your point of contact so it will be your TA that waits on hold, the right TA is invaluable.  I value a TA that responds to my requests quickly and has knowledge and specializes in cruising. That way I can relax knowing I am in good hands.  
Yes you can still royal up.  Communication relating to your reservation is done through your TA but you remain in charge of any cruise planner purchases. 

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31 minutes ago, CruisingfromClayton said:

Can I still try for Royal Up? 

Some of the big box travel agencies (CostCo, for example) do not participate in RoyalUp so if you want to still be eligible for RU, do not go with a big online agency.

MEI is the sponsor of this blog and most everyone who has used an MEI agent is very happy with their service.

We use Michelle Cunningham and think she is awesome !  Good luck

Michelle Cunningham
Phone. 703-881-2727
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6 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Some of the big box travel agencies (CostCo, for example) do not participate in RoyalUp so if you want to still be eligible for RU, do not go with a big online agency.

MEI is the sponsor of this blog and most everyone who has used an MEI agent is very happy with their service.

We use Michelle Cunningham and think she is awesome !  Good luck

Michelle Cunningham
Phone. 703-881-2727

+1 for Michelle

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16 minutes ago, GatorCruiser said:

Had anyone used Harr travel? I’ve seen some YouTube videos profiling the ships from them and Danny seemed knowledgeable. 

Love those videos by them, very informative.  Although I feel as though it's a huge marketing ploy, probably effective.  I don't think that creation of quality videos implies they are going to have excellent customer service and knowledge.  Danny gives me some weird vibes IIBH.

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1 hour ago, CruisingfromClayton said:

Am I effectively severing my ability to communicate with RCCL altogether?

Sort of- TAs make payments, changes to your cruise such as the ship/sail date, change staterooms, etc. 

Cruise Planner- that's mostly you. I do it for some clients in complicated situations or if they really need it, but for the most part people would rather do the Cruise Planner themselves. 

Royal Up- you can do it yourself. Sometimes it's actually cheaper to upgrade through the TA and not through Royal Up.

If you want to transfer your bookings to a TA, you can, but they must have been booked less than 30 days ago and not paid in full.

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40 minutes ago, GatorCruiser said:

Had anyone used Harr travel? I’ve seen some YouTube videos profiling the ships from them and Danny seemed knowledgeable. 

I like Danny's videos (although when you're someone who watches them frequently you can get tired of hearing "I'm a big guy, I'm 6'6" and "I love ice cream", and watching him try to putt at mini golf and shoot hoops), but I choose to support MEI Travel (I also have Michelle as my agent, but there are many fine agents there).  I'm one who kind of feels like Royal Caribbean Blog is kind of an odd sort of "family" and MEI is an extension of that.  She's never steered me wrong!

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9 minutes ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I like Danny's videos (although when you're someone who watches them frequently you can get tired of hearing "I'm a big guy, I'm 6'6" and "I love ice cream", and watching him try to putt at mini golf and shoot hoops)

His determination to open every drawer and cabinet in the stateroom is hilarious.  "They've got an eclectic mix of seating in this area"

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18 minutes ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I like Danny's videos (although when you're someone who watches them frequently you can get tired of hearing "I'm a big guy, I'm 6'6" and "I love ice cream", and watching him try to putt at mini golf and shoot hoops)

Let’s not forget about the obligatory “I’m diamond plus myself” in each of the videos.   

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5 minutes ago, Jkaczano said:

Let’s not forget about the obligatory “I’m diamond plus myself” in each of the videos.   

I mean, I get it.  Most people are not watching all of his videos - they're watching specific ones to find out about a particular stateroom.  But I tend to watch all of them, and I tease about it in a good-natured way.  If I ever see him, I'm buying him an ice cream.

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I too am using MEI for cruising.  She has been very helpful navigating moving cancelled cruises for my brother and I.  And she cheerfully (at least to me, not sure if she went home & kicked the dog🤷‍♀️) fixed a pretty major snafu I created.  She has processed multiple reprices although I always initiate it.  Don’t think she’s ever contacted me first. And lately I feel like I’ve asked too many times.  But in the end, I’m glad I use a TA.  No way I want to have to spend time on the phone with RCCL.

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I’ve always done my own through the cruise line and I feel it’s gone good. My cruise in December I decided to try a local TA. At first they were good, but there lack of getting back questions I’ve asked is getting a bit annoying. So right now I have mixed feelings, but this has been my first try, but may not try again.

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I’m a big supporter of MEI and without Michelle Cunningham these past couple of years I can’t even imagine the mess I would be trying to sort out. With cancellations, FCC’s, Lift & Shifts, ship changes - it was a tangled web. 
She was always there helping me work through it so believe me a great TA is a blessing. 

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1 hour ago, CruisingfromClayton said:

I am trying to manage 4 reservations simultaneously and am finding it to be a bit overwhelming.

After I managed a cruise with 4 separate reservations, I said never again.  I herd cats at home - I don't want to herd adults to a cruise port ever again.

MEI has lots of great agents.  Fill out the form you can find on this message board and let them know where you are in the process and what help you are looking for.  Let them know what kind of communication you would like - they will do their best to match you up with an agent.  There is no obligation to use the agent that contacts you back - but talking to a real person costs nothing.

The only way to know if you will like/benefit by working with a TA is to try. Give a TA - any TA - a chance to make your life easier - and be waiting in your corner when something goes sideways.  And eventually something always goes sideways. 😜

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25 minutes ago, teddy said:

Anyone can book a cruise.  It’s dealing with any issues that come up after booking where having a travel agent is priceless.   

Exactly, the fun my TA had is trying to figure out what the F%@* happened with a set of FCCs. When all was done she had quoted being on the phone for several hours.

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8 minutes ago, ptod said:

 

Give a TA - any TA - a chance to make your life easier 

I have to take issue with "any TA".  Some are just not good.  My first one charged a service fee for anything she did related to my booking (and I didn't know better at the time). "TA"s with AAA or Costco may not have the flexibility to do things like RoyalUp.  Some are simply not responsive.  Some have never been on a cruise (reference my prior TA) and don't even know that fares can be repriced.  Go with a good TA.

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21 minutes ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I have to take issue with "any TA".  Some are just not good.  My first one charged a service fee for anything she did related to my booking (and I didn't know better at the time). "TA"s with AAA or Costco may not have the flexibility to do things like RoyalUp.  Some are simply not responsive.  Some have never been on a cruise (reference my prior TA) and don't even know that fares can be repriced.  Go with a good TA.

That's one of the "cons" of TAs where word of mouth reputation is so key.

 

There's TAs that are random people that TA just for their friends and family. Then TAs that do it as a side gig so their day job may distract from their TA clients.

Then there's the full time (or full enough time) TAs that bust their butts to keep happy clients since happy clients mean repeat happy clients and likely new client referrals.

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2 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Some of the big box travel agencies (CostCo, for example) do not participate in RoyalUp so if you want to still be eligible for RU, do not go with a big online agency.

MEI is the sponsor of this blog and most everyone who has used an MEI agent is very happy with their service.

We use Michelle Cunningham and think she is awesome !  Good luck

Michelle Cunningham
Phone. 703-881-2727

+2 votes for @michelle Michelle Cunningham at MEI-Travel.  She's been amazing in bringing me up to speed, giving great advice, cancelling & rescheduling cruises for me due to COVID issues, repricing, and looking out for me.  She even booked a group cruise for me later this year.  Great communication.  I'm sure all the MEI TAs are great, but @michelle has been the face of MEI for me.  I've only had positive experiences so far.

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I know you asked for benefits of using a TA, but your title also mentioned cons. As a professed control freak when it comes to planning travel, I did not like the fact that Royal would not talk to me at all during the shutdown because I had originally booked with a TA due to the discounted price we got from them vs booking direct. As soon as I received my FCC, I opted to work directly with them on all our upcoming cruises and am willing to pay more to have the ability to manage my own plans. 

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2 hours ago, Sharla said:

Sort of- TAs make payments, changes to your cruise such as the ship/sail date, change staterooms, etc. 

Cruise Planner- that's mostly you. I do it for some clients in complicated situations or if they really need it, but for the most part people would rather do the Cruise Planner themselves. 

Royal Up- you can do it yourself. Sometimes it's actually cheaper to upgrade through the TA and not through Royal Up.

If you want to transfer your bookings to a TA, you can, but they must have been booked less than 30 days ago and not paid in full.

So if I booked it more than 30 days ago, I'm on my own? This is bad news 😟

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2 hours ago, SpeedNoodles said:

I like Danny's videos (although when you're someone who watches them frequently you can get tired of hearing "I'm a big guy, I'm 6'6" and "I love ice cream", and watching him try to putt at mini golf and shoot hoops), but I choose to support MEI Travel (I also have Michelle as my agent, but there are many fine agents there).  I'm one who kind of feels like Royal Caribbean Blog is kind of an odd sort of "family" and MEI is an extension of that.  She's never steered me wrong!

Don't forget about having to bathe his kids... that's a constant on his suite reviews! 😜

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14 hours ago, HawkeyeSarah said:

I know you asked for benefits of using a TA, but your title also mentioned cons. As a professed control freak when it comes to planning travel, I did not like the fact that Royal would not talk to me at all during the shutdown because I had originally booked with a TA due to the discounted price we got from them vs booking direct. As soon as I received my FCC, I opted to work directly with them on all our upcoming cruises and am willing to pay more to have the ability to manage my own plans. 

Can’t have it both ways.  Liked the TA when you got a discounted price from them.

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6 hours ago, GatorCruiser said:

Had anyone used Harr travel? I’ve seen some YouTube videos profiling the ships from them and Danny seemed knowledgeable. 

I’ve been on several cruises with them when they are recording their videos.  That’s one man who doesn't give a crap about trying to play nice. “We are king crap, here we come, out of our way”.  Last experience was last week on Brilliance.   Doesn't play well with others is an appropriate comment.  But he is a business man out to make money and damn everyone else.  If that’s your thing, you’ve found your agent.  

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On 2/22/2022 at 7:04 PM, HawkeyeSarah said:

I know you asked for benefits of using a TA, but your title also mentioned cons. As a professed control freak when it comes to planning travel, I did not like the fact that Royal would not talk to me at all during the shutdown because I had originally booked with a TA due to the discounted price we got from them vs booking direct. As soon as I received my FCC, I opted to work directly with them on all our upcoming cruises and am willing to pay more to have the ability to manage my own plans. 

Hey- your TA can give permission for you to talk to Royal about anything to do with your booking -I did that alot during the shutdown. ITs a note your agent would have to call in and do but I do understand wanting to be able to speak directly to the cruise line - 

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On 2/22/2022 at 9:30 PM, twangster said:

I’ve been on several cruises with them when they are recording their videos.  That’s one man who doesn't give a crap about trying to play nice. “We are king crap, here we come, out of our way”.  Last experience was last week on Brilliance.   Doesn't play well with others is an appropriate comment.  But he is a business man out to make money and damn everyone else.  If that’s your thing, you’ve found your agent.  

I was on one cruise with Danny. He was friendly and polite. However, he had special access the day before departure to film, so he wasn't filming when I saw him.

I've never booked with him, but I've heard they aren't very helpful unless you're in a suite.

That said, he has the best ship tours on the Internet. Beware though, he never says anything bad about a ship!

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