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I planned my last few cruises myself using RCCL's website but decided to try the travel agency linked to this blog for our next cruise.  The agent got us a better cruise fare than RCCL's website and also promised us a $75 onboard credit (compared to RCCL's $50) and a complimentary specialty dining experience if we booked a balcony cabin.  So I went ahead and booked two balcony cabins with MEI Travel. 

However, the agent informed us later that the complimentary meal was available only to those on Oasis class, so she replaced it with a $50 onboard credit, which she said we could use toward a specialty lunch. However, I found out that neither of the onboard credits will be available until our 2nd cruise day, when it will be too late to book a specialty lunch. When I booked directly with RCCL before, I was able to use the onboard credits to purchase excursions or book dining reservations BEFORE the cruise. 

Also, I informed this agent early on that we would not require airfare since we live less than 2 hours from the cruise port, but she has since asked me several times about airfare. 

Maybe I just got an inexperienced agent this time, but I'm hesitant to use MEI Travel in the future.  Just my thoughts!

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Regarding the OBC that you can only use once onboard, it doesn't matter when it gets loaded in.

Let's say you book lunch on day 1 and it costs you $50. You'll be charged $50 to your SeaPass account. The next day when OBC gets loaded in, it goes as a credit against your SeaPass account.

So you'll see one line item for $50 charge and another line item for $50 refund. Same difference.

If you're worried about making a lunch reservation now vs onboard, don't sweat it. Most of the time you cant book lunch pre-cruise, but lunch reservations rarely sell out anyway.

15 hours ago, Fredsbabe87 said:

Also, I informed this agent early on that we would not require airfare since we live less than 2 hours from the cruise port, but she has since asked me several times about airfare. 

Just my two cents, but this is just being thorough. I'd rather have an agent who double or triple checks than drops the ball.

FWIW, I've looped in @Beci so she's aware.

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15 hours ago, Fredsbabe87 said:

I planned my last few cruises myself using RCCL's website but decided to try the travel agency linked to this blog for our next cruise.  The agent got us a better cruise fare than RCCL's website and also promised us a $75 onboard credit (compared to RCCL's $50) and a complimentary specialty dining experience if we booked a balcony cabin.  So I went ahead and booked two balcony cabins with MEI Travel. 

However, the agent informed us later that the complimentary meal was available only to those on Oasis class, so she replaced it with a $50 onboard credit, which she said we could use toward a specialty lunch. However, I found out that neither of the onboard credits will be available until our 2nd cruise day, when it will be too late to book a specialty lunch. When I booked directly with RCCL before, I was able to use the onboard credits to purchase excursions or book dining reservations BEFORE the cruise. 

Also, I informed this agent early on that we would not require airfare since we live less than 2 hours from the cruise port, but she has since asked me several times about airfare. 

Maybe I just got an inexperienced agent this time, but I'm hesitant to use MEI Travel in the future.  Just my thoughts!

Keep in mind that TA's are making a very small commission on your cruise, and you are paying nothing since the commission comes directly from Royal.  The TA needs to book a lot of cruises to make a living as a TA so they are dealing with many clients.  If they are sending airfare reminders, that is just them being thorough.

You are looking at it wrong if you are simply comparing the OBC's with a TA vs Royal, or another TA.  The main reason you want a TA is to deal with issues that can come up.  Covid taught us that cruises can get cancelled and dealing directly with Royal was difficult and time consuming. 

MEI will also save you money because they have a very good system that alerts the agents to price reductions.  I have saved way more on my booked cruises through MEI that I would have gained by shopping for the lowest OBC.

The reason to book with a TA is that you make your booking and then let them do the work.

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I agree with most of what you said...I was just sharing my own experience. I believe I had an inexperienced TA. What I don't agree with is that they do the work. I still have to book my own excursions & packages and keep an eye on related price reductions. I thought the TA would do that, but apparently they don't. At least this agent doesn't. I will try another TA in the future. 

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Replying to Matt's comment about OBC... unfortunately that won't do us any good because most specialty lunch times are booked BEFORE the cruise, especially on a shorter cruise. They are almost all booked now for my Dec. cruise. So if I want a specialty lunch reservation, I have to book now, using my own charge and the OBC cannot be applied later. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thx!

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1 hour ago, Fredsbabe87 said:

Replying to Matt's comment about OBC... unfortunately that won't do us any good because most specialty lunch times are booked BEFORE the cruise, especially on a shorter cruise. They are almost all booked now for my Dec. cruise. So if I want a specialty lunch reservation, I have to book now, using my own charge and the OBC cannot be applied later. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thx!

Yes, but surely you would be able to use the $50 for something else once onboard?

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1 hour ago, Fredsbabe87 said:

I agree with most of what you said...I was just sharing my own experience. I believe I had an inexperienced TA. What I don't agree with is that they do the work. I still have to book my own excursions & packages and keep an eye on related price reductions. I thought the TA would do that, but apparently they don't. At least this agent doesn't. I will try another TA in the future. 

Agents cannot access the cruise planner to book excursions, dining, etc.  That would apply to all travel agents, not just MEI.

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3 hours ago, wordell1 said:

Keep in mind that TA's are making a very small commission on your cruise, and you are paying nothing since the commission comes directly from Royal.  The TA needs to book a lot of cruises to make a living as a TA so they are dealing with many clients.  If they are sending airfare reminders, that is just them being thorough.

You are looking at it wrong if you are simply comparing the OBC's with a TA vs Royal, or another TA.  The main reason you want a TA is to deal with issues that can come up.  Covid taught us that cruises can get cancelled and dealing directly with Royal was difficult and time consuming. 

MEI will also save you money because they have a very good system that alerts the agents to price reductions.  I have saved way more on my booked cruises through MEI that I would have gained by shopping for the lowest OBC.

The reason to book with a TA is that you make your booking and then let them do the work.

Elegantly explains why we always use a TA when booking a cruise or other potentially complicated vacation...I can't add up the number of hassle hours my TA has saved me when crazy things pop up out of nowhere.

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I always get to know our TA first before booking a trip.  Pre-Covid, this was an office visit, but now I think a friendly phone call is a must BEFORE playing e-mail tag. When I do need to communicate by e-mail, I try to put my request to our TA with all of the details--not only the type of room we want, but gratuities, traditional dining seating, any pre-post hotel requirements, preference for travel insurance, etc.  By getting my ducks in a row early, it is easier for our TA to contact Royal and give us a couple of stateroom choices.  I absolutely never think of OBC-- it will simply show up after the booking if we are eligible.  I will say it is important to ask questions if you don't understand something.  Occasionally, there are mistakes in dates or times, so double-check everything before you confirm arrangements with your agent (just as you would do if you were confirming a direct reservation with Royal).

I prefer to pay Cruise Planner purchases with my CC, not OBC.  Too many issues may require canceling and/or rebooking, and OBC has a way of disappearing.  I can usually cash out on the cruise or use it for other room charges, as previously stated.

If you aren't comfortable with your assigned TA, by all means find someone else.

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4 hours ago, Fredsbabe87 said:

Replying to Matt's comment about OBC... unfortunately that won't do us any good because most specialty lunch times are booked BEFORE the cruise, especially on a shorter cruise. They are almost all booked now for my Dec. cruise. So if I want a specialty lunch reservation, I have to book now, using my own charge and the OBC cannot be applied later. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thx!

You'll be able to get a lunch reservation somewhere, I wouldn't worry too much about it if it were me. Make a reservation once you get onboard the ship.

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Random question and it may be a really silly question.

 

We're thinking of somewhat of a last minute cruise and there are limited room left in the category we want. I don't want to bother my TA on the weekend to book it. Does a TA find it "offensive" at all if a client books direct then transfers to them? I would think no but I didn't know if there was any kind of etiquette there.

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20 minutes ago, smokeybandit said:

We're thinking of somewhat of a last minute cruise and there are limited room left in the category we want. I don't want to bother my TA on the weekend to book it. Does a TA find it "offensive" at all if a client books direct then transfers to them? I would think no but I didn't know if there was any kind of etiquette there.

Not at all offended (and it can be easier for sure). But if you pay in full you won't be able to transfer it to the TA. 

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5 hours ago, Fredsbabe87 said:

Replying to Matt's comment about OBC... unfortunately that won't do us any good because most specialty lunch times are booked BEFORE the cruise, especially on a shorter cruise. They are almost all booked now for my Dec. cruise. So if I want a specialty lunch reservation, I have to book now, using my own charge and the OBC cannot be applied later. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Thx!

This is a potato, po-tah-to situation really.  Do you really care if that $50 is specifically earmarked for that lunch, or a few drinks throughout the cruise, or a couple of t-shirts, etc., etc.?  $50 is $50 in my opinion.  And if you manage to somehow go the entire cruise without spending that $50 on SOMETHING, it'll go back to your credit card.

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On 9/23/2022 at 3:09 PM, Fredsbabe87 said:

I planned my last few cruises myself using RCCL's website but decided to try the travel agency linked to this blog for our next cruise.  The agent got us a better cruise fare than RCCL's website and also promised us a $75 onboard credit (compared to RCCL's $50) and a complimentary specialty dining experience if we booked a balcony cabin.  So I went ahead and booked two balcony cabins with MEI Travel. 

However, the agent informed us later that the complimentary meal was available only to those on Oasis class, so she replaced it with a $50 onboard credit, which she said we could use toward a specialty lunch. However, I found out that neither of the onboard credits will be available until our 2nd cruise day, when it will be too late to book a specialty lunch. When I booked directly with RCCL before, I was able to use the onboard credits to purchase excursions or book dining reservations BEFORE the cruise. 

Also, I informed this agent early on that we would not require airfare since we live less than 2 hours from the cruise port, but she has since asked me several times about airfare. 

Maybe I just got an inexperienced agent this time, but I'm hesitant to use MEI Travel in the future.  Just my thoughts!

 

Thanks so much for the info and I will be happy to address the situation with the advisor you are working with to ensure they are on top of all the details.  I apologize for any confusion regarding the info you were given, but some of the promos can have very specific terms as in this case.  Sometimes we do make mistakes but we pride ourselves on offering recovering when they do happen. 

While we are unable to access your cruise planner purchases as RCL hasn't given us that ability,  we can notify you (and Matt does too) of when a CP sale starts.  Also,  we do actively monitor your cruise fare and will proactively apply any savings - so working with us can result in additional savings.  

Please email me directly with your name and the name of the TA you were assigned,  and we will follow up accordingly. If needed, we are happy to reassign you to another TA if that is desired.  My email is [email protected]  Please feel free to contact me with any additional feedback as well so we can hopefully course correct anything necessary to instill confidence in us going forward.  We appreciate the opportunity to make things right. 

Thank you! 

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On 9/24/2022 at 1:11 PM, smokeybandit said:

Random question and it may be a really silly question.

 

We're thinking of somewhat of a last minute cruise and there are limited room left in the category we want. I don't want to bother my TA on the weekend to book it. Does a TA find it "offensive" at all if a client books direct then transfers to them? I would think no but I didn't know if there was any kind of etiquette there.

Hi!   Not a silly question at all!  

Grabbing it and transferring the booking is just fine, as long as we do it within 30 days and its not paid in full.  We  really want to ensure you get the best cabin and price so if you see it, especially after hours,  book it.  Transferring to us allows us to take the reigns and watch for fare reductions, apply and additional offers we may have line OBCs or group space, and provide any additional support to make it easy for you! 

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On 9/24/2022 at 4:11 PM, smokeybandit said:

Random question and it may be a really silly question.

 

We're thinking of somewhat of a last minute cruise and there are limited room left in the category we want. I don't want to bother my TA on the weekend to book it. Does a TA find it "offensive" at all if a client books direct then transfers to them? I would think no but I didn't know if there was any kind of etiquette there.

I do this all the time with @Sharla. Sometimes it’s the weekend or after hours. I’m impatient and when I find the room I want, I book it then send the reservation number to Sharla to put in for a transfer. 

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4 hours ago, Jill said:

I do this all the time with @Sharla. Sometimes it’s the weekend or after hours. I’m impatient and when I find the room I want, I book it then send the reservation number to Sharla to put in for a transfer. 

I have a lot of clients who do this. The downside is if you're not familiar with Royal Caribbean and you don't know how to book a refundable deposit, pick a specific room, etc. I have seen quite a few people who book non-refundable without realizing it. (But of course Jill knows how do do this!)

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On 9/28/2022 at 9:06 PM, Sharla said:

I have a lot of clients who do this. The downside is if you're not familiar with Royal Caribbean and you don't know how to book a refundable deposit, pick a specific room, etc. I have seen quite a few people who book non-refundable without realizing it. (But of course Jill knows how do do this!)

Here Be Dragons

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