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may cruise planned- not sure about travel agency price


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Hi There,
I recently came across your blog and forum and am really happy with all the information and tips provided. I will be taking a 4 day Bahamas cruise at the end of May 2018 on Enchantment of the seas. 

I will be travelling with my partner (who will be a first time cruiser) and my parents. My parents and I have cruised before and are looking forward to it. My parents booked the trip via a travel agency called Avoya travel. I have heard everywhere that travel agencies are the best way to go, but i was on the Royal Caribbean website the other day and it seems the price i got was a lot cheaper than the price we paid via the travel agencies. so i have a few questions

What Agencies would do you like to use when booking your cruise vacation and is anyone familiar with avoya

is it still possible to cancel the cruise through the agency and try to look for a better price somewhere else ( this probably depends on the agency itself; but until when are you still able to cancel a royal Caribbean booking free of charge)

is it common to switch travel agencies if you encounter a better price.

I've heard on the podcast that travel agencies are supposed to keep an eye out for better deals that might come along, but i just have this weird inkling that isn't happening

I know a golden rule is to book as early as possible and i don't want to cancel one cruise and suddenly find out that there's no more opportunity to book. However, any money we can save would be very helpful.

 

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Welcome to the boards! Can't comment on Avoya, I used site sponsor MEI travel.

11 minutes ago, jonathandesouza said:

is it still possible to cancel the cruise through the agency and try to look for a better price somewhere else ( this probably depends on the agency itself; but until when are you still able to cancel a royal Caribbean booking free of charge)

If your parents booked the trip using a refundable deposit, then you can cancel without penalty any time before final payment date (90 days before sail date).

Now, depending on how long it's been since they first booked, you may be hard-pressed to get a better rate even with another agency. Royal has been tending to have the prices steadily go up as you get closer to sailing date for the last year or so, due to a new policy they put into effect in late 2016 that basically stops last-minute deep discounts and other sharp price drops at times like Wave or WOW sales. So the old adage about booking the day the itineraries come out is truer now than ever, although you'll still find modest price drops or promos that add some decent on-board credit here and there.

13 minutes ago, jonathandesouza said:

is it common to switch travel agencies if you encounter a better price.

I think it's more common to switch because you're finding something lacking with your current agent, like poor service or slow response to questions or requests. But you're pretty much free to change agents or simply tell the current one you want to stop using them for no real reason at all. Certainly, feeling like you didn't get the best price at the time or that they're not doing their job of following up with new promotions to see if it saves you anything is fair enough grounds to say farewell.

Our blogfather, @Matt, just did a podcast episode yesterday that included an answer to a listener email about a very similar question with pricing. May want to give that a listen, he gives some good general advice and background info on what travel agents typically do, what's a gray area (like giving extra onboard credit beyond the promo from the cruise line), etc.

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20 minutes ago, jonathandesouza said:

Hi There,
I recently came across your blog and forum and am really happy with all the information and tips provided. I will be taking a 4 day Bahamas cruise at the end of May 2018 on Enchantment of the seas. 

I will be travelling with my partner (who will be a first time cruiser) and my parents. My parents and I have cruised before and are looking forward to it. My parents booked the trip via a travel agency called Avoya travel. I have heard everywhere that travel agencies are the best way to go, but i was on the Royal Caribbean website the other day and it seems the price i got was a lot cheaper than the price we paid via the travel agencies. so i have a few questions

What Agencies would do you like to use when booking your cruise vacation and is anyone familiar with avoya

is it still possible to cancel the cruise through the agency and try to look for a better price somewhere else ( this probably depends on the agency itself; but until when are you still able to cancel a royal Caribbean booking free of charge)

is it common to switch travel agencies if you encounter a better price.

I've heard on the podcast that travel agencies are supposed to keep an eye out for better deals that might come along, but i just have this weird inkling that isn't happening

I know a golden rule is to book as early as possible and i don't want to cancel one cruise and suddenly find out that there's no more opportunity to book. However, any money we can save would be very helpful.

 

The sponsor TA here is MEI travel. Many here have had great experiences with them.  

If you cancel at this point (because you are after final payment already) you will be penalized.  If you are far out enough from final payment and booked a non refundable deposit, you will still be penalized $100pp to cancel and switch. 

I have heard that MEI agents monitor their bookings for price drops.  However, many of us here monitor our own bookings and look for price drops too.

It is always good to book far out if your schedule allows.  If you live in North America you can book as far out as the schedule allows and look for price drops.  You can get a price adjustment as long as you are outside of final payment.

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15 minutes ago, Lindsay said:

What's the benefit of using a travel agent?  I've always booked my own cruises online (on my own) so I am just curious. 

Thanks!

Some people prefer to have some else handle things for them.  A good TA can work on your behalf or give advice.  Some can offer additional savings.  It really is your comfort level too.  I've gone both ways.  I am super Type A, I like to have full control over my bookings but with incentives, I have gone with a TA before too.

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Welcome. I hope you have a great time.  As mentioned above if your parents have already paid their final payment on the cruise you will face penalty cost that probably exceed any possible savings.  For cruises we book within 6 months we generally just book and forget it.  You can spend most of the day searching down "internet savings" only when you get to the booking section find out you are not saving anything over your original book amount.  The TA question to me is really how much you enjoy being involved in the planning process.  Usually we cruise with just my spouse and I.  I'm a planning nut and she just wants to know where we are going and when we can order the first drink onboard.  So I really enjoy working through the RCL website to find the best room, get the reservations we want, etc.  I read this blog daily and try to use the experiences of all of the wonderful people to have the best vacation possible.  I use an internet Travel site to do the original booking but I then go into RCL to do all of our reservations, drink packages, etc.  That said when we cruise with others we always go to a TA.  Let them coordinate everyone's flights, hotel before the cruise, and getting us all at the same table for dinner each night.  I can comment on the TA you listed as we have not used them.  Since your folks are already with them it would be worth at least reaching out to them to see how responsive they are to your needs.  

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Like others have said, you are beyond the final payment date so you could call and ask for an upgrade but RC won't reprice your reservation after final payment.  One thing to look at is if you had refundable or non refundable fares initially. The RC website shows non refundable fares first and they are always cheaper.  You also need to take into account your OBC, etc.  Today, I saw some fares that looked cheaper for my Nov cruise and called my TA.  However, the new price had a lot less OBC so the price was essentially the same. 

If you decide to cruise again in the future, once you book with a TA the reservation stays with that agency.  You can't just bounce around agency to agency for the same booking.  If you booked refundable fare, you could cancel and rebook without penalty at another agency (although some agencies may have a cancellation fee).  However, I've found that the earlier I book the better the price.  Prices just rise over time however, most travel agencies will reprice the reservation up to final payment with the new fare if it applies to you.

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, Lindsay said:

What's the benefit of using a travel agent?  I've always booked my own cruises online (on my own) so I am just curious. 

Thanks!

The true benefits of travel agents only really apply to GOOD travel agents in my opinion. I have used 2 in the past and have not had the best luck, but I know there are tons of good ones out there and I'll find one eventually. I find it to be frustrating when I want to change anything because I have to wait to contact them. For one of the cruises I had to contact my travel agent to tell them the price had dropped and I almost missed out on the savings waiting on a response. I still plan to transfer my current reservation to an agent when I find one that comes highly recommended.

I think if you are the type of person that enjoys planning, organizing, and checking updated rates often then you should be fine without a travel agent. If you do not enjoy those things and only want to book the cruise and then go on it then I would highly recommend using one, but get recommendations for a specific agent. I would also recommend using one for your first cruise just to help guide you through the process. Before you book with any agency make sure that you check the price of the same room for yourself so you have a benchmark of what it should cost and also consider going with an agency that has a "best price guarantee".

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15 hours ago, Sabrinaklai said:

Some people prefer to have some else handle things for them.  A good TA can work on your behalf or give advice.  Some can offer additional savings.  It really is your comfort level too.  I've gone both ways.  I am super Type A, I like to have full control over my bookings but with incentives, I have gone with a TA before too.

Good to know!  I am super DUPER Type A and probably couldn't deal with a TA most likely.  LOL!!!

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13 hours ago, cruiselife said:

The true benefits of travel agents only really apply to GOOD travel agents in my opinion. I have used 2 in the past and have not had the best luck, but I know there are tons of good ones out there and I'll find one eventually. I find it to be frustrating when I want to change anything because I have to wait to contact them first and it hasn't saved me any money in thus far. For one of the cruises I had to contact my travel agent to tell them the price had dropped and I almost missed out on the savings waiting on a response. I still plan to transfer my current reservation to an agent when I find one that comes highly recommended.

I think if you are the type of person that enjoys planning, organizing, and checking updated rates often then you should be fine without a travel agent. If you do not enjoy those things and only want to book the cruise and then go on it then I would highly recommend using one, but get recommendations for a specific agent. I would also recommend using one for your first cruise just to help guide you through the process. Before you book with any agency make sure that you check the price of the same room for yourself so you have a benchmark of what it should cost and also consider going with an agency that has a "best price guarantee".

enjoys planning, organizing, and checking updated rates often <-- This is 100% me!!!  Thanks for the response!!  

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5 minutes ago, Lindsay said:

enjoys planning, organizing, and checking updated rates often <-- This is 100% me!!!  Thanks for the response!!  

I've booked all of my past cruises on my own, but due to Matt's blog post about the benefits of TAs ( https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2018/01/23/10-secrets-royal-caribbean-travel-agents-wish-you-knew ), I rolled my current reservation over to MEI ( 2 days  before the 60 day limit!) I don't feel like I've really given up control.  I can still check for price drops on my own - I just have another pair of eyes now in case I miss anything!  I can still go into the cruise planner and book excursions, dining, entertainment.  Honestly, the experience isn't much different except for the fact that you don't pay Royal directly.  Having someone to bounce questions off of, and talk to Royal on my behalf is nice.  Also, I got an extra $25 OBC for rolling my reservation over - it's not huge, but hey... that's more than I had if I hadn't!

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16 hours ago, jonathandesouza said:

is it still possible to cancel the cruise through the agency and try to look for a better price somewhere else ( this probably depends on the agency itself; but until when are you still able to cancel a royal Caribbean booking free of charge)

If you booked a refundable cruise fare and you are before final payment date, then yes, you could cancel and rebook.

16 hours ago, jonathandesouza said:

is it common to switch travel agencies if you encounter a better price.

I think it's more common to switch travel agencies between cruises, but if you see a need early enough, sure.  You deserve to have great service.

16 hours ago, jonathandesouza said:

I've heard on the podcast that travel agencies are supposed to keep an eye out for better deals that might come along, but i just have this weird inkling that isn't happening

Not all travel agencies are run the same way.  The key word I try to emphasize is to use a good travel agent who works for you to to get your best possible deal and help you along the way with concerns.

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1 hour ago, firebuck said:

Also, I got an extra $25 OBC for rolling my reservation over - it's not huge, but hey... that's more than I had if I hadn't!

I am looking for something similar to roll my current reservation into but haven't had any luck with OBC when using TAs in the past. Maybe I'll shop around and find the best OBC offer. Sure, $25 isn't huge but that's lunch at Chops or Sabor!

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1 minute ago, cruiselife said:

I am looking for something similar to roll my current reservation into but haven't had any luck with OBC when using TAs in the past. Maybe I'll shop around and find the best OBC offer. Sure, $25 isn't huge but that's lunch at Chops or Sabor!

This is what I have done with my last 3 bookings.  I book it first so I can deal directly with RC and then I've rolled it to a TA for extra incentives.  I'm beginning to like this strategy.

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21 hours ago, Sabrinaklai said:

This is what I have done with my last 3 bookings.  I book it first so I can deal directly with RC and then I've rolled it to a TA for extra incentives.  I'm beginning to like this strategy.

I like your idea. It's hard keeping up with 11 cruises.

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Our first two cruises, including the one in two weeks, we did on our own but the next two, had to cancel Symphony TA unfortunately, we rolled over to MEI thanks to this board. I get emails from my TA every time that a new sale comes out saying that she is constantly monitoring the prices but no drops so far because we booked so early or those type rooms have sold out.

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Just now, CowboyMedic said:

Our first two cruises, including the one in two weeks, we did on our own but the next two, had to cancel Symphony TA unfortunately, we rolled over to MEI thanks to this board. I get emails from my TA every time that a new sale comes out saying that she is constantly monitoring the prices but no drops so far because we booked so early or those type rooms have sold out.

Brock doesn't send me an e-mail with each sale...going to have to talk to him!  LOL 

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1 hour ago, CowboyMedic said:

Our first two cruises, including the one in two weeks, we did on our own but the next two, had to cancel Symphony TA unfortunately, we rolled over to MEI thanks to this board. I get emails from my TA every time that a new sale comes out saying that she is constantly monitoring the prices but no drops so far because we booked so early or those type rooms have sold out.

If the room type sells out, they can still drop in price.  I was told this directly by RC.  I just monitor the price of the categories surrounding it and if I notice a drop I call RC or my TA and request a check.  This happened on Thursday.  I saved $500 on a room that is already sold out (doesn't show availability) because I noticed a drop in the categories close to it.

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I use Royals cruise planner I struck up a friendship with one of there senior cruise planners and he is great he looks out for me and notifys me of savings and gets me great rooms at great prices when I have had issues on past cruises he has gotten me next cruise credits and he always looks for discounted fares before taking final payment my last cruise he got me a promenade view room for what I paid for an inside I will deal with only him in the future being an insider he has the connections to make things happen 

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On 2018-03-01 at 4:34 PM, jonathandesouza said:

Hi There,
I recently came across your blog and forum and am really happy with all the information and tips provided. I will be taking a 4 day Bahamas cruise at the end of May 2018 on Enchantment of the seas. 

I will be travelling with my partner (who will be a first time cruiser) and my parents. My parents and I have cruised before and are looking forward to it. My parents booked the trip via a travel agency called Avoya travel. I have heard everywhere that travel agencies are the best way to go, but i was on the Royal Caribbean website the other day and it seems the price i got was a lot cheaper than the price we paid via the travel agencies. so i have a few questions

What Agencies would do you like to use when booking your cruise vacation and is anyone familiar with avoya

is it still possible to cancel the cruise through the agency and try to look for a better price somewhere else ( this probably depends on the agency itself; but until when are you still able to cancel a royal Caribbean booking free of charge)

is it common to switch travel agencies if you encounter a better price.

I've heard on the podcast that travel agencies are supposed to keep an eye out for better deals that might come along, but i just have this weird inkling that isn't happening

I know a golden rule is to book as early as possible and i don't want to cancel one cruise and suddenly find out that there's no more opportunity to book. However, any money we can save would be very helpful.

 

I used Avoya travel first time for up coming my cruise.  . When I find the price dropped, I just call and she checked for me.  That is what I learned here.  Checked price by my self and call TA. Only one time the price got cheaper than the price I paid not that big amount.    TA recomended not to change because I will lose the amount of OBC.  

I am not sure I will use Avoya again but so far it is O.K.

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