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Travel agent or not?


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I'm new here.  I've cruised once before with a different line, but so many years ago and part of a big group for a wedding... It's not even relevant.. 

I'm going to book a 6 night cruise from Ft Lauderdale in March 2019 on Adventure of the Seas. We are meeting friends coming in from Belgium. They chose the cruise (they are doing  2 back to back but we are joining for the second).  I see RC has a sale that ends today.. I'm not sure I'm fully ready to book myself. Is it better to go with a travel agent or direct? I hear there are no pricing differences with a travel agent. What is the benefit? I need to make sure I have a cancelation option since this is so far out. I'm kind of overwhelmed. 

Thanks! 

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I don't really need a TA as I will usually tell the TA the exact rooms I want to book but I don't want to be on the phone with RC. The benefit to me is that I don't have to sit on the phone with RC to book,  resolve a problem or deal with the RC website.  Also a good TA can give you good advice about location of stateroom, ie. do you want one near your friends?  Also, my TA price checks my reservation with every sale.

If you chose to book now without a TA, you can transfer your reservation to a TA within 60 days or keep it and manage it yourself.  

 

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4 minutes ago, hoofbeats95 said:

I think I'd prefer a TA if I'm not going to pay more that way. How do I find one? The RC site didn't return anything for me. I don't know how it searches but I entered a few zip codes and got nothing. Can you recommend on this board or not? 

Mei travel is a sponsor of the blog.  You can fill out the form on the main page of the blog and someone will be in touch.

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13 minutes ago, hoofbeats95 said:

I think I'd prefer a TA if I'm not going to pay more that way. How do I find one? The RC site didn't return anything for me. I don't know how it searches but I entered a few zip codes and got nothing. Can you recommend on this board or not? 

 

15 minutes ago, melski94 said:

Mei travel is a sponsor of the blog.  You can fill out the form on the main page of the blog and someone will be in touch.

Just to briefly expand on this -- Several of us here use an agent from MEI and are perfectly happy with them. They don't tend to get us the absolute rock bottom rate compared to some other agencies (well, unless you're @michelle getting a casino booking for @WAAAYTOOO :10_wink:), but what they do give us is reliable service with frequent follow-up and regular comparisons against the current promotions; when they find a better deal, they apply it right away and you just get the happy feeling of opening an email that says, "I just saved you money / got you some extra OBC!"

They also have lots of experience with Royal and several other cruise lines, and are a good resource if you're not sure which line might be best for a particular destination or itinerary you're interested in, or want some ideas on something new to try out, or need some advice about picking a room (without being pressured into getting that Grand Suite when your budget allows for an Ocean View).

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Thanks guys.  I filled out the form for MEI.  I'd like a good price but if there are price adjustments available that is something I would prefer not to handle.  I'm confused about those because RC's site says that you can adjust price up to 48 hours after reservation.  But it seems here, that people are getting them much later than that.

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2 hours ago, hoofbeats95 said:

I'm confused about those because RC's site says that you can adjust price up to 48 hours after reservation.  But it seems here, that people are getting them much later than that.

Technically speaking, when a new promotion is applied after that 48 hour window, it’s actually a cancellation of the original booking followed by an immediate rebook at the new rate. It’s common in the US and Canada, not so much in Europe and possibly Asia where local commerce laws prevent it. The reason is that in the US and Canada, you can cancel your booking with no penalty up until final payment date.

To my knowledge, they don’t actually cancel and rebook in the system, they just remove any promo from the prior booking and apply the new one / adjust the price as needed. Otherwise their IT systems would be an even bigger mess than they already are! :3_grin:

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I have booked a sailing with Expedia (Travel Agent) but I think I'm much better off booking with RC directly!

I mean if I were to choose Expedia or RC...

Expedia provides virtually no help or benefits as a Travel Agent. They don't reply to your emails. Even if they did, the replies are those auto-generated ones.

And when you turn to RC, they claimed they can't do anything or update anything for my booking because I have booked the sailing with Travel Agent.

So basically none of them will (or can) answer my inquiries.

I guess my best alternative for help and answers come on RoyalCaribbean blog, @Matt's podcast (EXTREMELY informative, LOVE IT) and the helpful contributors on this forum :4_joy::4_joy: 

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If you are booking for yourself/immediate household, you could get away by booking everything one your own.  I find that a travel agent is most useful when it's with multiple parties.  They can combine all reservations together for dining and activities for you.  You can do it on your own but it takes time and work and the other party's consent.  I have learned the hard way.  People in the group will assume you are the point person and go to you to make changes.    

Having a travel agent may or may not save you money but it will save your sanity especially dealing with a group cruise!  

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Always, always, always book with a travel agent. Using a travel agent is less about getting a better price than online (although that is always nice), and more about the level of service a good travel agent provides. They are your advocate and partner who does the footwork to make your life easier.

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On 3/12/2018 at 10:10 PM, Chris_Wallace said:

I have booked a sailing with Expedia (Travel Agent) but I think I'm much better off booking with RC directly!

I mean if I were to choose Expedia or RC...

Expedia provides virtually no help or benefits as a Travel Agent. They don't reply to your emails. Even if they did, the replies are those auto-generated ones.

And when you turn to RC, they claimed they can't do anything or update anything for my booking because I have booked the sailing with Travel Agent.

So basically none of them will (or can) answer my inquiries.

I guess my best alternative for help and answers come on RoyalCaribbean blog, @Matt's podcast (EXTREMELY informative, LOVE IT) and the helpful contributors on this forum :4_joy::4_joy: 

The funny thing is Expedia's child company, Travelocity, is WAY better. If I have a question they work with me to fix it. There was one error on my last cruise and they ended up calling me to let me know and they fixed it right there. I recommend Travelocity myself as that's who I use and I use Ebates to get extra $$ back but you do a lot more work yourself. I prefer it to Royal's terrible site but might not give the same quality as a good TA. It really depends on what your needs are. If you want service MEI is for sure a good place to go. If you are looking for price then one of the online agencies might be an option. Also, not all agents are alike. Some do not specialize in cruising and may not be as helpful as the ones who focus mainly on that.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On ‎3‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 4:41 PM, JLMoran said:

 

Just to briefly expand on this -- Several of us here use an agent from MEI and are perfectly happy with them. They don't tend to get us the absolute rock bottom rate compared to some other agencies (well, unless you're @michelle getting a casino booking for @WAAAYTOOO :10_wink:), but what they do give us is reliable service with frequent follow-up and regular comparisons against the current promotions; when they find a better deal, they apply it right away and you just get the happy feeling of opening an email that says, "I just saved you money / got you some extra OBC!"

They also have lots of experience with Royal and several other cruise lines, and are a good resource if you're not sure which line might be best for a particular destination or itinerary you're interested in, or want some ideas on something new to try out, or need some advice about picking a room (without being pressured into getting that Grand Suite when your budget allows for an Ocean View).

Hey JLMoran - thanks for having my back!  and I'm now getting casino notices for deals  not sure if that is because Casino is
sick of me calling in or what?  lol.  Be well..l   And MEI takes it serious to help you have the best cruise at the most affordable offer
we can't always give away the farm in pricing but hope we make up for it other ways...

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  I have always used a TA and they have bailed me out of few problems and one that was big.   I could have probably fixed the small ones but it was nice to let them do that for me.  If you decide to go the TA route make sure they are experienced in cruises..  Good luck

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7 minutes ago, MikeK said:

  I have always used a TA and they have bailed me out of few problems and one that was big.   I could have probably fixed the small ones but it was nice to let them do that for me.  If you decide to go the TA route make sure they are experienced in cruises..  Good luck

I hope every MEI agent is, but I don't know. 

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I used a TA this time for 3 parties on the same cruise.  Other than the actual booking part, I haven’t used her.  Not that she wasn’t there to hel, but I got most of the I needed from the RC site and did a lot of it on the planner.  I had an issue today where evidently I did r complete my dining and entertainment completely and nothing took. So I called th RC number and we did dining and shows over the phone. She was able to get all 10 in my party at the same table for MTD and all the shoes when we wanted them.  

But that’s my experience and I’ve had good experiences dealing with RC directly.  

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On 3/13/2018 at 9:07 AM, Matt said:

Always, always, always book with a travel agent. Using a travel agent is less about getting a better price than online (although that is always nice), and more about the level of service a good travel agent provides. They are your advocate and partner who does the footwork to make your life easier.

I would have to disagree, I enjoy doing the tinkering myself and when using a TA just adds an extra step. I check prices of rooms, drink packages and excursions regularly, I then have to call my TA and hope they have time to help me. Also, calling Royal directly never takes more than a few minutes and they are always a joy to deal with.  I can certainly see why many would prefer using a TA as their are benefits but I don’t think “always” is necessarily the rule. 

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11 hours ago, Ogalthorpe Haywood said:

I would have to disagree, I enjoy doing the tinkering myself and when using a TA just adds an extra step. I check prices of rooms, drink packages and excursions regularly, I then have to call my TA and hope they have time to help me. Also, calling Royal directly never takes more than a few minutes and they are always a joy to deal with. 

I use a TA for my booking; however, I can still book my drink packages, shows, and excursions thru my cruise planner myself.  To me, its the best of both worlds!

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12 hours ago, Ogalthorpe Haywood said:

I check prices of rooms, drink packages and excursions regularly, I then have to call my TA and hope they have time to help me.

This partially incorrect.  Drink packages and excursions are booked the same with or without a TA (via the Cruise Planner site). Booking with a TA does not take away your ability to use the Cruise Planner or call in and book an add on.  The only thing a TA manages for you is the actual reservation (your stateroom on a particular ship).

12 hours ago, Ogalthorpe Haywood said:

Also, calling Royal directly never takes more than a few minutes and they are always a joy to deal with.

Depends on the time of day.  Bottom line is, why not let someone else do it, especially if it costs you nothing extra?

Not to mention  TAs really come in handy when there's an issue or problem.  They are the ones dealing with RC, making your life simpler.

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My point was that I and others enjoy doing these things ourselves that’s all. Which is why I disagreed with your “always always always” statement. My parents use a TA and we are on the same cruise in May and I’m telling them to call their TA when I find price drops well before they get the email or phone call.  Also, I’ve never been on hold longer than a few minutes when contacting Royal Caribbean. I’ve called at different times of day so maybe I’ve just been lucky.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2018-03-12 at 9:48 PM, JLMoran said:

Technically speaking, when a new promotion is applied after that 48 hour window, it’s actually a cancellation of the original booking followed by an immediate rebook at the new rate. It’s common in the US and Canada, not so much in Europe and possibly Asia where local commerce laws prevent it. The reason is that in the US and Canada, you can cancel your booking with no penalty up until final payment date.

To my knowledge, they don’t actually cancel and rebook in the system, they just remove any promo from the prior booking and apply the new one / adjust the price as needed. Otherwise their IT systems would be an even bigger mess than they already are! :3_grin:

 RCCL having Epic Sale now so I called my TA today.  I had OBC $150 from RCCL but now they offer 1st and 2nd people free gratuity.( $203 total).

I have already spent my OBC ($150) for part of payments of Cruise Planner.  I would like to get new offer but I was told that they might have to release the room temporarily to modify the booking and then re-book the stateroom.  Never know if some one else is booking at that same room or not at the exact time it’s released.....

It sounds like to get new offer , I have to prepare the risk of loosing our room ??   Have you ever had a experience before ??( got reprice but lost your room you have..)

 

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Guest toodle68

All I want is for someone to either automatically adjust my price when there are promotions, or will quickly response to an email when I see one. If there is a TA who does that (not having to call them all the time), then I might use one.  I assume you still have access via your account and can use cruise planner and make direct payments? or do payments go through the TA?  and we can transfer the booking withing 60 days?

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8 hours ago, J. Woody said:

 RCCL having Epic Sale now so I called my TA today.  I had OBC $150 from RCCL but now they offer 1st and 2nd people free gratuity.( $203 total).

I have already spent my OBC ($150) for part of payments of Cruise Planner.  I would like to get new offer but I was told that they might have to release the room temporarily to modify the booking and then re-book the stateroom.  Never know if some one else is booking at that same room or not at the exact time it’s released.....

It sounds like to get new offer , I have to prepare the risk of loosing our room ??   Have you ever had a experience before ??( got reprice but lost your room you have..)

 

I've never heard of the chance to lose the room. My TA does it for me. I don't receive a new confirmation number so I don't think it is a new booking.

The bigger issue is that you could lose your OBC. Since you spent your OBC, those items in your Cruise Planner will be cancelled. I do not use my OBC on the cruise planner until after final payment. An RC agent, recommended this to me when I had to book something by phone just in case of a price adjustment. While you may save $50 total, did you buy anything on sale that you would lose? If so, take those savings into account too.

 

51 minutes ago, toodle68 said:

All I want is for someone to either automatically adjust my price when there are promotions, or will quickly response to an email when I see one. If there is a TA who does that (not having to call them all the time), then I might use one.  I assume you still have access via your account and can use cruise planner and make direct payments? or do payments go through the TA?  and we can transfer the booking withing 60 days?

I use Nancy with Mei.  She checks new prices with every sale and always responds via email. You turn your reservation over to the TA. You make payments to the TA. However, you still have direct access to anything in the Cruise Planner and pay directly for those.

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1 hour ago, toodle68 said:

All I want is for someone to either automatically adjust my price when there are promotions, or will quickly response to an email when I see one. If there is a TA who does that (not having to call them all the time), then I might use one.  I assume you still have access via your account and can use cruise planner and make direct payments? or do payments go through the TA?  and we can transfer the booking withing 60 days?

I believe MEI agents do this.  That's who I used and she explained to me that she will check the price with every sale.  So far I've been happy with the MEI agent that I finally ended up with. 

 

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