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Interesting experience tonight booking Radiance. (YOLO moment).

It's a 2019 cruise and I wanted something refundable so I emailed my usual TA.  I received a bounce saying she is out of the office and I was interested in a specific cabin so I called Royal direct, given that the website doesn't offer refundable anymore.  I booked direct it, refundable and paid the $450 deposit.

Had I fully read the bounce email from my usual TA I would have seen she was actually working tonight which I learned when she called me.

For the same refundable cabin, she was $200 cheaper, I get $50 in OBC, a spa treatment, one specialty dinner, plus 15,000 miles on my favorite airline.  Oh, and no deposit. 

I cancelled my direct booking and booked it through my normal TA.  Same cabin.  I added the prepaid gratuities and I'm still less than RCI direct without prepaid gratuity.  

Other observation - I first called the RCI 866 number and listened to MOH (Music on Hold) for about 10 minutes.  I hung up and called the C&A number who answered immediately.  I booked it through the C&A team, then an hour later cancelled it through the C&A team.  No issues cancelling the refundable booking but it will likely take a few days for $450 deposit to appear as a credit.

Radiance here I come!

EDIT - To be fair,  I don't get spa treatments and specialty dining on every cruise booked.  They are occasional perks typically on longer cruises but with double digits of cruises booked, I've yet to find a downside of using a travel agent.

The airline miles are nothing to sneeze at.  I'm flying on points to 3 cruises this year (so far) including Barcelona in the comfort plus cabin for Symphony and will likely get a 1 or 2 more cruise flights for free before 2018 is done. 

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45 minutes ago, twangster said:

Interesting experience tonight booking Radiance.

It's a 2019 cruise and I wanted something refundable so I emailed my usual TA.  I received a bounce saying she is out of the office and I was interested in a specific cabin so I called Royal direct, given that the website doesn't offer refundable anymore.  I booked direct it, refundable and paid the $450 deposit.

Hello @twangster - two questions please:

1. I just did a mock booking and the website did show the refundable option after filling in the passenger info. I booked my 2019 cruise on their website earlier this month with the refundable deposit. Seeing as I have NEVER seen any misinformation from you, do you think that maybe they are showing only NRD on some sailings and not others?

2. Can you share who your travel agent is?

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22 minutes ago, Skid said:

Hello @twangster - two questions please:

1. I just did a mock booking and the website did show the refundable option after filling in the passenger info. I booked my 2019 cruise on their website earlier this month with the refundable deposit. Seeing as I have NEVER seen any misinformation from you, do you think that maybe they are showing only NRD on some sailings and not others?

2. Can you share who your travel agent is?

Anything is possible on a cruise by cruise basis.  I should have prefaced, "From what I am seeing..."

I would advise caution though as what used to be presented as a light blue box (non-refundable) and a dark blue box (refundable),  now is presented (in my experience) as "We pick the room" (light blue) and "You pick the room" (dark blue). YMMV.

My TA - I have bookings with three at the moment.  MEI Travel is one of those and I greatly respect and encourage their contributions to this site.  If it were not for them, this site would not be what it is.  For that reason and out of tremendous appreciation I recommend you contact them first.

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MEI has been a wonderful agency to work with, proactively letting me know if my fare is still the best, sale after sale. 

Long before I joined this site, over years of travel I built a relationship with others and I maintain that relationship. 

Once booked, you are free to continue to use the cruise planner to make My Time reservation, entertain reservations, Voom purchases and so on.

The only thing I've noted using a TA if if you want to change cabins.  If you booked cabin 1234 and suddenly cabin 4567 becomes available, instead of calling Royal you have to call your TA. That has yet to stop me with 34 Royal cruises booked or completed.

In the end, all of those 34 will have involved a TA (plus many others on other cruise lines before I came over into the light).  I've yet to find a reason why not to, even when applying C&A balcony discounts.

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I can't give Michelle at MEI enough credit here ..... granted, we are new to her, but the ability to remove the stress from my shoulders has been priceless.  Full disclosure, my next cruise was too far along for her to takeover, the two after that, on Brilliance & Freedom, I was more than happy to transfer over to her.

She has been incredibly fast and even more importantly, patient with Tyna and I, with all the questions we have. 

I know when it comes to clients, I'm sure there are many more that do a lot more business with her than we could ever do, but you would never know it by the Royal treatment she gives us.

Thank You Michelle for restoring our faith in travel agents (our local one was a total bomb),

Mark

 

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Let me add my praise of Michelle to that of Mark.  Talk about patience !  LOL  I'm sure she shudders when she sees an email from me but she has never failed to do whatever waste-of-her-time function I've asked of her.

My latest whim was to have her book a Christmas 2019 cruise on MSC Seaside in a Yacht Club Suite.  Since I cannot afford a Star Class Christmas cruise, I am going to check out the YC to see if it is otherwise comparable.  I know it won't be the same...but I'm going to check it out, just to see.  BTW, it was about 1/4 the price of a Star Class Christmas cruise on ANY of the Oasis class ships - even with a [significantly downgraded with the new "rules"] casino discount.  I love the Christmas+NY cruises but Grandeur isn't doing one in 2019 (we're on one this Christmas) and if I'm going to have to fly away anyway, I may as well try the MSC YC.

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Just now, WAAAYTOOO said:

 

My latest whim was to have her book a Christmas 2019 cruise on MSC Seaside in a Yacht Club Suite.  Since I cannot afford a Star Class Christmas cruise, I am going to check out the YC to see if it is otherwise comparable.  I know it won't be the same...but I'm going to check it out, just to see.  BTW, it was about 1/4 the price of a Star Class Christmas cruise on ANY of the Oasis class ships - even with a [significantly downgraded with the new "rules"] casino discount.  I love the Christmas+NY cruises but Grandeur isn't doing one in 2019 (we're on one this Christmas) and if I'm going to have to fly away anyway, I may as well try the MSC YC.

This is exactly why I am experimenting in July. I got my YC suite for less than the cost of a JS on OA class! 

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I think a newbie mistake is to not use a TA, or at least get a quote from a TA.  I book my own hotel rooms, book my own rental car and book my own airline travel, so my assumption was that I would book my own cruise as well.  From my outside perspective, it seems the cruise industry is very much still aligned with travel agents, while those other travel related industries not as much.    I am happy with the price I got via booking directly with RCI, but I will admit I will use a TA or get a 2nd quote from a TA for my next cruise.  

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this will sound petty but it's how i like to do things.  My biggest struggle with TA's isn't necessarily turning over control but it has to do with minimum payments they require for a payment.    I love to chip chip chip away at my balance on a weekly basis and in most cases, it's 25 to 50 bucks at a time.   So far i haven't had any luck finding a TA , MEI included, that will allow smaller more frequent payments to the balance.    i know, it's minimal in the grand scheme of things but it's how i prefer to manage it.    If anyone has had luck doing this with a particular TA from MEI or otherwise, please let me know because i'd love to be able to flip my 2020 booking over to them for peace of mind  and also potentially receive some perks to boot.

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I ALWAYS make monthly payments on all of my cruises booked through MEI.  Granted, it is never less than $100 each but Michelle does this for me each and every month and there are generally 4-5 of them to do.  I have always paid off my cruises in this manner.  I divide the balance due by the number of months that I have left and that is my monthly payment.  Kind of like installments !   While it all comes out the same in the end, I avoid the heart attack of owing thousands at final payment.  I know it's just a way I'm fooling myself into thinking "I'm not really spending THAT much" but it works for me !

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Just now, princevaliantus said:

An interesting question was ask to me in PM, but I couldn't adress it as I've never used MEI. What, if any, does MEI charge for changes, rebooking, cancellation fees, hidden fees, etc.? Some people are sooo scared to post anything online.  We don't bite, unless you ask nicely! ???

No fees that I've experienced.

Last week I booked the RoyalCaribbeanblog.com Mariner Double Dip to Cococay Group Cruise through MEI.  I booked the B2B in a balcony.  A day or two later I changed my mind and decided to downgrade to an inside cabin.  I'm doing Mariner in an aft balcony this year so I figured I'd save some $$$ and I plan to spend most of the group cruise out of my cabin so I"ll be fine in an inside.  No change fees or complaints from MEI despite what I am sure was a bunch of work with Royal to effect my switch on both sailings of this B2B.   

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one other question in regards to TA's,   not sure if anyone can answer but are perks greater if the TA originally books for you as opposed to first booking through RCI and then switching over to a TA?    also  do TA perks change or increase based on the frequency that a customer uses them?    I've only used a couple TA's in the past and the only perk i've had was $25 OBC so far.  

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1 minute ago, Todd W said:

one other question in regards to TA's,   not sure if anyone can answer but are perks greater if the TA originally books for you as opposed to first booking through RCI and then switching over to a TA?    also  do TA perks change or increase based on the frequency that a customer uses them?    I've only used a couple TA's in the past and the only perk i've had was $25 OBC so far.  

Direct bookings can be switched to a TA but there are rules that have to be followed.  These are there to safeguard and respect each agency as well as the guest.  You wouldn't want an illicit travel agency slamming your booking over to them when you have never heard of said travel agency.  It generally has to be switched before final payment due date.  There are likely other rules that I don't know.  There is an exception process that I've had to use after final payment due date to effect a switch. 

Do perks change with volume?  Sure.  Like most companies, repeat customers tend to be rewarded.  As far as MEI - they sponsor this site.  There are costs to running this site, posting cruise compasses, storing photos that some people like myself post a lot of, etc.  It is not insignificant to operate this site.  MEI through their sponsorship helps towards that.   While one TA might give you OBC or a dinner or a bottle of wine in your cabin, MEI helps to keep the lights on at RoyalCaribbeanblog.com. 

All things be equal, since there are no downsides to using a TA that I've found, if nothing else using MEI allows this wonderful site to exist.  Eventually once you build a relationship with them as a repeat customer,  what ever you work out is between you and them. 

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3 minutes ago, twangster said:

  As far as MEI - they sponsor this site.  There are costs to running this site

great point,  hadn't even considered that as a "hidden" benefit to using MEI.    I'm a stubborn Scorpio so sometimes it takes me multiple perspectives before i see the obvious  lol   thanks!

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On 6/1/2018 at 10:35 AM, Todd W said:

this will sound petty but it's how i like to do things.  My biggest struggle with TA's isn't necessarily turning over control but it has to do with minimum payments they require for a payment.    I love to chip chip chip away at my balance on a weekly basis and in most cases, it's 25 to 50 bucks at a time.   So far i haven't had any luck finding a TA , MEI included, that will allow smaller more frequent payments to the balance.    i know, it's minimal in the grand scheme of things but it's how i prefer to manage it.    If anyone has had luck doing this with a particular TA from MEI or otherwise, please let me know because i'd love to be able to flip my 2020 booking over to them for peace of mind  and also potentially receive some perks to boot.

 

On 6/1/2018 at 10:42 AM, WAAAYTOOO said:

I ALWAYS make monthly payments on all of my cruises booked through MEI.  Granted, it is never less than $100 each but Michelle does this for me each and every month and there are generally 4-5 of them to do.  I have always paid off my cruises in this manner.  I divide the balance due by the number of months that I have left and that is my monthly payment.  Kind of like installments !   While it all comes out the same in the end, I avoid the heart attach of owing thousands at final payment.  I know it's just a way I'm fooling myself into thinking "I'm not really spending THAT much" but it works for me !

Just curious (NO JUDGEMENT HERE) why you do not just pay yourself each week or month and keep your money working for you? We keep a separate vacation account for that. And if you have refundable deposits it's that much less refund you have to wait for should you need to cancel.

Everyone needs to do what works for them and makes them feel comfortable. Cheapo me likes to hold on to my money as long as I can. Just my two cents----that I have in my pocket ?

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3 minutes ago, Skid said:

 

Just curious (NO JUDGEMENT HERE) why you do not just pay yourself each week or month and keep your money working for you. We keep a separate vacation account for that. And if you have refundable deposits it's that much less refund you have wait for should you need to cancel.

Everyone needs to do what works for them and makes them feel comfortable. Cheapo me likes to hold on to my money as long as I can. Just my two cents----that I have in my pocket ?

Because I have no discipline !!!  LOL  It's just that simple !

If this were 1987 and the interest rates on my checking and savings were 15% I could see holding onto that money but the interest on my accounts is not enough to influence my spending behavior and I would rather pay off the CC in smaller monthly increments rather than see a bill for a brazilian dollars.  It's just a habit that I have developed over a number of years and it works well for me.  I'm certain that it drives Michelle crazy but she never says a single word.

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59 minutes ago, Todd W said:

are perks greater if the TA originally books for you as opposed to first booking through RCI and then switching over to a TA?    also  do TA perks change or increase based on the frequency that a customer uses them? 

When I first started booking cruises through the casino, I ALWAYS booked the cruise myself and then moved it over to MEI.  Over the years, due to my constant changing (changing rooms, changing cabin category, changing dates, changing ships...you name it) (another reason I know that Michelle is a Saint), Michelle became extremely resourceful with the casino folks and it no longer made any sense for me to book direct and then switch the booking.  Not only did I never see any downside to allowing Michelle to book the cruises, she almost always manages to get some extra discount that I would not have gotten, myself.  Sometimes her magic is stunning as when she had to switch a number of bookings for me during the infamous Empressgate debacle.

But to answer your question (which I have failed to do, thus far), there is no difference in the TA "perks" whether you book the cruise yourself and then transfer it or whether the TA books directly with the cruise line for you.  What you get from the TA is based directly upon what the TA gets from the cruise line, and that is based on your cruise fare.  It's that simple. 

While I have no direct knowledge of such things, I feel sure that frequent customers get the most generous perks.  It just makes sense.  

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1 hour ago, RaleighTrout said:

I think a newbie mistake is to not use a TA, or at least get a quote from a TA.  I book my own hotel rooms, book my own rental car and book my own airline travel, so my assumption was that I would book my own cruise as well.  From my outside perspective, it seems the cruise industry is very much still aligned with travel agents, while those other travel related industries not as much.    I am happy with the price I got via booking directly with RCI, but I will admit I will use a TA or get a 2nd quote from a TA for my next cruise.  

Could not agree more with what you said.  In some many facets of travel, going on your own is often encouraged, but when it comes to cruising, using a TA is such an advantage!

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58 minutes ago, twangster said:

  It is not insignificant to operate this site.  MEI through their sponsorship helps towards that.   While one TA might give you OBC or a dinner or a bottle of wine in your cabin, MEI helps to keep the lights on at RoyalCaribbeanblog.com. 

You nailed it.  At a certain point, my hope is you like this site enough to want to support it.  There are two easy ways to do so that have the greatest impact: become a Royal Caribbean Blog Insider and support our sponsor.  It not only pays for the many costs that keep this site running (and in many cases ad-free), but also enables me to conduct more research and create new content that would otherwise be financially impossible.

I also try to point out that I've been using MEI Travel well before they ever became a sponsor of this site.  I think it's important to stand behind and be a consumer of the sponsors, as it does my no good to promote a product or service that I don't personally care for.  

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I have just contacted MEI for the first time and was trying to reach the Michelle you all speak about there are 2 listed can anyone give me the last of the michelle so I know who to talk to she really seems to be what I am looking for thank you 

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