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ang73

3rd times a charm, or give it up??

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So,  we did our first RCI cruise in 2014 on Freedom and loved it!!!    Due to a 2015 vacation already booked and our schedules being crazy, the next time we are going to be able to cruise is October 2016.  We are now booked on Freedom again for an October 9-16 cruise, YAY!!!  And we talked my parents, who have never cruised on RCI, into joining us!!

 

My dilemma is.... I planned on using a TA for 2 reasons

 

1- I wanted to make sure and book as soon as it became available to get a specific room

 

2- I wanted someone who could keep an eye out for discounts that may come up between booking and the cruise since we are booking so far out.

 

The first TA I contacted got my info, said she would get back to me and never did.  The 2nd looked into booking and didn't know why she couldn't find the family ocean view rooms online.   At this time since one didn't call, and one knew less about booking RCI than I did, I decided to just book it myself.

 

So my question is....now that it is booked, should I try a 3rd time and transfer to a TA so they can watch for price drops or better deals for me? 

 

Anyone have experience in getting better prices after their original booking, or is it likely I've already got the best price I will get.  (right now it is about $1,000 more than we paid for our 2014 cruise, same # of nights and everything)

 

Thank in advance for any advice you have!

 

Angela

 

*just realized I posted this in the wrong place! Sorry Matt!  Feel free to move it!!

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I usually book through my TA to pick up additional OBC on top of the "best deal" from the cruise line.

 

TA hasn't really been proactive in looking for new deals for me but has been very good about chasing down RCL to get them applied if I call and let her know I think my price is down.

 

I have had mixed luck, one guy in our group of friends I got him about 6 reductions on the same cruise last year, ended up being way down,

 

When BOGO originally hit I repriced about 8 reservations for a savings of about $300 each.

 

Havent seen any drops on any of the cruises I have been watching in a long time though :(

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Hello ang73

 

Very good question you have.

I've used a TA to booked my January 2016 cruise on Allure. Booked on July 2014 (long wait yeah) Was the same price anyway. 

Since then, havent seen any price drops to my cruise. Only an on board credit that came later that year. 

My TA was never in charge of looking for better prices for me, that was my job. And whenever I saw something on RC web site I taught might apply to me I just called them, and then I'ts there job to check if they can apply it to my cruise.  

My TA said that it is the custumer responsability to check for better deal, then call them. And I can perfectly live with that. 

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Thanks everyone!!  I appreciate all of the responses!

 

Looks like I'm good just watching for any price reductions myself, since even if I went with a TA I may need to do that myself anyway.  And I really don't mind the planning and watching for deals.  That's half the fun right :)

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I am not at all happy w my TA. They make it seem like I'm a bother when I call/visit them. I understand that they're only paid commission on the booking, so they wanna book you, and move on to the next client, and hopefully never talk to you again. Since I basically will be going on the same cruise over and over, I think I'll just book my own at the "my next cruise" desk from now on.

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I don't want to bash TAs on this site since I know that an agency is the sponsor of this site (and I thank them for that !)....but I will say, with no malice intended, that booking yourself is always the right thing with RC. Since RC does NOT permit agencies to discount their cruises there is literally no advantage to using a TA for RC, IMO. Now, agencies CAN add their own incentives such as OBC (although it is always minimal from what I have seen)and paying for gratuities, specialty dining, drink packages, etc. but that has never been enough of an incentive to get me to bother with a TA for RC. That is NOT necessarily the case for other cruise lines !

 

As for getting a TA to hunt for price reductions for you, that is not going to happen. It is a LOT of work to do that. You have to check VERY often. I check at least DAILY and have been the recipient of MANY discounts that just pop up. As one blogger mentioned, when the BOGO offer first came out for a VERY brief time (not more than 1 day), they had not yet increased the cruise base price to compensate for the 1/2 off deal and I managed to catch it before they did....I ended up saving a LOAD on the January 2015 Oasis cruise. It turned out to be nearly free by the time they added the 1/2 off ("free" being a misnomer...there is no such thing as a FREE cruise). But you have to be diligent. If you want to catch a deal YOU have to do the work. Yes, a TA will go in and capture a discount if you let them know about it but why bother with that ? You can do it yourself ! ..and SHOULD.

 

If you want to be lazy and not do the work, you will probably NOT get the unpublished discounts or be able to take advantage of mistakes - and YES the cruise lines DO make mistakes from time-to-time - that come along periodically. One blogger mentioned a family room. I managed to snag a Royal Family Suite for my upcoming cruise on the Freedom LONG b4 it should have been released to the public. They hold those rooms to require a minimum number of people to book (usually 4 people is minimum. For some categories, it's 6!) but if those rooms don't sell close to the end, they will release them to "general inventory" which means that they will appear online and you can book that room with just 2 people (the same thing for handicapped (excuse me, ACCESSIBLE) rooms). I caught it on just the right day and even the [RC] agent who booked it for me commented that the room should not have been available for less than 4 people, that early. As soon as I booked my room they immediately moved all of the other Family Suites behind the "Not available for online booking" firewall. I just happened to see it b4 they caught their mistake.

 

So....checking the website becomes automatic, and fun, after a while. Make it a THING. You will be the recipient of unexpected windfalls. It's awesome.

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I think any TA will tell you not all TAs are the equal.  Whenever I recommend using a TA, you will notice I always say that I recommend using a good TA that specializes in Royal Caribbean. 

 

My advice is you should be 100% happy with the TA you use or you certainly are better off trying someone else or even doing it on your own.  

 

My recommendation is you approach any future TA you try with a couple of basic questions that you have about how you want your account handled.  Tell him/her exactly what you're looking for and ask them if this is something they are familiar with AND can deliver for you.  Get those expectations out there before you transfer or book anything so you don't waste each other's time.

 

I firmly believe using a TA in general saves you time and money in the long run but it's important to work with a TA that knows RC and knows you.  :)

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Another way of looking at it ang73 is that you are going to learn a lot about RCL while babysitting your upcoming cruise. We certainly have in the past and it has made us better cruisers.

 

In the same breath I'd have to say "Don't expect miracles." Under current cruise line economic conditions; literally the fish are jumping into the boat. Each of todays RCL cruises are at 104% of occupancy capacity. There are NO open rooms. Therefore there is no incentive for RCL to lower rates, but rather every incentive to raise them. The surplus of customers also explains the loss of hospitality by RCL.

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I have to agree with Matt that not all TAs are equal.  And while you do give up a bit of control, a good TA is worth his/her weight in gold.  I started cruising in 1994 using a TA, had a bad TA, had another good TA, and then went years doing it myself.  Now that I'm busy and the fact that my trips are becoming more complicated with children, international travel, and precruise stays, a TA is essential in my opinion solely as a time saver.  I can't tell you the number of hours that my TA has spent on the phone with Royal getting price reductions, changing cabins, etc.  In addition, because she's part of a large agency, they usually have some perk like a free dinner at a specialty restaurant onboard offered by Royal through them.

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As I've said before I always use a local brick and mortar TA.  I do not really receive any additional perks & I am the one always checking rates and available cabins, so why do I use them?

 

1) As DocLC said, it saves me time.  One quick email or phone call and I'm done.  No website navigation, no entering information, no waiting on the phone. I email her with the sailing, the cabin I want and the price.  She books it.  If the price drops I email her and she gets is changed (that hasn't happened for a while) and if I see a better cabin I want available I email her and she changes it.

 

2) If something goes wrong I have someone working on my behalf that pulls more weight than I.

 

3) I pay no more and I support a local business.

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I, too, WhiteSoxFan, love supporting local businesses and thus the local economy.  That said, I've also had some exceptional online TAs when I couldn't find a local one with knowledge, which I depended on much more when I was a newbie to cruising.  Now, I have a fabulous TA, although my specific knowledge of the itineraries and ships usually exceeds hers mainly because I'm a researcher by trade and an nerd when it comes to travel.  With Matt's site and podcast, the other podcasts and site I peruse daily, it would be hard for my TA to keep up given her workload. :). What I'm looking for is an advocate and assistance, and that's what she provides and was a godsend when I ended up in surgery just 12 hours before a previous cruise and precruise trip.  In that situation, she was able to make all of the necessary changes so that we could still make the ship and even was able to get cancellation fees and penalties waved which made the travel insurance claim even easier as the amount of the claim ended up being minimal.

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:) I have worked as a TA after retirement for 3 years more as a hobby rather than a job.  I was only interested in booking cruises and trying to keep up with the multiple changes was indeed difficult but, not an excuse for maintaining my client's interest.  I have booked my last 5 cruises with the cruise line directly.  Being a member of the Crown and Anchor and having them assist helps a great deal. The first time can be somewhat scary but, RCCL consultants have always been patient and helpful.

 

I do my own research and acquaint myself with pricing by checking some of the wholesalers online.  As to price changes I always call the Cruise line to make my payments and to check on price changes on a regular basis.  Note also that when you are onboard take the time to meet the future cruise consultant for good pricing, discounted deposit and sometimes increased OBC.

 

Sailing on a back to back on the Serenade of the Seas (love the Radiance Class) in August Norwegian Fjords and then a trans-Atlantic to Iceland and ending in New Jersey.

 

Hope this helps

 

Ray and Barb Renaud

Canadian Cruisers

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I, too, WhiteSoxFan, love supporting local businesses and thus the local economy.  That said, I've also had some exceptional online TAs when I couldn't find a local one with knowledge, which I depended on much more when I was a newbie to cruising.  Now, I have a fabulous TA, although my specific knowledge of the itineraries and ships usually exceeds hers mainly because I'm a researcher by trade and an nerd when it comes to travel.  With Matt's site and podcast, the other podcasts and site I peruse daily, it would be hard for my TA to keep up given her workload. :). What I'm looking for is an advocate and assistance, and that's what she provides and was a godsend when I ended up in surgery just 12 hours before a previous cruise and precruise trip.  In that situation, she was able to make all of the necessary changes so that we could still make the ship and even was able to get cancellation fees and penalties waved which made the travel insurance claim even easier as the amount of the claim ended up being minimal.

I couldn't agree more with what you have said.  I am in the same boat in that I'm not looking to a TA for their expertise. 

 

That being said I always tell novice cruisers to consult with a TA as they can help guide them toward the right line, ship and itinerary given their personal situation. We jsut did this with one of my wife's co-workers.  They went to the TA with one thing in  mind and after consulting with her wound up on another line.

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