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travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:10 am
by SchmendricNumbskull
We have been booking our cruises directly with the cruise line(in our case Crystal), as its just easier and better. So much information is available online. We are quite comfortable with this, have tried using a travel agent, and prefer this.

We book our flights online too - same reason.

Crystal transfers the booking to our travel agent, or will keep it in house. Our travel agent gives us a small amount of onboard credit - about 2%. I would guess the travel agent probably gets perhaps a 5-10% commission but I believe is not adding any value, as we are doing everything ourselves, and are both happy and comfortable with this.

So, I'm interested in suggestions on if its possible to recoup some of that commission I'm paying for no added value, and how to go about doing so?

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:14 am
by shelanman
In my experience, virtually everybody has the same cruise prices.

The only travel agency I've encountered that can (sometimes) actually offer a lower price (presumably by keeping less commission) is Costco's.

So, if you have a membership, you can price something out with them and see if it is any better.

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:22 am
by sk2101
shelanman wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:14 am
The only travel agency I've encountered that can (sometimes) actually offer a lower price (presumably by keeping less commission) is Costco's.

So, if you have a membership, you can price something out with them and see if it is any better.
Costco usually offers a costco cash card for cruise bookings and sometimes other free perks such as onboard credits, etc.
+ 2% cash back on executive membership and 3% cash back on costco visa, that's like a 5% discount.

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:26 am
by ncboiler
You might want to try CruiseCompete.com. Just enter the cruise you are interested in and travel agents will respond with quotes.

Mainly the amount of onboard credit they offer is the difference between agents.

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:29 am
by andy8921
We take at least two cruises a year. Vacationstogo.com is our primary travel agent. In my experience, they regularly beat Costco in both price AND perks offered. I would give them a call if you are looking to book a cruise.

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:30 am
by RickBoglehead
sk2101 wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:22 am
shelanman wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:14 am
The only travel agency I've encountered that can (sometimes) actually offer a lower price (presumably by keeping less commission) is Costco's.

So, if you have a membership, you can price something out with them and see if it is any better.
Costco usually offers a costco cash card for cruise bookings and sometimes other free perks such as onboard credits, etc.
+ 2% cash back on executive membership and 3% cash back on costco visa, that's like a 5% discount.
Actually, it is exactly a 5% discount PLUS the cash card. :wink:

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:41 am
by dm200
This is not for me at all, BUT one way some folks can get real bargains on cruises is to organize a group for a particular cruise and often get a huge discount - or even a free cruise.

A few years ago, my wife, young son (at the time, and I booked a Bermuda cruise sponsored by an estate planning attorney that I followed on the radio. As part of the "deal", he held several free estate planning sessions on the cruise AND gave a discount on his fees if you engaged him to do your wills, trusts, etc. We took him up on it. The way he, normally, charged for wills, trusts, etc. is to charge several hundred dollars for the initial (up to one hour) meeting with him to explain your situation and, at the end of that time (up to an hour) he makes a recommendation (sometimes more than one) and quotes a fixed price for that work. Since we went on the Bermuda cruise - he waived that several hundred dollar initial consultation fee.

Sometimes church (or similar) groups get real bargain group cruise rates. For some folks, if they can get the priest, minister, etc. to go - and offer an onboard religious service - that can be a real winner - for all involved - perhaps even others on the cruise. I believe, as well, groups might include financial planning sessions onboard as well. Maybe a "Bogleheads" group cruise might make sense :) . Anyone want to organize such a cruise?

We took two cruises to Bermuda. For the first one, we booked a cabin several categories above the lowest price. Just before we left, they upgraded us (no charge) one step up.

For the second cruise, however, after noticing how little time we spent in the cabin and that even the lowest price cabins had adequate space, we booked the lowest price cabin. On both cruises, no matter how much or little you spent for your cabin, everyone had the same access to all other aspects of the cruise - such as the same meals, midnight buffet, and so on. Again, just before we left, they upgraded us one step up.

For the first cruise, we booked through a local travel agent. I cannot recall all the details, but I think we received some kind of "perk" from her as we boarded the ship.

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:41 pm
by hale2
ncboiler wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:26 am
You might want to try CruiseCompete.com. Just enter the cruise you are interested in and travel agents will respond with quotes.

Mainly the amount of onboard credit they offer is the difference between agents.
+1

We have used cruise compete.com a couple of times. They give you quotes from 3 companies. One or more of them beat Costco prices.

Re: travel agent for cruise and discounting

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:14 pm
by jeff1949
hale2 wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:41 pm
ncboiler wrote:
Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:26 am
You might want to try CruiseCompete.com. Just enter the cruise you are interested in and travel agents will respond with quotes.

Mainly the amount of onboard credit they offer is the difference between agents.
+1

We have used cruise compete.com a couple of times. They give you quotes from 3 companies. One or more of them beat Costco prices.
+2. :sharebeer