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Cruise Dot Versus Direct

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    Cruise Dot Versus Direct

    Dear knowing crowd,
    Since arriving at this site I have enjoyed both this forum and much of its other content. However, as a (very) inexperienced cruiser I have a question which, I hope the administrators of this site will allow to run. It's not meant to be inflammatory but if it is deemed as such then, I apologise in advance.
    Can anyone tell me what the advantages are to booking a cruise via Cruise Dot (or similar) versus going direct to the cruise line themselves? No particular cruise line in mind but happy to have anyone quote examples if that helps. What limited research I have done so far seems to show very little difference in pricing when booking a good time ahead but maybe some attractive looking offers if booking short notice? Presumably the online operation is filling cabins the cruise line hasn't been able to? If there are advantages...are they more than financial? If it is information that respondents would be happy to give I'd be interested to know who books direct and who books via Cruise Dot? I would really welcome any insight anyone has to offer.
    Many thanks in advance.

    #2
    Hi;
    Not inflammatory at all and I'm looking forward to the answers.The only satisfactory answer I know to booking any holiday is not to look at the prices once you've booked and stick your fingers in your ears if anyone starts telling you what they paid for their cruise!
    Otherwise , what you've said sounds about right to me although it does seem to me that a cruiseline sometimes picks one travel agent to get special deals when selling their "slow movers" so that if you can wait a bit and put up with all the e-mails etc. you'll get, signing up to several specialist ta's can pay off.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by liauq, w mids View Post
      Hi;
      Not inflammatory at all and I'm looking forward to the answers.The only satisfactory answer I know to booking any holiday is not to look at the prices once you've booked and stick your fingers in your ears if anyone starts telling you what they paid for their cruise!
      Otherwise , what you've said sounds about right to me although it does seem to me that a cruiseline sometimes picks one travel agent to get special deals when selling their "slow movers" so that if you can wait a bit and put up with all the e-mails etc. you'll get, signing up to several specialist ta's can pay off.
      Thanks for your reply Liauq. Yes, it seems to make sense but like you, I'd just like to see what others say. Regards, Steve

      Comment


        #4
        Steve, I enjoy your threads, they are refreshing.

        I have always found that the personal touch and the personal knowledge suits my way of booking. I have in the past booked direct with cruise lines but the percentage is small.

        Cruise line personnel have knowledge but that knowledge can often be used to promote company wishes or policy or even to push a particular low-booked cruise. This not to say that cruise agents do not have an agenda, after all they would be foolish to go contrary to company policy, but they are not limited to one cruise line and their knowledge extends far beyond the cruising itself.

        It is, in my opinion, always worth testing the market but I have to say that seldom do I find the agent I use beaten for price. I often have quite complicated bookings, flying out early, returning late, using the various classes on an airplane and needing to be able to perm the costings of each and all of these. An agent will do this with pleasure and mix and match well because all the gals and guys I use seem to like the challenge. Not only that they will sometimes come up with alternatives which hadn't occurred to me. There is no way a cruise line person wants to spend time doing that.

        So whilst I wouldn't rule out any option the dice always seem to be loaded in favour of the CRUISE AGENT...... I never use a Travel Agent and would run a mile from a High street agent.

        There for what it is worth is my opinion. ....Neil

        Comment


          #5
          It's a good question, Steve, and the answer seems to change with time.

          Previously, the agents could 'share' some of their commission with customers which meant there was often a price differential between what the lines themselves advertised, and what agents could/would offer (and indeed between agents).

          A couple/few years ago one of the main cruise companies, Carnival, changed that arrangement and reduced commission paid to agents. The result was the price seemed to be the same wherever you looked. There was some competition around the fringe benefits that different agents could offer (lower processing costs for credit cards etc) but the main fare and on-board-credits offered didn't really change.

          In a sign that this arrangement perhaps isn't durable, this year, on a Princess Cruise (owned by carnival), although the basic fare that Cruisedot offered was the same as booking directly, they (cruisedot) were able to offer much higher on-board-credit, even though the obc was funded by Princess. The difference was a couple of hundred $ per person, so worth the effort.

          I guess, in the end, the cruiselines know they need good agents to sell their product, so if they are tightly controlling fares, they must find some other way of generating business. There is also the element of personal service. A good agent saves you more than just money.
          Last edited by Max, Warwickshire; 12th June 2015, 04:12 PM. Reason: changed 'per cabin' to 'per person'

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Neil Down, Southampton View Post
            Steve, I enjoy your threads, they are refreshing.

            I have always found that the personal touch and the personal knowledge suits my way of booking. I have in the past booked direct with cruise lines but the percentage is small.

            Cruise line personnel have knowledge but that knowledge can often be used to promote company wishes or policy or even to push a particular low-booked cruise. This not to say that cruise agents do not have an agenda, after all they would be foolish to go contrary to company policy, but they are not limited to one cruise line and their knowledge extends far beyond the cruising itself.

            It is, in my opinion, always worth testing the market but I have to say that seldom do I find the agent I use beaten for price. I often have quite complicated bookings, flying out early, returning late, using the various classes on an airplane and needing to be able to perm the costings of each and all of these. An agent will do this with pleasure and mix and match well because all the gals and guys I use seem to like the challenge. Not only that they will sometimes come up with alternatives which hadn't occurred to me. There is no way a cruise line person wants to spend time doing that.

            So whilst I wouldn't rule out any option the dice always seem to be loaded in favour of the CRUISE AGENT...... I never use a Travel Agent and would run a mile from a High street agent.

            There for what it is worth is my opinion. ....Neil
            Thank you Neil , and I appreciate your comprehensive response. Seems to make sense...the more complex the requirements then the more one is in the territory of the specialist agent...I can see that, thank you. Regards, Steve

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by liauq, w mids View Post
              Hi;
              Not inflammatory at all and I'm looking forward to the answers.The only satisfactory answer I know to booking any holiday is not to look at the prices once you've booked and stick your fingers in your ears if anyone starts telling you what they paid for their cruise!
              Otherwise , what you've said sounds about right to me although it does seem to me that a cruiseline sometimes picks one travel agent to get special deals when selling their "slow movers" so that if you can wait a bit and put up with all the e-mails etc. you'll get, signing up to several specialist ta's can pay off.
              I agree entirely. Choose your itinerary, ship and cabin (not necessarily in that order) and if you can get it at a price that suits you go for it and forget it. If you are not bothered where or on what then you can look for an 'offer'. Either way, I'd use a cruise agent in preference to a travel agent although we have booked direct in the past, we don't do it now. We often book a future cruise while on board, which saves around 5% and the company put the booking through cruise.co.uk which saves a little more. The peace of mind that booking with Sam gives us is well worth any small saving we may miss. Judith

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Max, Warwickshire View Post
                It's a good question, Steve, and the answer seems to change with time.

                Previously, the agents could 'share' some of their commission with customers which meant there was often a price differential between what the lines themselves advertised, and what agents could/would offer (and indeed between agents).

                A couple/few years ago one of the main cruise companies, Carnival, changed that arrangement and reduced commission paid to agents. The result was the price seemed to be the same wherever you looked. There was some competition around the fringe benefits that different agents could offer (lower processing costs for credit cards etc) but the main fare and on-board-credits offered didn't really change.

                In a sign that this arrangement perhaps isn't durable, this year, on a Princess Cruise (owned by carnival), although the basic fare that Cruisedot offered was the same as booking directly, they (cruisedot) were able to offer much higher on-board-credit, even though the obc was funded by Princess. The difference was a couple of hundred $ per person, so worth the effort.

                I guess, in the end, the cruiselines know they need good agents to sell their product, so if they are tightly controlling fares, they must find some other way of generating business. There is also the element of personal service. A good agent saves you more than just money.
                Thanks for the response Max. Yes, I'm starting to see that there could well be some significant advantage in investigating the complexities of cruise packages offer. Not sure I can be bothered to do that myself but the thought of a sufficiently motivated specialist agent seems to appeal. The personal service you mention is also appealing. Thanks for the contribution. Regards, Steve

                Comment


                  #9
                  It has almost always seemed to me that I can get a better deal going through a cruise agent rather than direct. As a solo cruiser, I am on the lookout for a low single supplement. There are two sites that I go to regularly. If I see something that I want to book, then I will shop around. If I can't get an equal or better deal, then I will go back to the original site.

                  I've got one booking direct with RCI, but that was because when I looked there was only one single cabin (out of a total of three) available. It was a reasonable price, so I decided to book straight away rather than lose the cabin.
                  2018-
                  Queen Victoria - Mediterranean Explorer

                  2019 -
                  NCL Getaway - Norway and Iceland
                  Adventure of the Seas - Fall Foliage

                  2020 -
                  Jewel of the Seas - Abu Dhabi & Dubai
                  Magellan - Panama Canal

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Cooke, Ashby View Post
                    I agree entirely. Choose your itinerary, ship and cabin (not necessarily in that order) and if you can get it at a price that suits you go for it and forget it. If you are not bothered where or on what then you can look for an 'offer'. Either way, I'd use a cruise agent in preference to a travel agent although we have booked direct in the past, we don't do it now. We often book a future cruise while on board, which saves around 5% and the company put the booking through cruise.co.uk which saves a little more. The peace of mind that booking with Sam gives us is well worth any small saving we may miss. Judith
                    Thank you Judith. As a novice cruiser I hadn't picked up on the "book the next one whilst on board" thing but seems to make sense. I'm certainly getting a strong theme here in favour of the specialist agent. Thank you. Regards, Steve

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Yogini, Waterlooville View Post
                      It has almost always seemed to me that I can get a better deal going through a cruise agent rather than direct. As a solo cruiser, I am on the lookout for a low single supplement. There are two sites that I go to regularly. If I see something that I want to book, then I will shop around. If I can't get an equal or better deal, then I will go back to the original site.

                      I've got one booking direct with RCI, but that was because when I looked there was only one single cabin (out of a total of three) available. It was a reasonable price, so I decided to book straight away rather than lose the cabin.
                      Thank you Yogini, completely understand. I've had someone else tell me about the extra challenges faced by solo cruisers seeking "reasonable" single supplements so this is clearly another area where the specialist agent scores. Many thanks, regards Steve

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I can't see much benefit these days of a travel agent especially when booking a cruise from Southampton. It's not complicated and a travel agent's prices are more or less the same as booking direct. I've booked a few with CruiseDot and a few direct with the cruise line and I've really never had to use the services of a travel agent as everything has always been fine with no problems. I suppose it's when you've got a more complex holiday including flights and stop-overs etc. that a travel agent may be of assistance should problems arise but of a straightforward sailing from Southampton there's really nothing to go wrong. (No doubt someone will have encountered problems from Southampton but I can't think of anything.) I've actually had occasion to cancel a cruise booked direct and received the cancellation invoice in a timely manner. Probably quicker direct than via a travel agent as the latter is an extra step in the process. As I said earlier, there's not much a travel agent can do on price these days so a cruise only booking is very easy direct with a cruise line.
                        Last edited by Harvey, Bristol upon Cream; 12th June 2015, 04:34 PM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Carnival Brands like P&O/Cunard/HAL, Do not allow T.A.s to undercut their Prices so the prices will be the same, But T.A.s can & do offer other incentives such as extra O.B.C/ Free Car parking/Free excursions/ Free tips paid as well, Other companies like R.C.I/Celebrity/N.C.L/M.S.C. Do allow T.A.s to undercut the prices & you can get better deals through a T.A than with the cruise line.
                          ]

                          Comment


                            #14
                            And of course if you do find a cruise cheaper elsewhere Cruisedot will always do there (one for Harvey) level best to either match or in some cases better the offer.
                            Regards
                            Garfield

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I think it all depends on timing and the size of your booking.

                              I have booked direct and via a cruise agent. I only use the latter if the price is advantageous. On one particular occasion, I was able to secure group rates on a Celebrity cruise which easily saved me £1500 on Celebrity direct rates.

                              The other evening I was checking out a cruise under consideration. One cruise agent site indicated the cruise was full but on checking the cruise line site, there is still availability. Go figure. BTW there was no difference in the rates. I find that frustrating.

                              When considering any cruise, I check the cruise line price and then an agent price.

                              Annie

                              Comment


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