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Old 06-10-2013, 09:41 AM
 
14,253 posts, read 15,377,908 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Especially because it's usually some craptacular bottle that was the cheapest thing on the wine list.

I could use a $300 OBC at the spa, but I agree, shore excursions? Nope. We're much happier exploring on our own for almost everything.
Actually, a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay on the last cruise. $25 in Total Wine and $60 - $75 in any restaurant. And, somehow, we always manage to use the OBC. Our end of cruise bill last time was just $15.

And if the alternative to getting $300 OBC is getting nothing then I know which I prefer.

Our relationship with our TA is a collaborative one. We use our experience and research to decide what we want. We use him to try to get the best deals and to handle the administrative side. If we can get a better deal then we do it ourselves. We also expect him to come up with ideas and suggestions for the places we are going.

So far the savings we have had by using him plus the onboard credit have been significant. And I am talking several thousand dollars whether it be better rates at hotels or good airline deals. For example, we are going to Buenos Aires next January. He got us a first class ticket on American cheaper than they were advertising business class.

Even for experienced travelers, a good TA can add a lot and save a lot of money. But you have to know how to work with them, when to use them and when to do your own thing.

Last edited by Jaggy001; 06-10-2013 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
My current favorite is Windstar. I prefer small, intimate ships with a very low passenger to crew ratio. On my last cruise (14 incredible days!) we were about 1:1. I like the personal service, the great food, having everything you need only a minute away (instead of four football fields) with no lines, ever.

Even the smallest cabins are comfortable and well appointed with plenty of storage. There is plenty of quiet space on the ship, there is always a place to curl up with a book or watch the waves go by. There is also always something to do--a spirited game on the Wii, sunbathing, afternoon tea, two lounges with entertainment, a casino, a spa, a health club with great views of the sea. It's truly the best of allh worlds.

No blaring music at the pool, no chair hogs, no people who can't understand evening dress codes. Just a wonderful ship with sophisticated fellow travelers and an incredible casual elegance. Did I mention the sails?
Windstar have just bought Seabourn's three small ships; Pride, Spirit and Legend.

Will be interesting to see what they make of them.
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by NY Annie View Post
I understand that we could shop around and try to find another TA - especially now that we have moved halfway across the country; but we had been doing our own cruise and other travel arrangements for 15 years before deciding to try a TA. Now that we're retired, we'll be travelling even more often and I don't find a bottle of wine to be much incentive. As for the $300 OBC, I can't imagine spending that much except on excursions and at this stage, we prefer to explore on our own.
So what you are really saying is that you would rather pay the same price as everyone else and get nothing?
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
Actually, a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay on the last cruise. $25 in Total Wine and $60 - $75 in any restaurant. And, somehow, we always manage to use the OBC. Our end of cruise bill last time was just $15.
Which means the cruise line paid $12 for it and sold it to the TA for $18. Big whoop.

Quote:
And if the alternative to getting $300 OBC is getting nothing then I know which I prefer.
Getting it right by doing it yourself and not having to double check the TA every step of the way?

Quote:
Our relationship with our TA is a collaborative one. We use our experience and research to decide what we want. We use him to try to get the best deals and to handle the administrative side. If we can get a better deal then we do it ourselves. We also expect him to come up with ideas and suggestions for the places we are going.
I'm working through my bucket list. To date I've never had a TA get me a better deal than what I could find myself--keeping in mind that cheaper doesn't always equate better in my book.

Quote:
So far the savings we have had by using him plus the onboard credit have been significant. And I am talking several thousand dollars whether it be better rates at hotels or good airline deals. For example, we are going to Buenos Aires next January. He got us a first class ticket on American cheaper than they were advertising business class.
I'm guessing you don't remain loyal to a carrier and don't have limitations on when you can travel sue to work schedules. By remaining loyal I was able to get free upgrades at the time of booking to Envoy class from a cheap coach ticket. I didn't need a TA to do it for me--in fact they probably would have mucked it up, as I worked directly with the Chairman's rep to make it happen.

Quote:
Even for experienced travelers, a good TA can add a lot and save a lot of money. But you have to know how to work with them, when to use them and when to do your own thing.
I have yet to find one.
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:20 AM
 
26,590 posts, read 54,725,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
Windstar have just bought Seabourn's three small ships; Pride, Spirit and Legend.

Will be interesting to see what they make of them.
The brochure for the 2014 sailings on the Star Pride arrived in my mail box today. It looks amazing, and the itineraries look fantastic. If I wasn't already booked for French Polynesia next year, I'd be booking on it for certain!
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annerk View Post
The brochure for the 2014 sailings on the Star Pride arrived in my mail box today. It looks amazing, and the itineraries look fantastic. If I wasn't already booked for French Polynesia next year, I'd be booking on it for certain!
They are nice ships but old.

If they keep the same configuration for the rooms then the smallest will be a junior suite of around 300 sq. ft. which is nice.

The main disadvantages are a lack of verandahs, small gym and very small pool.

Main advantage is that you really feel like you are on a private yacht.
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:27 AM
 
14,253 posts, read 15,377,908 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Which means the cruise line paid $12 for it and sold it to the TA for $18. Big whoop.

Getting it right by doing it yourself and not having to double check the TA every step of the way?

I'm working through my bucket list. To date I've never had a TA get me a better deal than what I could find myself--keeping in mind that cheaper doesn't always equate better in my book.

I'm guessing you don't remain loyal to a carrier and don't have limitations on when you can travel sue to work schedules. By remaining loyal I was able to get free upgrades at the time of booking to Envoy class from a cheap coach ticket. I didn't need a TA to do it for me--in fact they probably would have mucked it up, as I worked directly with the Chairman's rep to make it happen.

I have yet to find one.
I guess that we will just have to agree to disagree on this.
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Old 06-10-2013, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
They are nice ships but old.

If they keep the same configuration for the rooms then the smallest will be a junior suite of around 300 sq. ft. which is nice.

The main disadvantages are a lack of verandahs, small gym and very small pool.

Main advantage is that you really feel like you are on a private yacht.
We don't mind not having a veranda on the small ships, because there are plenty of places to sit outside without crowds. The gyms aren't huge, but with only a couple hundred people sailing, how big do they have to be? We aren't pool people, I never got into my bathing suit once on the Surf last year, too busy doing other things. I'm sure I'll live in my bathing suit on the Paul Gauguin next year, but that's a totally different type of cruise.

We love that private yacht, intimate feeling. No lines, no waiting, and the open bridge policy is terrific.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:59 AM
 
Location: in the miseries
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My favorite cruise line is Oceania
No formal nights, just country club casual.
All rooms larger than average.
Only one premium restaurant
Food excellent.
Con: Could have more to do.
I have been on NCL Good
HOLland america Felt too young there
Princess My next favorite
Royal Caribbean Good
Celebrity Good, too. I guess I liked them all!
I refuse to cruise on Carnival and Costa.
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Old 06-14-2013, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
72,215 posts, read 83,947,016 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
I couldn't disagree more. If that travel agent doesn't have specific personal experience with where I want to go, they are no better than I am. In fact, I'm better as I'll take the time to research and get the best deals and find the hidden gems, instead of taking some pre-packaged craptacular mainstream trip that TA's love to spoon feed to customers.

Obviously if you use a boutique/concierge travel agent who is incredibly well traveled and has the ability to pull strings to get you into places not typically open to the public, private tours during after hours, chef's tables, etc., then they are worth their weight in gold. They are also few and far between. Unless you are using one of these TA's, you're better off doing it yourself.

The exception might be mainstream cruises. I prefer to sail on lines that half of the TA's out there haven't even heard of, let alone have any experience with.
ok, lets look at it another way: a good agent and no, they are not all good, will have either a lot of experience (of course not on every ship or at every resort) but they will have access to those who have and if they are associated with a large company will have others expertise to share. You have mentioned many times the lines you have used and believe me, most agents worth the weight in anything have heard of them, have traveled some of them and have had clients who have used them. I will add, I never spoon fed any basic mainstream anything and for those who have not traveled or do not have the time to spend hours researching an agent is a great way to be assured a positive travel experience, whether you are doing a resort, a mass marketed line or a small, upscale line.

Yes, for those who have the time and have traveled doing the research can be 1/2 the fun. The same with tours in ports. For the beginner, using the ships excursions is the only way to go. After one has cruised a few times, then private tours are better.

How often have you used a travel agent and what was your experience? Obviously it wasn't a positive one.
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