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Best Travel agencies, most competitive for solo cruises?

dixie

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Love to cruise and like to do it more than my husband. Do not really want to share a cabin. I cruise out of Galveston or Bayport in Houston. I do not want to pay double the cruise rate which the cruise line charges... So, was wondering if any of you have had a good experience with a travel agency that discounts solo rates. Last year I saw quite a few on "Vacations to Go"... but not this year;/!

Any advice is appreciated:)!
 

winnipiseogee

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http://www.crucon.com/ is owned by a neighbor of mine. They claim to be very competitive on price (they buy closeouts in bulk and resell). They are a great company and donate a lot in the community. I'm curious to hear if you think they are as cheap as they say :)
 

dixie

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Yes, I have talked to Diane at Crucon. I was able to get quotes from some other companies that beat them. They do seem nice. I am frustrated because I know the date (nov 15) I want to go on Princess to do kind of a fact finding cruise to see if we want to do a long Trans Atlantic on that ship. I prefer to book directly with the cruise line but not pay for 2 people etc.
 

dioxide45

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Unfortunately, cruise bookings are up, so it will be less common for cruise lines to sell a solo room for less than 200% when they can sell that same cabin at double occupancy.

I don't think it will really matter much what TA you go with, they all pretty much have similar deals and depending on the cruise line they may not be able to undercut on price and rather just offer a few other perks like OBC or free upgrades.
 

Passepartout

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Some of the cruise lines have built ships with some cabins specifically for solo cruisers. You might have to actually. Call the cruise lines reservation number to find out which ships, and their routes. Iirc, they charge more than half the rate of double occupancy, but less than full freight. Celebrity's Solstice Class is one such.

Another option would be cruising with a friend, or TUG's (is it called Women on vacation?) Group. I asked DW if she knew of a 'buddy up' forum on Cruise Critic, but she knows on as of none.

Jim
 

PStreet1

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In order to meet their contracts with the cruise lines (at least with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean--and I think with others), travel agents (including Costco) can't offer a fare that is any different from the one the cruise line offers. They can, however, offer "incentives" the cruise lines do not; incentives include such things as pre-paid grat., a drink package, dinner for 2 at a specialty restaurant, 1 or 2 spa treatments, on-board cash, etc. Therefore, when comparing prices, you are actually comparing only the incentives you are being offered.

Travel Agents can have substantially different prices from the lines' prices if the agencies have pre-booked cabins with a small deposit and held them until the cruise lines have raised prices. In those cases, the actual cost of the cabin can vary from agent to agent, and price comparing becomes more difficult. I've found CruCon.com often has the lowest total price--but not always, and I've booked with a variety of travel agents because of significant differences in prices.
 

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Yes, cruise compete is one that comparison shops several agencies. The one that offered the best price ended up being very hard to reach and then found out it was miss quoted and I backed off. Got scared...:/!
 

PStreet1

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Cruise Compete is an entirely different web site than www.CruCon.com Cruise Compete is a "clearing house" for you to post what cruise you are interested in, and then, various travel agencies send you a bid for the cruise you listed that interested you.

CruCon is a travel agency based, I think, in New Hampshire; it has been awarded a number of "Bests" by Cruise Critic.
 

beejaybeeohio

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Yes, cruise compete is one that comparison shops several agencies. The one that offered the best price ended up being very hard to reach and then found out it was miss quoted and I backed off. Got scared...:/!

I will never use CruiseCompete again after the first one I booked using one of the online agencies that provided a quote through them went belly-up! I personally made some mistakes in booking thru that agency, i.e not googling them and paying in full right away so as to get significant OBC and also get double mileage points thru a credit card offer at that time. But CruiseCompete should have vetted the agency, which I later learned had many consumer complaints against it.

The online agency only forwarded our down payment via a legit TA (likely because the corrupt agency had already been banned by the cruiseline) to the cruise line and kept the rest themselves. Two things worked in our favor when that agency went bankrupt 10 months before our cruise- our booking was actually held by the brick/mortar agency which kept our reservtion intact, and our credit card company refunded our cruise payment less the deposit

We now book thru Costco for very generous onboard credit & great customer service. Basically Costco is an order-taker since I know the cruise, cabin # and current promotional perks before I reserve through them.
 
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Ken555

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http://www.crucon.com/ is owned by a neighbor of mine. They claim to be very competitive on price (they buy closeouts in bulk and resell). They are a great company and donate a lot in the community. I'm curious to hear if you think they are as cheap as they say :)


I started cruising last year and know others who believe crucon offers great service and prices. Unfortunately, when I called them it wasn't quite as good. Each agency has their own policies and features beyond the simple service of reserving a cabin.

For crucon I had a few reservations about using them, even though at times they reportedly have great prices. Those concerns include a 1990s style website that does not offer current prices (the rep told me that I have to call them to get accurate prices each time) and a $100 change fee (what? yes, $100). I'm sure at times they offer the best price and I have little doubt they offer personalized customer service.

I've been using Costco since last year and have been thrilled with their customer service and prices. Unlike crucon, they never tell me they have to work with other customers and will call me back...they stay on the phone as long as needed without any hint they need to leave, even if I inadvertently call, as I did once, just before they closed for the day.

Everyone has their favorite travel agent, it seems. And everyone believes they have a great price on their cruise. Of course it's really all about your individual comfort level with the rep you're working with for your reservation. In your case, I'm sure having crucon has a neighbor and knowing they contribute to the community would be a factor in favor of booking with them rather than a larger company (I'm making assumptions).

FWIW, I have three solo cruises booked for the next year. I've started cruising now that several cruise lines offer unlimited internet, even though it's slow, which means I am able to stay in contact with work. Costco has been great at rebooking me several times on a cruise next month as price drops occurred...each of which would have cost me $100 had I gone with Crucon.


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MULTIZ321

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...FWIW, I have three solo cruises booked for the next year. I've started cruising now that several cruise lines offer unlimited internet, even though it's slow, which means I am able to stay in contact with work. Costco has been great at rebooking me several times on a cruise next month as price drops occurred...each of which would have cost me $100 had I gone with Crucon.
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Ken,

Does that mean if one is booked on a cruise and a price-drop occurs, you have to cancel your reservation and rebook at the lower price?

Richard
 

Ken555

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Love to cruise and like to do it more than my husband. Do not really want to share a cabin. I cruise out of Galveston or Bayport in Houston. I do not want to pay double the cruise rate which the cruise line charges... So, was wondering if any of you have had a good experience with a travel agency that discounts solo rates. Last year I saw quite a few on "Vacations to Go"... but not this year;/!



Any advice is appreciated:)!


I'm occasionally traveling solo, and sometimes booking multiple solo cabins for friends, in the last year.

The sites I use to find great prices include cruisefish.net which I highly recommend. You can research current prices on most of the cruises there along with various prices, price history (though not all will show solo prices all the time), and you can pay ~$1 per cruise for email alerts when price changes occur (I paid $10 for 12, which don't expire) to watch as many cabin categories on a particular cruise that you want.

However, it is not all that common to find 0% solo surcharge and I would suggest that would be an unrealistic goal. To determine if a price makes sense to me, I simply take all the on board credits or other benefits ($75 dining credit, etc) and get a net cost per night. If the net cost per night is reasonable to me then I'll book. Cruises that return to their departure port appear to be more expensive than repositioning cruises and often stick to the 200% solo price until occasional last minute offers. So, I don't really care what the 2p price is pp since the deciding factor is simply one of comfort of the price I'm offered.

There are some great cruise prices out there. For Galveston, you might be interested in a repositioning cruise next month (http://www.cruisefish.net/finder.md?id_cruise=46708), if you have time, leaving from New Jersey. Solo inside cabins appear to be as low as $673 (though was $599 a week or so ago, per cruisefish). If you book via Costco, they'd probably also include $25-50 on board credit. Total cost would be higher, of course, because you'd need a flight to NYC and probably a hotel for one night, but still it's likely to be less than you would pay for a 7-night cruise out of Galveston.


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Passepartout

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Thoughts, re: Crucon & other agencies vs. booking direct-

For crucon I had a few reservations about using them, even though at times they reportedly have great prices. ....

I've been using Costco since last year and have been thrilled with their customer service and prices. Unlike crucon, they never tell me they have to work with other customers and will call me back...they stay on the phone as long as needed without any hint they need to leave, even if I inadvertently call, as I did once, just before they closed for the day.

Everyone has their favorite travel agent, it seems. And everyone believes they have a great price on their cruise. Of course it's really all about your individual comfort level with the rep you're working with for your reservation. In your case, I'm sure having crucon has a neighbor and knowing they contribute to the community would be a factor in favor of booking with them rather than a larger company (I'm making assumptions).


We've booked a few through Crucon. It seems they pre-book blocks of cabins when the cruises are announced. These are not necessarily the prime cabins on a ship. They DO charge to cancel and re-book at a lower rate. However they do seem to have some attractive perks when booking through them. You just have to weigh all the options.

We really like a particular agent at Vacationstogo.com. Donald Parcell seems to come in early (or work from home in his bathrobe) and is available late. He calls with answers to questions and re-books without cost if more attractive deals or better cabins become available. I happily recommend him.

Occasionally, only the cruise line has the cabins we want and that has paid off. Most recently, we booked at deep discount a Baltic cruise, only to find when we checked in that we were upgraded several categories to a suite with a butler and the works from just a middle-of-the-road balcony cabin.

Sometime the magic works.

We have no experience with Costco for cruises. Yet.

Jim
 

Ken555

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Ken,



Does that mean if one is booked on a cruise and a price-drop occurs, you have to cancel your reservation and rebook at the lower price?



Richard


From what I understand about crucon, yes. Costco doesn't charge that fee, and many other agents don't charge, either. However, keep in mind that this is just about the agent fees...the cruise line will also have their own cancellation/refund policy that increases over time starting about 75 days prior to departure.


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Ken555

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We've booked a few through Crucon. It seems they pre-book blocks of cabins when the cruises are announced. These are not necessarily the prime cabins on a ship. They DO charge to cancel and re-book at a lower rate. However they do seem to have some attractive perks when booking through them. You just have to weigh all the options.

I absolutely agree, it's worth getting multiple quotes. Unfortunately, the offers change over time. For instance, last year I booked with Interval (yes, Interval!) as they had a great price on the cabin I wanted and it was many months before departure. As prices changed at other agencies, Interval increased theirs and was no longer competitive. I canceled the booking with Interval and booked with Costco instead.

For myself, I don't care too much about where I am on the ship, though I do have preferences. I just got a quiet balcony on an upcoming cruise assigned to me as I saved a lot by reserving a guarantee cabin (which started as an inside, then I upgraded for a small amount).



We really like a particular agent at Vacationstogo.com. Donald Parcell seems to come in early (or work from home in his bathrobe) and is available late. He calls with answers to questions and re-books without cost if more attractive deals or better cabins become available. I happily recommend him.

I've heard great reviews of vtg, but when I tried calling it was like talking to a used car salesman who wanted to get to know every aspect of my life. Getting a price was like pulling teeth. I'll look at their site now and then to get ideas, but they lost me as a prospect last year.



Occasionally, only the cruise line has the cabins we want and that has paid off. Most recently, we booked at deep discount a Baltic cruise, only to find when we checked in that we were upgraded several categories to a suite with a butler and the works from just a middle-of-the-road balcony cabin.

Nice!


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dioxide45

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I get annoyed by fees to obtain price drops cancellation and also booking fees. We booked a cruise through United Cruises and they had a $24.95 reservation fee, when we cancelled they also had a $50pp cancellation fee. Though they did apply that to a new cruise when we rebooked. Though it wasn't without its trouble. When we tried to rebook a few weeks after cancelling, they said we had to book back on the same line, we argued that it wasn't what we were told and they gave in.

Now we almost always use Interval Travel (II). They don't charge any fees to book and have been great about getting us price drops when we call with no fee. If we see a better price through their site, we call them up, they call the cruise line while we are on the phone and in about 10 minutes we have the new price. We would give Costco a chance if we were booking something other than Carnival, which they don't sell.

We did have an issue trying to pay for a cruise balance with Carnival Gift cards, but now that we know how they work, and the fact we will stop using gift cards to pay a cruise balance, they will be our first go to for checking prices. They have beaten the cruise lines pricing on four cruises booked with them so far. They don't offer fancy incentives like OBC or half price deposits, but when the price is way better than the other sites that do, they still can't be beat.
 

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Off topic, but perhaps useful to some: did you know that Royal and Celebrity sell plastic luggage tags that hold their paper ones?

Cruise Critic sells them, too, and they have the narrow ones for Royal and Celebrity and the wider ones used by other lines.

We love having the plastic ones.
 

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Yes, I have talked to Diane at Crucon. I was able to get quotes from some other companies that beat them. They do seem nice. I am frustrated because I know the date (nov 15) I want to go on Princess to do kind of a fact finding cruise to see if we want to do a long Trans Atlantic on that ship. I prefer to book directly with the cruise line but not pay for 2 people etc.
Dixie, I'm a solo cruiser with Princess and they do have reduced single supplements on some cruises for a period of time (likely based on factors such as how well the cruise is selling) but unfortunately not the cruise you're looking at. I don't mind paying 100% supplement with Princess as long as the total price is reasonable since you'll get an extra cruise credit with their loyalty program. Also, Princess allows TAs to discount their prices so the price on Princess' site is the max price you should pay. I use Cruises-N-More (found thru Cruise Compete) which provides a discount but I hear that other agencies discount more than them as well as offer onboard credit (OBC) and other perks. Princess allows different types of OBCs to be combined. The web sites others have mentioned like Cruise Fish are also helpful so you don't have to keep checking the cruise line's site every moment in order to watch for price drops.
 
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