Celebrity Cruises doubled my fare without notifying me — who’s responsible?

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By | August 16th, 2016

Thomas Smith is taking a cruise, but he doesn’t feel like celebrating.

The vacation he booked through Celebrity Cruises cost him twice as much as he expected and he’s only getting half of what he was promised, almost literally.

While on board a Celebrity Cruise in June 2015, Smith booked another Celebrity cruise for the following year. He paid the deposit, received a confirmation and had Celebrity transfer the reservation to his travel agent.

When Smith tried to make his final payment, he found that Celebrity had doubled the price of the cruise and removed his onboard credit and promotional drink package.

Smith turned to his travel agent for help.

His travel agent said he had been talking to Celebrity, that it was a “difficult” company to work with, and he wasn’t getting much movement. So, the travel agent recommended that Smith call Celebrity himself for an explanation.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Why hire and pay a commission to a travel agent if you have to do the work yourself to solve a booking problem? And, as anyone who has ever used a travel agent knows, the cruise line will talk only to the travel agent, not to the customer, about the booking.

Smith’s case raises an important question: When you book through an agent, who’s responsible for the details?

The travel agent wasn’t helping Smith, and Celebrity wouldn’t talk to him either. Being between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Smith turned to our help forum.


The verdict of our forum advocates was unanimous: This was absolutely the travel agent’s responsibility to address, and the travel agent knew Celebrity wouldn’t talk to Smith.

Related story:   Here's why you always use a credit card when booking travel

Our forum advocates recommended that Smith be persistent with his agent, share the forum comments posted by other travel agents, and have his agent arrange a conference call between Smith, the agent and Celebrity. Smith did so.

The outcome of the conference call was that Celebrity restored Smith’s booking price, onboard credit and promotional drink package. Although it couldn’t be explained, Smith’s reservation in Celebrity’s system did not have a price guarantee. And, Smith found that the Celebrity representatives were not difficult. They were professional and courteous.

Smith is looking forward to the cruise. And he is happy about the resolution, and the help he obtained from our forum in achieving that resolution. But he’s not happy about having to do most of the work himself to obtain the resolution — he made the initial booking himself, and he corrected Celebrity’s pricing error himself.

Once Smith transferred the booking to the travel agent, he gave the agent control over his booking. Smith’s only hindrance in doing all the work himself was the recalcitrant travel agent.

Maybe Smith should find a new travel agent, and maybe Celebrity should pay him the commission, too.

Does Thomas Smith deserve the commission for his cruise?

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  • Dutchess

    I think transferring his cruise to a TA is probably what knocked the discount and promotional price for his cruise. Why would you transfer a cruise you booked directly to your TA? Also, why should a TA collect a sales commission for a product he didn’t sell. Or, perhaps the TA wasn’t getting a commission and this is why they was so reluctant to get involved. Either way, time for a new TA!

  • Tom McShane

    My guess is the cruise line added a new cast of Celebrities, like Potsie and Ralph or Lenny and Squiggy,

  • Annie M

    He should find a new travel agent or have Celebrity pay the forum advocates the commission that his useless agent should be getting. If I recall the forum post, one of the advocates even personally worked with the writer to try to get him help.

  • Annie M

    Because often the TA will give you onboard credits you wouldn’t be getting through the supplier.

  • Dutchess

    Precisely! This supports my idea why they would likely dump any promotional prices or drink packages when you transfer it to a TA. It would be double dipping. They’re giving a good price and package for booking direct, thus no commission. Sounds like someone trying to game the system for extra freebies.

  • jennj99738

    The onboard credits given out by the TA are from the TA’s pool. It’s not double dipping at all and is not “gaming” the system. It’s called responsible shopping. The cruise market is highly competitive. TAs do what they want to do to get and keep customers. TAs either pay for the OBC out of their commissions or are given a sum of money from he cruise line because the line receives a lot of bookings from that particular TA.

  • John Keahey

    What’s the agent’s side of the story? Or did you not ask?

  • MarkKelling

    OK, but since the TA didn’t really sell the cruise to the OP, what was in it for them? The cruise is already booked, giving incentives aimed at selling the cruise would not help the TA in this case.

  • Daddydo

    I think that you are more than incorrect on your thoughts. Transferring the cruise had nothing to do with the price variation. It was indeed a computer error somewhere along the line. There is most definitely a paper (and a computer trail, but a like paper in a file better) trail of where the change occurred. I am totally embarrassed by the travel agent’s response however. I would love to know whether it is a friend that is a part time “I bought a card so now I am an agent” or a full time agent in a store front with a real live office. In either case, I would be looking else where. If they were a member of ASTA or CLIA, I would report the agent / agency as not living up to their ethical responsibility. I make errors, but my clients never know it, they only pay what they are supposed to and never know what the agency does in the back ground. How to finalize this, big bottles of wine at the dinner table and a wonder welcome home card and 50% of the commission enclosed. Break even to keep the wonderful customer that GAVE you the commission.

  • Rebecca

    At an absolute minimum, I’m really hoping the forum TA that helped him at least gained a new customer. Just goes to show that the majority of people are actually good, and there absolutely is such a thing as good service.

  • jennj99738

    I don’t know exactly how it works. Maybe one of the resident TAs could chime in. The TA must still get incentivized by the cruise line for handling a transferred booking. Otherwise, there would be no point in it for the TA. I’ve transferred bookings. I got OBC for doing so from the TA.

  • Annie M

    It should not change the price and I don’t believe that is what happened. I think there is more to the story that we don’t know. I have never heard of a future cruise booked on a ship that isn’t price protected.

    And it is NOT double dipping – the travel agent gives any credits to the client out of their own commission.

  • Annie M

    I am betting the TA gives this client something extra, like an onboard credit.

  • FQTVLR

    I have booked on board with Celebrity and always transfer the booking to my agent. I have never had a price increase, though I have had price decreases which my agent has found and passed on to me. (And her commission is reduced as well.) Not sure where the problem occurred but I would certainly get another agent. This one seems more an order-taker than someone who is interested in helping his clients.

  • fs2013

    Yeah, but not Chatchie. I think he’s all booked up.

  • Wuerzburg

    yeah, like the 100,000 Hilton Hhonors points I got when I did a Travel Agent transfer.

  • Dutchess

    “I don’t think many of your realize even if you book with the
    cruiseline, you are paying the same amount of money for your cruise that you would pay using a travel agent. The cruise line simply makes more money from you because they are keeping the commission they would pay the travel agent.”

    No, we have no idea if the deal Smith got, or whether that pricing was available to TA’s. Perhaps they gave him a special price and package for booking on the ship direct with the cruise line, presumably saving the customer money because they weren’t paying a TA commission. There’s no reason a TA should get a commission for a cruise they didn’t sell, it seems unethical.

  • Dutchess

    I think a TA who tries to collect a commission for a cruise they didn’t sell is the real unethical behavior here.

  • JewelEyed

    If the agent didn’t to his or her job, I’d be wanting a chunk of what I paid the agent back (not that I’d ask or would know where to start figuring that out if I considered asking). For certain, I’d never use that agent again.

  • JewelEyed

    As Diane did not mediate the resolution, but merely encouraged the consumer to take specific steps to try to obtain a resolution himself, when exactly and how would Diane get the agent’s side of the story?

  • joycexyz

    Can you think of a good reason why the agent told him to straighten out the problem himself?

  • Lindabator

    No – they do NOT drop anything – we just may have even more perks, which the client is ALSO entitled to — but when this came in incorrect, a quick call would have fixed it. (I have picked up several new clients in this way, because they really wanted more assistance throughout)

  • Lindabator

    No – they get it passed thru, PLUS any perks the agency has in addition to that.

  • Lindabator

    True, but they would rather have us handle the booking, as we are supposed to ensure the ENTIRE trip goes smoothly, all necessary information is properly given, etc

  • Lindabator

    True – we do get the commission, as the cruise lines prefer a client deal with the agent moving forward (MUCH less time they have to spend with a client, and we can book any additional needs as well)

  • Lindabator

    You are correct! And as a travel consultant myself, I must say – get a new agent!

  • Lindabator

    Yes, we do. I have been an agent for over 20 years — the prices they give are the same whether you book direct or with an agent —- and they also pass thru additional price reductions, group rates and amenities to an agent, so you can usually double-dip and save even more, or get more value for the purchase. That is why they offer to transfer your booking to an agent, as it actually costs them less money an time not having to deal with the client directly

  • Lindabator

    Not at all — the cruise line knows that the standard booking onboard ends up in additional hours of talking to the client, whereas by passing it through to a TA ensures less time needed to work on the booking. And a good TA does a whole more than the cruise line will, or even CAN

  • Lindabator

    LAZY!

  • Lindabator

    You don’t pay the agent, the cruise line does — but yes, I would say dump this agent (and I’ve been a travel agent over 20 years!)

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    In any profession, there are lazy individuals. In sales, there are individuals that are only there for the commissionsincentivesbonusesetc.

    In this case, the travel agent was lazy and the OP should find a new travel agent.

    One time, my wife and I were talking to a travel agent. We presented a brochure about a tour to the travel agent…in front of us, she called the tour company and asked about the commissions…we got up and left. We understand that a travel agent needs to make a living but there was a better way (i.e. go to another room) to find out the commissions.

  • Altosk

    Sounds like y’all should publish the name of the agent so others can beware of this lazy do nothing loser.

  • SierraRose 49

    I agree Lindabator. We booked a Celebrity Alaska Land Tour/Cruise during our Panama Canal cruise. And yes, we told Celebrity that the new cruise was to go through our TA. As you can imagine, there were a multitude of questions associated with this trip. And I so agree – a good TA goes to bat for you if there a problems such as, promotional fare issues and special perks. We simply don’t book a trip of this nature that requires many details and many dollars without the services of a TA.

  • SierraRose 49

    Very similar experience when we booked onboard with Celebrity and transferred to our TA.

  • SierraRose 49

    Like excursions, transfers from airport to ship and visa versa, travel insurance, hotels pre/post cruise if necessary, flights to/from, making sure your passport is up-to-date and a dozens of other details that need to be handled. A good TA is a blessing, especially now that travel is more complicated.

  • MarkKelling

    Oh, I understand why the person taking the cruise would want a travel agent handling things, especially if the agent was one they used before and received good service from. Makes life easier (or it should).

  • Daddydo

    Many times, my clients book on board the ship. As agent of record the cruise line sends me the confirmation and then I prepare our incredible set of cruise procedures. I did not book the new cruise. I do take care of the client. We watch for pricing variations and do make sure that that the client comes first again, there is no answer as to what kind of agent this was. We earn our money, did he? You keep saying that transferring the booking caused it. No it did not. There are no benefits gained or lost in that transfer, simply an error

  • JewelEyed

    So, you never owe the travel agent for any of the actual work they do…? Seriously? Then why don’t people use them?

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