Letters to the Editor: Feb. 23, 2009

Even if you love cruising, it's clear that land products pay a lot better

A classic example of the cruise lines' noncommissionable fees compared with all-inclusive noncommissionable items is my land-only, all-inclusive package to Paradisus Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic using Travel Impressions as the wholesaler.

The total package price for four nights was $2,568, of which $44 was noncommissionable. This means that my commission was based on $2,524, or 98.3%.

I priced out a Carnival cruise on the Conquest out of Galveston for price comparison and NCFs. The cruise-only cost was $2,649.82, with $409.82 being noncommissionable.

This means that my commission would be based on $2,240, or 84.5% of the total cost. It is clear to see that the all-inclusive land package puts more money in my pocket than a cruise does.

I love cruising, and I sell quite a bit of Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

However, the real money that helps pay my bills and allows me to stay in business is not from the cruise lines but from all-inclusive land packages.

It is also easier to increase your commission level when one tour company is able to book the majority of your land packages compared with having to establish commission levels with each cruise line separately.

Preston McKinney
Odyssey Travel
San Antonio

Is ARC really mending its fences, or is this just a big PR campaign?

This is simple.

The six major U.S. carriers that have worked diligently to destroy the travel agent in oh so many ways are the owners of ARC. Do you actually think they want to mend the fence ["ARC tries to mend fences with agents," Feb. 9]? Or do they just want to do some public relations repair work?

I do not now, nor will I ever, trust ARC. They have been totally one-sided since I entered this business 26 years ago. Why the sudden change?

I think it has something to do with revenue and the dropping numbers in their processing.

So they now are looking to "move the needle to neutral territory." That statement alone tells you they were totally one-sided all along.

Be careful, my fellow agents. Once ARC opens the dialogue and learns exactly what would make us remotely happy, they will (mark my words) drop the ax.

My skepticism is backed by years of one-sidedness from both ARC and their airline owners.

D. Bourassa
[Name of agency withheld by request]

This 'Santa and sausages' cruise was a fine experience in every way

I loved Richard Turen's column "Santa and sausages" about his Christmas cruise on Viking River Cruises [Reality Check, Feb. 9].

I, too, was on my first river cruise; our ships would have passed in the night. Ditto, ditto, ditto on the Christmas markets, the beauty of Germany and Austria and the uniqueness of the river cruise experience.

I, too, was dropped off in front of the ship by a taxi, but the crew was on me in seconds. (And oh, yes, it was so cold outside!)

Our first dinner was surf and turf, and it continued like that all week. Our wine flowed at dinner and was included.

I never heard conversations through the wall, thank goodness, as the next cabin had my two teenage kids. I was on AMA Waterways, a very enjoyable, all-around upscale experience.

Oh, how I wish Mr. Spock could beam me back to that potato pancake booth in Nuremberg.

Linda Androlia
Sunstone Tours & Cruises
Malibu, Calif.

Reason for debit memos? Could it be Delta's greed?

I read your article about Delta's non-response to debit memos ["Delta says no to debit memo talk," Feb. 16]. We are experiencing the same problem.

First off, our agency is very diligent on queues in Sabre. We make sure we get them done. We are getting debit memos and feel there is no reason except that the airline wants to make more money.

Bethany Benes
Ada Travel Services

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