According to the cruise lines own rules it is suppose to be a level playing field. No one should be getting a better price by going direct to the cruise line.
The Travel Industry is a very cut-throat business. There is way too much competition. Not only do you have competition with the cruise lines taking direct bookings, and the big online gorillas; Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia. You also have competition with all the brick and mortar agencies, homebased agents, independents, 800# cruise companies like Cruise Planners, Cruises Only, Cruise Value Center, Vacations to Go, on and on and on. To make it worse, everyone wants to get in on the action and sell travel that shouldn't. Like credit card companies, all the airlines, department stores, Walmart, Costco, and Sam's. Too many people get in the business because they think it will be "fun" or for the "benefits". A true Travel Agent can work long hours, and get very little or nothing in return. A true Travel Agent is dedicated to getting certifications, attending seminars and conferences, doing web-ex training, and continuously reading trade news to stay on top of things. Today's travel industry isn't what it used to be.