Sandy.. Great reply I couldnt agree with you more.
Carlalena.. Yes those internet sites are great for someone who has traveling experience, BUT..and this is a large BUT..I have spent countless hours helping booked clients straighten out the reservations they have made through these internet sites. Anyone who is new to cruising should definetly use a TA since a TA is experenced in qualifying a new client to the correct cruise. Some people are looking for price only...and they book that way but the ship was not for them. One would have to know what each ship offers for those in their traveling party...we wouldn't put a senior who is looking for a quiet laid back cruise on say a Carnival or Royal Caribbean unless that is what they request. A good travel agent will qualify that client to the cruise that fits their requirements. Expedia and the other internet sites do not do this. Example: Recently I had a client who let me know that he was pricing only..he had never been on a cruise but he did state to me that he wanted to take his wife on a 10th anniversay cruise. Price was a factor, so inside was fine with him. I quoted him a price for a 4A guarantee on a Carnival based on what he was looking for. He told me he would call me back, he then called either Orbitz or Expedia and told them the same thing, they quoted a price which was around $40.00/pp less. He called me back and asked me if I could at least meet that price. I looked it up and guess what??? It was a 1A-bunk beds. I told him I could get him that same price, but I did not quote it originally since he stated it was his anniversary cruise. He again stated he would call me back, he called them back and questioned them about this...and yes it was a 1A. He asked why they would even quote that to him and they stated it was because he said he wanted the "cheapest" cruise. Needless to say, I got the booking and got him upgraded to a 5A so they would at least have a little sunshine.
So it is not always to the persons advantage to use an impersonal online agency when they can use a travel agent who is looking out for their best interest.
Just my $.02.