There are many and varried opinions on this subject here and elsewhere. It's a touchy subject as there are many agents here from different types of agencies. The Cruise-Chat rules prohibit solicitation so general responses are all you'll recieve. My advice is simply to shop for someone knowledgable about cruising and the cruise industry. Also someone who you like dealing with and who will answer your questions and ask you questions about your family, ages and lifestyle to get a feel for who you are and what line would best suit your needs.
After calling a speaking to a few you'll know if you're dealing with someone that fits you and your needs or if you have someone interested booking a cruise for their benefit. I'm not sure there is a right answer that fits everyone. With lots of choices and lots of great people in the industry you won't have to search too long to find a good agent. Good luck with your search, I hope you find someone that's right for you.
Neil has provided an answer that covers everything I would be looking for. The only other thing I would suggest is that you look at the CLIA website and search for an agent near you. CLIA is the association for professional cruise agents and is a good place to start your search.
My experience has been that the more complicated a deal sounds, the more likely it isn't going to end up the way you thought it would. I bought a new car a few days ago, from a dealer that had no rebates or special deals. He just gave me a good price for the new car and a good price for my trade-in. I could have gone to another dealer offering "$500 gas cards", "$2500 cash back", "you'll love the way we treat you", yada yada yada. In the end the result would probably be the same for me, so why get lured by the carrots? They rarely taste good.
Find a good agent or agency that you are comfortable with and establish a relationship. You can do this with people far away from you too...they don't need to be local. Ask about group bookings and you'll be amazed that the price may be the same as what you get from whatever.com.
Very good post Dave. I couldn't agree more. I remember a post on here a while back that was advertising free air from anywhere in the world with any cruise. Turned out, as we all knew it would, it was a scam. Most "come on" marketing is not a scam but a way to get you to call. If they get the phone to ring from whatever silly promo they run the marketing was effective. I've had numerous calls regarding the couon book and my agency is not even the one offering them, so it is effective. That doesn't mean its worth anything, just means whover came up with the marketing campaign did their job well. You could put "Go to Burger King and buy a Whopper, get one free" coupons in your cruise marketing and be legal advertising as coupons for free when you book a cruise. Whether such advertising is ethical is another story. I'm with Dave on this one. Gimmicks won't get me to dial your phone if I need my house painted, an electrician, a car or a cruise. I sometimes pay more for things than others do but have no regrets about it. I deal with folks I trust. If I don't know such a person and need a service I go with how they treat me on the phone or in person. I'll pay a little more to avoid situations where I have to read the fine print on a promotion.
About that car salesman...what impressed me the most was that he didn't treat me like a "mark". He respected me and treated me right. He also knew the product - everything about it. He knew that I probably had researched my trade-in value on the internet and told me so. So I had an upfront sales pitch from an honest guy, who wasn't trying to BS me. He spent 5 hours with us! And you know what? I'll buy my next car from him too. No gimmicks, just good people. That is something that always works with me.
Absolutely! A Travel Agent is just that, an Agent working on your behalf. They have access to the same deals and pricing that the cruise line offers directly. It does not cost any more to use one. They are often more knowledgeable about the Ships and Itineraries than the order takers with the cruise line. It always amazes me when I ask which ships the reservation taker at the cruise line has been on, and the answer is none.
One of my favorite quotes is ...
"A Travel Agent is an experienced traveler, a knowledgeable guide, an invaluable resource, a fulfiller of dreams."
Originally posted by FEB21:
addition to my previous post.
There are two different company.
FEB21, With future posts, please do not disparage one online company while praising another. It is close to the borderline of advertising. Thanks in advance for understanding our policies regarding this.