Why not use a travel agent who specializes in cruises? That's what I do. An agent doesn't cost you any more than if you booked direct with the cruise line, plus an agent may have blocked out group space which can actually offer you savings and some perks that are not available if you book directly.
If that were true, then cruise boards such as this one would not exist. I'm sorry if you've had a bad experience with a Travel agent. But people have bad experiences with any profession. Realtors, Doctors, Lawyers, Mechanics, etc. It doesn't mean you should then do it yourself. Just because someone has a computer doesn't make them a travel agent. No more than having a first aid kit makes you a Doctor. Travel agents have a wealth of knowledge about cruising. They keep up to date on all travel related matters. That means passport requirements, Visas, State Department warnings, and even quirky rules of Canada that may prevent you from entering the country. Travel agents know the different cruise lines and which ones will be better fits for different clients. They know which ships, itineraries, and length of cruises are best for certain people.
Most people that book on the internet look at price only and "cheap" is not always better. A cruise lines reservation agents goal is to make a sale and get you booked as quickly as possible. They aren't going to explain in depth the answers to all the questions. And they certainly aren't going to tell you if one ship is the wrong choice for you, or even if their cruise line is a wrong choice for you.
As for something going wrong, a travel agent is your best advocate.
Originally posted by Detroit Mark:
Book it yourself and have control and authority to speak for yourself if something goes wrong.
Not sure if that is a solid bit of advice. You'll have a lot less "control and authority" over something going wrong than a TA would. I have booked many cruises for myself but lately have been booking via a travel agent. If something DOES go wrong with the booking they know who to call and how to get tot he correct people to help correct things. Ever try to get a PVP to help you change something or fix something on a booking? Unless you have a very experienced PVP, they are not very helpful and sometimes you can get the big run around.
Case in point- a mis-applied final payment. If you are flying solo, you will most likely lose your booking if you forget to pay your final payment or something goes wrong with the credit card etc... the cruise line will more likely work with a TA agent to correct the payment issue than a person booking it on their own.
My travel agent knows me and my preferred cruises, the types of cabins I prefer, where I prefer to cruise out of etc... with RCCLs cruise planners, you get a random agent every time you call them. There is no personalized service.
If you were paying extra for a TA I could back you on this, but for no extra cost to you, why wouldn't you use a travel agent?
Please don't take the analogy so literal. It's a point to make people realize there's more involved than what appears on the surface. For some people their vacations are something they save a long time. That shouldn't be taken lightly by playing on the computer. Enough said.