January starts the busy season for cruise bookings, and I get many questions from cruise newbies about planning a cruise. I always suggest they find a good travel agent to work with in planning their cruise. Travel agents can give you the same price as the cruise line, and often will offer "extras" such as onboard credits to help make your cruise more enjoyable. In addition, if something goes wrong with either your cruise or the transportation to/from the ship, you have an ally you can contact to help.
However, finding a good travel agent who will work with you to select the best cruise possible is sometimes as difficult as finding a good doctor, dentist, accountant, or other service professional. The process for finding the agent who will book the best cruise for you is similar. This article discusses some of the services you can expect (and not expect) from a travel agent.