Many ships, many options (photo: Rui Minas Agostinho)The popularization of the Internet brought with it a sense of independence, putting tons of information at every consumer’s fingertips. It didn’t take long for airlines, cruise lines and rail lines to put their offerings online. Since the ‘90s, people have been able to plan their vacations from the comfort of their living room, thanks to their computers. Of course with online travel bookings becoming commonplace, many people predicted the demise of the travel agent as a necessary part of the travel planning process.

Despite the convenience of online booking, I’m here to tell you that the travel agent will always survive. We provide a service that is still needed and wanted by many, if not most travelers. This is especially true in regards to travel via cruise ship. A travel agent is still a necessity and here are five reasons why.

1.  There is a whole lot of things to choose from. For me, deciding what to eat for breakfast can be a challenge. So when making decisions on something as costly and important as a vacation, you want to know you are making informed and educated decisions. That becomes a challenge with cruising because there are so many choices. There are dozens of cruise lines, each offering a unique style of sailing, even each ship has several types of staterooms all offering the traveler a different onboard experience. A travel agent is at the ready to help you decide between a category 1A or 1C, if you are a better fit on Celebrity or Princess, and they are there to help you find out if your cruise cabin can accommodate three people comfortably for example.

2.  Time is money. We live in a society where every second counts and you have to find time to meet the demands of your job, care for your health, keep your family happy, and make dinner on top of it all. A travel agency allows you to find a vacation assistant, someone who will listen to your needs and wants and weed through the myriad of options (see #1) to find you some great recommendations that fit you personally.

3.  We live and breathe this stuff. Travel agents know things you wouldn’t even think to ask about. Do you know about all the new drink package rules, or the difference between a cruise ship and a cruise liner? A travel agent that specializes in cruises does. Travel agents learn about their products and the destinations cruises visit, and most importantly they go on lots of cruises themselves, so they have loads of first hand experience.

4.  We’re connected. Travel agents know people, if you know what I mean. Travel agents partner with the cruise lines to offer exclusive offers, to find the best possible deals and to get the latest news on new ships, refurbishments and itineraries for each year. Don’t count on being able to find these exclusive specials on your own.

5.  We’ve got your back. With travel as with life, you just never know what could happen, so it’s nice to have someone in your corner. It’s nice to know you have a travel professional who can get on the phone and argue your case if something isn’t what it should be, or who you can call to make you some last minute arrangements.

So why do you, or don’t you use a travel agent?

Erica Kritt works at The Cruise Web. The Cruise Web is a travel agency that specializes in cruising. The expert cruise consultants focus on providing travelers with the best value for their time and money in finding and booking a cruise vacation! Visit The Cruise Web for the best Mediterranean cruise deals.