The once booming travel agency industry has seen more than its share of changes over the past few decades. The ease of online travel booking sites and companies like Uber and Airbnb is steadily eroding travel agents' profits. Yet the industry is still alive and well. Many people choose to allow another person (rather than a website) to help them with travel plans.
There are always pros and cons to booking online versus booking through a travel agent . And since every situation is different, you always have to decide what you feel most comfortable with. However, when it comes to cruises, it's probably better to book them yourself. Find out why.
The case for travel agents
Be careful when booking a cruise through a travel agent. | Comstock / iStock / Getty Images
Make no mistake: we're not against travel agents in general. The industry has persevered despite all the changes, and that is very respectable. However, if you are specifically looking at cruises, there are some good reasons why booking online or directly through the cruise line is in your best interest.
Next: How most people book cruises
The ease of booking a cruise
First-time cruisers don't know how easy it is. | Makinwa / iStock / Getty Images
Booking a cruise is really not that complicated. And if you've ever been on a cruise or travel frequently, you probably already know the pros and cons of booking this type of travel . Apart from that, most first time cruisers go through travel agents anyway, not knowing that this is not their best option.
Next: The first reason why you should book your own cruise
The research is out there
Get advice from your fellow travelers. | Michaeljung / iStock / Getty Images
Websites like TripAdvisor and Expedia make it easy do your own research . Instead of talking to a travel agent, you can read hundreds or even thousands of reviews from people who have experienced the cruises themselves. If your travel agent hasn't participated in the cruise you're looking at (and often they don't), you may not get the answers you want unless you search online.
And since you want to do your own research anyway, you can also just book online once you've made your decision, especially if you come across a special offer.
Next: One major drawback to using a travel agent
You are limited to the opening hours. | Dima_sidelnikov / iStock / Getty Images
It is not always easy to find a good travel agency. Even if you find someone wonderful, you are always limited to their business hours if you have questions. If you book your cruise with a travel agent, you'll need to do all your communication with the cruise line through the travel agent. This can slow down the process and become frustrating.
These may not be deal breakers for you, but it's definitely something to consider, especially if you have a lot of questions and have no problem calling the cruise line yourself.
Next: why some travel agencies seem pushy
The commission puzzle
They may try to persuade you to upgrade. | iStock.com/Birute Vijeikiene
With the exception of airlines, Most travel suppliers pay a commission to the travel agent at the time of booking. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with making money this way, it could ultimately affect the travel agent's recommendations. For example, luxury cruises are more profitable For travel agents as non-luxury cruise companies, an agent may try to convince you to book one. If you are worried about being influenced in this way, you should book your cruise online.
Next: This tip is perfect for bargain hunters.
You could make an important deal yourself
You may be able to get a better deal yourself. | Michaeljung / iStock / Getty Images
Travel agencies can not always compete with what you can find yourself. Occasionally, cruise ships offer irresistible deals and special offers that are far cheaper than anything you can book through a travel agent. Likewise, online booking agents are powerful So you can choose the cheapest flights and cruise packages by adjusting your preferences. Remember to be careful when booking online. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Next: The only thing you need to book a cruise by yourself
These resources will help
Choosing the right cruise line is half the battle. | Fallbrook / iStock / Getty Images
The biggest part of booking your own cruise is definitely the research. Find out which cruise line is just right for you is important because it can make or break your entire experience. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to go online and find the Best rated cruise ships . And if you've made that decision, you're well on your way to a comfortable cruise.