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All good tips! My wife and I are fortunate to have the pleasure in taking about eleven cruises over the past ten years. At first, we were going through a well known travel agency for all of our cruise, airline and travel bookings. That is, until realizing that all the research and pre-planning was being done right here at home (by us!). Seems that after we'd gotten our trip nearly planned, timed and priced, i.e., knowing various destinations, dates, routes to take, associated costs and accomodations, etc., we would hand over our findings to the travel agency who would then make whatever booking details to finalize our trip. Then we began to notice that the cruise line was crediting the travel agent with incentives. So, we recently thought we'd try something different by contacting online discount agencies only to find that what they offered plus what we could plan ourselves, provided the same product; a very nice 9-day Caribbean cruise. And we BOOKED IT (that was easy!). We even had a complementary bottle of wine waiting for us in our cabin. So this just shows that your own preplanning is important. So is monitoring your travel agent. If you believe you can do better, first contact them and if they cannot meet your expectations, do some research to find another. Thanks again for your posting.