Sale ButtonQ – Interesting site with good information and one really strong prejudice. We book cruises at least twice a year and we always use the online sites. While the folks we work with are order-takers, they always seem to have better pricing than the catalogs. If its cheaper online, that is where we are going to book. Your recommendation to use a pricey travel agent is just not good advice.

A – Even though there is no discernible question in your comments, we’ll respond briefly.

You are correct. We have a bias – but it is fact-based. You should definitely continue to book online, and intersperse your credit card information with questions about the current weather or traffic conditions in Mumbai.

We fully understand why you believe the propaganda you’ve been fed. As an educated person, you believe that call center order takers have you and your family’s best interests at heart. You believe that all of the top cruise lines have a business philosophy that would lead them to offer internet calling centers a much better rate on their products than professional travel counselors. You are looking for the best deal, the cheapest price. We know where the cheapest cruise prices can be found. They can be found by working with a part-time “agent” working out of her house, who is willing to rebate a portion of her commission. Have they been anywhere, do they enjoy a personal relationship with cruise line management, will they be your advocates when you need one? And how will you feel holding tickets that are issued by an “agent” who is underselling the cruise line’s pricing guidelines?

Sorry. It’s all a sham. Every top consultant gets exactly the same pricing. Every top seller of luxury cruises gets an official Guest receipt for every booking. All of the deals and discounts are clearly shown on that receipt. If your “agent” can’t produce a confirmation matching the price you are paying that is issued by the cruise line on its own stationary, book elsewhere. If they show you an invoice but say their price is different from what you have been given from the cruise line, book elsewhere. The official cruise line receipt matching what you are being asked to pay is your guarantee that you are working with a legitimate firm.

Yes, we have that prejudice. Too many consumers have been badly hurt by online transactions encouraged by offers available to every consultant but featured, erroneously, on web sites as “exclusive pricing”. It is always a lie. Any deal is available anywhere. You need to pick your travel consultant in the same way that you choose other professional advisors whose services you might require.

We know that you and the majority of cruise consumers will not take our advice. It is easier to believe the big pricing lie. Sorry for the lecture.