The family (3) is looking to book our first ever cruise, a 15-day R/T from LA to Hawaii on the Golden Princess (1/21/09) to celebrate our 25th Aniv. and the kid's college graduation. Though I've looked over info in brochures and online 'til my eyes have fallen out, being that we're totally new, and in the dark to this game, I cannot decide if I should book online or through an agent. As a longtime AAA member they seem to have a pretty good travel agency. But in looking online at sites such as Cruisedirect.com and others the comparative cost difference is significant, up to almost $800 in our case. That's a lot of soda & snacks on board and would cover our tipping. Are there many potential major problems that we may encounter going the online route? Is a good trip protection insurance plan available if I book online? What is the track record for customer service, and what else should I be aware of, with the online agencies? What sections here should I be lurking in to learn more about this process/experience? Geez, we haven't even booked yet and already so many questions; just wait 'til we really get rollin'!
Also, is a 14-day cruise too much of a chunk to bite off for newbies first cruise?
Thank you for your time.