You will still be able to book either Carnival excursions or independent excursions ahead of time. A good travel agent should be well informed on both. You will not be able to talk to someone at Carnival once you book through a travel agent, but the travel agent will serve the same function. A travel agent also has more pull with a cruise line than you ever would when problems arise. Remember, they will sell many more than just the one cruise you bought so that gives a travel agent priority. Travel agents even have their own direct hotline to the cruise line. If you want to look at the front page for the Carnival travel agent site you can go to bookccl.com and you will be able to understand some of the things a travel agent can do for you that a PVP cannot. I can give further advice on how to deal with travel agents through pm if you like. I won't really get into it on the main board because of the complexity of it and it would be easier to answer a direct question. I know some on this board may see this as an incorrect approach, but as a travel student myself I know there are many problems that require a direct answer.