But the main reason for using a local TA (and I do have clients from all over the world) is for the same reason you get travel insurance. It is for those times you don't anticipate. Technology has allowed agents to operate from a virtual office from anywhere in the world. Building a relationship with one person either in person, or phone or email means you will be taken care of when a volcano erupts in Iceland, transportation goes on strike in Spain, or fog closes several ports along the Gulf Coast.
I don't know if I agree that's the main reason, but I do agree it's a GREAT reason!!! A terrific TA will also go to the bat with the cruise line if there's issues, and can climb the ladder to the right person faster, and have more clout than the individual. It's called service, and there's certainly enough competition in the business these days that you can demand it!
I have used the Nordstrom versus K-mart analogy before to some people's chagrin when talking about the fact that I charge a consultation fee before beginning to do research on a particular cruise. You can buy the same perfume at both places yet you will pay more at Nordstrom. However people are not buying perfume at Nordstrom, but the experience.
That is just a terrible analogy! If the same product is available at a lower price I'd definitely
skip the name and save $. Oddly, for my last birthday my wife bought me a bracelet at Nordstrom. 3 months later the clasp broke, and I took it back to Nordstrom. Though they had an identical bracelet on display, and even though it was only 3 months old, all they would do is send the bracelet back to the manufacturer (in Greece) to be repaired, and that took 4 months. That was my only option.
If it had been Walmart they'd have either refunded my money, no questions asked, or offered the new bracelet from the showcase.
But the Dept. manager at Nordstrom was very well dressed, and felt very proud of his position at Nordstrom, and Nordstorm's position of "backing" what they sell.
To get back on topic, I highly recommend using and forming a bond with a great travel agent.