As I said, Carnival tried this same approach several years ago and it didn't work for several reasons. First, their sales went down. While they thought they could try to circumvent the agents and make more money, the opposite happened. Also, they were getting more calls to their Call Centers and passengers became extremely frustrated because the people on the other end of the phone were more interested in making the sale than in providing a service and answering all the many questions people have, especially first-time cruisers. An agent will not hesitate to spend time helping the client understand all the ins and outs of cruising. We'll spend an hour or two with them answering all their questions and talking to them about the various ports. Whereas these people in the Call Centers have never been on a cruise and know absolutely nothing about the ports. Their job is to sell - nothing more.
Which brings us to the number two reason; their Call Center staff became overwhelmed and they could not answer alot of the questions. This caused alot of complaints from passengers and lost sales due to frustrated clients, so they had to hire more staff and more supervisors. And those who were tasked with helping clients with problems became even more overwhelmed and it caused a downward spiral. Even those who thought they could just simply book directly on Carnival's website and bypass all the drama encountered problems and frustration not previously realized.
So thinking this strategy will make it better for passengers or that nothing will change for those who don't use agents could not be further from the truth. As proven in the past, eventually it will have an impact on everyone and not for the good of anyone.
And third, they lost sales due to clients listening to their travel agents and booking with other cruise lines.
They eventually realized their strategy was causing more problems than it solved as well as damaging their reputation. Even long-time loyal customers were going elsewhere. Carnival learned there is more to the bottom line than just looking at the dollars.
My personal belief is that they feel the current environment has changed and they can now try the same strategy again and expect a different outcome. I think eventually they'll again realize this is a bad strategy. It's amazing how bad press can have an impact on things, so it'll be interesting to see how things play out this time and how long it will take them to realize that this new strategy is as bad as the last time.