Thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate your time! Sorry I took so long to reply (moving our son to university).
I'm beginning to think you are so right about travelling at that time of year. I guess my number one priority was being able to use my air miles (a Canadian program) and hence the interest in the Carnival in Rio cruise. I have received quotes from two, quite different, travel agencies and they are EXACTLY the same. Checked the Celebrity web site and bingo, they ALL match. I guess I was just frustrated at hearing all of the "great deals" out there. I also never thought of the crowds. My family and I took a coach tour through Europe last August and the crowds! It was so much more pleasant going in past years in the quieter times and you actually get to see so much more. You also answered another of my questions----on line booking. I was interested to know if people had used them, which sites and with what experiences. I am, however like you, I do prefer to deal with a somewhat local trave agency. That said it took the TA at a Thomas Cook agency 8 days to get back to me with the quote. (that was after going in person and then calling her again after a week--I won't be using that agency)