That depends. There are dozens, ranging from some where the agent will take you thru the entire process, hold your hand, and answer dozens of questions, to at least one where you have to know exactly what your're looking for, and you'll never talk to a live person.
How much help do you need?
You are more than welcome to e-mail any poster with t/a info. In fact if Anna wants to e-mail me I can give her some info, plus the "bargain finder" is another good tool for finding cruises, etc.
Not true. We do not play favorites. There is not advertising allowed in the message board by or for any agency period. We also do not recommend any one agency over another as no agency will always be the best. If we allowed advertising or people to reply with direct links to questions like this agencies would soon place the original posts and then swamp the boards with information about their own agencies. Not right, not fair, and not going to happen.
But you do, in a sense, play favorites. You are allowed to refer posters to the Bargain Finder folder where you have "selected" agencies quote prices on requested cruises. We, on the other hand, can't reference another such website where agencies compete for cruise quotes. I would submit that those agencies that you select are being recommended by CruiseMates as your staff directs us to use the Bargain Finder.
The issue is really quite simple. This is a for profit, commercial web site, made available free to users by generating advertising revenue.
The value of the advertising to the advertisers is one of the aspects protected by the policies of the user agreement.
There's nothing sinister about operating a business, in a business manner. The site is monitored, not only to delete advertising, but to do the best we can to make certain it's a relaxed, friendly, reliable place to exchange cruise information and opinions.
If users find they aren't happy about the limits of the User Agreement, they're simply in the wrong place.
Anyone is welcome to create, and operate non commercial web sites, with equally as elaborate message boards, and allow all the free advertising they want to. There aren't many in existance! Why not? Because of the considerable costs involved in operating them and also the costs in making them known to the public !!!
The site always welcomes helpful and creative suggestions on ways the site can be improved. But directing the site to allow posts which cut into the way it supports itself, and makes itself available to the public, makes NO SENSE at all!!
Sorry, Kuki - I'm obviously not making myself clear. I'm not asking you to allow us to refer to specific sites. I understand why you don't want that and it's ok. I just want a level playing field - if we can't recommend an agency, then you shouldn't be allowed to either. Let the advertising do the job - not the CruiseMates staff.
I don't recommend any specific agents on the message boards. However, if people e-mail me I'll certainly give them my personal opinions. I would also post if someone asked a question about a specific agency, and I had any personal experience with that agency.
As to directing people to the Bargain Finder or Cruise Bazzar. It's no different than directing them to any other features available on the site.
Bargain Finder let's numerous agents bid on the cruise in question. No specific agents, and no recommendations. And it does give those interested a pretty broad crosssection to comparison shop.
And that's something I always recommend... shopping around for cruise pricing and service.. because no one ALWAYS has the best price!
I might add the when people place ads in the "Bargain Finder" ANY agency is able to respond and we at Cruisemates get nothing nor do we control who replies. It is up to the individual to choose. Sorry if you don't like the rules Peter but they are standard on any website like ours and even more strict on most. The rules are what they are.