You did find a good place to start. You can post in the "bargain finder" here at Cruisemates and travel agents will e-mail you with what they have. I've had some great luck using this feature, hope it works well for you, like you said, its a good place to start, good luck:
If you are a COSTCO member call them. SAM'S Club has travel too. Via Costco (aka Price Club) I saved a bunch. For same cruise TA wanted $940 plus port charges. Costco was $828 including tax and port charges!
I cannot really recommend any ONE agency over another, and neither should anyone else, as you will find that what one agency may be cheaper and have a better deal on a certain cruise, another equally well qualified agency will have a better deal on another cruise. In other words, no agency will always be the best. Donna has given you a great idea as the Bargain Finder is a great tool. In addition you might also check with the major TA websites such as you find advertised here on Cruisemates. In addition check your local TA's and see what they can do for you. After you have all that info and the prices then you need to decied just who will give you the most for your money keeping in mind that the cheapest isn't always the best deal and the most expensive seldom is no matter what they offer. Just make sure you are comparing apples to apples and that all prices and costs are included and there are no hidden 'fees' and/or excess cancellation or change penalties which exceed thpose normally imposed by the cruiselines themselves. Additionally I can tell you that you can get a better deal 99.9% of the time through a TA rather than the cruiseline directly.
Jim and Donna's advice is right on the money. Do your research, on-line, contacting internet specialists listed on the many cruise sites and call a local agency who might also be a "big" producer for cruises. I "used" to always contact AAA, but have never had the best of luck with a)price or b) responsiveness to my exact request. I recently found I was not alone in my judgement. Personally, I still like my American Express agent who has met or bet the majority of my outside quotes. AMX as a corporation even refunds or credits with additional $$ on occasion during a promotion. Research is fun and you must feel comfortable with someone. Did they return and answer your call/questions?, Did they take something for granted that was not correct?, Did they supply you with the exact answers to your exact questions? That's one stickler for me. If I ask for a quote broken down and with and/or without air, don't total the amount!
I was surprised to see your comment about AAA...my husband & I have a t/a that we were very happy with, but were at AAA one day & saw their banners about a cruise sale, so we decided to wander over there & see wassup. See was so impersonal & so disinterested in what we wanted, I did not want to book w/her. Also, I saw no great savings there. Not to say that all AAA agents are this way, but it was interesting to see this was not only my observance...
SO needless to say, we scooted back to Mike, who is always very enthusiastic about our trips & always listens to what we want...he works hard to find us a good deal & is a very sincere & personable guy...with as much indifference there is these days, it enjoyable to find someone who sincerely cares about what makes you happy!
Hi: I would like to work with a TA but I am fearful that because I tend to explore many options before I book anything, (that includes land vacations too) that the TA will think I am not sincere and that I am wasting his/her time. Am I worng? I did our last cruise through Travelocity. I watched the baords and advertised prices and even contacted CCL direct. The price Travelocity gave me was the lowest I saw. There maybe other sites out there as well. Never looked at Orbitz.com but I might. Sure wish there was as TA I knew well (mine quite last year from AAA) that understood me. Bob