You're definitely doing the right thing with seeking advice of an agent. But in today's electronic environment, you really don't have to have one in your local area. For example, we have over 3000 clients worldwide and have not personally met the majority of them, but we do talk to almost all. So don't limit yourself to local agents. Plus, sometimes bigger is better, so if they are associated with national company, that can often be a good thing for you.
When trying to find one, make sure you ask alot of questions. You want someone you can trust and feel comfortable with. You want a Cruise Specialist; someone who has been on alot of cruises and speaks from firsthand personal knowledge.
I once met an agent while on a cruise who had been selling cruises for 20 years, but this was her first cruise!
While you're talking to a perspective agent, if they start recommending alot of things, run the other way. They should be asking you questions and helping you find the right cruise for you - not trying to sell you the right cruise for them. And they should never be in a hurry - they should be willing to spend as much time as you need and answer all your questions. Check out their website; is it professional looking while still being personal?
Again, you want somebody you feel comfortable with - someone who wants what's in your best interest.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
OK...can anyone recommend a great cruise specialist in general? One that is good at working with newbie cruisers?
So far we are probably going to need at least 3 cabins. We did give all our friends and family until the end of the month to decide if they are going or not, before we plan all of the final details, but I figure we can start at least looking for a TA and pick the cruise/ship we are going on...etc. Then we will have final rates that we can give out as well.