Use a live TA.
I do, because it's always better to deal with a live person that you can look right in the eye. I call it the "Culpability Factor." Something goes wrong, you've got a live human to holler at.
Computers and telephones'll lie to you every time. No "Culpability Factor", y'see.
It'll take a while to find a good TA, (ask your friends and neighbors who they use) but once you've found her, (lady TA's are best) hang onto her for dear life.
Here's something you might try. If your TA books you on a cruise that you really have a good time on, why not show your appreciation to her with a "Thank You" card, or letter. Better yet, send her some flowers, or a small gift, or such like.
Good TA's work their butts off every day, and I'm sure yours would like some special recognition for a job well done.
Recommend that you always book thru a Travel Agent. The reasons are many, but are not limited to just the price although a good TA will almost always discount the cruiseline price. Just to make yourself feel better about this, get a price from Princess and then call a couple of TA's and compare the prices.
Always book thru a TA. If you need help with anything before, during, or after your trip, your TA will be much more willing and able to help you than the cruiseline. Also, IMHO, the cruiseline will be less than likely to give you the best deal, whereas a good TA will search out the cheapest possible fare for you.
Through a travel agent, definitely. The agent can work with you to find just the right "fit" in a cruise, a cruise line, and all the thousand details that go along with it. And the agent will help you should there be any glitches along the way -- and there are almost always *some* things that go wrong....or aren't quite right.
If you are concerned - get the price from the TA and then call the cruiseline direct on the same route and see which is cheaper. A lot of time the price is the same. The cruise line does not discount because you book direct. The TA's usually can find better deal depending on sailing and availablilty with maybe a group they already have going, a special price they got or any numerous discounts a lot of time the cruise line will not tell you about unless you ask.. If you don't know the right questions to ask - get a TA who does... Lori from the board is a good choice and many here have used her.. One requirement I think is important in a TA is one that has cruised a bunch and enjoys it - they will know so much more to tell you and to ask the cruise lines... Believe it or not - many TA's who sell cruises do not cruise! Debbie