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As we enter another cruise "wave season"--traditionally the months of January through March, when cruise bookings are at their peak--we thought we'd ratchet up the excitement a notch with this showcase of cruising trends, deals, and juicy tidbits of insight that hopefully will pique your interest in a cruise vacation. After all, with the holidays behind us and a potentially long winter still ahead, you'll want something to look forward to--and what could be sweeter than the prospect of a week or more spent sailing along a string of balmy tropical islands, cocktail in hand and sea breeze on your face.
So, how do you go about choosing a cruise line? Interestingly, while about 40 percent of overall travel is booked online, only 7 percent of cruises are, according to one marketing company that tracks online travel activity. Cruisers, especially first-timers, rely more heavily on the services of a professional travel agent to help them navigate the complexities of cruise bookings, to say nothing of sorting through the reams of destinations, cruise lines, and individual ships.