It is very important to recognize several things as you consider holding your event on a cruise ship. First and foremost, booking a cruise to do a meeting or event is totally different than booking a cruise for a vacation. Many travel agents who have no experience or understanding of meetings on ships often times overpromise and underdeliver to clients and the results are not pretty. It is important to find an agency that specializes in meetings on ships to ensure the success of your event. Second, the cruise lines would love to work with you directly as it increases their profitability. Unfortunately, the big black hole that exist between cruise line headquarters in south Florida and the ship often leads to miscommunication, lack of follow through and changes that are never communicated to you. Having an independent advocate working on your behalf ensures things are taken care of properly and you don't have upset participants or you find yourself frustrated and angry onboard the ship because things are not going as intended. It does not cost you anymore for a professional planner than if you are booking with the cruise line directly unless you are adding non standard services or activities.
Perhaps the most critical issue is ensuring the selection of the right ship with the right facilities, equipment and itinerary that allows you to achieve your meeting objectives. Knowing the ins and outs of the cruise industry is essential to that. Planning a shipboard event is a labor intensive function and professional planners can make it very easy for you. If you want to do it yourself to save money, ask yourself the key question, "how cheap does a bad event have to be to be okay?"