Instead, travel agents maintain a much more significant role in the cruise industry than in other travel sectors. Travel Weekly found that 34% of cruise bookings were made through travel agents in the 12-month span ending June 2012. By comparison, only 9% of airline and 5% of resort hotel reservations were made through agents during that time. “We actually recommend that someone new to cruising doesn’t book directly through a cruise line,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, which provides cruise news, user reviews and research tools. “Most people have to ask a lot of questions—where they embark, do they come in a day early, … should they worry about getting seasick? It’s complicated.” Regardless of where they book, cruisers are spending increasing amounts of time with digital media as they plan their trip. A study conducted by TNS for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in April 2011 found that cruisers relied heavily on online information sources during the long planning window and did not exclusively seek out information directly from cruise lines; destination websites were more popular. And while many cruisers turn to travel agents to book, only 11% considered agent recommendations as a purchase influence. Get the full story at eMarketer