I used a TA for our first river cruise two years ago. She was a river cruise specialist and had been on river cruises on AMA and Uniworld so it seemed like a good idea. I picked out the cruise and she booked it for me. No problem. But... It drove me crazy to wait for responses from her. For example, I got free air on Avalon and I wanted to know if I could chose seats on the flight ahead of time. I emailed the TA and she finally answered after 3 or 4 weeks. I only had 2 or 3 questions but each time it took forever for a response. There were no price breaks or incentives with the TA either. This time I called Avalon and booked directly. If I have any questions I can just pick up the phone and call them. No waiting for weeks for a reply. I much prefer it this way.