ravelers using the Internet to plan a
cruise vacation will find a wealth of Web sites to help with
deciding on a cruise and comparing prices and even getting
advice from other travelers about shipboard life.
Yet most cruisers, particularly those embarking for the
first time, will probably end up relying on a phone call to a
travel agent before making a purchase, since cruise Web sites
only address travelers' most basic questions.
In terms of finding a cruise, there are dozens of sites
that let visitors search databases of information from
multiple cruise lines. They also handle booking and usually
offer phone numbers for customers who need more hand-holding
than the Web site can provide.
visitors can select a destination, the month they plan to
travel, the length of the cruise and a price range. The site
displays a list of cruises from multiple companies that fit
the selected criteria.
Surfers can select a listing to get more details on a
cruise, like information about cabins, but the descriptions
tend to be limited. For instance, the site lists ports of call
for each cruise, but does not give any description of what
there is to see or do.
works in a similar way, with a somewhat more user-friendly
search feature. You don't have to enter a price range, which
reduces the possibility of getting "no results" for surfers
unfamiliar with cruise pricing, and the site also provides a
bit more information about cruise itineraries.
A third site in this category, http://www.cruise.com/,
offers travelers a few additional search options, like the
ability to search for luxury cruises or sailings on a small
cruise line. Cruise.com also has a "let us beat your quote"
feature; visitors can submit a quote from another company to
see if Cruise.com will offer a lower price.
In addition to sites dedicated to selling cruises, online
travel companies best known for air travel — like Orbitz,
Expedia and Travelocity — have all recently beefed up their
cruise sections. All three sites let visitors search for
cruises by destination and tend to offer more detailed
information about each cruise. For example, Expedia lets
prospective passengers click on the name of a port of call for
a description of local points of interest and activities.
For those more interested in networking with other
travelers, a handful of sites like http://www.cruisemates.com/
provide articles on subjects like what to pack plus message
boards organized by topic and detailed reviews from travelers
who have cruised on various ships.