Best Cruise Booking SiteReviewAdvice

Best Cruise Booking Site for 2016

What is the best site to book a cruise?

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Best Site to Book a Cruise

Cruises are no longer the unattainable, upper class dream vacation that they once were. Of course, the price you pay depends on a lot of factors including what part of the world you are cruising around, what time of year you plan on departing and how far in advance you book your cruise. If you book a cruise during the right time in the season, a cruise is surprisingly affordable.

When it comes to destinations, cruising the coastal waters around the US would most likely be cheaper than a faraway cruise around the Mediterranean, at least in terms of overall costs. However, sometimes when is more important than where in saving money on cruises, and the availability of cruise websites allows users to compare packages across cruise lines.

Best Cruise Booking Site: What to Consider

  • Check back often. Last minute deals may get booked quickly.
  • Check multiple cruise websites. Don't confine yourself to just one. Different sites may have different promotions. Checking multiple sources will give you more accuracy.
  • If all else fails, make a phone call. Talking to real people and asking for discounts is a good way to get a deal that isn't available online.
  • Read the fine print. Prices you see will probably be based on per person rates for two person occupancy or more.

Look for a good deal during non-peak times like during fall and winter months. These are popular ships to cruise on so the prices will just go up as it gets closer to departure. On older ships or in closer destinations, cruise lines may offer amazing last minute deals to try and fill empty rooms.

You can save money by comparing deals on cruise websites. This will allow you to see the best cruise lines in your destinations and it will keep you informed as to who has the best available packages at any given point.

The Best Site to Book a Cruise

Orbitz Cruises Review

  • Pros
  • User-friendly site
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Excellent search tools
  • Available resident discounts
  • Interesting loyalty program
  • Cons
  • Fees for cancelations

One interesting feature in their search tool is the ability to look for local deals. If you live near the departure point of certain cruises, you can enter in your postal code and find special resident deals. If you don't live near your point of departure you can also use Orbitz to book rental cars and flights to get you to your ship.

Orbitz has a loyalty rewards program in which you can earn Orbucks which can be beneficial if you use the site often.

However, you cannot find packages of cruises and flights and cars like you can with hotels. In fact, you can't even run simultaneous searches so you can find a cruise and flight that will get you there at the same time. Though, it would be nice if you could search cruise packages similarly to way you can search hotels on Orbitz, this is a small inconvenience that is common on travel sites. Plus, you can easily search for them separately.

Also, if you cancel your trip or make changes you may incur some hefty fees.

Verdict - Superb

Orbitz is an excellent site to look for a good deal plus features like rewards programs and a comprehensive search tool make it worth using often.

Bookit Cruises Review

  • Pros
  • User friendly site
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Very informative site
  • Available resident discounts
  • Cons
  • Subject to cancelation fees

Bookit is another top travel site that offers deals and comparisons of everything from rental cars to hotels. Their most stand-out quality seems to be the wealth of information they provide. For things like, hotels they even have video tours so you can see the place that you will potentially stay. For cruises, they include profiles on the different cruise lines and specific cruises. For instance, if you want to take a specific cruise of the Caribbean with Norwegian Cruise Line you can read both expert and customer reviews of that cruise.

Bookit's cruise page has a wealth of deals as well as information. Timely last minute deals scroll across the page and a list of more bargains can be found below. When using the search tool, Bookit will highlight special resident rates if you live near the place of departure and returning rates if you've travelled with a specific cruise line before. Bookit also has "cruise consultants" that are available 24/7 by phone.

Cancellations are subject to fees, which vary in cost but aren't typically outrageous.

Verdict - Great

Bookit's cruise section has good deals and great information packed into it. There are some cancelation fees so think before you book.

Priceline Cruises Review

  • Pros
  • User friendly site
  • Good mobile app
  • Exclusive offers just for booking
  • Good customer service
  • Easy to use search tool
  • Cons
  • Name Your Price tool is not for cruises

Priceline has a great search tool that connects you to the best deals so you can compare and find the best one. One of the most interesting features on the site is the Name Your Price tool, which unfortunately does not work for cruises. Instead, you can take advantage of special deals and promotions that they tend to offer.

Like some other cruise booking sites, they are so confident in their prices that they offer a guarantee. However, instead of matching a better price you may find, they will give you a 110% refund (if you find the better price within 48 hours of booking).

Priceline has a handy mobile app and can help you search and book what you need on the go. If you need flights or a rental car to get to your cruise you can also search them using Priceline.

Verdict - Very Good

With a great search tool and mobile app it is clear that Priceline is among the top travel sites for a reason. Unfortunately, one of those reasons is their Name Your Price tool which doesn't apply to cruises.

CruiseDirect.com Review

  • Pros
  • User-friendly site
  • Price guarantee will match deals you find on other sites
  • Focuses on cruises; no other industry gets in the way
  • Quick and easy comparisons
  • Cons
  • No way to book other things like cars or hotels

If you are looking to book a cruise in a simple and straightforward way Cruise Direct is a good place to start. They work exclusively in the cruise line industry, unlike many other top travel websites, which is a big advantage for anyone who doesn't want to search through travel sites with a larger focus. As the name suggests, the site allows you to easily and quickly connect to cruise deals. As soon as you visit the home page you fill out a simple form and you can be comparing cruise prices in seconds.

Cruise Direct's goal is to make your cruise vacation begin when you start planning. To accomplish this they focus on a user-friendly experience and easy ways to find good deals. They even have a guarantee that they have the best deals available. If you book a cruise and within 24 hours you find a better deal on another site, they will match it.

Since this site is completely focused on cruises, you will have to go to other sources to book a complete trip if you don't live close to your departure port.

Verdict - Good

The site is simple and user friendly but the fact that CruiseDirect.com deals with only cruises can be a gift and a curse. It's all you need to book a good deal on a cruise but if you need car rentals, hotels or any other facet of travel you'll have to look somewhere else.

Expedia Cruises Review

  • Pros
  • User-friendly site
  • Helpful My Scratchpad tool
  • Section devoted to last minute deals
  • Easy to use search tool
  • Cons
  • Cancelations may not get fully refunded after 24 hours

Expedia is another excellent travel site that offers user friendly searches of travel related things like flights, rental cars, hotels and cruises. One unique feature on this site is their My Scratchpad tool which allows you to save notes you take on different searches. This makes for very comprehensive price comparisons so that you know you are getting a good deal.

They also have a handy "Last Minute Deals" tab on the cruise search page that shows you a list of cruises that have dropped prices in order to fill up rooms before departure. This can be good for anyone who has decided to go on a spontaneous vacation or a weekend getaway.

Expedia guarantees refunds much like some other top companies. However, the guarantee is forfeit if you make changes or decide to cancel after 24 hours of booking

Verdict - Good

The Last Minute Deals tab and My Scratchpad tool are a great way to stream line your search for a great deal but make sure you won't have to cancel or you may not see a full refund.

Best Cruise Booking Site Recap

Finding a good deal on a cruise is easy if you take full advantage of the resources at your disposal. You don't have to pick just one cruise website, the more of these top sites you use, the better your chance of finding a great offer.

Best Cruise Booking Site FAQs

Do I need my passport on a cruise?

The need for a passport depends on where you are cruising. Typically it is a good idea to carry a passport whenever you leave the U.S. but there are a few exceptions. When you are entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean by cruise, you can also use identifications like a passport card or an enhanced driver's license. If you are on a cruise that starts and ends in the same port, you can simply use a government issued photo I.D.

However, whenever you enter the U.S. by air you will need a proper passport. If during the course, of your cruise you have an emergency that required you to fly back to the states you will need your passport with you.

How do cruise sites list prices?

When you compare cruise prices it is important to know how a specific site lists their prices. Each site is different so it is best to read the fine print before you book. If one site's prices seem much lower than another's, it may be because they are listing differently.

Generally, cruise sites list their prices per room, per person. That means they will take the cost of a room throughout the whole trip and divide it by the number of people the room can hold. If you book a two person room the listed price assumes that two people will pay that price. This means that if you are traveling with your family you should expect to pay more than what is listed.

Also, some sites may not include taxes while others do.

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In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.