A better way to shop for cruises?

Do you think there could be a better way to shop for cruises?

if I want to buy a purse, I can go to any online store, specify the type, size, color, designer, etc, and see relevant options. But if I want to find a cruise for a family with 3 kids, with a kid program that will allow all of my kids to participate together, on a ship that has in-room childcare and wine-tasting classes, I'll have to do a large amount of research on my own.

If anything was possible, how would you want it to work?

15 Answers

It does make it difficult, but then again you must research the makes of the purses to be sure you are getting your value.

I think that most cruise lines that offer the kids' programs are rather strict with the age groups -- both as a matter of liability as well as being better able to offer targeted activities. Also, only a small handful of lines offer in-room child care.

If both of those items are negotiable, (and the youngest is old enough to enroll in the kids' program), I would suggest either Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Both lines are geared towards family.

one of my biggest complaints is its getting harder to compare apples to apples. The lowest advertised prices on RCCL and Carnival are comparing entirely different things because of Carnival 1A mini-rooms. But I guess there are now solo rooms on a few RCCL cruises and NCL too.

I figure that's what a good travel agent is. They should know about the different cruise lines and what each offers.

To clarify, I am not looking for a cruise for myself... I described the situation as an example.

I am a product designer, and I working on designing an interface that would help customers or travel agents make better decisions about which cruise to take.

I want to understand if this is something that cruisers and agents would find valuable, or if the tools that already exist are sufficient and no new tools are needed.

How would you access every cruise line everywhere? And assuming you could, you would have to employ a huge number of "filters" to enable an end user to custom craft a cruise. An admittedly poor example is the filters and selections used by certain online TIRE e-stores, wherein an end user inputs virtually every characteristic of the tire they want. Literally "finding" the perfect tire. Or online auto shopping tools, nationwide, are even more sophisticated. Of course, the data has to be made available, and something tells me many cruise lines wont cooperate. Which begs the question of how travel agents "select" a cruise for you, if you don't specify EXACTLY which line you want...

Hi Yankee47,

The data can be accessed by either by using existing travel solution tools (they are out there) or building your own database. I do understand that this problem is very complex. However I believe that it can be done - much harder problems have been solved successfully.

I think the question you asked - how do the agents "really" choose a cruise for you - is very interesting. What I want to accomplish is to give the user the tools and information to make the right decision - make that process transparent for everyone involved.

At this point, I am trying to evaluate if there is value in solving this problem - would it be useful to customers, travel agents and travel blogs to have a tool where you can shop for cruises like you shop for other items online.

If the answer is yes - then I can work on solving all the issues you brought up - avoiding too many filters, getting the cruise lines to cooperate, etc.

I think the answer is yes...however, I don't think I suggested limiting filters at all....If I'm spending 3k+ even "thinking" about a cruise, then I certainly wouldn't object to answering 20-30 questions to filter it down to one or two or three SPECIFIC choices. Matter of fact, by then, I'd be really curious to see what the infernal machine has chosen for us..On the other hand, I'd bet real money that a huge % of cruisers won't, or can't do that. That's what travel agents do. And that's one reason, ever since cruise one, way back in the day (and I won't say when that was heheheh) we've always done it ourselves...online research...sometimes calling the cruise line, mostly not.

The research is a lot of the enjoyment for me.

DH and DD give me carte blanche to book when I find a deal. I must've been a TA in my other life

In order to compare apples to apples, you would need to query every sailing for every line, then figure out the starting destination for every customer (some lines include free air, but not everybody requires it, or some may have to pay more than others for it), cost of each shore excursion (some lines include it, but not everybody uses it), cost of alcohol packages (although not everybody uses that), cost of each other perk that may or may not be included with some but not others and not universally desired.

For me, ideally, I would simply develop a spreadsheet and go site by site to get the information I would use, to find the best value (which is how Celebrity beat out Carnival for a 7 day Alaska cruise). I cannot think of an easy automatic way to do it, but it could be done. How much someone would pay for the service, though, I do not know.

Hi akaGrandmaJo,

How do you do the research? Which sites and tools do you use?

What is the the biggest hurdle in your research process that you'd like to change (if any)?

What do you like the most about doing the research?

(Sorry if that's too many questions...)

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