Cruising is a popular option for couples, families, and friends looking for a vacation and adventure in one. Frequent cruisers swear by its convenience—you get to visit several destinations without the hassle of dragging your luggage to and from train stations and hotels. Don’t forget the all-you-can-eat buffet and abundant food onboard, ensuring you never go hungry.
But while cruises offer these benefits, booking a cruise vacation is also a bit more complicated than an old-school, land-based trip. There are more options to consider, and the prices vary greatly from one liner to another, including the type of ship, cabin, itinerary, and time of the year.
Cruises can be very expensive, or it can be well worth your hard-earned money. Much like airfare and hotel bookings, cruises also provide opportunities for big savings, if you know how to look for them.
What are metasearch engines?
Metasearch engines are search tools that scour third party search engines to provide results for the user from several resources. This way, the user is given much more information than when they are only searching on one engine or on the cruise line’s official website.
While they may be somewhat similar in nature, metasearch engines should not be confused with online travel agents (OTAs). OTAs promote hotels, destinations and cruises. Unlike metasearch engines, however, these online agents will require commissions from the cruises they promote for every person they book. Therefore, their prices are usually higher.
How can I save money with metasearch engines?
The cruise line’s official website will typically give you the brochure price, and perhaps some sales or discounts. Metasearch results will show offers from the cruise line, online travel agencies (OTAs), and other sites, giving you more options.
An advantage of using metasearch engines is that because cruise lines and OTAs know that they will be instantly compared to each other, they will be offering their lowest prices. If you want to have huge savings, go the metasearch route so you can easily compare cruises and prices, or check out the best cruises for family without breaking the bank.
Rates on metasearch results for direct cruise bookings might be cheaper than for OTA prices, because the commission fee for OTA rates is essentially eliminated.
Why use metasearch engines?
There are a lot of websites offering cruise deals, not to mention the cruise line’s official website itself. The price of each cruise as shown is not all-inclusive, as you still have to pay for shore excursions, specialty food and beverages, spa services, and gratuity.
Metasearch engines can give you more options for the type of cruise you want to go on for the price you want, and even the possibility of snapping up some onboard cruise credit you can spend on specialty services. Once you’ve decided on a cruise, you’re given the option of booking through the cruise line website or an OTA, depending on your preferred deal.
Another bonus of using metasearch to book your cruise is you can filter the results according to your preferences, including price, cruise length, cabin type, cruise line, and arrival and departure ports. Instead of setting your preferences for each website, you only do it once, on the metasearch engine, and it does the rest.
Booking a cruise doesn’t have to be complicated if you know how to take advantage of metasearch engines like CruiseCritic’s Find a Cruise tool. You’re going on vacation—stress shouldn’t part of the equation, even in the planning stages.