If you have ever had the yearning to go on a cruise, you are probably aware that there are many different websites that advertise and sell them. Of course, you can book directly through the cruise line, but sometimes you can get a better deal through a third-party travel agency website. Every website makes each cruise look luxurious and advertises that you just cannot miss out on them, but since various websites all offer different deals, features, offers, promos, and so on, it can be hard to know which site to book your cruise on. Saving a spot on the best ship shouldn’t be hard, though, because Expedia is always the cheapest place to book a cruise.
Expedia is consistently the best, and cheapest, place to book a cruise because it is an established, well-respected company that has kept up-to-date with the latest technology as well as tracked consumer trends so it knows what you want. It also has such tremendous buying power that they can afford to give big discounts to customers and still make a profit. Expedia was founded in 1996 by Rich Barton, who would go on to establish home-finder giant Zillow along with Glassdoor, which is one of the most respected company review and job search platforms. A lesser-known fact about Expedia is that it was initially a division of Microsoft before it became a separate company. The company has since acquired other major travel companies such as Travelocity, Hotels.com, Orbitz, and Hotwire.
Expedia prides itself on being a top choice for an online travel agency, stating it has helped customers book getaways to over 2,100 cities and 220 countries throughout the world. Expedia doesn’t even just consider itself a travel company; instead, it describes itself as a “tech company that does travel,” even investing over $850 million annually to improve its technology. Therefore, you know Expedia was created and is maintained by a team of tech-savvy, legitimate professionals.
First of all, one massive bonus with Expedia is that the website also offers flights, hotels and room/vacation rentals, rental cars, and activities. This makes booking your cruise much easier, as most people have to fly to the city of departure and possibly stay at a hotel for a night or two depending on travelers’ plans and preferences. Bundling all of your travel plans together can save you an enormous amount of time and stress and also eliminates having to keep track of numerous different confirmation emails and plans.
Cruises normally stop at various ports, so Expedia’s “Things to Do” feature allows travelers to both book their cruise plus activities they want to engage in at the stops, if applicable. Everything from museums to outdoor activities are included, and oftentimes Expedia offers steep discounts on tickets and vouches for them. Of course, this saves money, but it also gives travelers an idea of what they can see or do when they deboard the cruise ship, which is useful for people who have never been to their destination(s).
Expedia has a “My Trips” tab where you can view and manage all of your plans in one spot, making traveling less of a hassle. Best of all, Expedia works its technological magic to assess what routes and itineraries would save you the most money and provide you with plenty of options.
Expedia’s ViewFinder also does an excellent job of offering advice, tips, and tricks for cruise customers, including cruise ship recommendations, on-shore advice, and things to know about specific cruise destinations. ViewFinder also has links to specific travel inspirations as well as the option to browse within your personal interests and find the cruise and destination that might be best for you.
How Expedia Offers Lower Prices
Expedia aims to find customers the best deals, and it truly can be cheaper. As mentioned, a cruise-goer’s travel experience may need to include a flight to the city the ship is departing from and potentially a couple overnight stays depending on the arrival/departure times. Expedia offers deep discounts, with some last-minute bookers getting up to 83% off! The ease of browsing the site and playing around with dates and plans can truly save travelers hundreds or thousands of dollars, so if you are longing to take a spontaneous cruise, be sure to make use of the last-minute deals if possible.
There are a few reasons why booking a cruise with Expedia is often cheaper than booking directly with a cruise line:
- They might sell cruises less than cost knowing that there’s a good chance you’ll book additional add-ons like a flight or hotel or rental car to make money on.
- Expedia makes a commission from cruise lines on every cruise they sell. They may pass on a portion of this commission to consumers. And since Expedia is so large (so many people book through them), they have tremendous leverage when it comes to negotiating commission terms with cruise lines. And since they make more commission on each sale, they can afford to give away a larger portion of their commission to make cruise prices lower for consumers.
- They can offer specific discounts. Expedia regularly negotiates with cruise lines to allow them to sell certain cruises at a discount. The cruise line may not want the lower fare broadcast too widely, so only one or two online travel agencies are given the discounted rate.
Expedia is also very transparent about capacity and rates when users are booking their cruises. In most situations when applicable, the website will tell users exactly how many rooms/suites are left on the ship at given price points.
Flexible Pricing Plans
Sometimes, we need that on-sea vacation but just can’t afford to drop all of our money on it at that time. Expedia kindly offers two alternative payment plans, which include a monthly payment plan and a “Book Now, Pay Later” plan. The monthly plan allows you to make a set monthly payment towards your trip, and the latter plan lets you pay later meaning you don’t have to panic to scrounge up the money for your trip.
Attractive Member Rewards
Expedia also offers a rewards program for members, providing cruise-goers and other Expedia users with points that can be utilized for future travels and/or activities. The company reports it has over 24 million active rewards members from 32 different countries throughout the globe, and members report it is one of the greatest features of Expedia overall.
The program is free and features three tiers – blue, silver, and gold. Regardless what tier users are on, they receive two points for every dollar spent. Users also receive an additional point for every $5 they spend on flights and, in most cases, Expedia lets you gain credit/debit card points if you are eligible through a specific airline’s rewards programs (e.g., Southwest RapidRewards).
More specific to each tier level, blue reward members save 10% on cruise reservations and a hotel price guarantee for those needing to book a room for a night before or after the cruise departs or arrives back. After spending $5,000 OR book a 7-night hotel stay, members are promoted to the silver tier, which gives an additional 10% on reservations and other freebies that may include things like VIP access or free breakfast. Spending $10,000 or booking fifteen hotel reservations in a year bumps Expedia members up to gold level where they receive the same benefits as blue and silver tier members but also get an additional 30% of points on reservations and can get VIP-status at hotels where it is applicable.
It is also worth it to download Expedia’s nifty smartphone app, as travelers can save money and/or get 2x rewards just by booking their cruises or other travel plans on the app. Plenty of customers use this offering too – in fact, the company reports that 1 of 3 bookings in 2019 was done via the mobile app.
Expedia also partners with certain credit card providers to allow travelers to use their credit card points. For example, Citi ThankYou card holders or American Express Membership Rewards members can book cruises on Expedia using their accrued credit card points – users just need to connect their cards to their account and are given the option to make use of those hard-earned points.
Of course, the hope is that all of our vacations will go smoothly, but sometimes this isn’t the case. For rare travel snags, Expedia offers trip insurance for all bookings, which includes cruise insurance. Users who are bundling flights and hotels with their cruises can cover their entire trip with a travel insurance policy instead of having to purchase travel insurance for each component of their trip. Of course, potential cruisers should read all fine print thoroughly and know what is covered and what is not.
Help and Customer Service
There is a very useful Support feature on Expedia’s website where users can select relevant options and be directed to answers to their questions. The database is extensive and has answers to all sorts of different questions regarding booking and specific travel advice. Expedia has recently made upgrades to its customer service methods as well, adding a convenient chat box that connects travelers with a virtual agent for those not wanting to speak on the phone. Of course, customers can also call 1-866-316-0357 (toll free) to speak to an agent.
Because of everything from the history of Expedia to what it offers and the deep discounts you can find on cruises, you should absolutely always use it to book your seafaring adventures. Unlike many other cruise booking services, Expedia can also help you with other travel including lodging, flights, and activities, so if you’re looking to have your itinerary all in one place and get great discounts and plenty of travel options, definitely use Expedia for all of your cruise bookings.