Booking a cruise online is not much different than booking through a travel agent. Actually, you are booking through a travel agent when you book online. They have worked with the cruise lines to be able to offer the same or better deals than you can get through the cruise line itself.
Almost all websites that book travel, cars, and hotels book cruises also. Some of the more popular ones are Expedia.com, Hotdeals.com, Vacationstogo.com, Priceline.com, and Travelocity.com. There are many others. Nearly all of them are reputable.
Booking a cruise is no more difficult than any other booking that you would do online. Like anything else, it pays to know a little about what you want and need. If you’ve never cruised before, you may want to visit with friends and relatives that have for advice about their experiences and and what you need.
Start out with deciding where and when you want to go. If you book closer to the departure date, you can almost always get a reduced price. But, your cabin choices, departure dates, and ports of call may be limited. Cruise lines require a deposit of about $500 per cabin when you book. If you book close to the departure date, they will want the entire payment at once.
Look at multiple sites. Most of the time, the prices are very similar, but sometimes they can vary by $100 per cabin or more. You can book the entire cruise online if you want. But, if you’re uncomfortable with that because of the size of the charges, the websites have 1-800 numbers to contact a live person. Make notes about the cruise line, ship, dates, and price before calling the number.
Watch out for guaranteed cabins without a pre-assigned number. These are usually obstructed views. That’s cruise language for there’s a lifeboat hanging out in your balcony or outside you window. If you don’t care, you can save about $100 per ticket at times by taking one of these cabins.
Once you get online, just scan through the lists of cruise offerings. Write down the details about the ones that catch your eye. As you go from site to site, focus on these cruises. After you’ve satisfied yourself that you have found the cruise you want to take, work your way through the registration forms until you get the final pricing. Do this on at least 3 sites. Sometimes the extra charges like port taxes and things will be elevated on one site over another.
Expedia and one or two other sites have reviews by past customers. You can read these if you want, but I haven’t found them to be too helpful. Mostly, it’s the complainers who wanted the world for a penny. When you have the best price, continue with the booking. All of the sites are pretty user friendly. If there is a problem, the sites will advise you to call them directly and furnish the number.