There doesn't seem to be much of a downside for Booking.com getting into cruises. As with flights, which it launched in 2019, we can only say — what took you so long?
Known for many years as primarily a Europe-focused accommodations business, Amsterdam-based Booking.com on Thursday launched cruises in the U.S. through a partnership with cruise agency World Travel Holdings.
For Booking.com, which is the flagship brand of Booking Holdings, the deal to offer a white label cruise site powered by World Travel Holdings in the U.S. punctuates the company’s commitment to be a larger force in the U.S., where it competes with Expedia and Airbnb. The U.S. is the largest cruise market in the world, representing 58% of all cruise bookings, the company said.
Booking Holdings’ initial brand, U.S.-based Priceline.com, likewise offers cruises with World Travel Holdings, the largest cruise agency stateside, as its partner.
Booking.com Cruises’ Differentiation
Asked how Booking.com Cruises would be different from the rest of the pack, a spokesperson said: “Key differentiators for Booking.com Cruises are that customers will have access to exclusive offerings and deals on our platform as well as an enhanced onboard spend process. On Booking.com, when travelers make a cruise booking and board the ship, their onboard account will be automatically credited with the spend amount they can use to purchase food, beverages, spa treatments, excursions etc.”
Booking.com customers will be able to select from more than 10,000 sailings 30-plus cruise lines. Customers are eligible for “up to $50, $100, $500 or even $1,000” shipboard credits depending on how much money they spent to book their cruises, and on Black Friday the company is doubling these numbers.
Best Price Guarantee
Booking.com also offers a 110% Best Price Guarantee. If a customer finds a lower price on a competitor website with 48 hours of making their booking on Booking.com Cruises, then Booking.com pledges a refund of 110% of the difference.
“Additional exclusive spend at sea deals will also be offered on select cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and several others,” Booking.com stated.
Cruise Phone Bookings
Most cruise bookings are done over the phone due to the complexity of typical reservations and World Travel Holdings’ agents will handle the bookings, support and customer emails. There’s also live chat on the website.
For now, Booking.com’s game plan is to launch cruises in the U.S. only, a spokesperson said, although the company wants to expand its customer base across all its verticals, including stays, flights, car rentals, attractions, airport taxis, and now cruises.
Some U.S. consumers will be able to view Booking.com’s new cruise site starting today, and that percentage will grow over the next few weeks, the company said. It will be available on desktop and mobile.
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Photo credit: The Carnival Liberty sailing out of Miami. Source: Mike McBey/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/158652122@N02/49476509766/in/photolist-2io53BQ-2nVW2Hc-2oev7Co-7GSnc8-7GWio3-2nWN8RQ-2o6eeHk-2mgftPf-2nmXdoV-2omvC3i-2oiQaFW-2nNpnzz-7GWihs-2o4qFZ8-2ns6Nsf-bCzcfr-7GWioo-2ocRznN-2nH5sW5-2ogKzY7-2omb9Zh-2kep5AF-2nMUJJt-2nY5JN1-2obZsEa-2nMTM6p-7GSnbk-2obhTw4-7GWijj-7GSn58-7GSn4p-7GWisd-2nC9c5j-Boosun-2nn2DEr-2kMfNmb-2oo9EQE-2oeEUBU-2okXVjp-2oc3M3v-2md6tNq-2mfS5ZZ-2kX7Vow-2kivHQZ-2mnT7Rd-2okSNR3-2m6pStm-2nrtM3S-2mkPK8n-2meLGAZ Mike McBey / flickr