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      November 21, 2019

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Expedia vs Priceline

To help you find the Best Cruise Vacations, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Expedia and Priceline.

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Book Your Next Cruise With Cruise Direct Today! What's the best way to plan and book a cruise vacation? Lots of travelers are turning to cruises for the best of all worlds: the excitement of exotic ports of call, the convenience of not having to change hotels with every new destination, and the delight of world-class dining and entertainment day and night.

In fact, cruising isn't limited to a particular group when it comes to popularity. Parents with young children may gravitate towards cruise lines that are known for their top-notch onboard clubs for kids, and young singles tend to choose sailings with tropical destinations - and unlimited drink packages! From casinos to spas and so much more, a cruise vacation has something for everyone.

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Best Reviews

2019

Cruise Vacation Reviews

4 stars
Expedia

EXPEDIA Visit Site

Expedia is one of the best-known online travel booking sites in the world. Whether you're just looking for a cruise or are making travel plans that require flights, hotels, and car rentals, you'll find it all with Expedia.

How does Expedia do when it comes to cruises? When browsing the site, you won't find it as smooth as some of the other sites in our review. For example, when trying to price our RCL and Disney comparison sailings, there wasn't a place where we could specify which cruise line we wanted on the main search page - only the desired destination and travel dates. Once we had searched under those parameters and gotten to our results page, we could then filter out the options we didn't want.

We weren't given any options for an interior stateroom on the last-minute Royal Caribbean booking, just oceanview and above. And, when we started browsing, we found an oceanview option for not much more than the interior - but when we returned a few hours later, Expedia was only offering oceanview staterooms that were an extra $415 per person: more than the original per person fare!

Also with that RCL booking, Expedia offered us an "exclusive deal" that didn't feel so exclusive: $50 of a shore excursion, at an additional price of $133 per person. The math doesn't come out very good on that one.

The sample Disney sailing came out much better. The fare was exactly the same as what was listed on the DCL cruise booking site, and Expedia added onboard credit of $125. We also got a $50 off offer on any shore excursion booked through a third-party tour operator, not on port adventures offered by Disney Cruise Lines. That's not necessarily a bad thing; the company providing the shore excursions is reputable, often much cheaper than booking with DCL's tour operators, and comes with an on-time back-to-ship guarantee.

Expedia doesn't charge any booking fees, and you've got the advantage of being able to reserve any necessary airfare, hotels, or car rentals on the same site. Expedia also has a decent travel rewards program, but you'll want to check the fine print to make sure which cruise purchases apply. And, during the checkout process, you can opt for travel insurance if you'd rather not book it through a third-party insurance site. At least at the time of this most recent review, Expedia used AIG Travel Guard as its provider, a very well-established, trustworthy source of travel insurance.

Expedia really shines when it comes to customer service. You'll get ample notifications of any details for your cruise booking, with easy access to toll-free numbers in the event of any hitches before or during your vacation.

When it comes to travel reservations, Expedia can be trusted to handle your booking with accuracy. And, with more perks for booking your cruise through their online agency, this company should be one you consider when planning your perfect sailing.

Visit Site

2.5 stars
Priceline

PRICELINE Visit Site

Priceline became famous for its novel approach to booking flights and hotels: enter a destination and date, and you'll get a list of options...without knowing the name of the place until after you book! Of course, that approach doesn't work with cruises, but Priceline still wants to offer you a good deal.

Although Priceline is owned by the same company as Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia, we found a few differences when browsing for cruise vacations. Priceline's initial search gives you more filtering options, the most noteworthy being the ability to specify the desired cruise line right away instead of having to search first and then use the filtering options on the results list.

On the other hand, Priceline's fine print at the bottom of the site says that they charge a non-refundable administrative fee of $24.99 for each booking, which puts them below their sister companies who don't charge that extra fee.

When pricing out our Royal Caribbean comparison itinerary, we were surprised to see that Priceline still showed interior staterooms available. Unfortunately, when we tried to go through the booking process, we got an error message that said we would need to call Priceline's toll-free number for more help. We got the same error on the oceanview stateroom.

The promotion in place was a vaguely-worded "Get back up to $1000 in Cruise Cash!" The fine print said that we'd get up to that amount back after returning from the sailing, which could be applied towards onboard expenses. But, in our experience, once you've settled your onboard account on the last night of the cruise, you'd probably not be very interested in trying to get that credit applied. The promotion also didn't specify how Priceline would calculate that cruise cash, other than it would be "based on your net cruise fare". We had to go to a separate page (through a link on the main Cruises page on Priceline) that explained that our onboard credit would only be $25 on our Royal Caribbean sailing.

The sample Disney booking didn't offer any onboard credits when purchasing the cruise. The only perk was a waived deposit. The fare for the cruise was the same as everywhere else, including the Disney Cruise Line site. So, in this case, there'd be no reason to use Priceline compared with other sites that offered onboard credit, reduced fares, or even reward points towards future travel.

Priceline does offer the same Price Match Guarantee program and terms that we found on the Travelocity sister site.

In short, Priceline seems to offer few advantages over the competition, while adding in a few downsides like a $24.99 processing fee. The company has a good reputation, but when booking a cruise vacation, you'll probably find a better overall package - pricing, promotions, rewards - when booking your sailing with a higher-rated service.

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Continued from above

While you might think that the best deal on a cruise is found by booking directly with the cruise line, you're more likely to get extra incentives if you purchase your cruise through an online partner company. The agents working for these companies know all of the most current incentives, like onboard credits or discounted shore excursions, and it doesn't cost you extra to get the help of an agent. The internet makes it especially easy to price the destinations and dates that interest you, get a ballpark amount, and then request a detailed quote - or even book your cruise right away! - with just a few clicks of the mouse.

If you're new to cruise vacations, you should be aware that there are costs to expect beyond the price of the actual sailing. Most initial price quotes don't factor in taxes and port fees, for example. Also, you're generally expected to pay a certain amount in gratuities - to the stateroom attendant who makes your bed and often leaves you with towels shaped into cute animals each night, and your wait staff in the dining room. Some cruise lines have suggested amounts, while others automatically charge your credit card on file for the gratuities they require from each guest.

Onboard, while many things are part of your all-in-one vacation experience, you should anticipate paying extra for alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, though some cruise lines have packages you can buy that include them. And, of course, if you want to take advantage of your ports of call for shopping, excursions like swimming with dolphins or taking a guided tour, you'll want to budget for that as well.

When deciding which site to use when booking your next cruise vacation, how can you tell which company offers the best service? Here are several criteria to keep in mind as you make your choice:

TopConsumerReviews has reviewed and ranked the best cruise vacation booking sites available today. We hope this information helps you find the perfect sailing for your travel party. All aboard!

  • Site Navigation. How easy is it to find the cruises you want? Are you provided with enough information to make your decision?
  • Selection. Does the cruise booking site offer a wide range of cruise lines? Do they offer options for the dates and destinations you want?
  • Pricing. Are the price quotes consistently lower than what you'd get when booking directly? If the site promises good deals, does the company deliver?
  • Full-Service Options. If you appreciate the convenience of one-stop shopping for your cruise along with any necessary airfare, car rentals, and so on, look for a cruise vacation site that lets you book those at the same time. You may even get extra savings for doing it.

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