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      April 6, 2020

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Priceline vs Vacation Outlet

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

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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

2020

Cruise Vacation Reviews

2.5 stars
Priceline

PRICELINE

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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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2 stars
Vacation Outlet

VACATION OUTLET

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Vacation Outlet is a World Travel Holdings company, along with Cruises Only - another cruise vacation booking site in our review. The two sites are essentially mirror images of each other.v

That means that when we looked up the sample Disney and Royal Caribbean sailings, we got all of the same results in terms of availability, promotions, and pricing. And yes, that also includes the non-refundable $24.99 booking fee.

So, while Vacation Outlet says that their fares are "always at outlet prices", we definitely didn't find any sailings that offered a significant discount or advantage over other booking sites.

We were glad to see that World Travel Holdings had an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review. But, reading through the complaints and reviews registered at the BBB, we found a lot of customers who were frustrated by their experience with Vacation Outlet, especially if there was a need to cancel a cruise because of weather or other reasons. People also said that they were billed for different things that hadn't been explained clearly, and that the customer service representatives were less-than-courteous when handling the issue.

Compared with full-service cruise booking sites that offer one-stop shopping, and also with the higher-ranked services in our review that have a great reputation for customer service, Vacation Outlet just doesn't measure up. We recommend you choose a better-rated service when booking your next cruise vacation.

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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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