Choosing a cruise can be a complicated business. Faced with a bewildering number of options for vessel and destination, the hopeful holidaymaker could be forgiven for abandoning ship. That’s even before being given the chance to select a preferred cabin – something that rarely arises when booking a hotel room.

Then there’s a decision to be made about who to book with – will a High Street travel agent, an online specialist, or direct through a cruise line offer the best value for money?

The launch of CompareThatCruise.com this week [April 10] aims to provide a solution to those problems and to do for cruise what  operations such as Trivago have done for hotels,  and Skyscanner for flights.

It should also increase the proportion of cruises booked online from the figure of fewer than 10 per cent today.

CompareThatCruise.com was set up by Mark Shepherd, a 36-year-old City technology lawyer who also happens to be a semi-professional pool player. He first set the ball rolling three years ago and now provides more than 240,000 pages of information on every cruise line, cruise ship and cruise destination.

At any one time, the site can compare more than 200,000 prices on as many as 24,000 different cruises. In a feat that surpasses SeatGuru.com’s mapping of plane accommodation, it also contains deckplans for every cruise ship.

Shepherd says: “When I went to book a cruise, I found it really difficult and time-consuming to compare deals across different cruise lines and travel agents and it felt like the market for booking cruises was light years behind the equivalents for flights and hotels.”

He added that the huge technological advances in ship design had not been matched by the systems for handling bookings. “We set out to create a completely new type of site which combines innovative technology with high quality content to make the cruise booking process quick and simple.”

My verdict? It’s easy to narrow down a search based on dates, destinations, lifestyle preferences and cruise ship, and I cannot think of another site that offers as much advice and information. CompareThatCruise.com could be a winner.

 

PORTSMOUTH is looking for a revival in its cruise fortunes. The busy cross-Channel ferry port and home to two-thirds of the Royal Navy lost out earlier this year with the demise of regular visitors Voyages of Discovery and Swan Hellenic.

 Saga Cruises is planning 15 visits to the city in 2018, and  Saga Cruises plans to use the port for four no-fly cruises on Astoria next year.

Astoria is also set to make three departures from the south coast port of Poole, in Dorset.