New London-based travel startup CompareThatCruise.com launches today, offering the UK’s first ever price comparison site for cruises.
Aiming to capitalise on the runaway growth of the global cruise market, which last year was worth over £31 billion, the site sets out to do for cruises what the likes of Skyscanner and Trivago have done so successfully for flights and hotels – by allowing travellers for the first time to compare prices and availability across different cruise lines and travel agents.
Cruise holidays have exploded in popularity over the last decade, with passenger numbers forecast to exceed 25 million this year. That growth has fuelled a seismic shift in the industry, with the average age of first time cruisers falling rapidly as families and young couples are attracted by state of the art leisure facilities, world class cuisine and award-winning entertainment.
CompareThatCruise.com is poised to capitalise on that shift and leads a long-awaited influx of technology into the cruise sector as customers become increasingly tech-savvy and less willing to accept the current lack of price transparency and outdated methods of booking. It is the first site in the UK to offer genuine price comparison, not just between different cruises (which lots of sites already do), but also between different travel agents selling the same cruise (which is something that is currently totally missing from the market).
The technology behind the site is completely bespoke and was developed in-house as part of an ambitious project which took over 3 years to complete and involved staff from 24 different countries. In total, the team researched over 11 million pieces of information, and the site offers over 240,000 pages of high quality content including guides and photos for every cruise line, ship, cabin and port, as well as the first ever fully interactive cruise ship deck plans which uniquely allow users to look inside any cabin on any ship so that they can see exactly what they are booking.
Talking about the idea behind the site, founder Mark Shepherd explains:
“When I went to book a cruise for the first time, I was astonished by how difficult it was to compare deals across different cruise lines and travel agents, and it felt like the market for booking cruises was light years behind the equivalent markets for flight and hotels.
Despite the huge technological advances in cruise ship design, the technology for handling bookings hasn’t yet caught up and even today less than 10% of cruise bookings in the UK are made online. A big reason for that is the absence of any good quality comparison sites of the type that are the norm in other industries, and so that is exactly what we set out to create.”