Should I book a cruise online? Here’s what you need to know.

Travelers can buy almost everything they need for a cruise online, from flip flops to sunscreen to the trip itself.

Many travelers book cruises through travel agents, but this isn’t necessarily the right decision for everyone. “Some people don’t want to deal with people,” said Joanna Kuther, a New York-based travel agent and owner of Port Side Travel Consultants. “They want to go online. They don’t want to have a single conversation.

But with seemingly endless search results and websites vying for potential customers’ attention in advertisements, the experience can be overwhelming. And while booking online is convenient, it can have some drawbacks.

What are the best sites to book a cruise online?

When booking online, Kuther recommended going directly through the cruise line — if you know which one you want to sail with.

Travelers can easily browse itineraries, the line’s ships and their amenities, as well as other add-ons and promotions offered. If customers book other aspects of their trip, such as flights, directly through the line, they will also have greater protection in the event of disruptions.

Tips for booking a cruise: It’s not enough to choose your travel dates

“So if there’s a cancellation or a delay, it’s their job to get you to that ship,” Kuther said. “It’s their commitment.” However, she noted that travelers may not have as many choices as if they booked their own flights. (Cruise lines often have in-house vacation planners who are familiar with the brand.)

Travelers can also book cruises through third-party sites and find deals. introduced a cruise option late last year, allowing travelers to book sailings, flights and hotels all in one place. Other sites like Expedia and Orbitz also offer this category, and there are also cruise-specific sites like and

These can also offer a comprehensive way to see what cruises are available. Brandon O. Smith, who runs the YouTube channel The weekend cruiser, said Vacations To Go’s search function is particularly effective. Many travelers also like Costco Travel because it’s “kind of integrated into their ecosystem,” he added.

Travelers booking through online travel agencies may have to pay fees that cruise lines don’t charge, Smith said.

What if I need help with my reservation?

Customers who book themselves online may need to contact the cruise line or a third-party site when they have questions or problems, and the customer representative’s familiarity with the type of trip they are taking may vary. “And I think that’s one of the big gaps,” Smith said.

Some travelers who used third-party booking sites had to jump through hoops to get help when their plans went awry.

Should new cruise passengers book a cruise online?

There is a wide range of lines and ships suitable for different types of vacations.

(click here for USA TODAY’s cruise line guide).

Smith recommended new cruisers operate with a voyage…

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