My Experience Using Cruise Compete

I recently sent a cruise out for bid on Cruise Compete.  I got three bids from different travel agencies and the prices varied by more than $1000!

Cruise Compete Landing Page
Cruise Compete Landing Page

Putting a Cruise Out For Bid On Cruise Compete

Cruise Compete is a site that allows travel agents to bids on cruises that you are interested in taking.  You input the specific cruise that you are interested in via their search engine, and any interested agents will get back to you with a quote.  You must first register on the site.  This is basically just supplying them with your email address.  You will get email notifications every time an agency provides a bid for your cruise.

This was not the first time I’ve sent a bid request out on Cruise Compete.  Several years ago I asked for bids on an 7-night Alaskan cruise on the Coral Princess.  I accepted the lowest price bid and was able to get the cruise for about $400 per person.

Recently some family members and I were considering taking a Baltic cruise this summer.  We had our eyes on a 14-night itinerary on the Holland America Zuiderdam.  I found the cruise via the advanced search on the Cruise Compete landing page and requested bids.  In the notes section, I said that I wanted two cabins for two people, and one cabin for three people.  I also said that I wanted insurance and cruise air for five people out of New York and two people out of Atlanta.

Within 24 hours I received the three different bids that I’m showing below.  The prices for the total for all people are highlighted in yellow.  I have blocked the name of the cruise agencies since their responses were directly to me.  All prices are totals for all passengers including taxes and fees, but do not include insurance or cruise air.

Cruise Compete Quote 1
Cruise Compete Quote 1
Cruise Compete Quote 2
Cruise Compete Quote 2
Cruise Compete Quote 3
Cruise Compete Quote 3

Next Step–Calling the Different Travel Agencies

The next step would be to call each of these three agencies and see exactly what they are offering.  For example, only Bid 3 offers on board credit right up front.  I would also need to know the difference between the cabins offered. (How is a VC different from a VE balcony cabin?) None of the bidding agencies has included cruise air, and this information could be THE deciding factor in which bid to accept.

The three bids are $12,733, $13,167, and $14,584 (actually $14,109 after the $450 on board credit.)  This is quite a large price spread, and the $1400 price difference between the highest and the lowest bid shows why is is a good idea to comparison shop when you are pricing cruises.

2 thoughts on “My Experience Using Cruise Compete

  1. Frankly that has not been my experience with Cruise Compete, which has been uniformly disappointing. For one, most cruise lines have strictly enforced rules against commission sharing by authorized travel agencies, also limiting travel agency extra perks to about $100. I would also strongly suggest contacting HAL directly to see what they would offer for booking direct.

  2. The cruise lines do have restrictions on commission sharing, but often the travel agencies will effectively bypass these restrictions by throwing in on board credit, prepaid gratuities, and other perks. See above where one agency was offering $450 on board credit.

    Most of my cruises are shorter cruises that are already at rock bottom prices. There is just not enough fat to skim off the top to offer me any really special deals. But this Baltic cruise with multiple cabins is expensive enough that I thought it worthwhile to put out for bid.

    Stuart, let me tell you about the experience I had booking directly with HAL. We booked a Med cruise directly with HAL for a price of $1400 pp. We later saw a lower price listed on one of the big internet agencies. We called HAL and they said that they could not match the price, so we cancelled that booking and rebooked with the travel agency. This experience has caused me to be more diligent about shopping around cruises.

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