February 21, 2002
Priceline, the name-your-own-airfare travel web site, has added cruises to its roster of offerings (which also include hotels and rental cars). But -- before you get excited about lucking into a phenomenal last minute deal or some such thing -- know this: the cruise offerings don’t fall into the “bid your own price” category. Indeed, it’s just another retail outlet on the Internet where a travel agency or cruise line -- in this case it’s a vacation seller called National Leisure Group -- posts deals like $699 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries. A decent-enough price, to be sure, but nothing you couldn’t get by going through more established cruise providers, such as Cruise.com and Cruise411.com. However, don’t dismiss Priceline.com entirely; it’s still a terrific outlet if you are looking for great deals on hotels and car rentals, particularly if you’re planning to tack on a few days stay in a North American pre- or post-cruise city. Incidentally, another site trying to offer a different take on buying cruises -- Site59.com, the (relatively) last minute weekend packager who had incorporated Carnival’s three- and four-day voyages on a trial basis -- says the cruises are no longer available on that site and that Carnival is weighing the success of what it considers was a trial balloon.