The cruise industry has grown significantly over the past decade. There are thousands of itineraries available and finding the right one can be a time consuming and frustrating process.
Of course it helps to start by having an idea of what region of the world you want to visit. And a list of some specific destinations you want to visit will also help. You will need this information to start your search.
Traditional Cruise Search Methods
There are a couple of traditional methods of searching for a cruise itinerary:
- Visit a cruise line’s web site – You can visit the web site and perform a search there. The issue with this method is that you will spend a lot of time going to each web site. And, you really don’t know which cruise lines visit the region you want to see.
- Search a travel web site – A travel booking site like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and alike offer cruise searching. The issue here is that searching can only be done at the Regional level. And, all cruise lines are not shown in the results, so you are missing out on potential matches.
A Better Cruise Search Tool
So you know you want to visit a specific region, and you want to make sure your cruise ship stops at your desired destinations.
In our case, Ha Long Bay Vietnam was a MUST SEE for us when we searched for a cruise itinerary in Southeast Asia. We had to find a tool that would allow us to search by Ports of Call.
We found the awesome web site CruiseTimeTables.com and use it when we are searching for the perfect cruise itinerary.
When you land on their home page you will see 4 tabs:
2) Departure Ports
3) Ports of Call
4) Cruise Ships
1) Home Tab
The Home tab allows you to enter some parameters to search quickly without browsing the other tabbed sections. While this is convenient, it can produce little or many results depending on what parameters you enter.
For our example, we will use the Port of Call tab instead.
2) Departure Ports Tab
The Departure Ports tab lists by country the cities that are embarkation ports. So if you are looking for a specific city to start your cruise from, this is the tab to use.
3) Ports of Call Tab
This tab lists all the Ports of Call by country and city, similar to the Departure Ports tab. A Port of Call on this tab is a scheduled stop that the cruise ship will make on its itinerary.
Select the Port of Call
For our example, let’s say we want to go on a cruise that stops in Ha Long Bay Vietnam. On the Port of Call tab, we scroll down to Vietnam and see Halong Bay listed. We used this same method to find our awesome 14 Day Southeast Asia Adventure cruise!
Select the Month and Year
Clicking on the link for Halong Bay, Vietnam will take you to a page that lists all the cruises scheduled to visit this Port of Call. You will see Arrivals by year and then month and date.
The schedules that are shown are dictated by the cruise lines. Most cruise lines publish their schedules 1 to 2 years in advance. Looking at these results can also give you a good idea of when the most popular times are to visit. As you can see below, January through March of 2020 will be a busy time in Ha Long Bay.
For our example, we will click on the December 2019 link to see what cruises are scheduled.
Review the Results
The next image shows part of the cruises scheduled to stop in Halong Bay Vietnam in December 2019. The results are listed in ascending order by date.
The results page is a wealth of information. It shows a thumbnail map of the cruise itinerary so you can see what other Ports of Call are visited. It also includes the cruise line, cruise ship, pricing and schedule details.
See More Results
If you have more than 10 results on your search, you will see Next links at the bottom right of the page. In this example you would click the 11-17 link to display remaining cruises for December 2019. If you click on the Prev or Next links, you will be sent to the previous or next month, without see all the results for the current month you are viewing.
Select the Perfect Cruise Itinerary
Once you find your perfect itinerary, you can click on the “More details at” image. A new browser window opens and you will be sent directly to the cruise line’s web page with the full cruise itinerary details.
Once you arrive at the cruise line’s itinerary web page, you will see all the detailed information including scheduled departure dates, excursions, and pricing for that particular cruise.
4) Cruise Ship Tab
The last tab on the CruiseTimeTables.com web site provides a listing of all active cruise ships with published schedules. So if you have a favorite ship that you must sail on, this is your starting place.
The results are sorted by cruise lines and ships. For example, when we choose the cruise line Azamara and its ship Journey, a listing of all the scheduled cruise departures for this ship appears.
Select the year, month, and/or date to see specific itineraries for that ship. The cruise itinerary results will be presented in the same way as the other tabs.
Searching for that perfect cruise itinerary can be a time consuming and frustrating experience when using traditional search methods. We have found that using the CruiseTimeTables.com web site has been the most efficient method to help us find our perfect cruise itineraries.
We hope you will try it out on your next cruise search. Let us know if you have any other tools that have made your life easier as well. Bon Voyage!