A new OTA will pursue first-time cruisers

A new cruise-focused online travel agency, Cruisebound, launched Wednesday with former Booking Holdings CEO Jeff Boyd and Tripadvisor founder Steve Kaufer among the backers.

Cruisebound is targeting new-to-cruise customers looking for deals, and has designed its user interface to be responsive on both mobile phones and desktop computers. It uses details like a user’s location, demographics, age and military service to deliver personalized discounts.

According to CEO and cofounder Pierre-Olivier Lepage, Cruisebound is focused on deepwater cruising at its launch.

Users can book 14 cruise lines: Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America Line, Costa, Oceania, Seabourn, Cunard Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Azamara.

Cruisebound has received $12.7 million in investment, mostly via a $10 million Series A round that closed in September. That round was led by Boyd and PAR Capital Ventures. Boyd is a member of Cruisebound’s board. 

The OTA’s founding team, including Lepage, was the team that built Rocket Travel, a company focused on enabling customers to earn rewards when booking hotels. It was acquired by Booking Holdings in 2015.

Other investors in Cruisebound include Kaufer, Concur founder Steve Singh and Plug & Play Ventures.

“Technology companies have improved the travel planning and booking process for consumers in flights, hotels, vacation homes and tours and there is an opportunity for our experienced and innovative team to build scale with a single-minded focus on building the best consumer experience in cruises,” Boyd said in a release.

“The founders of Cruisebound have a proven track record of solving customer pain points by leveraging data science and experimentation to build great products,” he added. “I am confident that Cruisebound will drive new customers to an industry recovering from the pandemic and launching record levels of new ships.”

In a release, Lepage said the site was born after he tried to research and book his first cruise, which he called “nearly impossible on a mobile device.”

“My go-to travel sites for booking flights and hotels are not designed to sell a complicated cruise product,” he said. “This is clearly a leading factor in the divide between cruisers and non-cruisers. We designed Cruisebound to sell cruises and only cruises.”

Users are served up content like sailing descriptions, maps, deck plans and amenities. They can narrow options by using filters such as date, departure port, duration, cruise line, cabin type and price. Cruisebound does not charge a booking fee.

While testing the OTA over the course of a year, Cruisebound found that 91% of purchases were made on a mobile device and the average customer was 36 years old.

Cruisebound has a team of consultants available to assist customers via phone, text and email.

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