As a blogger, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of cruise fanatics on the Internet. Some make a living in the industry, others are fellow bloggers while others peddle goods to enhance the cruising experience. At the end of the day, we all have one thing in common – we love to cruise!
One person that I virtually met on Twitter (@EmbarkAt) was Allan Teruel, co-founder of a new cruise start-up company, called Embark. Embark (you can visit them HERE), is a marketplace that connects cruisers with travel agents, and it’s goal is to make your next cruise booking an easy and more fun experience.
“I found that booking a cruise is a little too painful for something that should be fun and exciting,” Teruel said in our interview. “While there are thousands of people who go on a cruise every year, there are many more that don’t because of the uncertainties of cruising such as, ‘what stateroom should I get?’, ‘will I be seasick?’, ‘will I feel trapped being on a ship for seven nights?’”
I tend to agree with the problems that Embark has expressed. Many of us have been cruising for years, but originally getting into our addiction may not have been an easy task. Cruising should be fun from beginning to end and it should be more turn-key. According to Cruise Market Watch, 87% of all cruises are booked through a travel agent, and that doesn’t surprise
me given many of the questions a rookie or veteran cruiser would have. Some of us are fortunate to know a great travel agent, whereas many new cruisers are at a lost as to where to find answers. Embark’s solution is to create an eBay-like marketplace where cruisers can meet travel agents and discover new itineraries while finding the most value for their dollar.
“I grew up on online-booking and that’s great for flights or booking a hotel,” Teruel added. “However, cruising is much more of a hands-on experience that requires a lot more tender loving care from a travel agent who is more likely to be familiar with a particular ship or an expert of a specific port of call. I’m extremely excited to bring an innovative technology to the
world of cruising to make everybody’s next trip on board that much more enjoyable.”
Embark recently went into an open-beta and you can visit it HERE. You’re greeted on the homepage with a simple user-interface of two questions: “Search by cruise ship” and “Departure”. A short cartoon video also accompanies the homepage that summarizes the benefits of Embark. Embark works in a gamified reverse-auction format where a cruiser will
create a “contest” and travel agents will submit their bids to woo your business. The company has made it a priority to highlight the agent’s experience, T.L.C. and overall value of a trip over a bottom-line price.
Embark is free to use for both cruisers and travel agents, but they have several plans that provide you additional features such as priority support and the number of itinerary contests you can start for a small fee. As an added incentive, those that use referral code “MCB” will automatically receive a free upgrade to Embark’s Bronze plan. New users can sign up at HERE. They also have an upcoming Webinar that gives a high-level view of how Embark works. You can see their Webinar schedule HERE.