'Since its humble beginning in 1995, Direct Line Cruises has grown to become one of the largest official agencies for the cruise industry'; says the official blurb.Since falling in love with cruising, Helen Coiro has turned her low budget, home-based, hobby/business into a company with new corporate headquarters in Hauppauge, New York; handling reservations for more than 25,000 cruise passengers throughout the United States, with hopes that the increases in booked sailings will stay afloat.
Direct Line Cruises Website
The Direct Line Cruises website offers a 'Cruise Quick Search' to find cruises by destination or departure port.
While they concentrate on US departures, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Civitavecchia (Rome), Dover (England), Harwich, Istanbul, Piraeus, San Juan, Southampton, Stockholm, Sydney, Valparaiso and Venice are also included as departure ports.
Popular cruise destinations and the three major cruise lines they deal with are linked to from the top of every page: Alaska Cruises, Bermuda Cruises, Caribbean Cruises, European Cruises, Hawaii Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
Interestingly though, their logo (stuffed with keywords in the alt tag) doesn't link back to the homepage; they prefer a text link for that. They're also proud to advertise that they use 'Search Engine Optimization Services', so I took a look over there to see what the 'experts' come up with in their 'free web site analysis'.
Anyway, back to the website review.
While Direct Line Cruises want your cruise booking (they even have a toll-free number: 1-800 DLC-8088), there are a few sections that help to answer your questions; although the 'Cruise Facts' and 'First Cruise' links both go to the same page.
The Port Directions are outlined for those arriving by car. Some maps would be nice, as would details for travellers preferring public transport. Maybe even put each port on a different page. Parking charges ($10-15 a day) are not included in the cruise price.
Direct Line Cruises also have a 'Cruise Blog' but there's not a lot happening there and the 'Cruise News' link on the main website is a page of links; to the blog entries. So if you're looking for the latest Cruise News, look elsewhere.
The 'Shore Excursions' link doesn't work, as their 'poweragentnet sub-domain' has been disabled.
You can find out more about the ships in their three preferred cruise lines though. After all, what's the point of cruising to somewhere fantastic if you don't like the sound of the ship you're on; or you might as well just do 'budget cruising' with Easy Cruise.
I tried a quick search comparison with 1800-Cruises.com and Cruise Brothers; putting in Europe as the destination and the travel date as July 2007.
Direct Line: 20 results (1st July to August 31st).
1800-Cruises.com: 138 results.
Cruise Brothers: 276 results (1st July to August 31st).
On the Celebrity Cruises Constellation (July 21) prices for Interior and Oceanview were the same while Direct Line offered MUCH cheaper Balcony and Suite cabins; although they were cheaper still on CruiseBrothers. So it might pay to shop around, if you have the time.
On the Norwegian Jewel, with more sailings, Direct Line compared well with Balcony and Suite cabins but we could do better with Interior and Oceanview cabin prices on some sailings.
Direct Line do offer Travel Insurance in their price though.
Labels: Paid Review