Congratulations to my friend and fellow mesh 2008 organizer Stuart MacDonald — or Captain Stubing, as we like to call him now — on the launch of Tripharbor.com (or Tripharbour.ca), which is designed to bring the cruise-booking business into the 21st century. In addition to being one of the mesh guys, Stuart is also the former chief marketing officer of Expedia and was the founder of Expedia.ca, so travel is sort of in his blood. When he and his family tried to find and book a cruise online, he discovered how out of touch that business is with the rest of the Web-enabled world and set out to change it.
The result is Tripharbor, which makes it as easy to find and book a cruise as it is to find a book at Amazon.com or to find a regular trip at Expedia. There are two simple date and location fields, and choosing a place and time gives you a selection of all the cruises available — as well as plotting them on a map — along with the prices. Narrowing down your selection is as simple as using a few sliders, which set the price range you’re interested in, the departure date and the length of cruise you want. You can browse easily through different ships.
One of the really powerful things about Tripharbor.com, I think, is the community aspect. Although it’s obviously still new and relatively unpopulated, there are all sorts of tools there for people to organize trips with their friends, talk about their good and bad experiences, and generate recommendations that others can use. And throughout the community will be Tripharbour staff, acting as guides and moderators and in general keeping things ship-shape. All in all, a great job by Stuart and the team. Stuart has a post on the Tripharbour blog, and Mark Evans and StartupNorth have posted on it as well.