Cruise trips are unusual for many reasons, but not least because from a distribution perspective the majority of consumers book offline.
The product is often complicated (multiple stops, excursions, etc) and can be one of the most expensive travel products on the market.
As a result, travel agents and cruise operator call centres have managed to keep a steady hold of the product for their own rather than it completely escape into the wilds of the internet and intermediaries.
But this doesn't stop consumers doing most of their research on the web, meaning the battle for the hearts and minds of prospective cruise passengers is as fierce as any other part of the travel industry... perhaps even more so.
UK-based digital agency Inside Online spent some time earlier this year looking at some of the leading cruise brands when it comes to their search behaviour and tactics.
The results, whilst focusing on the UK market, are interesting in the wider context of what the cruise industry is doing to lure consumers to the product.
Here follows some of the agency's top-line findings:
Brand searches trump generic search and mobile not far behind desktop
According to figures via Google, leading the pack was Royal Caribbean which managed to capture 135,000 brand searches in April, some 65,000 more than rival operator Celebrity Cruises.
The number of searches for the generic term "cruise" was 60,500, perhaps illustrating that brand advertising and recognition plays a significant role in overall marketing in the sector.
In terms of devices, desktop accounts for 52% of searches compared to 48% for mobile/tablet searches.
Christmas and New Year is the peak search period
Like most other sectors in travel, cruise has a particularly rhythm to the way searches are carried out during a year.
Inside Online found that the turn of the year is the most popular part of the calendar for search activity ("cruise holidays"), although volumes have remained relatively flat between 2013 and 2014 (plus the first five months of 2015).
SEO tactics as big as they ever were
Nothing new here, but everyone with even a half-baked knowledge of SEO understands a site's position in search is a mark of its "authoritativeness" - a metric in part built on how many other sites are linking to its pages.
Building those links can an aggressive and laborious discipline, but gaining "visibility" is half the battle for brands.
The analysis by Inside Online illustrates that Princess Cruises has a strong sense of authority in terms of the number of sites noting its content and is clearly a long way out in front.
Quality over quantity
The authoritativeness of a site is also dependent on the quality of the sites linking to it.
Luckily for Princess Cruises it has managed to secure a large number of "above average domain authority" websites that are willing to link to it, although both it and P&O Cruises have their fair share of "very low quality domains".
The final piece in the visibility puzzle surrounds how brands use content above and beyond what they include on their sites, such as product listings.
This often can used to establish an "influence" score, based on metrics such Twitter retweets, Facebook likes and notes on Google Plus.
The analysis found that Princess Cruises may have a influence score of 75,221 but it has relied almost exclusively on the much-derided Google Plus to get there.
P&O Cruises is the leader in terms of Facebook likes and Cruise Direct wins on Twitter.
Winning editorial moves
Perhaps the killer method of securing a position in search and elsewhere from a content perspective is to create a unique item that is both informative (hopefully) and shareable.
For example, a piece called "Get the most out of island beach life on Caribbean vacations" managed to attract almost 3,500 likes on Facebook for Princess Cruises.
Twitter, on other hand, is far less successful a channel for brand-pushed content when users searched for "cruise holidays".
NB:Cruise trip image via Shutterstock.