A cruise site that turns booking into a adventure.

The Task

Booking a cruise is so complicated, most travelers turn to travel agents for help. pulls those travelers online by transforming an arduous undertaking into an intuitive and enjoyable process that leaves travelers excited instead of exhausted. The site also helps travelers make new friends, both before the ship sets sail and while aboard. Notch was tasked with user experience and branding. In shaping's flow, we had to figure out how to corral an overwhelming amount of options into an easily managed set of opportunities. We also had to make sure the site's users had a good time.

Our Approach

Travelers booking cruises have to make a mind-boggling number of decisions. We felt that a typical menu, with a different page for each category of choices, would send users into a confusing maze. They needed as direct a path as we could create. To start them on their journey, we designed a simple, engaging map of cruise locations. From this interface, users begin to explore. Choices expand out from the original map screen, keeping users tethered to the anchor page. At any point, they can move to a previous set of choices or simply hop back to the map. makes booking a cruise social and not horrendously difficult. – TechCrunch

The Challenge

Most segments of the travel industry, from airlines to hotels, successfully moved customers online years ago. Not cruises. Travelers looking to cruise face myriad decisions: dozens of cruise lines, hundreds of ships, thousands of ports. Once they choose a ship, they must navigate deck plans, cabin layouts, dining options, seating choices, onboard activity rosters, shore excursions and more. To avoid the headaches, many travelers continue to book through travel agencies. reimagines booking with a site so inventive, so pleasurable and social, that travelers happily forego the travel agent. Via user interface and branding, Notch conveyed that is not only the most painless way to book, but also the most entertaining.

In addition to massively streamlining the complex booking procedure, we wove social elements throughout the site. The ability to connect with other travelers sets apart from brick-and-mortar agencies and other booking sites, and so we made the most of this potential. At any point, users can connect with others who have visited the same ports and traveled on the same ships. They can locate fellow passengers before the cruise, find them once aboard, and keep in touch after returning to land.

We further emphasized the site's positive vibe when we turned from user experience design to branding. Riffing on's cheery logo, Notch flooded the site with sunny-day ocean blue, and pointed users to important details with a vibrant pink. We complemented the upbeat color scheme with clean iconography and a friendly font. The end result? Booking a cruise is almost as fun as taking one.