Home Affiliate Marketing Blog Sale Away: Top Cruise Affiliate Programs for Your Travel Blog

Sale Away: Top Cruise Affiliate Programs for Your Travel Blog

Sale Away: Top Cruise Affiliate Programs for Your Travel Blog

In the course of the Niche of the Week series, I have done 2 travel-related posts so far — Niche of the Week: Travel Affiliate Programs and Airline Affiliate Programs: Fly And Earn!.

I haven’t gotten too far into the travel niche, it seems.

I touched on cruises briefly on the travel affiliate programs post. Cruises are part of the travel industry, and so if you’re promoting travel affiliate programs, you can certainly promote a cruise package or two.

But today, we’re looking only at cruises as a specific sub-niche of the travel niche.

Popular cruises like Royal Caribbean and Carnival dominate the first page of the search engine result pages, but you can also find websites like CruiseCritic.com and Ray’s Cruise Blog. These websites review the various cruises, and of course, promote them.

Full Steam Ahead

The cruise industry may only be a part of the travel industry, but it is by no means small, with a reported earnings of USD $36 billion last year.

Cruise Industry Revenue - Statista.com

As the above Statista.com graph shows, there is clear upward trend in earnings for the cruise industry. The largest market is still the US, with a revenue of USD $21 billion in 2014.

Depending on the date of travel and destination, cruise packages range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand for each passenger. Unable to resist the siren’s call, passengers continue to take cruises. In 2014, an estimated 11 million people in the US went on a cruise.

Take a look around social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. You’ll find plenty of memes, quote of the days and images telling all of us travel is something we all should be doing at least once a year. Travel is clearly no longer a luxury, but a necessary experience.

With consistent demand, I was pretty confident the cruise niche was bound to be competitive. But only some solid keyword research can tell us one way or another.

Hands on Deck for Some Keyword Research

As predicted, the cruises niche is highly competitive. Keyword research is a challenge, but not entirely impossible.

My interest in cruise affiliate programs was brought about by this article on the Traffic Travis blog: Make a Living Going on Cruises and Working Online (Seriously!). It’s an excellent complement to this NOTW post, but it made me think twice about whether I should still open Traffic Travis to do keyword research.

But eventually, I decided, yes! I should definitely look at this niche. 

It’s been a year since that Traffic Travis post on cruises was published. What has changed since? My keyword research won’t be as in-depth, and I will be using Affilotools, but I’d still be able to get a picture of the difference a year can make on keywords.

Going into Affilotools, I searched for the most obvious target keyword: “cruises.” A year has passed since we ran the data in Traffic Travis, but it is still a competitive keyword. Several cruise-related keywords came up in the results too, most with buyer intent, such as “luxury galapagos cruises.”

Cruises Search Results - Affilotools
 

“Last minute cruises” is as competitive as ever, if not more so than last year’s results. “Cruise reviews” and similar “review” keywords are highly competitive too.

Last Minute Cruises

 

So, what to do?

I recommend focusing on a specific cruise destination while starting out and base your keywords on those. For example, with the Bahamas, your keywords would consist of “Bahamas cruises,” “top Bahamas cruises,” and “low-cost Bahamas cruises,” for starters. These have high competition, so mix in some information keywords, too: “what to wear when on a Bahamas cruise,” “what to expect in the Bahamas,” and “places to visit in the Bahamas.”

This is a roundabout way of targeting keywords and trying to rank for these, but at least you’re guaranteed some traffic to your pages without having to engage the competition head on.

Cruise Affiliate Programs

I'm adding the one cruise product I found the ClickBank Marketplace. The rest of these products came from my Google searches:

Cruiseguide

1. TheCruisingInsider.com’s Cruiseguide 2012

About TheCruisingInsider.com
TheCruisingInsider.com and its guide, Cruiseguide 2012, is the only cruise affiliate program I found in ClickBank. The guide, while somewhat dated looking at the title, promises information and discounts on cruise packages.

I highly doubt the information within the guide is relevant, but at least the website, TheCruisingInsider.com, still is. The site has reviews, tips, and packing lists. I don’t think you’ll be picking this product to promote, but using the website is a resource is a good idea.

How much can I make?
CruisingInsider.com affiliates get 50% commission for each sale. It’s a $9 eBook (USD) so you get about $4 for each sale.

How do I apply?
The Cruiseguide 2012 affiliate program is in ClickBank.

CruiseDirect.com

2. CruiseDirect.com

About CruiseDirect.com
CruiseDirect.com has an extensive list of destinations, from Alaska to Asia. The site provides some of the lowest-priced packages and also offers last-minute and group cruises.

How much can I make?
As a CruiseDirect.com affiliate, you get 3% commission on the gross sale. This can be a hefty amount as rates start at about USD$200 and can go as high as $899 for the more exotic destinations.

How do I apply?
You need to be a Commission Junction affiliate to promote CruiseDirect.com. You can also apply from the CruiseDirect.com Affiliates page

Cruises.com

3. Cruises.com

About Cruises.com
Cruises.com is similar to, and possibly a direct competitor of, CruiseDirect.com. The site offers the same destinations, with Cruises.com providing river and luxury cruises on top of group cruises. It also offers shore excursions.

How much can I make?
Cruises.com also gives affiliates 3% commission for every online booking. This applies to both cruise or vacation packages. Offline/phone bookings get you 2% commission.

How do I apply?
Just like with CruiseDirect.com, you need to sign up with Commission Junction to promote the site. You can also visit the Affiliates page for more information.

CruiseCompete

4. CruiseCompete.com

About CruiseCompete.com
Unlike the previous cruises website, CruiseCompete.com does not offer cruise packages. Or they do, depending on how you look at the service they offer. They are kind of like a cruise search engine, scouring the net for the best cruise package prices and presenting it to the user.

How much can I make?
They state on their Partner Program page that you earn a percentage for any cruise package booked through you. This is most likely around 3%, the same commission given by the other cruise affiliate programs on this list.

How do I apply?
CruiseCompete.com manage their own affiliates. You can sign up for their Partner Program through their website.

CraftCruises.com

5. CraftCruises.com

About CraftCruises.com
This is cruises with a cause. CraftCruises.com provides cruise passengers with onboard classes on various crafts like knitting and crocheting. This gives the participants time to enjoy their hobby while meeting like-minded individuals as they travel to various cruise destination points.

How much can I make?
There is no specified amount or percentage on how much commission you’ll get for every cruise booked through you, but they do mention that you get a free cruise if you refer 15 people who book the same cruise. If you fall short, then no worries. You get commission for every booking anyway.

How do I apply?
You can sign up as a CraftCruises.com affiliate by going directly to their Affiliate Registration page

ZenCruise.com

6. TheZenCruise.com

About TheZenCruise.com
Another cruise with a cause, this time focused on celebrating life through yoga and healing arts : TheZenCruise.com. As with CraftCruises.com, TheZenCruise.com brings together like-minded people together in a cruise. Not only do you have group yoga sessions, thee’s musical performances, private cocktail parties and sound healing, too.

How much can I make?
You get USD$50 for each person for every sale of a room. For every sale of a suite, you get USD$100. If you book 5 rooms, you can use the sign-ups for a free cruise. Book 10 and you get a free cabin.

How do I apply?
TheZenCruise manage their affiliate program. To sign up, head on to their Affiliates Page

Calling All Passengers: Attracting Potential Cruise Patrons

As our keyword research has proved, the competition in the cruises niche will take you to the high seas. You need to have a strategy on hand to navigate your website through some extremely competitive waters.

The next step after putting the site up is driving traffic to it. This is a challenging task, and the fierce competition in the cruises niche will make it even more so.

There is no way around this. You will be experimenting with one marketing or traffic method after another to see which one works best for your website. You need to constantly build links too, especially in the early stages, until your pages rank.

As with any journey, it’s best to have a plan before setting out. Below are a few traffic and link building methods you can add to your marketing strategy for this niche:

Content Strategy

Like social media marketing, content strategy is becoming a “must-have” for inbound marketing. This is especially called for in dynamic niches like cruises, where there’s a constant stream of information for you to share on your site.

Creating content takes time, and you need to publish updates on your site in a timely fashion, or they lose their relevance. This is particular important for time-sensitive information like discounts and special offers.

Having a good content strategy means being on top of these updates, and able to readily share them on your website. Both search engines and site visitors love a well-maintained website. If you keep your readers in the loop on everything related to cruises, they’ll be sure to follow your site and eventually book their next cruise through you.

YouTube Video Marketing

This is one of those marketing methods I try to avoid suggesting because it is not just hard work on the marketer’s part; it chips a bit off the budget, too. But there are a couple of rewards for this method that makes the effort worth your while.

People, men in particular according to studies, are attracted to what we see. We are visual creatures, which makes this marketing method very effective. Create a short video highlighting the pros and cons of each destination. Then, place your affiliate link in the description, or link back to the relevant page on your website.

If you’re a traveler, then document bits and pieces of your travels and post them on YouTube. Not only will you be able to get people to your website, you’re also earning a wee bit on the side as a YouTube vlogger. You can check out this YouTube results page for samples of cruise videos to inspire you.

Infographics

Infographics are a great way to get both backlinks and traffic to your website. Create infographics on cruises like these. Not only will you have a good chance of getting mentioned by your sources (and thus getting a backlink from a quality website), but infographics have a high chance of going viral. Yours could be shared over and over (especially on a social network such as Pinterest), and be seen by a lot of users, some of whom will check your site out for more information.

Cruises Affiliate Programs: Sail Away or Disembark?

Earning potential is high, as is the demand. Unfortunately, so is the competition. Is it worth it to join this niche, or are you better off sailing somewhere else for calmer, less-populated waters?

Cruiseguide2012 CruiseDirect.com Cruises.com CruiseCompete.com CraftCruises.com TheZenCruise
50% 3% 3% Undisclosed USD$50 to $100 Undisclosed

They say competition is good for the business. It keeps vendors and product creators on their toes, trying to outdo themselves in order to outdo their competitors. It’s great overall for consumers.

But for the affiliate marketer, competition means challenge. Some of us loathe it. Some of us shy away from it. Some others thrive in it.

There’s no question you can earn good money in the cruise niche. But it’s going to be tough competing with other established cruise sites. There’s the actual cruise providers, such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises, which are competition in their own right.

If you want an easier niche, or you tend to be soft towards competition and challenges, then this option isn’t for you. This niche is for those who revel in the race.

Are you one such individual? Would you go into this niche? Let us know! What other niches would you like us to feature? Leave a comment and share this post!

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2 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Susan Roberts743 days ago

    This is an interesting article. I've been looking into purchasing a travel blog with affiliates already installed have any advice on this type of strategy?

    Melissa Johnson743 days ago

    Hi, Susan!

    Another good place to ask this question would be our forums, where both our staff and other affiliate marketers hang out!

    https://www.affilorama.com/forum/

  • Reply Brock • 70 days ago

    FYI - The link for www.cruisecompete.com is wrong in this article.

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