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SideStep will launch cruise-booking tool

SideStep announced yesterday that it will add a cruise-booking tool to its travel search engine later this month. The cruise search will allow users to research and book a cruise online.

SideStep already lets visitors search for and book flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages. It partnered with CruisesOnly in order to offer a cruise-booking function, as well as details and reviews of the ships, including photos and virtual tours. Users will be able to book sailings on all of the major U.S. cruise lines.

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The arrival of SideStep's cruise tool would seem to be a major boon for would-be cruisers, but I'm a little confused about some of the details. SideStep prides itself on being a search engine and not a travel agency—it searches multiple airline, hotel, and car rental sites to let you compare prices. But it has partnered solely with CruisesOnly for its cruise tool. Does the company intend the price comparison to be between cruise lines but not between cruise sellers? It's not clear.

If SideStep will search the Web for the best cruise prices and put them in one place, its cruise site will be extremely helpful for users. On the other hand, if SideStep is merely another version of CruisesOnly, its new tool is much less exciting.

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