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The world's 2nd-largest cruise line wants to help you book vacations on land

GoBe lets travelers book private tours and excursions in 97 countries. (GoBe)

On Thursday, Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD. (RCL) announced it will branch out of its comfort zone by launching a travel site designed to let consumers book tours and activities.

GoBe, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD., is the first non-cruise venture for the company, and will allow travelers to book trips in 97 countries and 896 cities around the world. Excursions range from a $14 bus tour in Cape Town, South Africa, to a helicopter tour of Rome, starting at $3,785 per person.

By offering tailor-made excursions and private tours, Royal Caribbean hopes to attract all travelers, instead of just those with a love for cruising.

“Given our experience in working with tour and attraction operations around the world for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, the launch of a website that can bring this high-demand offering to all travelers was only natural for us,” said Larry Pimentel, Chief Destination Experience Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD.

Indeed, there does seem to be benefits in branching out beyond cruising. According to Phocuswright, a travel research company, cruises only represented about 5% of the overall travel market in 2015. Meanwhile, the market for tours and activities made up about 9% of the global market, bringing in $129 billion every year. (US travel revenue is expected to reach $381 billion in 2017, according to Phocuswright.) According to Billy Campbell, GoBe’s managing director, these stats showed a clear opportunity.

“Ninety-six percent of all global travel has nothing to do with cruises,” Campbell told Yahoo Finance. “We did some analysis and found that this was one of the few areas where there was a white space in travel.”

On GoBe, users enter their destination and scroll through the different excursions, tours, and activities until they find something they like. Each option is accompanied by a full description, including languages spoken, duration and activity level. For an extra cost, customers can even call the GoBe customer care line to have a custom itinerary put together.

“We had a father call and say that he had an 8-hour layover in Turkey with his daughter,” said Campbell. “We were able to help them set up an activity.”

According to Statistic Brain, 57% of travel bookings for airlines, hotels and rental cars are booked online. When it comes to tour bookings, however, about 80% still happen offline. With GoBe, Royal Caribbean is hoping to streamline how people book activities, and may even partner with Marriott Vacations Worldwide and Virtuoso (a travel advice site) to make their tours and activities even more accessible.

“We found a niche here that allows us to create a strong brand,” he said.

Brittany Jones-Cooper is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. 


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