To begin, my first cruise was actually on the SS Norway in 1977 (albeit I was just a pre-teen at the time). I've cruised on Carnival, HAL and NCL since then.
I never believed that the cruise industry practiced bait and switch, at least none of the "big guys", to protect their reputation, but I think I was a victim of this practice with Carnival.
So, I was looking for a group of cabins (we preferred suites) for a 2010 Christmas, and or New Year's cruise to celebrate several family milestones. My older sister is getting married. My son is graduation from college. My younger sister is celebrating some personal achievements, and my girlfriend is celebrating a new job. Plus, we're looking for something to do other than the "same old-same old" over Christmas.
So, I convinced everyone that taking a cruise would be great and would be ideal for all the celebrations.
With kids, spouses, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc, we were looking at about 10 people. OK.....4 suites would work.
I call the Carnival Rep a few weeks ago and she recommends the new DREAM, whose itinerary would cover both Christmas and New Years (12/24/10-01/02/11). She quotes, on the low end $1,290/pp for a cove balcony. On the high end, she quotes ~$1,500 for a JR suite/PP. Sounds good to me. All I have to do is contact everyone to see if the price works. That evening, I contact everyone. We're excited. It's a go.
The next morning (less than 18 hours after the first call), I call the Carnival rep's extension, but get voice mail. About 15-20 minutes later, I get a call from another Carnival rep (not the original). I begin to tell him what my original rep had quoted and what I want to book and the milestones/celebrations we want to plan for.
Long and short of this, he tells me that the fares I was quoted were wrong. The new fares were about $200-$400/PP more on the exact same cabins/suites/categories. I ask to speak to my original Carnival rep, but he tells me she has the day off.
I'm pretty steamed at this point.
Bottom line, after doing some digging, apparently the original rep had quoted me "early saver" fares. The 2nd rep told me fares sometimes change hourly and he could no longer promise early saver (Huuuuhhhhhh??????). No one told me about fares changing hourly, or that fares quoted 12-16 hours apart could change that significantly.
Needless to say, some people in my party were so mad over this course of events, they actually canceled the entire cruise idea.
I did call to complain (I notice that Carnival makes it very difficult to find, let alone contact someone with any real authority).
One sympathetic Carnival rep did find a New Year's fare that was palatable to the rest of my party. But, it wasn't on the DREAM. It was on the Freedom. And, it wasn't 8 days, it's 6 days (leaving 12/26, returning 1/1). Plus, it's still more expensive than the original quote on the DREAM.
Quite disappointed in Carnival for the first time.