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Old January 16th, 2014, 12:32 PM
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Default Carnival Price Match on Shore Trips Irks Agents

Just another example of Carnival not wanting to work with travel agents;

Carnival Price Match on Shore Trips Irks Agents

Personally, I know this will not affect my clients as they much prefer independent shore excursions because they offer a much better product in smaller groups, making it overall a better experience. I think this move by Carnival is, as stated in the story, "....another move by Carnival to double-down on the budget cruiser." My opinion is this is just a media gimmick to try and get more positive press after all the negative press they've gotten lately.

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Old January 16th, 2014, 01:22 PM
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Pete

This shouldn't affect your clients who prefer smaller group excursions at all. If they want them, they can still book them. So, I'm not sure how you can figure its a bad thing for clients.... Unless of course, if the demand drops and some private providers are driven out of business.

The agents are understandably upset because the private providers pay commissions for the clients they are sent; the cruise lines do not.

Excursions used to be the "property" of the cruise directors, as did the "shopping recommendations" until they figured out how much the cruise directors were making on them.
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Old January 16th, 2014, 02:25 PM
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The 110% price match guarantee won't change things for me. I am not a fan of ship's excursions and rarely take them. I need to move at my own pace and have the ability to change things if I need to.

I do think it is more of a marketing ploy than a real money saver. New cruisers will jump at this but many long time cruisers will just keep doing it on their own.

I also wonder if the "condition" that the tour be "equal" will be the loophole that Carnival uses to get out of paying the difference.

For many agents, shore excursions are a revenue producer and the cruise lines don't pay commissions on excursions. It will hurt the agents if more people don't book the agent's recommended tours and go with the cruise line's.

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Mike
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Old January 16th, 2014, 03:14 PM
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Thanks, Kuki!

I realized I left out the word 'not' in my first sentence - made the change in my comment as I really don't this will affect my clients.

As was stated in the story, Carnival has seen a big decrease in the number of excursions booked through them. More and more people are realizing there are better, cheaper, less crowded, and more fun ways to do excursions. They're using their agents and the internet to find these independent companies and word is getting around that the ones offered by the cruise lines are not as exclusive as people use to believe.

Plus, with all the information available on the internet, people are finding out that the misinformation about independent excursions, saying how unsafe they are and how if you're late you'll miss the ship, just really isn't true. So now, more than ever, people are booking independent excursions with confidence and word has gotten around about how great they are.

For example, just had a client come back from a cruise last week that included Belize. They did the cave tubing excursion through our vendor and their group of 5 were the only ones on the excursion. Needless to say, they had a wonderful experience and had to laugh when they saw the cruise line's excursion that had 25 people all in disarray.

So I agree this won't have too much of an impact on who books excursions through the cruise line or not. As I said, I think it's just a media ploy to garner press. Might encourage a few budget-minded people, but I also don't think it'll have much of an impact one way or another.

After all, as was also pointed out in the story, most of the excursions offered by the cruise line and independents are very similar in price anyway. And I believe people who do their research ahead of time will realize it's just not worth it for what they have to give up to get it.

Pete
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Old January 17th, 2014, 06:44 AM
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Let's see, are both of these statements true?

A large portion of Carnival's business is repeat cruisers.
Experienced cruisers are more likely to tour ports independently.

If both are true then I doubt the price guarantee will see much increase in business.
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Old January 17th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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Hmmm, I think I need to look into booking more independent shore excursions, I hadn't really considered a lot of these points. Thanks guys!


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Old January 17th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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I think this could be a good thing depending on the type of excursion you are looking to book. We personally like active excursions, but are going on a cruise with friends who like to just hang out on the beach. So, we found an excursion to a resort that includes lunch and drinks for the day. I was able to find it online about $22 cheaper than what Carnival offers it for. That's a win for us! In the past we've booked snorkeling excursions for ourselves and our 4 children. It was just the 6 of us and a guide. Our trip was twice as long as the ship's excursion, the guide geared everything to our children and we got lunch for about 20 p.p less. Oh, and the ship's tour had two guides for about 25 people. I felt we scored a huge deal on that one. Yes, we did pay $40 for a taxi, but we still came out $60 ahead...more actually because it was much more informative for the kids. In that instance I would never have booked through the cruiseline. Price match or not.
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Old January 17th, 2014, 09:45 PM
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It's an absolute win for those who book cruise ship excursions anyway and a huge percentage of Carnival cruisers are not experienced cruisers. Nobody is forced to buy ship excursions.

I book both ship and private excursions and the new policy will be a win for me when booking ship excursions. No way is it a lose.

As for travel agents, I mostly book cruises through travel agents and have never, ever used one for shore excursions. Not sure how hurting Carnival's shore excursion biz is, or travel agency business with more and more booking on the Internet or other ways.

I do know travel agents are popping up faster than mushrooms leading to increased competition for the (possibly decreasing) travel agent business.

The cruise ship will wait for cruise ship excursions, or in the rare case where the ship can't, the passenger isn't stuck paying to get to the next port. Yes, private tours should get the customers back in time, but, what if they don't? And yes, sometimes that happens to. Perhaps this will force independents to up their game too, and provide complete coverage insurance.

There is no way I see this as a lose for the cruiser, which would be me!
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Old January 17th, 2014, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zydecocruiser View Post
The cruise ship will wait for cruise ship excursions, or in the rare case where the ship can't, the passenger isn't stuck paying to get to the next port. Yes, private tours should get the customers back in time, but, what if they don't? And yes, sometimes that happens to. Perhaps this will force independents to up their game too, and provide complete coverage insurance.

There is no way I see this as a lose for the cruiser, which would be me!
Good independent shore excursion companies, like Shore Trips, the one we have a contract with, has sold tens of thousands of excursions and have never had anyone miss the ship. Julie Karp, President of Shore Trips is very proud of this when we talked about this very issue.

However, like any other reputable independent shore excursion company, they have insurance whereby they will cover any and all expenses associated with getting the passenger to the next port of call.

But I've had this very conversation with three captains from different cruise lines and all of them have told me the exact same thing. First, they do not ever want to leave anyone behind at a port and will do whatever they can to avoid that. However, they also point out that communication is the number one major factor in this situation.

Almost always, those who miss the ship do so because they simply lost track of time - often due to intoxication. Or they were doing their own thing and didn't realize it would take as long to get back to the ship.

None of them ever had a situation where they left any organized shore excursion behind or were even aware of one. That's not to say they were late - in fact, we were on the bridge with the captain once where we were waiting for an independent group to come back to the ship. But again, that's because all of them know how important it is to be in communication with the ship.

This is why we always tell clients to make sure they take the ship's daily newsletter as the local port authority information is included in it and should they ever have a situation where they're going to be late, they know how to get in touch with the ship.

In the absence of communication, the captain has no choice in the matter. You could be walking down the street, trip and break your ankle, and end up in the hospital. Do you think the ship is going to wait for you? This has nothing to do with a shore excursion, but it definitely has to do with communication. I've known captains to hold a ship for an hour waiting for someone to return from the hospital. (Lady actually did break her ankle.)

So reputable shore excursion companies are just as safe and even sometimes safer than those operated by the cruise line because of the number of people involved.

Both our clients and we have been doing independent excursion for years with no problems and I can't think of a better way to do them.

Pete
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Old January 18th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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It seems to me that a ship or two has left early when imminent bad weather would threaten the ship.

But whatever. I'm happy that you're happy and I am delighted that Carnival is looking after those that book cruise ship excursions. At the end of the day, I am the customer - not some middleman.

Based on my experience, judging by the lines that can form at the Shore Excursions desk, ship excursions are alive and well, and in a number of ports don't really have any competition.

I took a gander at Shore Trips for my cruise next week and they basically offer nothing except for charters, which don't qualify for the Best Price guarantee, anyway.
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