The following is an account of some recent communication I had with Icruise.com. I am providing the complete details for anyone interested in plowing through all of it. In summary, I have done business with Icruise for the past 2 years and never experienced any problems up to this time. Without a doubt, Icruise offers the best redemption value of credit card reward points for anyone interested in cruising. Unfortunately, it would appear, they consider it the customer’s privilege to do business with them, and redemption of reward points is at their whim.
As of now, I am not sure what will become of the 20,000+ reward points I have accumulated with Icruise/MBNA, but I do want anyone considering doing business with Icruise to be aware of the service they might encounter.
On Sat., Jan. 10, I reserved a cruise through Icruise.com. I had attempted to reserve the same cruise a few weeks earlier when it appeared on the Icruise specials listing, only to be informed after I had made my plane reservations that the Icruise posting was in error, and the correct price was actually about 25% higher. Okay; everybody makes mistakes. I waited for a while hoping prices would drop (They were listed slightly lower at Bestpricecruises.com). They didn’t, so I made the reservation, then immediately tried to redeem my travel points from my Icruise/MBNA credit card, only to be informed I had no balance due. I tried several times on Saturday and Sunday and received this same response:
“Dear icruise.com credit card member,
As stated in our FAQ, icruise cannot process icruiseMiles rewards requests for cruises that are fully paid or owe less than the dollar amount of the reward being requested!
Tracking Number c107375139739542 has a balance of $0.00 remaining while you are requesting a $500.00 reward, we are unable to fulfill this redemption at this time. You must now contact and ask for a credit back to your account of a sufficient amount so that a balance greater or equal to $500.00 will stand.
Then you can once again go to https://www.i-cruise.com/redemption.htm
and resubmit your reward request.
On Monday, Jan 12, I again tried to redeem the reward points only to receive a message which told me I would be charged a $50 late penalty because my sailing was within 75 days (the 12th was exactly 75 days).
When I contacted an Icruise representative through their live chat line to explain that I had made every effort to use the reward points earlier, she (Debbie Donovan) stood by the penalty charge.
I then sent an email to the customer service department explaining the problem and letting them know I intended to share the outcome of this situation with others on cruise internet boards.
From: Alex Aliksanyan To: Tim Herbst Sent: Monday, January 12, 2004 8:08 PM Subject: Re: customer service?
“Dear Mr. Herbst,
I am confused, if you had no balance due...meaning you made full payment how is it that now you do have a $850 balance. Second, the icruise.com card benefits are a priviliedge (sic) not a right. We are happy to save you 50% of your cruise costs as a reward for your loyalty, instead you threaten icruise. We have a record of every redemption request that is put through and we find no such request at all from you. You tried several times Saturday and Sunday and magically on Monday the balance appeared.
We do more than anyone else in the cruise business to help our customers...like save you 50% off your cruise price. It takes much effort for icruise to process a payment within final payment period...we require the $50 to help us pay for those costs. The alternative would be that we will NOT accept ANY redemptions within 75 days, maybe that would be preferable to you but most of our customers appreciate the efforts that we go through for them...such as being able to collect points until the very last minute.
Please reconsider your threats.
Alex” [Alex is president and CEO of Icruise]
I tried, once again, by email, to clarify the situation:
“No threat intended. Just want you to know of my intentions to share the full and accurate account of my dealings with Icruise. I have been scheduling trips over the internet for quite awhile now, and I have no question it was the Icruise computer that refused to accept my request to redeem points from my credit card on Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, the computer did not recognize my account balance until Monday even though I received a booking confirmation number on Saturday immediately after submitting the order. It was not my error. I even cut and pasted the number from the confirmation email a few times to be sure I was not mistyping it.
I have dealt with Icruise in good faith. I expected the same in return, from the "customer service" representatives, if not from the computer.”
That same evening, I received an automated email informing me final payment was due for the cruise by the following day.
On Tuesday, Jan 13, I attempted to redeem the reward points and take the $50 penalty and once again received a message indicating there was no balance due on the account. I called Icruise and was told my cruise had been cancelled by Debbie without my authority and without informing me.
Later that evening, I received the following email:
Our "customer service" agents have researched your claim that - you made full deposit, which we do not find occurred. Due to your belligerent attitude, please be notified that we will not heretofore accept your business, nor sell any cruises neither now or at any future time to you. Please note that your recently booked cruise C107375139739542 has been canceled and all charged funds credited to your credit card.