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.
omg!!!!! i just got rid of my MBNA card and went with Chase, and am i ever glad. how unprofessional can they get. u had no balance? lolololol this makes no sense to me at all. they once charged me a late charge and took my low apr because i paid my payment too early they said. i never did hear a word from them despite lots of letters, didnt think of email at the time. i got my low apr back, but the late payment still stands. tx so much for your information. i am not deciding this on your letter alone, its just the straw that broke the camels back. tx again
Thought you should know that my wife and I, along with 10 other couples were looking at icruise for feb 29th on the Conquest. After reading your review and several others we decided to go with someone else.
I did send a message to icruise letting them know that all 11 couples purchased cruise through another travel company due to poor reviews. Not just this one but about 3 other reviews (on other boards) If the gentlemen was right or wrong I about trying I do not know. I do not doubt what he said. My problem was with the reply of icruise. I have been working with the public for 30 years in retail. I know poor customer service and attitude when I hear it.
Its good to know how they treat thier customers. There are plenty of places to book your cruise. I will not use icruise. I hope they read these posts and decide to treat their customers a little better. I hope you have a great time on your next cruise . Leslie
I too have had horrible problems with icruise lately. I have booked several cruises with them in the last few years but after my last few experiences I wil never book with them again. And I'm getting rid of my icruise card stat! Due to some scheduling problems at work and had to cancel a cruise but rebooked for a different date. They booked the new cruise but never canceled the old. I have called them repeatedly and I'm told to leave a message with either my agent or the customer service rep. After going through this several times I talked to a live person and told them how frustrated I was. The response I got was this,"We are a very small agency and you'll just have to wait your turn, there are about 50 people in front of you waiting for calls" Needless to say I was speechless. So I had to call the cruise line directly and they called i-cruise to make sure it got canceled. By the way, this is only one bad experience I've had out of many recently. I'm not a difficult person, in fact I'm very easy going. But they've tested my patience way to much!
I appreciate the heads up. I thing you saved me a headache. I have read several bad reviews about icruise. I even sent them a e-mail about my concerns. I am glad I wne with **************** They have been very nice to me. Answered all my questions in a timely manner and got me a 4 cat upgrade.
I am sorry about your difficulty. I am glad we did not go with icruise.
I did get an e-mail back from icruise. I will post it in a few minutes.
Maybe Im just not getting the problem here. Why didnt you just pay the $50 fee and get your $400 discount and then once you have your cruise in hand, then get the $50 fee refunded? It seems like you lost site of your objective.
I agree their customer service stinks. However the person who wrote the original post lost 20,000 cruise points because they wouldnt just pay the $50 late fee...even if he was right in principle he could have paid the $50 fee gotten his cruise and then taken it up with customer service without threatening to go public with it.
My parents recently had a problem with icruise also. My father booked his cruise and gave them his credit card number. He received an e-mail confirming payment in full. A week later he received notice of a $200 balance due. After repeated attempts he finally talked to a real person who said their computer had been making mistakes and she would fix it. He checked his account and it showed zero balance. Then he got another $200 balance due notice. After many phone calls they finally figured out that when he originally authorized the $1500 charge to his card the only charged him $1300. So icruise sent him a form to fill out authorizing the additional $200 charge. But they wanted him to send copies of the front and back of his credit card. He called the issuing credit card company and they said under no circumstances should this be done. After many more phone calls icruise finally agreed to just charge his card the additional $200. My parents would have just canceled but they booked with 2 other couples. That's 3 more trips a year icruse has lost.
Thanks for the warning. I was thinking about using them for my next cruise because their web site is about the best out there, but that means nothing if they don't give the customer service to back it up. I will stay away!!!!