Does anyone have good or bad comments on the Carnival Vacation Club pre-paid vacation plan? We signed up for it on our recent Mexican Riviera cruise (Pride, 04/11-04/18) and we have a couple of days to change our mind before the contract is binding. I'm concerned about the small number of resorts/hotels available, which wasn't evident to us until we got home from the cruise and checked out the club's web site. If anyone has experience with this I'd appreciate your input. Thanks!
By the way, the cruise was wonderful and the Pride is beautiful. We were very happy with this cruise.
Yes, we checked in early at the Queen Mary at around 11:00. After checking in, they told us to head over to the terminal at 11:45 to wait in the line at the left doorway for those people who checked in early, but this line was extremely long even by 11:15. Once the doors open it goes pretty quickly, and the other line, for those who didn't do early check-in, goes very slowly.
Yes, we had our 3 kids with us (16, 14 and 10). They had a great time. There's lots to do for kids, and because it was spring break, there were 800 kids on the Pride that week. All of us loved the cruise and the ship itself, as well as the friendliness of the crew (exept for the photo staff!). If you have any other questions about the ship or shore excursions, let me know. We went horseback riding in Mazatlan with Randi's Happy Horses (booked on our own) and did the Paradise Beach Resort in PV and the Snorkel and Sail Fiesta in Cabo San Lucas (both booked through the ship).
If you haven't already planned to do so, I highly recommend bringing two-way radios to keep in touch with the kids. They were extremely helpful.
Was there activities for your 16 year old? Camp Carnival is advertized for 15yr. Were your 14 and 16 year old able to do things together? My 14 year old wants to hang out with his 16 year old brother and not with the Camp Carnival kids.
I forgot to answer your first question about activities for the older kids. They can participate in just about all the activities, games, game shows, etc. that the adults do, but in addition, there is a teen disco every night in one of the lounges. There are also sports activities every day on the sports deck, such as volleyball, basketball, ping pong, etc. The pools and hot tubs are the most popular places for the teens during the day.
The Carnival Vacation Club is a timeshare program.
Simply put, it is cheaper to call your travel agent and book a cruise than it is to buy points from the Carnival Vacation Club program and buy cruises with your points.
My first mistake was that I signed up. My second mistake was that I didn't do my homework right when I got off the ship. Had I done my homework, I would have realized that the rate I'm paying with this program is 10%-25% HIGHER than had I simply booked directly with my travel agent.
This is of course not what I was promised when I signed up. I was promised that I would get more than my money's worth in cruises alone - that I would have enough points for 4-5 cruises just like the one I was on right now. In actuality, with the points I purchased, I could barely get 3 cruises, which is just about what I could get had I just called my travel agent and paid them. I should have never trusted what I was told, only what I signed...which were 2 totally different things.
The explanation from the Carnival Vacation Club people was that I'm getting a great deal on cruises AND my membership comes with so much more...which is what I'm paying for. The "so much more" is companion airfare tickets, cheap resort stays, discount hotel rates. Upon examination, those deals aren't too good either, since you have to book through the Vacation Club and therefore cannot shop around for the best deal.
My advice: DON'T DO IT.
In addition to the crappy value and the fact that you're tying your money up, the attitude from the Carnival Vacation Club people...the regulars and the supervisors...is "look in your contract, you agreed to it, you could have cancelled within 3 days of your return". I wish I had.
We are members of Carnivals Vacation Club and we love it! Yes it might be higher and you are right, there are very few resorts avaliable but the service that you get when cruising was worth all the negatives I guess. This last cruise..last week..we received gifts every day, we were the first to board the ship and had priority debarkation. We also had dinner with the Staff Captain and 3 of the officers on the ship. We actually had so many invitations to attend different things that we simply could not make them all. I understand your gripes, but we have seen first hand some of the advantages. Sorry you have negative feelings...