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Old June 2nd, 2004, 06:25 AM
Jim Kull
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Default Use a Travel Agent

I made a mistake!

I made a mistake! My mistake created a very unhappy wife and when my wife is unhappy, I am unhappy. My mistake was not Carnival. My mistake was not the particular cruise – April 19, 2004, Ecstasy cruise to Mexico. My mistake was not the service, the food or any particular amenity. Rather, my mistake was to not use a professional Travel Agent and instead deal directly with Carnival. My mistake was Gordon Stephenson. Mr. Stephenson was my “Carnival Personal Vacation Planner”.

Now, you may ask why one person could be my mistake. Very simply, he either lied to me or he was grossly misinformed. Despite some strong trepidation, I will get to that, I trusted him.

My, at that time, happy wife and I needed to be in Los Angeles. Since we were going to be there anyway, we thought a short cruise would be a nice break. The itinerary for this particular cruise was not exciting but it was an opportunity to simply get away and rest. We love cruising. We prefer a suite with a balcony. A suite gives us a fair amount of room. The balcony gives us a place to stretch out, relax and merely watch the world go by.

I did a fair amount of research on the various cruises departing from the Los Angeles area and found the Ecstasy was one that fit our schedule, had 2 different levels of balcony rooms and seemed to best fit our needs. The Ecstasy had another benefit to us. In the September timeframe we intend to take a repositioning cruise from the West Coast to the East Coast. The Ecstasy is going to offer this particular cruise and it was a good opportunity to check it out.

I looked at travel agents in this website and also visited the Carnival website. Visiting the Carnival website brought me Mr. Stephenson. He did his job well. He contacted me with almost overwhelming frequency. That’s fine, he was doing his job and had I told him to quit calling I am sure he would have.

So, why is my unhappy wife making me unhappy? My wife is unhappy because cost is not a major issue. We want what we want. We want a large room with a balcony. That was explained to Mr. Stephenson. I was fully prepared to book a Category 12 Suite. Mr. Stephenson pushed a Category 11 for a variety of reasons including spectacular views and greater privacy than a Category 12 would offer. I trusted him and accepted his recommendation. We started to book the cruise. He assigned me cabin V27. I told him I did not think so. He asked why. I told him I had found comments on the Internet that cabins V23, V25, V27, V34, V38 and V42 had obscured views. I also did not want cabins V1, V2, V3 and V4 because people on deck could look straight into the cabin. He said none of that was true. He said there was no way Carnival would offer a high-priced cabin with an obscured view. He said only “cheap” cabins had obscured views. I told Mr. Stephenson I was still concerned and if there was any possibility the cabin view was going to be obscured I want a Category 12. He asked me to trust him and I did. The Internet travel agents recommend against this cabin but, after all, Mr. Stephenson is Carnival and who should know this ship better.

April 19th brought a beautiful day in Los Angeles. The weather was perfect. April 19th brought any excellent breakfast on the Queen Mary. April 19th brought an excellent boarding process. April 19th brought cabin V27 with a lifeboat and a “Zodiac-type” boat hanging outside the railing of the cabin. Now, in my mind that is an obscured view. My wife was not happy but decided she was not going to allow this to mess up her vacation. After all, the balcony was still there and she could take a glass of wine out there and read. That was not to be. On two separate days she tried that and on those two separate days happy merry workers deciding it was timely to work on the “Zodiac” joined her. That may be Mr. Stephenson’s concept of spectacular views and greater privacy but it was not hers.

Spending a few more dollars would have given us what we wanted and, I stress, I was fully capable and prepared to spend those few dollars. Following Mr. Stephenson’s advice gave us essentially the same thing as an Ocean View Stateroom and that would have been a lot less money. My wife did not get what she wanted, she is unhappy. She is unhappy so I am unhappy.

Compounding my displeasure was a lack of interest on the part of Carnival. Two letters to Carnival’s Corporate Offices brought no response. We still intend to take a Trans-Canal cruise in September. We may opt to cruise with Carnival but that is somewhat problematic. We are not being particularly fair to the Ecstasy or to Carnival as a carrier. We are affected by the less than pleasant experience we had on this last cruise. It was not the ship. It was not the service. It was my fault. I trusted Carnival – I trusted Mr. Stephenson. But, then, Carnival has also shown their apathy. That will not happen again.

Perception is reality. Perception says Mr. Stephenson is Carnival. Perception says Carnival cheated me. Perception says that Carnival does not care. Perception says my wife is unhappy. Reality says I am unhappy.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 09:01 AM
mbres60
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

Looks like your thread on another message board got pulled (probably because you named names of a PVP). I hope you have tried calling Bob Dickinson's office and let them know that your letter has not been responded to yet as your complaints sound valid and should be looked into and not ignored. Please let us know what happens.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 09:13 AM
Ty Ty is offline
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

I'm sorry to hear about this Jim.

I am planning to use one of Carnival's Vacation Planners myself, but now i'm not so sure. He--my vacation planner told me that if I book on my own (on-line) I would be stuck with what ever I got and if any problems arise he wouldn't be able to help. He also told me if I don't have my deposit in quickly--as in now, that for a cruise in October-rates would go up, and he has been calling alot. Which that alone has been making me angry. This is my first cruise and I am sooo confussed as to booking rooms and stuff.

Jim, have you cruised before, and how did you plan your other cruises?
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 11:15 AM
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

I was going to use a PVP from Carnival when I first started to think about booking a cruise and he very quickly got on my nerves! I am sure this is what they are trained to do, but he sent me emails every other day and then I had to ask three times to be take off his email list once I had already booked through Expedia.
I decided to do it myself so that I couldnt be mislead by a travel agent or Carnival rep. They give you a map of the ship and allow you to chose your room that way. Then you can go to one of the sites mentioned on some other threads on this board that give you a virtual tour of your cabin class. They usually note when a cabin has an obstructed view or you can see that the lifeboat is right there and will be in your way.

If you dont trust yourself to do it without the help of a professional, I would use a travel agent, but they too get a little annoying. I called a few for prices and things and got a call once a day from them asking if I was ready to book. But they do offer great advice and can be a big help if you have NO idea what you are doing.

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Old June 2nd, 2004, 12:43 PM
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

I always use a local travel agent. Prices have been better than directly with Carnival and if something goes wrong I have someone local to talk to.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:08 PM
mbres60
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

To a previous poster
I have used online travel agencies and a Carnival rep (not PVP) from their toll free800-carnival #. Basically I did my research and booked with who I thought best. Don't let anyone make you feel that you better book right now. Obviously you may miss out if rates are about to jump however, if it is before final payment is due Carnival and many on line agencies (just ask in advance) will lower your price. After final payment is made it is Carnival's descretion to give an upgrade or onboard credit. One thing to note is that PVP's do call people but a regular Carnival rep does not. If you prefer, just call the toll free number. If you like who you are speaking with ask for their direct extension (most offer to give it out as they don't work on commision but do get points towards something)and that way you deal with them again. Many people are quite pleased with their PVP's and or reps and use them for all their cruises. There are always a few bad cust reps in any business so don't let that scare you away from booking directly with Carnival.
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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

I booked directly with Carnival and my PVP has been great. In fact, an independent travel agent that I contacted later confirmed that I'd gotten a good price from Carnival. Of course, I haven't sailed yet, so the jury's still out on whether it goes as it should. I've booked an inside cabin, so I don't have to worry about an obstructed vs non obstructed view. But I would be pretty irate if I had paid a premium price for a premium room and not gotten what I paid for, especially if I'd insisted that I didn't want a particular cabin and the PVP gave it to me anyway. I hope Carnival gets their act together and responds to Jim's complaints, which are certainly valid.
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 05:24 AM
Jim Kull
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Default Re: Re: Use a Travel Agent

We have taken 5 other cruises with no problems. Each time before I used a Travel Agent. I had never used a cruise line employee before nor had I booked over the net. Unfortunately, we moved and that agent is no longer available to us. This was simply a lapse in judgement. I should have established a relationship with a new travel agent.
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 05:29 AM
Jim Kull
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Default Re: Re: Use a Travel Agent

I have written 3 letters to Carnival and got no response. I called Dickinson's office and was told someone would get back to me - nothing. Carnival simply does not care. I am not asking for anything other than an acknowledgement that there was a problem. A simple sorry would have made me happy. Rather they have compounded my dissatisfaction by ignoring me.
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 05:33 AM
bjkeen
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

I never book on line because I want a TA who will give personal service. Sorry you didn't get what you wanted. Also I never book directly with Carnival because I want the cheapest price possible. Even if money is no object, it is still your money and you should be able to save as much as possible. Now you know what you want and next time do not let anyone persuade you to book anything other than what you specify. I booked a guarantee once; I was ignorant and did not realize what guarantee status meant. Now I know that guarantee is not what I want. We all have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. Did you address your letters to the President of Carnival Bob Dickinson? I have received letters from him in the past. Feel free to email me and I will try to help you.
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 09:02 AM
Keoka
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

Hi,
The same thing happened to me on my first Carnival cruise on the Fantasy. I almost let it spoil my whole cruise, but thankfully when I went to dinner that night and the dining staff saw how unhappy I was...they kicked into overtime to try to make my time onboard more enjoyable. They DID the trick and I got over the disappointment.

I was told that that cabin was "partially obstructed" which meant that MAYBE there was a pole or something there...yeah right....I shared my time with the painters too!

From that point on...I ALWAYS do research on the deckplans and staterooms to see which ones are obstructed or not. I ALSO make sure I do a walk about on the ship and make notes as to where things are located and which cabins are the best.

I feel for ya, but now you'll never be fooled by something like this again. Sometimes some companies hire people who give the company a bad name.

It won't happen to you again I'm sure.
Happy Sailing!
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 09:33 AM
ljrfrm
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Default Re: Re: Use a Travel Agent

What concerns me about Carnival (and it could be other cruise lines too) is that each time you call, you get a different answer. I've called with several different questions, and the answer I got was different than what previous posters get. Not sure if it's misinformation, poor training or what. So, I've learned to ask my questions either here or at other message boards.....the answers are always more accurate.

Sorry you had bad luck with your PVP. I wonder if it was outright lying or again the misinformation people seem to get a lot. I booked with a private TA, and I am frustrated that Carnival gives different information, but I still can't wait to sail with them!
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Old June 3rd, 2004, 09:40 AM
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Default Re: Use a Travel Agent

regarding the October rates....they went up yesterday.

I did a little research and found out that Carnival's fiscal year ends 30 November. This means the that first qtr. end Feb 28, second qtr. May 31, third qtr. Aug 30, 4th Nov. 30.

I am sure that the prices are reduced at the end of each quarter (just like many publically traded companies) in order to make sales.

Keep this in mind when booking. We booked at the end of May, for the 25 Sept. sailing on the Triumph, using a past guest rate, we got a balcony, on the Lido, for $699. Two days later that room was on the internet for $1,700 (don't know if the past guest special would apply to bring that rate down).

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