I've only been on one cruise, so maybe others here will have more to add, but here's what I know. On the ship you will have many opportunities to listen to their salesmen about their Carnival Vacation Club. By listening you usually get entered to a drawing for another vacation, on ours it was to Hawaii. It takes about 30-45 minutes. This Vacation Club is only available on the ship. Basically there are different "levels" of the club ex: Platinum, Sliver, Bronze. What you do is purchase a package plan which has a desiginated amount of points. You then use these points for future cruises. If I remember correctly the Sliver level was about $4,500 and we est. that we would have got 3-4 cruises w/balcony stateroom. We didn't go for it ourselves, but can see the savings with this.
If you have any more questions about this Club, I'll try my best to answer. This should give you a rough idea of what to expect.
Don't bother booking a regular cruise from the ship. They offer no incentive to do so. Better off waiting til you get home and see what's out there for specials. I book a year in advance with either a TA or Carnival when I am on-shore and do better. Any other questions ask away! I am pretty good at this.
jrsred8 & maynovmom, thanks for responding. Does Carnival offer a repeat passenger discount or shipboard credit? I heard they do. maynovmom, my TA is looking for prices for a particular cruise next year so I can have some type of comparison when I check on prices on the ship. Is this Vacation Club something I can get online to research? Thanks in advance.
I don't know anything about the vacation club. I do know that Carnival invites you to an onboard party if you are a repeat cruiser. It is a fun hour thing with free appetizers and drinks on the house. You need to get a cruiser number once you take your firt cruise and then when you book again you tell the TA your cruiser numbers and they forward it to Carnival. On the ship you will receive a postcard note inviting you like mid-week to the party. It is a nice touch. The only price reductions I know of for past cruisers are for certain dates only. I teach so they never work out for my schedule. What cruise are you on soon or looking at?
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.
I agree with the other poster who said not to book another cruise while on board. I already knew the date that I would be traveling, the ship, and had a price quoted from a travel agent when I approached Carnival on my most recent cruise (January 05 -Valor) The price they quoted was over $100 higher!! So, don't waste your time waiting in line, as I did, to take advantage of these so-called discounts!