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Old November 18th, 2008, 10:41 PM
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Default WARNING!!!! CHECK YOUR CRUISE RESERVATIONS

I received a voicemail from Carnival Cruiseline this afternoon. They informed me that the TA (cruise specialist) that I used to book my 05/09 cruise has gone out of business. Luckily, since this is a Carnival cruise, all I have to do is contact Carnival tomorrow morning so that they can send me some sort of form to sign and they will take over my reservation.

Be forewarned. In this economical climate some of these cruise specialist companies are having a really hard time. This particular cruise agency is one of the major players in the Internet cruise specialty field and they are no more. I don't know if I am allowed to disclose the name but if you want to know, send me a pm and I will tell you which company has gone bust.

If you have a cruise booked through a travel agency (especially if it is a group cruise), it may be a good time to find out from the cruiseline how they would handle something like this. My reservation is for a single cabin. I am not sure how the other cruiselines will handle something like this if this was a group booking. Also, I had only made a down payment thus far, so it is to Carnival's benefit to take care of this situation.

Again, CHECK YOUR TRAVEL AGENCY RESERVATIONS.[/b]
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Old November 18th, 2008, 11:28 PM
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Thats why I like to use the PVPs becuase there is no worrying. They will always be there.
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Old November 18th, 2008, 11:55 PM
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Sounds like really good advice if you are using a TA. I like booking direct using Carnival.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 12:00 AM
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It's actually a rather simple solution to make sure you're protected.

ONLY use a credit card for deposits and final payments, and check to make sure the charge is made directly through the cruise line's account, NOT the travel agent.

If you do that (you can check your credit card billing online, as well as the cruise line web site to verify you're booked) then you are booked, and if the situation arises where the travel agency does cease operations, your booking is intact, and in no jeaprody.

I've personally never understood why anyone would give cash or a check directly to a travel agent under any circumstances.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:21 AM
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Kuki this is why I love this site you guys give us less experienced travelers free expert advice along with the other members who post their knowledge also. All of which is much appreciated.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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Any reason not to disclose the name of the agency? If they are OOB then who cares? Make it easy on the rest of us so we can make changes if need be. You are not violating copyright laws or insider trading. I am interested but not to the point of PM'ing you. I booked on line.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:39 PM
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Yes, Kuki is 100% correct, always use a credit card for booking travel, its your protection too. I would even go as far to say, use it for your shipboard credit as well, much easier to dispute any errors in the billing. Again, you should check your account from time to time while cruising as well, don't wait until the last evening of the cruise. When cruising with Royal Caribbean, you can check it in your cabin on the TV, they come up almost automatically.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:43 PM
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On Carnival you can also check in on your tv right when you purchase the item.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:35 AM
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Default UPDATE!!!!! JUST SPOKE TO CARNIVAL

The name of the company is Cruise Value Center (CVC).

I just spoke to Carnival and here is the situation.

For people who have only paid a deposit so far for their cruise, they are in good shape. CVC had forwarded all deposits in full to Carnival. People in this situation only have to get, fill out and sign the authorization form to transfer the reservation either to Carnival or another T/A. There is no lost for these customers. Luckily I am in this group.

NOW, HERE IS THE KICKER. . . .

For people who have paid in FULL via credit card, CVC only sent their deposit to Carnival. It seems as though CVC had neglected to forward to Carnival the final payments even though their customers paid CVC. Since this is not a Carnival error and Carnival cannot give away "free" cruises, people in this situation are having to dispute the charges with their credit cards and then remake final payment either directly to Carnival or through another T/A. Depending on the credit card company and when final payment was made, most people in this situation are having success in getting the charges reversed so that they can make another payment to Carnival without occurring any additional costs.

For people who paid in full in CASH, CHECKS OR DEBIT CARD, well. . . they are basically out of luck. CVC has gone under, Carnival cannot and will not waive final payment for any passengers or groups. (If they waived your final payment, I suggest you keep it a secret b/c the public word is that Carnival is not responsible for the actions of any T/A.)

If you paid in CASH, CHECK or DEBIT CARD, you have to make payment AGAIN to Carnival. The most you can do is sue in small claims court and/or get in line with the rest of CVC's creditors.

The guy I spoke to at Carnival said that it is a quote "mess". He said 90% of CVC's passengers had already made full payment b/c CVC's practice was to get full payment out of their customers long before it was due to be turned over to Carnival. (Kinda like an interest free loan. They get to use their customers money for a few months before they had to make payment to Carnival; which is all good and fine until the company (CVC) goes under.)

For me, this is a wrap for using T/A's for my cruises. Dealing with CVC was an experiment because I had always booked directly with Carnival. After this, I will go back to dealing directly with Carnival. It doesn't matter what kind of great deal you get through a T/A, because it means squat if your entire vacation is destroyed because of the going ons at the T/A.

It is just crazy.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 01:56 PM
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Default Re: UPDATE!!!!! JUST SPOKE TO CARNIVAL

Quote:
Originally Posted by IBCRUZIN'
The name of the company is Cruise Value Center (CVC).

I just spoke to Carnival and here is the situation.

For people who have only paid a deposit so far for their cruise, they are in good shape. CVC had forwarded all deposits in full to Carnival. People in this situation only have to get, fill out and sign the authorization form to transfer the reservation either to Carnival or another T/A. There is no lost for these customers. Luckily I am in this group.

NOW, HERE IS THE KICKER. . . .

For people who have paid in FULL via credit card, CVC only sent their deposit to Carnival. It seems as though CVC had neglected to forward to Carnival the final payments even though their customers paid CVC. Since this is not a Carnival error and Carnival cannot give away "free" cruises, people in this situation are having to dispute the charges with their credit cards and then remake final payment either directly to Carnival or through another T/A. Depending on the credit card company and when final payment was made, most people in this situation are having success in getting the charges reversed so that they can make another payment to Carnival without occurring any additional costs.

For people who paid in full in CASH, CHECKS OR DEBIT CARD, well. . . they are basically out of luck. CVC has gone under, Carnival cannot and will not waive final payment for any passengers or groups. (If they waived your final payment, I suggest you keep it a secret b/c the public word is that Carnival is not responsible for the actions of any T/A.)

If you paid in CASH, CHECK or DEBIT CARD, you have to make payment AGAIN to Carnival. The most you can do is sue in small claims court and/or get in line with the rest of CVC's creditors.

The guy I spoke to at Carnival said that it is a quote "mess". He said 90% of CVC's passengers had already made full payment b/c CVC's practice was to get full payment out of their customers long before it was due to be turned over to Carnival. (Kinda like an interest free loan. They get to use their customers money for a few months before they had to make payment to Carnival; which is all good and fine until the company (CVC) goes under.)

For me, this is a wrap for using T/A's for my cruises. Dealing with CVC was an experiment because I had always booked directly with Carnival. After this, I will go back to dealing directly with Carnival. It doesn't matter what kind of great deal you get through a T/A, because it means squat if your entire vacation is destroyed because of the going ons at the T/A.

It is just crazy.

Thanks for the info. You also hit the nail on the head. Any TA can fold and its a hassle to try and reclaim your money. In uncertain times book your trips at the source instead of a 3rd party. The deal may not always be the best but you will have peace of mind. For me its totally worth it.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Thanks for the info. You also hit the nail on the head. Any TA can fold and its a hassle to try and reclaim your money. In uncertain times book your trips at the source instead of a 3rd party. The deal may not always be the best but you will have peace of mind. For me its totally worth it.
CVC (and it's associate Cruises of Distinction) are the first major travel agencies to go belly up in a very long time.

With the economy in the turmoil it's in, the type of logic would dictate making no purchases at all. Carnival and RCI share are VERY low at the moment, and both have announced they are no longer paying dividends on those shares, so they could also be in trouble... though I am certainly NOT saying they are.

If a cruise line happened to go bankrupt, and you have paid your money directly to them using cash or a check, you'd be out of luck, just as those who paid CVC in that manner.

GM, Ford, and Chrysler are all on the verge of bankruptcy, so does that mean no one should buy a car, for fear parts will no longer be available?

At the moment, sadly all variety of retailers are at risk. However, that doesn't mean you quit buying... or at least shouldn't if you're buying things you can afford.

As long as you follow the basic rule, of PAYING WITH A CREDIT CARD, both deposits and final payments.... and making certain the charges are billed DIRECTLY to the cruise line (and immediately check online to see your booking exists), it's perfectly safe to use a travel agent, because the credit card company is in place to recover any potential loss.

Personally, if I'm going to buy, I'd rather do it with a travel agency who can save me money from the get to, and then act as my "agent" if a problem arises.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 04:21 PM
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What a sad situation for sure. Also, another good reason to use that credit card for cruise deposits and final payment and also include all the shipboard purchases as well.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 10:45 PM
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WOW WOW WOW I have used Cruise Value center for years with great success. I stopped using them in May 2008 and for this next cruise coming up in June 2009. Actually Carnival prices were higher but I found it easier dealing with the live reps on the phone w/Carnival. With Cruise Value Center I could only deal with Marie via the computer online. Funny thing though I was just in East Brunswick New Jersey a few weeks ago and Cruise Value Center on Rt 18 was open for business with people working inside and customers coming & going which I viewed because I was eating at the Chinese restaurant next door. If they closed that was one fast move.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ro
WOW WOW WOW I have used Cruise Value center for years with great success. I stopped using them in May 2008 and for this next cruise coming up in June 2009. Actually Carnival prices were higher but I found it easier dealing with the live reps on the phone w/Carnival. With Cruise Value Center I could only deal with Marie via the computer online. Funny thing though I was just in East Brunswick New Jersey a few weeks ago and Cruise Value Center on Rt 18 was open for business with people working inside and customers coming & going which I viewed because I was eating at the Chinese restaurant next door. If they closed that was one fast move.
Carnival will match prices, so you could of got the price of the Cruise value center with Carnival. But you have to do it within 24 hours.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:20 PM
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Thank You for telling me that I was not aware that they matched prices. Thats why I love this site you learn alot.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:32 PM
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The price of a company's stock is indicative of "preception" only rather than true "fiscal health". Companies like the mass market cruiselines have so many ways to shed costs that their core survival is almost guaranteed. They survived 9/11 when NO ONE was cruising. They will survive this. I think the high fuel costs of this past summer was more perilous to their financial well-being than this recession.

Also, while the economy is still in the toilet, the sudden massive drop in the cost of fuel has allowed many companies to quietly get a breather. While the price companies charge are still based on 2008 fuel costs, they are actually paying 2004-2005 fuel prices. What you see now is that companies, like consumers, may have finally learned a lesson -- don't spend tomorrow's money today. Therefore, many major companies are actually quite a bit more liquid than may appear simply because they are using these tough economical times as cover while they shed unwanted employees, wiggle out of burdensome labor agreements and bulk up their cash/liquid assets.

However, none of the above applies to smaller operations who do not have gazillion dollars in hard assets. For the foreseeable future, I will sidestep any and all TA's simply because it is much more likely that they will become the problem rather than the solution.

P.S. For example, the Big 3 automakers in the U.S. are actually in a no lose situation. Either the government bails them out (not likely) or they file for bankruptcy reorganization (what I truly believe they want anyway). Bankruptcy reorganization will immediately nullify all of those antiquated and bloated labor contracts and reconfigure retirement benefits that are the true strangleholds on the automobile industry. Bankruptcy will also probably render their common stock worthless, eliminating the need to pay dividends to the 100,000's of former employees and other small stockholders while leaving the door open for fresh funds (overseas investors?). They will get to close plants in union strong states and open new ones in at-will regions of the country.

This is something that has already happened in the airline, retail and banking industries. We will see some more of this in the very near future.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
Carnival will match prices, so you could of got the price of the Cruise value center with Carnival. But you have to do it within 24 hours.
Carnival will not match discounted prices. They may quote the same price as prices you find advertised, because they don't allow agent to advertise a lower price. But agents are allowed to, and do discount.

If they did that travel agents would be up in arms. The cruise line, and their representatives, are not in business to compete with their travel agent community. I'm sure the national associations of travel agencies would love to see proof that the cruise lines are competing with them.

They'd be banging on Mr. Cahill's door enmasse in an hour
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Old November 21st, 2008, 12:01 AM
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Wow! Thanks for the heads up! I always book with cruisesonly and pray they don't fold! I sure will keep better track now. Thanks for all the pointers!
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Old November 21st, 2008, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
This is something that has already happened in the airline, retail and banking industries.
Yes, and those industries are in such terrific shape now

I don't think you'll find many airlines, retailers or bankers talking now about how great things are; especially those who've closed their doors.

Renaissance Cruise Line went bankrupt in the late 90s when the world economy was relatively healthy. Guess they couldn't shed their problems fast enough.

The cruise lines do appear to be too large to simply "go under". But just a few short months ago most people would have said the same of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Bros, and General Motors.

While I do hope it's not true. I don't believe we've seen the end of some pretty big brands disappearing in all sectors.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 02:57 AM
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Wow, sad news about CVC. I had booked with them in the past with good results. Bob
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 10:19 AM
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We always liked working with CVC. They used to give us a free weekend somewhere everytime we cruised or free travel insurance.
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 02:29 PM
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Hi all..

Another travel agent we knew - Ernie Grossman (Tamarac Travel) went out of business and did the same thing CVC has done, started keeping "the float" in hopes they could "borrow" the cash going through the agency as an unauthorized bridge loan. This is highly illegal and Grossman went to prison (from what I heard) for his actions.

He was a very nuce and hekpful guy who was on these and other mesaage boards all the time. But you just can't do this as a travel agency.

Kuki - I think you may have Renaissance confused with Premeir. The latter went out of business in the lat 90s, but Renaissance was one of the 9/11 economy tragedies - Sept 26, 2001 was their announced date.

The writing was on the wall - in fact it was ERNIE GROSSMAN who was writing me pretty frequently and telling me they were going under, and I have to admit I did not believe him at the time.

I recall one or two other agencies who got into trouble for doing this - obviously Windjammer, who went down taking "direct booking" prepaid cruises worth some $10,000000 with them.

One of the Gay travel agencies has been embroiled in a controversy like this, although I think the agency is now OK, one of their partners took off with some cash that wasn't him, but the company survived.

Cruise Value will pay the piper for these actions, and it won't be pretty for them.
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 03:24 PM
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Default cruise value center posting on web and door of store

CRUISE VALUE CENTER HAS TEMPORARILY STOPPED TAKING NEW BOOKINGS.
HERE IS SOME HELPFUL INFORMATION.
Call the Cruise Line to find out the status of your booking.


If they have your deposit and final payment received… then have them send your documents to your home address.


If they have your deposit and you have not been charged for your final payment… then make your final payment to them and have your documents sent to your home address.


If they have your deposit and you have been charged on your credit card but the Cruise Line has not received the final payment… then call your credit card company and “dispute” the charge. You may receive your money back and you can pay the Cruise Line directly.



Regarding travel insurance … please contact the insurance company directly.



Any financial loss may be covered by your travel insurance… your homeowners insurance… or your credit card insurance. We suggest you contact them.


You may contact us by U.S. Mail only.


Cruise Value Center
6 Edgeboro Road
East Brunswick, NJ 08816
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 04:10 PM
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The travel Insurance provider for the insurance CVC used to give as a complimentary incentive recommends you contact http://www.bestpricecruises.com
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 04:41 PM
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Every time I check prices, they are all exactly the same from agency to agency to the cruiseline itself. I was involved with an online travel agency for awhile. The cruise lines pay 16% of the fare not including port charges, fuel , fees and taxes. So on a $1000 total fare only about $700 is commissionable. So if the agent wants to give up some of that $112 I guess they can. If the cabin were $3200 and they get paid on $2500 of it, that is $400. They can't afford to give it all up and stay in business.

If you do have a good TA that is reputable and likely to stay in business use them. Keep them alive. If not call the line directly.
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 05:38 PM
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Hi Dave...

Using your example, the thing is that the ciommission on a more expensive cabin on the same cruise is much higher, because the "non-commissionable fees" tend to be the same regardless of what cabin you are in.

Therefore, the higher up in category you go, the more likely it is a travel agent can save you money or the direct-booking price.

Also - keep in mind that the prices you SEE are not the discounts you can get if you CALL a travel agent. Agents are not allowed to advertise lower prices, display them or even say "call us for lower prices than the ones you see."

However, since rebating was such a common practice, the cruise lines did not want to take it out of the competition equation completely for the agencies who still want to do it (to compete by price) so they said "OK, you can rebate, just limit it to one on one conversations with the customer."
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 08:40 PM
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Gosh, what a mess...Paul, I had no idea that happed to Ernie, always wondered where he went to?? Now I know...

In these hard times, not much suprises me anymore. Who would of guessed our economy would be as it is today. I've worked a lot of years to be able to someday retire, will be a long time and fewer cruises in there too
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 11:54 PM
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Dave, does that mean no more Dave the Wave travel? I thought you were still in business. Bob
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Old November 25th, 2008, 08:04 PM
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Default LATEST UPDATE!!! I HAVE CANCELLED MY CRUISE

I have cancelled this particular cruise. This is what happened. .

I had Carnival take over the reservation on Thursday. On Friday evening I just happen to go into the Carnival site to see if they had completed the transfer and noticed that the price had gone up by $119 CVC had quoted me a price of $1,181 for a solo category 1A and when I went onto Carnival's website the price for this reservation was now $1,300.

I called Carnival immediately and got a PVP on the phone. She explained that the department I needed to talk to was closed and I should call back on Monday morning. Her and I talked a bit about what may have caused the price to jump.

She explained to me that in order for the travel agencies to give their customer a better price than what Carnival offered, the agencies were basically taking less of a commission in order to give the customer a lower price. She went on to explain that Carnival is not responsible for honoring this price cut because it came from the TA. She adviced me that I should call the main office on Monday and perhaps they would be able to do something for me. I thanked her and hung up.

At that point, I got an epitome. I started to tick off the pros and cons. I had a $300 cash deposit on this cruise. I had only booked 1 cabin (cat 1A). There is nothing special about this cabin. Decent location but otherwise, no big deal. Given the ecomony, there is an excellent chance that at some point between now and the beginning of May the price of a cat 1a on this cruise will DROP (perhaps nosedive) in an effort to fill this ship. Add to that the fact that I had just done this itinerary two years ago, there was nothing special about the initerary. And, finally, the ship is almost brand new but, does that matter that much?

My epitome was . . . in these economical uncertainties, why was I letting Carnival sit on my $300 for a run of the mill cabin reservation that was booked at top dollar? Especially since they were not forward thinking enough not to mess with the reservation. In fact, the price they charged me were $60 higher than I will pay if I book this same cruise, on either Friday or TODAY. :evil: Unfortunately, when they took over the reservation, they made no attempt to match the price I was paying or tell me about the higher price. They just socked me with the core price and left it for me to discover on my own. That is pretty grimy.

When I called back and told the PVP to cancel the reservation, I asked her if Carnival thought their customers were stupid and would not notice a higher price??? She actually understood exactly what I am doing and why I was doing it.

So they are now returning the $300 to my credit card, they get their cabin 8345 back and I will just keep an eye on the price of this cruise. I booked this cruise before the economy went down the toilet so it is highly unlikely that I will not be able to find the same (or a similar) cruise, around the same time (vacation time has not been approved yet) of the year for a better price than the core price of this 8 day cruise.

Go figure. There is always another shoe to drop.
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