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Old August 25th, 2010, 01:28 PM
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Default Bait and Switch?

To begin, my first cruise was actually on the SS Norway in 1977 (albeit I was just a pre-teen at the time). I've cruised on Carnival, HAL and NCL since then.

I never believed that the cruise industry practiced bait and switch, at least none of the "big guys", to protect their reputation, but I think I was a victim of this practice with Carnival.

So, I was looking for a group of cabins (we preferred suites) for a 2010 Christmas, and or New Year's cruise to celebrate several family milestones. My older sister is getting married. My son is graduation from college. My younger sister is celebrating some personal achievements, and my girlfriend is celebrating a new job. Plus, we're looking for something to do other than the "same old-same old" over Christmas.

So, I convinced everyone that taking a cruise would be great and would be ideal for all the celebrations.

With kids, spouses, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc, we were looking at about 10 people. OK.....4 suites would work.

I call the Carnival Rep a few weeks ago and she recommends the new DREAM, whose itinerary would cover both Christmas and New Years (12/24/10-01/02/11). She quotes, on the low end $1,290/pp for a cove balcony. On the high end, she quotes ~$1,500 for a JR suite/PP. Sounds good to me. All I have to do is contact everyone to see if the price works. That evening, I contact everyone. We're excited. It's a go.

The next morning (less than 18 hours after the first call), I call the Carnival rep's extension, but get voice mail. About 15-20 minutes later, I get a call from another Carnival rep (not the original). I begin to tell him what my original rep had quoted and what I want to book and the milestones/celebrations we want to plan for.

Long and short of this, he tells me that the fares I was quoted were wrong. The new fares were about $200-$400/PP more on the exact same cabins/suites/categories. I ask to speak to my original Carnival rep, but he tells me she has the day off.

I'm pretty steamed at this point.

Bottom line, after doing some digging, apparently the original rep had quoted me "early saver" fares. The 2nd rep told me fares sometimes change hourly and he could no longer promise early saver (Huuuuhhhhhh??????). No one told me about fares changing hourly, or that fares quoted 12-16 hours apart could change that significantly.

Needless to say, some people in my party were so mad over this course of events, they actually canceled the entire cruise idea.

I did call to complain (I notice that Carnival makes it very difficult to find, let alone contact someone with any real authority).

One sympathetic Carnival rep did find a New Year's fare that was palatable to the rest of my party. But, it wasn't on the DREAM. It was on the Freedom. And, it wasn't 8 days, it's 6 days (leaving 12/26, returning 1/1). Plus, it's still more expensive than the original quote on the DREAM.

Quite disappointed in Carnival for the first time.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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Very well explained, but unfortunately that is how it works. Fares can and do go up overnight. Sorry about that.

I'm still undecided on the Early Saver. It's great for those that use it correctly, but so many times people don't understand that they are 'locked-in' and can't make changes.

There are a lot of families that do exactly what your doing and you will have a good cruise. Decorate your cabin doors, have fun, and make it a family experience.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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I was going to say:
You actually clicked over the early saver deadline. Early Saver requires a five month advanced booking. If you checked on August 24th for a December 24th you were right on the deadline. When you called back on the 25th you had passed the deadline.

Then I realized the Christmas is only four months away!

I'm guessing your original rep did not look up the fares, but just thought the Early Saver was still in place. Their mistake and you have to pay for it - bummer. They certainly should have done a better job, maybe even holding the cabins at the quoted rate. Of course then they should have realized their error.

With a group that size don't you get one free fare?
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Old August 25th, 2010, 02:55 PM
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One: Don't ever try to organize a family cruise.

Two: When you get a quote you like put it on a 24 hour courtesy hold and use that time to get the final commitment from the people involved. If they don't commit then they lose it.

Prices do change each day and like airfare if you snooze you lose.

Take care,
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Old August 25th, 2010, 04:03 PM
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Thanks everyone for your kind responses. And yes, being the "lead" in planning a family cruise is more like a game of stick in the eye as opposed to a game of stick ball.

At the very least, I would expect the Carnival representative to tell me that early saver discounts expire less than 24 hours from now. I think that's a pretty important fact and would think it would be fairly important to disclose it.

If I'm reading you correctly, the FREEDOM cruise still qualifies for "early saver" since it leaves 4 months from tomorrow (12/26) correct?

Lastly, anyone book a full suite before? Best cabin I've had was on RCL Liberty of the Seas (balcony). Is a suite that much bigger/better? Advantages?

Thanks again!
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Old August 25th, 2010, 05:08 PM
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Find a good travel agent, and let them handle the headaches associated with planning a group or family cruise.

Shelby
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Old August 25th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Shelby...thanks for the recommendation. Frankly, this is a dynamic, not static situation. We still want to cruise. One family member dropped out because of this "pricing glitch" by Carnival. So, I've put a deposit down on a 6 day Freedom cruise leaving 12/26. Deposits are refundable until Oct. If anyone else changes their mind, they can get a full deposit refund. They can make their own flight arrangements, too.

So, I'm done. But, I'l still exploring other cruiselines, too. I'm also still wating for a refund on the cancelled suite.
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Old August 25th, 2010, 09:05 PM
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I also think, in this case with many family members, having a good cruise travel agent would safe a lot. Each time you needed info, etc., you could talk to the SAME person...I hope it will work out, sounds like a great trip for everyone involved and for a lot of different reasons, lots to celebrate!
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Old August 26th, 2010, 01:32 AM
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Default Agreement to buy ahead of time

The prices change all the time is right on. Learned that lesson the hard way, could have placed my deposit now but waited for my new CC so I could earn air miles. A few weeks later, price went up $700 each so I cancelled premium economy upgrade and we still took the cruise. Great time.

I agree , use a good TA but get everybody to agree upfront you have spending authority to a set limit.

My thoughts
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Old August 26th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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Again, thanks all!

If I'm to take anything away from all of this, I should have used a TA. Always made my own reservations with the cruiseline in the past under the (mistaken) assumption that there was one less layer of personnel I'd have to go through if things went sideways.

I guess my beef is with the lack of accurate and timely information with the Carnival reps (who have yet to return either an email or phone call). I needed to cancel one of the suites (as previously outlined). The person cancelling was so irritated that she decided not to go.

The rest of us just changed ships and cruise duration in the hopes that everyone could be placated. That was two days ago. Not a peep from Carnival reps (good thing I kept a written email log of my requests).

Call it lack of karma, juju, ying/yang, whatever, I'm not feeling really good about this right now.

I'm just wondering if it's worthwhile to contact a TA to cancel my previous reservations on the Freedom and just start from scratch? Is that even possible?
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Old August 26th, 2010, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
One: Don't ever try to organize a family cruise.

Two: When you get a quote you like put it on a 24 hour courtesy hold and use that time to get the final commitment from the people involved. If they don't commit then they lose it.

Prices do change each day and like airfare if you snooze you lose.

Take care,
Mike
You got that right, all you do is open a can of worms. They take to long to make up there mind then the price is to much. Then they want to check with someone else. Then try to get them to pay when they should. Then the 20 questions start. Then its if they can get off from work. Then the air war. Did it several years ago and will never even think of doing it again.
The kids are all out of the nest, so several years ago we took them all to Disney, rented a house, air, car and Disney tickets, what a mess that turned out to be. That will never happen again either. We now do our on thing.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graphicguy View Post
I'm just wondering if it's worthwhile to contact a TA to cancel my previous reservations on the Freedom and just start from scratch? Is that even possible?
Absolutely it is worthwhile. Don't cancel anything yet until you talk to a TA. Find a good TA that has group cruise experience, preferably one with an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC) or Master Cruise Counselor(MCC) certification from Cruise Lines International Assocaiation (CLIA).
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Old August 26th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by graphicguy View Post
Thanks everyone for your kind responses. And yes, being the "lead" in planning a family cruise is more like a game of stick in the eye as opposed to a game of stick ball.

At the very least, I would expect the Carnival representative to tell me that early saver discounts expire less than 24 hours from now. I think that's a pretty important fact and would think it would be fairly important to disclose it.

If I'm reading you correctly, the FREEDOM cruise still qualifies for "early saver" since it leaves 4 months from tomorrow (12/26) correct?

Lastly, anyone book a full suite before? Best cabin I've had was on RCL Liberty of the Seas (balcony). Is a suite that much bigger/better? Advantages?

Thanks again!
That is a bummer what happened. Sounds like the first rep screwed up and quote you a price that wasn't valid. This is direct from carnival's website. The Freedom cruise is over 5 days long and less then 5 months out so the Early Saver rate is not available. Sorry, Mike gave you some good advice. I don't know you could request a 24 hour courtesy hold. That is good to know.

Carnival Early Saver Program | Cruise Deal | Carnival Cruise Lines
*Early Saver: Cruise rates are in US dollars, per person, based on double occupancy, capacity controlled and subject to change at any time without prior notice. Government taxes and fees are up to $145.85 additional per person. A non-refundable and non-transferable deposit is required at the time of booking for all guests to secure confirmed accommodations. Fares are backed by a unique price protection policy. Full names are required for each guest. Offer is valid for new bookings only and is not combinable with any other discounted or promotional offer. Available on sailings 3 months prior to sail date for short cruises (5 days or less) and available on sailings 5 months prior to sail date for long cruises (6 days or longer). Savings are based on Fun Select rates and vary by sailings. Category restrictions and exclusions apply. No name changes are allowed. A $50 service fee will be assessed per person for ship and/or sail date changes made prior to the final payment due date. Cancellation penalties apply. Request Early Saver. Ships' Registry: The Bahamas & Panama.

Price Protection: Price protection applies to new Early Saver bookings only and requires payment of a non-refundable and non-transferable deposit. Applies to cruise fare only. Applies only to a Carnival.com or Carnival advertised fare available to the general public and excludes group rates, membership programs, charters or other Travel Agent promotions not offered by Carnival to the general public, including but not limited to travel agent rebates. To submit a Price Protection claim, visit carnival.com/earlysaver. When submitting a rate lock request, you must provide the lower rate amount and where the rate can be found. Requests will be accepted up to two business days prior to sailing. Lower rate must be: (i) for the same ship, sail date, stateroom category and number of guests; (ii) are a Carnival advertised rate (iii) is available for booking at the time the request is reviewed by Carnival's reservation agents. Verified rate difference is issued as an on-board credit. The on-board credit is non-refundable, non-transferable and has no cash value. Any unused portion of the onboard credit will be forfeited. Rate lock is not combinable with other promotions. Price protection will be subject to the prevailing fees and/or fuel supplement if applicable. Program subject to change at any time without prior notice.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by green_rd View Post
I was going to say:
You actually clicked over the early saver deadline. Early Saver requires a five month advanced booking. If you checked on August 24th for a December 24th you were right on the deadline. When you called back on the 25th you had passed the deadline.

Then I realized the Christmas is only four months away!

I'm guessing your original rep did not look up the fares, but just thought the Early Saver was still in place. Their mistake and you have to pay for it - bummer. They certainly should have done a better job, maybe even holding the cabins at the quoted rate. Of course then they should have realized their error.

With a group that size don't you get one free fare?
I thought in order to get the free fare you had to book 8 cabins. He is only booking 4 cabins so I don't think he quaifies.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
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You got that right, all you do is open a can of worms. They take to long to make up there mind then the price is to much. Then they want to check with someone else. Then try to get them to pay when they should. Then the 20 questions start. Then its if they can get off from work. Then the air war. Did it several years ago and will never even think of doing it again.
The kids are all out of the nest, so several years ago we took them all to Disney, rented a house, air, car and Disney tickets, what a mess that turned out to be. That will never happen again either. We now do our on thing.
I completely agree my dad yelled at me at his Roman hotel and threatened to take an airplane home instead of going to Venice. He even run out of the room to get the plane. He didn't bring, credit card, passport or any money so I wasn't to worried. Plus the airplane tickets were non refundable and he is cheap like me so no way he was losing that money. This all started because he couldn't find the train station. I thought my parents would find it and get thier train tickets to Venice with no problem because my mom had a map of Rome and the train station was one metro stop from the hotel. Plus my dad had taken the Metro the day before to the Vatican. He never looked at the map and he never went to the metro station. Instead he took a cab and told the cabbie he wanted to go to Venice. So they took him to a square in Rome with the name Venice in it. Another thing my dad's first language is Portuguese so I thought Italian and Portuguese would be similar. I don't speak either language. Apparentely Portuguese and Italian are not similar. Once my dad realized he had no way to get back to california he came back to the hotel and he gave me money to get his train ticket that night. I took a cab to the train station and got thier train tickets at about 10PM after walking all day. Of course they could have just bought the train tickets in the morning. But for some reason I became the unpaid travel agent of that trip. I booked everyone's hotels (Rome and Venice), airfare, train tickets, and tours of the Vatican. What did I get for that trouble yelled at in Rome. Never again.

In fact the morning of our full day in Rome my hubby, nephew, and sister turned to me and asked what we were doing for the day. My nephew was 8 at the time so he gets a pass. But my c-sis and my hubby went to Rome, Italy without knowing anything about it. They had no clue what to see or do. I did like that part because we did everything I wanted to do. Including clothes shopping which me and c-sis enjoyed, but my hubby and nephew not so much. I love my Italian skirt and shoes. C-sis also got shoes and a shirt. Ladies you can't go to Italy and not buy shoes that a crime against being a woman. I'm sorry what were we talking about. Oh yeah family is a pain in the drain to organize I wish you well.
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Last edited by katlady; August 26th, 2010 at 12:05 PM.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 01:07 PM
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I thought in order to get the free fare you had to book 8 cabins. He is only booking 4 cabins so I don't think he quaifies.

Yes, you need 8 cabins/16 berths to get the tour conductor credit. Sometimes you can use the Group Amenity Points to buy down the TC credit to 5 cabins/10 berths depending on how many points are assigned to that particular cruise.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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I'm gaining a wealth of valuable knowledge here.

I didn't know you could put a "courtesy hold" on cabin(s)/suite(s), as an example.

I also didn't realize rates were so volatile....even changing by the hour, which really makes no sense to me. The ship sails one way or the other. Either they're full, or their not. You aren't going to be able to tell that from one hour to the next (unless you're within 72 hours of sailing). So, how fares affect occupancy this far in advance befuddles me.

The Carnival agent said it was like the airline industry fares. As I told him, no...I disagree. They're nothing like airfares. If a person needs to fly to a destination, they ordinarily have to go on a particular date and time, to a particular destination. At least that's true of business travelers (which comprise most of airlines' business).

A cruise, well destination isn't nearly as critical. Plus, it's a luxury. One can choose whatever ship they want, to go anywhere they want, and have a ton of choices (ships, destinations, cabin types, etc) to do so.

As I think about this, from now on I'm recommending "pack and go" cruises. I may end up doing that on this particular occasion. Just be ready to go, scan the cruise lines a few days in advance, save a bunch of money, and get ready to rock and roll.:-D
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Old August 26th, 2010, 04:41 PM
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Most people do not realize that cruise rates fluctuate like airline tickets do.

Supply and demand baby!!

Hope you find a great vacation that everyone can enjoy.

Personally, I have found that we just tell friends and family...we are sailing (on a particular date and ship) and if they want to make their own arrangements and join us fine...it not....fine.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
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I also didn't realize rates were so volatile....even changing by the hour, which really makes no sense to me. The ship sails one way or the other. Either they're full, or their not. You aren't going to be able to tell that from one hour to the next (unless you're within 72 hours of sailing). So, how fares affect occupancy this far in advance befuddles me.

As I think about this, from now on I'm recommending "pack and go" cruises. I may end up doing that on this particular occasion. Just be ready to go, scan the cruise lines a few days in advance, save a bunch of money, and get ready to rock and roll.:-D
Cruiselines do utilize a revenue management system similar to the airlines, but in 4 years as a TA, I haven't seen them change by the hour but they do change by the day. Cruiselines will adjust their rates based on how well a particular cruise is selling. As a general rule, suites and premium rooms sell out first. A cruiseline likes to see atleast half of it's inventory sold by 6 months from the cruise date.

Last minute deals are OK, if you keep in mind the general rule I stated above. The better cabins and suites sell out first. When you wait until the end to book your cabin, you get the cabins nobody else wanted IMHO. That is why I book as early as possible, to get the cabin I want.
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Old August 26th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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Again, thanks all. Family doesn't like the idea of "pack and go" (sigh!).


We're sticking with the Freedom on 12/26. Never had a suite before. Biggest and nicest cabin I've ever had was a balcony room on RCL's Liberty of the Seas. How will this suite compare?
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-2007 RCCL Liberty of the Seas-Caribbean
-2010-2011 Carnival Freedom New Years cruise-Caribbean, NCL Epic
-2011-Celebrity Solstice
-2012RCCL Allure of the Seas
-2013-NCL Breakaway and CCL Breeze
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old August 26th, 2010, 11:22 PM
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I don't want to go into the differing rates that seem to suddenly change on a regular basis but I can say this ---as far as trying to organize a cruise for a group of 5-6-8 - or more family and friends, been there and done that and learned my lesson years ago. Some will hum and haw--others are ready willing and able today, then next week can't go. Some want to look for a better deal-- some back out after you just got off the phone with the T.A. and some suddenly discover they won't have the money--all of course after you done a ton of work trying to please everyone and just when you think it's all come together, it comes apart.The one time I did do it I was the T.A., tour guide, concierge, shore tour planner who caught the flack if the tour didn't suit everyone, food and beverage manager, etc. etc., etc.
Once was enough for me. We usually just keep our mouth shut,book our cruises and go.If we happen to run into someone we know, fine. If not, even better !
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Old August 27th, 2010, 11:43 AM
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Ron....taking your advice to heart. Only difference is, I'm on the hook for all the deposits (I know, just smack me on the side of the head, now). It's entirely family, though. So, I can haunt them the rest of their lives if they dont' pony up and repay me. And, if things go sideways, I can always cancel their reservations if they don't pay by the Oct drop dead date to get my "loaned" deposit back on their portion of the cruise.

As far as shore excursions, flying to FLL, airport to ship transfers, it's up to them. I got them reserved on the ship, the rest is up to them.

Speaking of airport to ship transfers, I've never used Carnival's transfer service. What is it? A bus? Can you book it at the airport (like other ground transportation)? Do you have to book in advance?
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-2003 Carnival Conquest-Caribbean
-2004 HAL Oosterdam-San Francisco transition cruise to BC
-2007 RCCL Liberty of the Seas-Caribbean
-2010-2011 Carnival Freedom New Years cruise-Caribbean, NCL Epic
-2011-Celebrity Solstice
-2012RCCL Allure of the Seas
-2013-NCL Breakaway and CCL Breeze
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Old August 27th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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Good argument for using a TA. You never know if the next (different) person you talk to is ill-informed, or was it the first person who didn't know what they were talking about, or were they both wrong, or did the fares change???

I don't know about you but I get enough of that bureacratic BS in life as it is already!
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Old August 27th, 2010, 04:25 PM
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I do all my cruise bookings with my TA. It makes things much easier.

TM
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Booked Vision of the Seas . 2/14/2015

Booked Allure of the Seas... 2/21/16 *Last Gang Cruise*
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Old August 31st, 2010, 09:40 AM
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No Bait or Switch - It was a Snooze and Lose...
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Old September 3rd, 2010, 10:48 AM
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All....just spoke to one of the "Sales Managers" at CCL. I guess my posts, and my email to CCL got some attention.

Not that any of this should matter to CCL's customers, but apparently there are "in-bound" and "out-bound" sales people with Carnival. It sounds really confusing the way it was explained, and while I appreciated the attempt to explain the communications issues, it really doesn't matter.

I guess the inbound calls are handled by one set of people within Carnival. From my understanding, they try to "close" you on that first call to book a cruise. Then, there are the outbound sales people, who respond to requests made on the WEB site and to those who ask for a CCL rep to call them.

Now, it's clearer how communication can get crossed up, and how one person with inbound doesn't know what the other person in outbound is telling the customer.

The sales manager said I got caught in the middle of that. I mentioned to him having a written email thread to sho0 would be helpful....put a time limit on how long the email quote is good for. That would have alleviated the confusion.
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-1977-First cruise (very young) SS Norway (ne SS France)-Caribbean
-2003 Carnival Conquest-Caribbean
-2004 HAL Oosterdam-San Francisco transition cruise to BC
-2007 RCCL Liberty of the Seas-Caribbean
-2010-2011 Carnival Freedom New Years cruise-Caribbean, NCL Epic
-2011-Celebrity Solstice
-2012RCCL Allure of the Seas
-2013-NCL Breakaway and CCL Breeze
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Old September 3rd, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Hi Graph,
Thanks for trying to explain how that works, still a bit confusing to say the least. Just another reason why I like using a travel agent, there is always just one person to deal with and get answers from.
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old September 3rd, 2010, 06:02 PM
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Donna...thanks. Everyone here has been helpful. Learned quite a bit. The whole "inbound-outbound representatives" as it was explained to me by the manager cleared up a little, caused even more confusion in other aspects.

I THINK everything's been ironed out. Not really sure, yet. But, I've got a little over a month to get it straightened out (I can get a full refund up until 10/11/10).

Based on this experience, I think I'm going to follwo your advice Donna and just try to find a good TA. That way, they can tell me about ALL cruises, and deal with any issues.

Again, thanks!
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-1977-First cruise (very young) SS Norway (ne SS France)-Caribbean
-2003 Carnival Conquest-Caribbean
-2004 HAL Oosterdam-San Francisco transition cruise to BC
-2007 RCCL Liberty of the Seas-Caribbean
-2010-2011 Carnival Freedom New Years cruise-Caribbean, NCL Epic
-2011-Celebrity Solstice
-2012RCCL Allure of the Seas
-2013-NCL Breakaway and CCL Breeze
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Old September 11th, 2010, 02:46 PM
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Let's hope that it wasn't done on purpose - that the rates really did change overnight.

I booked my upcoming cruise with the Early Saver rates just because they were the best for the Grand Suite category (We're splurging on a romantic vacation!) I also like the idea that I can get the OBC if the rates go down any because I know that sometimes prices drop closer to departure.

Anyway, enjoy your trip. At least you are cruising!
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Old April 28th, 2012, 01:50 AM
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We are past guests booked with a couple who are not past guests , separate cabins booked early saver for breeze 12 days out of Barcelona this June started the talking with carnival rep in oct finally booked nov 9 watched prices and got rate changes and I changed to a balcony cabin across hall from friends prior to final payment worked well with carnival rep ..... Until final payment made march 29th.... Saw price drop contacted rep told me could not adjust price but could give us an aft balcony on another floor, we did not want to be away from our freinds said no thanks, I looked into it and contacted him again that es rate should get us obc, he was very nice and told me to file the claim form and how to fill it out, I filled it out and was denied now he said we never booked es told me I was worried about losing the deposit....I paid a 1500.00 deposit if I was worried I would only have paid what they were asking..... So frustrated and by the way our friends are on es.
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