I just spent about 30 minutes laboring under the illusion that prices had dropped as low as $749 for cruises on Oasis and Allure of the Seas as early as December 2010. That is exactly what it says on the RoyalCaribbean.com web site in the search results. Try looking up Oasis or Allure cruises to the Caribbean sailing on "any date". It lists several dates; including Dec. 26, 2010 through August 7, 2011, starting at $749 for inside and $999 for balconies.
Here is the link I followed and I am referencing the fourth entry down.
Much to my surprise, it wasn't until I actually clicked on the specific date of December 26, 2010 that I saw the cruise is actually selling for $2299 inside and $2699 for a balcony cabin. In fact, NONE of the dates listed for the starting price of $749 in that fourth entry down are actually for sale at the listed price, but you don't know that unless you click on the link that says "more 2011 dates." Then you see the price does not actually drop as low as that original quote until the autumn of 2011, almost a full year later than the span of dates listed in the original quote.
It looks as if Royal Caribbean is intentionally making it hard to find the correct price for the cruise of your choice. What is the harm in this practice? If you are looking for a quick way to compare prices there is a good chance you will be misled and end up in a situation you didn't expect.
I can only imagine how many people phone the cruise line every day only to be told the price displayed by the web site is not correct. If you are shopping for a cruise they now have you on the phone - right where they want you to finalize that sale. I think that is sometimes called bait and switch.
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Also a T/A and even though I use the site as a resource, it causes problems for me because more and more customers are internet friendly and want THAT price (that they saw on the site, banner ad etc). The first hurdle I address is where did you see the price and then explaining that $799 usually isn't the "real price."
As far as I am concerned this should qualify for the 110% Best Price Guarantee you get if you see a lower advertised price on your cruise.
I know you will be denied - because it has to be proven to be a "real offer" but I think this practice reflects on the rectitude of RCL. The fact that they would show a "non-real" offer and present it as essentially "real" but then have a disclaimer in their best price guarantee that such quotes would not qualify as "real" only magnifies the facticious contrivance of this practice.
I am very surprised that Royal Caribbean is showing a pricing like this. When I look at ads from online agents and see the price with an * I always look for and find (usually very quickly) what date that price is for, normally the specific date is shown on the same page with another *. It did not take me long to understand the * was for only one specific sail date. But someone new may not understand. And I am sure that there will be many upset people.
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The fact is RCL is playing games. I don't think it will get them anywhere in the long run. I just can't understand why the powers that be there do so many stupid things.
Over the last year they have taken away benefits - given a bit of benefits back then given more benefits backs then taken away the ability to get reduced fare in the fare goes down. Now this kind of tricky advertising on their own site.
They must think ppl are very stupid. Of course, if they are continuing to listen to the "Loyal Royals" they may think they can get away with it. Their focus group has always been so stuck on royal that anything they do is AOK.
This will once again, damage the reputation of RCL.
Well, actually, I have to say I don't think this is anything new - furthermore, I did not look into other cruise lines to see if they do the same thing. I will do that today.
I just used Royal Caribbean as an example.
I do agree that RCL has been making it very hard to figure out what they are doing lately. But they are not alone - look at the lux lines with their "2 for 1 cruise and air, etc." You don't know how much you are saving because it is impossible to see a bottom line price.
At least the new NCL air offer for Epic is a step in the right direction. Plain and simple, it will cost you $1215 to fly from New York and cruise on Epic in a Balcony cabin. That is how cruise pricing should be.
Carnival does NOT do this - they give you separate pricing by date from the jump.
NCL does almost the same as RCL - except that they make it very easy to expand the prices on the same page with a very prominent click that says "see specific cruise prices" - so I would say NCL is NOT guilty of this misleading practice.
Princess does not do this, neither does Cunard - their engines are the same as Carnival's.
Holland America DOES do this on its web site with a numbner of dates listed "from" a certain low price. You do have to click on a specific date to get the real price. Just as bad as Royal Caribbean.
Celebrity also does the same as RCL. (no surprise).
Thanks to Paul and the rest of you who keep a good consumer eye on this stuff to educate those of us not quite as astute in these matters.
Don't mean to be off-topic here, but this seems to be a common ploy not only regarding cruise pricing, but in many types of travel and vacation ads.
I just read an email I rec'd. from a popular, low fee airline that offers pkg. trips (these particular "deals" incl. 3 and 4 nts. at well known, popular hotels w/RT air incl.) to Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, etc. from my midwestern city. Prices listed were extremely low - in the $100 pp range! When I clicked on a couple of destinations, trying various summer dates, I could not pull up the prices that were advertised. I would no doubt have had to go day by day - in some cases from June 28 to Nov! - to find exactly WHEN the particular pkg. price advertised was available (iF it is/was ever available - ?). The dates I pulled up were MUCH pricier than the "deals" the airline's vacation email advertised. Yet the ad seemed to be somewhat more exacting than the usual ones I rec'v. from this carrier, and at first glance appeared to be valid at any date within the stated range. (No asterisks.) I imagine if this airline was asked about these advertised prices, they would probably be able to point to 2 or 3 seats per destination on a date or two that would satisfy the legality of their ad. Even so, such few seats do not warrant sending out a bunch of emails listing such low prices when they are so rarely available.
I think this is a common bait and switch game that so many companies affiliated with travel do based on the fact that people get all excited thinking there is this wonderful cruise or trip they can afford. They proceed on to the planning and/or booking stage, thinking they are about to get this wonderful deal (perhaps the family or a significant other is thrilled at the prospects well), then the "deal" falls through due to price. Some people will be so disappointed that they end up going ahead and booking at a much higher price to avoid the huge let down that can follow.
Remember back just a few years ago when the "port charges" were always a surprise addition to your basic cruise price? Now they are disclosed from the start (included in the price), and there is at least mention of "govt. taxes not incl.". Hopefully there will be enough fall out from consumers to end these types of purposely mispriced ads.
What they should do, is have that price in those dates and NOT have to look for more 2011 dates....I too found that when looking for Allure prices for 2011, it took awhile to find when the price is that.....They sure don't make it easy and upset potential bookings.
Yes, RCL is not the only one to play this game. So many do to get you in the door so to speak or to make that click.
I have a lot of people who call and tell me I found this price - can you match it. Then I have to ask - does it include port charges, all taxes, all fees etc. Then they get mad at me!!! I'm trying to help them and be truthful but I'm not telling them what they want to hear.
That used to happen all the time here in Canada. Especially with airlines. Now it is necessary for them to post the taxes as well. Of course that is in fine print but it is alside the base price so you can see it.
Here's a recent example. There is a charter airline. Very well known up here. They have their own planes. They fly south (mostly pkgs) in the winter and to Europe in the summer. As it got closer to changing route time, they advertised air fare at $3......yup $3...............to Florida. In very small print beside that number there was the taxes of $271. There are also no dates.
So, yes, RCL is the worst of the cruiselines to play the (almost) bait and switch, but they are certainly not the only ones.
Honestly - I dont think this is a big deal once you understand what they are doing - but the truth is that MOST people are not regular cruisers and if they see something like this for the first time they believe it.
I even believed it for 30 minutes, as i said (I do not check prices at cruise line sites that often, I tend to go to travel agent sites).
In any case - the reason people get mad at you is because they are just embarassed or else they don't know the rules for how to display prices and they think you are the one trying to mess with them - when in reality you are the one just tryoing to help them.
In the future it would probably be wise to just say, "listen, I get these calls all the time, let me tell you how prices work as an industry standard and we won't need to waste your time or mine"
Then if they still argue with you - just say "I'm sorry, but I can't help you."
By the way - there used to be a wekk known travel agent who always quoted his prices without port fees.
I would call him on it and say "legally you have to include those"
He was a lawyer who replied, "are you a lawyer, then shut up and listen, there is no law that says I have to include port fees, that is a voluntary agreement the cruise lines have with the FTC."
He was legally right, but morally wrong. In fact, he preyed on media people who didnt know better and used to them he got special prices from the cruise lines that no other travel agent in the world got. (a pure lie) then he would give them these quotes without the port fees.
I heard some well-know "older" travel reporters touting his business - not as advertising, but just because they thought he was the real deal. In reality, he charged everyone more than the base price. He would add on fees going out the door.
What a con he was - I never liked him. His agency is still in business even though he has passed away.