My wife and family cruised the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Price in July '06. In an effort to save some money, and based on advise we found on the cruise forum's, we booked our own excursions outside of Carnival: http://www.vallartaonline.com/tours/RhythmsoftheNight/
We paid $140 on our credit card in advance for what we thought would be an amazing and romantic night to celebrate our anniversary. Big mistake. What we got was a big rip off by this nefarious company. Excited, we arrived at the dock in full dinner dress at the appointed time, only to be told that the tour would not be back in time to reach the Carnival's departure hour but we could take a quick round trip on a different boat with no dinner! We angrily declined and went back to our stateroom quite upset and feeling totally taken advantage of. To add insult to injury, upon arriving back in the US we email'd the company to air our gripe:
>Comments: After seeing your company named on the xxx.com
>website I purchased the Rhythms of the Night tour for my Carnival Pride
>cruise which ended today. Reservation xxxx-xx. After showing up fully
>dressed for dinner at the booth at the Maritime Terminal at 6PM we were
>told that the tour would not return in time for the ships 10PM
>departure!. We where told there was a 5:30 boat that had already left and that they could take us out for the show but no food or drinks and we
>would have to turn around and come right back. Needless to say we where expremely dissapointed and I am very angry that what was supposed to be a romantic evening with my wife to celebrate our
>anniversary turned out to be a bust. I am requesting a full refund of my
>money and suggest you notify cruise passengers that the tour you sell
>does not conform to the cruise ships schedule.
Here is their response:
Dear Mr. xxxx:
We understand your frustation regarding this situation with your tour. As a cruise passenger, you have to be concious of the time that you are given by your ship and how to manage it. When you booked this tour for 6:30 PM you did it conciously and as stated in our web page, this tour lasts aproximately 4 hours and a half and you knew that your ship leaved at 10:00 PM.
We believe that altough it could have been helpful, you didn't need any notification, you just had to count the hours. In this particular matter, you knew by the time you booked what your cruise schedule was and it was you who choose not to take the tour, so it was considered a no show and according to our cancellation policies, results in no refund.
TEL. +52 (322) 223 0082
FAX. +52 (322) 223 0560
Number one; the tour was not booked at 6:30PM, it was booked at 6PM PV time, which is exactly when we arrived. Given four and one half hours, that should put the tour returning at 10:30PM PV time which is 9:30 ship time - the stated time by Carnival that people needed to return to the ship. However, the person at the booth said we would not be back until 11:30PM which would make the tour five and one half hours which is beyond what you state on your website. She offered to take us out to watch the show, but said we would have to return immediately after and not be served the dinner we had paid for. We declined. She also told us there was a boat that left at 5:30 that would have got us back in time. I don't see any such time listed on your site. Perhaps you need to call the local representative to determine why your times seem to be out of synch.
I will give you one more opportunity to reconsider your response based upon the above information. I think you will find the smaller loss is to accept that we both got burned - you by refunding money (that you never spent) - and me by losing out on a planned romantic evening with my wife, than the potential greater loss you will face from negative publicity and bad will if I'm forced to share this experience with others.
We never heard back from them. Unfortunately, through a series of blunders by Bank Of America, we where unable to have the charge removed from our card and had to pay.
Hopefully other cruisers will not be burned as we were by this deceptive and unscrupulous business. We learned our lesson and will go with the ship's tours from now on.