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Old June 21st, 2011, 11:46 AM
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Default So, What is The Catch?

I want to start a thread about hidden fees and things you are not told when you book or take a cruise. It can be related to the airlines, hotels and shore excursions as well.

For example - you book flight to Ft Lauderdale at a certain rate - but you are not told until after you have clicked "OK" that there is a baggage fee of $38 per person per bag each way - for a family of five that becomes $380 extra dollars.

Or - you buy a drink at a bar on a cruise ship and you see a space there to add a grauity - but you are not told, except in the fine print - that an automatic gratuity has already been added to your drink.

You book a shore excursion to see a special place - but you are not told that you will also be dropped in a tourist-trap shopping mall with absolutely nothing to do but look and consider buying trinkets for over an hour. You paid a lot of money for that cruise and that shore tour, and you want to see your destination. Instead you are staring at four walls of kitschy clutter you wouldn't want to carry home on the plane anyway.

You book a special "Spa Stateroom" but you find that all it comes with is proximity to the Spa. You don't get free spa treatments - just quick access to the same steamroom everyone else on the ship can use.

WHAT'S THE CATCH???

What is the one thing you feel you should have been told up front by the travel agent, cruise line, spa manager, tour operator, tour guide, etc. that you didn't hear until it was too late?
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Old June 21st, 2011, 11:51 AM
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Can't say I have been surprised by any hiddens really.... if researched properly, there should be no surprises at all.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 11:59 AM
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On our last cruise we booked a tour to a historic synagogue .Included on the tour was a brief visit to a cemetary . We researched the tour prior to booking as we always do .

As it turned out the visit to the synagogue was 12 minutes and the brief cemetary stop was 40 minutes .
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Old June 21st, 2011, 12:28 PM
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fun2cruiz....

Really? In other words - you're in sales, right?
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Old June 21st, 2011, 12:34 PM
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I got a $400 voucher from American Airlines for allowing myself to be bumped.

I used it a month ago to book a flight in December PHX to FLL. They told me I had the reservation and to mail the voucher in. I did.

Well, I never got a confirmation of the flight, so finally I went to look it up online and while I could see my reservation code for the flight, it was marked "canceled."

They had canceled my reservation for no good reason - and had not notified me. I called the airline yesterday and the agent said "well, I don't know why it was canceled, but because it was so far out they usually don't tell you right away."

Real Nice. Meanwhile the voucher is only good for a year, and I had mailed it in, and they are sitting on it while I think I have a flight booked. How do you "research" that one so there are "no surprises" when they didn't tell me my reservation had been canceled? I was just waiting by the mailbox for my tickets to arrive.

I called and the agent reinstated my flight - and made sure I would get another voucher for the remainder of the original $400 I didn't use.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
fun2cruiz....

Really? In other words - you're in sales, right?
Well you could say I am in sales..... but I have always been an "informed" shopper before purchasing....despite being a TA and a QSR owner.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
I got a $400 voucher from American Airlines for allowing myself to be bumped.

I used it a month ago to book a flight in December PHX to FLL. They told me I had the reservation and to mail the voucher in. I did.

Well, I never got a confirmation of the flight, so finally I went to look it up online and while I could see my reservation code for the flight, it was marked "canceled."

They had canceled my reservation for no good reason - and had not notified me. I called the airline yesterday and the agent said "well, I don't know why it was canceled, but because it was so far out they usually don't tell you right away."

Real Nice. Meanwhile the voucher is only good for a year, and I had mailed it in, and they are sitting on it while I think I have a flight booked. How do you "research" that one so there are "no surprises" when they didn't tell me my reservation had been canceled? I was just waiting by the mailbox for my tickets to arrive.

I called and the agent reinstated my flight - and made sure I would get another voucher for the remainder of the original $400 I didn't use.
When I have a voucher, I always take care of booking the flight at the airport and not via phone and have never had a problem. Some may not be able to do this, but the reason I knew to do this direct at the airport was after "researching" and discussing with an airline rep. who was knowedgeable of the procedure...but you yourself just gave out "valuable info" for others to use if they are dealing with vouchers, based on your personal experience ! But this example certainly does not fall under the category of "Whats the catch?" as this sticky is about.....more likely a "glitch" with the airline.
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Last edited by fun2cruiz; June 21st, 2011 at 12:57 PM.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 01:17 PM
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I'd say the "government fees and taxes" seem never to be included in cruise prices. True, the cruise line does not control this and they may change, but they are pretty well known and in the internet age the changes could be disseminated quickly.

Just like baggage fees experienced travelers know these fees are coming your way, but they can still be a surprise.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 01:30 PM
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I agree, & was just going to say, I have heard this mentioned before, by newbies...when you see a cruise price, it never includes taxes and port. For someone just beginning to look into cruising, it's confusing.

I have always asked my ta's to quote me the total price.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 01:35 PM
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Good points on the shore excursions with a "shopping opportunity" and the Spa cabins.

My sister was overwhelmed with the sheer number of "additional charge" restaurants on Norwegian Epic. I was aware of them and she also knew there were additional charge restaurants but she stated that keeping track of which restaurants were included and which were additional made her head swim.

What is starting to concern me is the rising cost of drinks on the cruise. I know many folks in New York and other large cities believe that the costs are in line with most bars but for the Minneapolis area the costs are in line with the most high end restaurants and not a "normal" drink price for most people.

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Old June 21st, 2011, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2cruiz View Post
Well you could say I am in sales..... but I have always been an "informed" shopper before purchasing....despite being a TA and a QSR owner.
WOW! If you book a tour and it says what's included in the tour.....Does YOUR information say how long you'll be in a location? Yes, the poster saw what he was promised, just not how long at each place. So, he was an informed shopper, he just wasn't informed!
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Old June 21st, 2011, 01:55 PM
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I have to disagree on the voucher issue... the "oh, but your reservation was cancelled, but we didn't tell you, and we have physical possession of your voucher" would definitely fall into the "what's the catch" category when the time came for me to check in to my flight.

Being very honest - this subject was brought up by me because I have been running into a lot of salespeople lately who seem to believe it is OK to let the customer believe everything is fine even when it is not. Now, I have been running into this more with other things lately, but I am interested in seeing how it plays out in travel.

I just wrote an article about cruise line "Choice Air" type programs where they lead you to believe they will take care of your costs if you miss the ship because your flight is cancelled. They will make phone calls for you and try to get you rebooked, but any ancillary costs are your responsibility.

The unrevealed tax & fees are not as bad as the luggage costs with the airlines - the latter are never figured into the base price they show you when booking the ticket.

With a cruise you do see the taxes & fees before you make the final purchase - but not until that point. It does make a big difference, say if you thinking about either Mexico or Alaska. Alaska taxes & fees are usually much higher.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:00 PM
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ladies will appreciate this one, formal night, salon appt to get hair done, you must specify exactly what you want done, ie wash, blowdry, styled with curling iron, did all this so that was fine, hairdresser proceeded to put into my hair- without asking me(there's the catch) this beautiful sparkly barette, see where this is going? didn't tell me until she was all done that the barette was an extra $20.00- what was i going to do, tell her to take it out and re-style my hair, that probably would have cost extra too.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:00 PM
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Another "what's the catch" would be a cruise ship docking in a faraway pier - like in Barcelona or Stockholm - where you can't get anywhere without using a taxi - and they don't tell you.

There is one cruise line (I won't say the name) which commonly would dock at a pier where the only way to get anywhere was to use THEIR shuttle which came at a cost. Other cruise lines would have free shuttles, but not this one.

They would tell the people who asked - but they didn't make it a priority to get the word out.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:08 PM
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Lisa, you reacted as they hope most ladies would. $20.00 on top of the high cost anyway is a nice upsell. I would have to say though, and I speak just for myself, I would have had them remove it, redo my hair, and I would have made sure the front desk, new how displeased I was by their tactic. Shame on that stylist, for the way she did it, all she had ro do was ask
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:11 PM
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THAT is exactly what I am talking about. It seems to me more and more people are "selling" things to you without your permission. You don't find out you have been sucked in until it is too late.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:15 PM
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All of the ships alternate restaurants have a separate line available for gratuity. This leaves passengers confused; wondering if they're expected to tip over and above the fee.

UHh... pardon me, they call the fee for the alternate restaurants a SERVICE FEE.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 02:19 PM
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It even seems to me that in the Spas they have a service fee included, then they add a gratuity line, and then they add a "personal tip" option if you want it to go to the person who did your massage.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaK View Post
ladies will appreciate this one, formal night, salon appt to get hair done, you must specify exactly what you want done, ie wash, blowdry, styled with curling iron, did all this so that was fine, hairdresser proceeded to put into my hair- without asking me(there's the catch) this beautiful sparkly barette, see where this is going? didn't tell me until she was all done that the barette was an extra $20.00- what was i going to do, tell her to take it out and re-style my hair, that probably would have cost extra too.
Going off the point here slightly, I have always been convinced that the function of Formal Night was solely to generate extra revenue for the cruise line - photographs etc - Lisa you have just proved it.

BTW I have short thick hair which I can towel dry and it will hold the style for as long as required.

Annie
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Old June 21st, 2011, 04:48 PM
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Annie GB....

I love your outlook, because you are suspicious of most people just like I am.

But in this case, I think they kept formal nights because they help to generate revenue, but without a doubt it has been a feature of cruising since ocean crossings first came in to service, so it isn't just a gimmick. Many people would protest if they were taken away.

However - if they detracted from revenue there is a good chance cruise lines would get rid of them, because they are very revenue oriented.

But in this particular case - I would put the "blame" more on the Steiner's hard sell. They are notorious for using every little trick in the book to generate extra revenue.

It is tough for the cruise lines because somew things have degenerated to the point where they can hardly make money - like photography. I remember when most people bought a stack of pictures onboard. But now with digital cameras people buy less. However they can produce a print for far less, also, and they sell them for 500% more than say 10 years ago.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 04:57 PM
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In Europe on MSC and Costa you will pay for room service. You get a menu in your room and there is a price for almost everything - sandwiches, snacks, etc.

Then when those same ships go to the Caribbean and cater to the US market they take away those room service charges.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 05:16 PM
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Well, P&O have their drawbacks but tips are at a recommended rate of about 3/4/person a day, shuttles in most ports are free, drinks are cheap, you can take booze onboard & room service is mostly free.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 05:40 PM
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I can second the tipping at specialty restaurants one. We saw the line, and even asked a nearby bartender if any tip was included for our servers in the fee, and she said "no". We tipped, and later found out, of course that it was. We had cruised before and had not tipped extra at specialty restaurants, just not with this line, so we felt pretty stupid.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 05:51 PM
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I don't know if they still do, but Fred.Olsen used to charge for Hot Drinking Chocolate in the evening, even though it was simply poured from a flask in the same way that tea & coffee was.

They were also the first line we found charging for shuttle buses, even when provided by the port authority

Most people fall for the champagne sailaway drink once, and once only. I have noticed that many lines now display the price on the serving trays and can only presume that is becasue of all the bad feeling it caused - "welcome on board, hey we've ripped you off already".

Finally for us Brits in particular, USD based ships charge around 3% fee to convert your on board spend into GBP. So we always make certain that we find a box on the form to say "keep in ship currency".

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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:05 PM
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Paul

Me suspicious - never

It has puzzled me however that the cruiselines have not been more proactive to the developments in photography over the last few years; if they reduced the selling price of the photographs they would probably sell more

Annie
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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnthed0g View Post
Well, P&O have their drawbacks but tips are at a recommended rate of about 3/4/person a day, shuttles in most ports are free, drinks are cheap, you can take booze onboard & room service is mostly free.
Yeah but the downside is you have to travel to SOTON and P&O have semi-formal as well as formal nights - joke JTD

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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:27 PM
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''Travelling'' to Southampton depends on where you live. The dress code thing is of little importance to us, if there is one we observe it, if there isn't one we dress how we want.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
I can second the tipping at specialty restaurants one. We saw the line, and even asked a nearby bartender if any tip was included for our servers in the fee, and she said "no".
BINGO - that's THE CATCH - the tip is not for YOUR servers, it is split amongst the whole pool of tips that goes to the entire crew. The only way you can ever tip YOUR server on a ship is to hand the money directly in a very inconspicuous way (because there are also camera s everywhere).

Either that, or you could just say "this is for "___my____server" but even then the Hotel Director would still probably take it away from them and make them pool it.
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Old June 21st, 2011, 07:23 PM
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I remember when I first started cruising, you never knew what the extra tax and or port charges were, most were NOT included in the advertized cruise price. Even today, some include that in their price while others do not, makes it very difficult to shop for a cruise when you don't know the actual price...
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Old June 22nd, 2011, 09:03 AM
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all i can say is "if i knew then what i know now", don't go to the ships hair salon anymore
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