Carnival Cruise Line - Itinerary Change
MIAMI, FLORIDA -- I am in the same boat as many of you (pun)who I have read are upset about the itinerary changes at some Carnival port stops.
I am a first time cruiser and agonized for a year over which cruise to take my family on as our fist official big vacation in 15 years. I settled on a Bahamas cruise out of Orlando on their ship the Sensation and was thrilled to see a full 24 hr stay at Nassau, then just got the email showing the itinerary had changed and cut the day down to 8 hrs.
I called customer service as well and it was explained to me that the Bahamas were no longer allowing overnight docking. So not Carnivals fault, no ill will towards them for that, but it still is not the cruise I expected. I Wasn't looking for an upgrade, comps, or discounts...which is good because I was not offered any, just an apology (Well had to call customer service twice to get an apology, the first time I called I was rudely told that I had no recourse and If I liked I could just cancel and lose a $700 deposit).
I see Carnivals point of view on this but still wished that I had not booked this cruise since the overnight stay in Nassau was the big draw for me. I understand that the itinerary can change...no need to tell me..I understand some people think Nassau is overrated and that I am not missing anything by the loss of 16 Hrs..but that is a matter of perspective.
I thought about just cancelling the cruise but since I booked Early Saver I would be out about $700, not too bad but I am not used to just tossing several hundred dollar bills on the ground even for the purpose of a learning experience.
So here are my revised plans thus far: I will go to Orlando with the family and do the typical touristy things (Disney, Universal, SeaWorld), then I will go on the cruise. I was thinking about leaving my family in Orlando to wait the one day or so it would take me to get back, but I figured what the Heck..even 1 day on a cruise ship (since I did pay for it) may be worthwhile, plus the day in Freeport will add a little flavor to my vacation.
You see, I plan on using Carnivals Vacation Guarantee.
As long as I inform them that I am not satisfied before we hit our first non-US stop, I will get a prorated refund plus Carnival will refund me for airline tickets to get me back to Orlando. After doing the math I see that I will still end up paying Carnival $320, will get back the bulk of my payment, get to see Freeport until our plane leaves. Bottom line cost to me will be $320, cost to Carnival will be the price of the plane tickets minus the $320 or at the cheapest air tickets I could find..Carnival will be in the hole -$1,100.
As I said above, I understand things happen, and Carnival is not to blame, nor can I not expect them to not protect their interest. With that said, same thing applies to me and my interest. To be honest a polite customer service representative may have avoided all of this, but after reading the multitude of complaints against Carnival, add my own experience, and you get a customer who just doesn't trust this company.
If this option is available to you (using the Vacation Guarantee) you will need a passport to fly back to the US from the first port your ship stops at, and this guarantee does not apply to all of Carnival's cruises.
I called carnivals reps using all 3 phone numbers they give on their website and it was verified that yes I could do this per the vacation Guarantee, but call for yourself to see if this can apply for you if you wish to pursue this route.
I was amused when the reps stated they couldn't understand how it wasn't in Carnivals best interest to either refund my cruise price, or apply the amount paid towards a credit for a future cruise, since now they will actually be losing money in paying the airfare back to Orlando. I told them I couldn't understand it either, but as the first representative told me when I first called to say how disappointed I was in the itinerary change...them's the breaks.