Carnival Cruise Line Complaint - Is Carnival canceling cruise bookings the day the final payment is due so they can charge more when you rebook?
Resolution Update on 11/30/2010:
I received a call from Carnival Cruise today. They have decided to honor the fare I was originally promised. They apologized for the inconvenience caused. I am content with this action and am hoping they will develop better customer resolution processes.
MIAMI, FLORIDA -- I would like for you to share this story with your readers. It is something all potential Carnival cruise customers should be made aware of so they too do not fall victim to what I view is an under handed scam.
Is Carnival canceling cruise bookings the day the final payment is due so they can charge more when you rebook? Are they preying on their passengers to generate more revenue for CCL? It sure seems this way. When I booked on September 1st for my January 9th cruise I was told by the CCL booking agent that my balance would be due in November. He assured me I would receive an email with my booking confirmation which I received shortly after I hung up the phone. He also said that sometime before the final balance was due I would receive an email with a notice to pay the final balance. He said that in the body of the email there would be a hyperlink that would take me to the CCL website where I could pay off the balance online.
A few days later, I received another booking confirmation from CCL except this time it was for a different passenger and not even on my cruise ship. I noticed that the passenger had the same first name as me “Vanessa”. Although we had different last names and were booked on different cruise’s I decided the right thing to do is to alert Carnival and I did so by emailing them to make sure that they did not send me this person’s information anymore. Four days later I received another email for the same family even though I alerted Carnival of the mistake.
During our Thanksgiving dinner this past Thursday the discussion about the upcoming 70th birthday cruise for Grandpa came up. My mother in law mentioned that she received notice that the balance was due and that she had paid for her two cabins. I told her I had not received any emails from CCL relating to final payment. So I decided to go online to pay the balance. When I logged in to CCL my booking number came up invalid. I decided to email them and received an auto generated email response to call in to their call center.
I called the call center this morning and they instructed me that they had cancelled my reservation and if I still wanted to take the cruise they would have to rerate my fair, the new fare would now be 20% more than the reserved fare I had previously booked. The woman explained that they had sent numerous emails to remind me that my final payment was coming due. She also said that they even sent a letter to my home warning me that if not paid that the cruise would be cancelled. I explained that the only email I had received was for the original booking on September 1st and the two other emails I had received were for Vanessa Gomes a family that had no relation to me.
She had me look at my original booking confirmation and low and behold it said Final Payment due on November 11, 2010. However, nowhere did it state that if not paid by this date that the reservation would be cancelled. I explained that I had not received any emails from CCL requesting final payment and offered the chance that perhaps the other party I did receive emails for was perhaps receiving mine. She said that she does not have the permission to honor the old reservation even with the email mix up and that a supervisor would be able to help resolve this. She also agreed that the email mix-up could be the reason I did not receive any emails from them, she offered no explanation for the letter never being received.
When Mr. Orion Mendes from Guest Solutions came on the phone he made it very clear that CCL does not have a policy or a standard procedure in place that would alert passengers that their final payment is coming due. He also said it is not Carnival’s responsibility to warn customers that they need to pay their final balance by email or letter. He also told me that they do not owe me anything and that it was my fault solely that they cancelled because I did not pay by November 10th. He also said that they never know when a reservation will be cancelled and that CCL does not need to provide any of this information to the customer. He stated that Carnival can cancel a reservation at anytime they choose including the day it is due solely at their discretion - all without notice. In my case they cancelled my cruise on the day it was due according to Mr. Mendes. He also did not see that any letter was sent (even though the previous Carnival representative said one was sent) but he did say an email reminder to pay the final balance was sent to me on the day it was due November 10th and then a cancellation notification was sent the very next day on November 11th stating that my cruise reservation was cancelled on November 10th.
He said the only thing he could do for me was to re-price the fare as my cabin was still available. He said the new rate would cost 20% more than I my originally booked fare. I told him before I shelled out more money for the cruise that I would like to verify that I truly did not receive these emails. I told him if they truly were sent and it was my oversight that I would call back and pay the additional fare. I searched the company email server and confirmed that none were received from Carnival on the subject dates in any folder, received, deleted including the spam folder. Mr. Mendes did say that if I could confirm with the other passenger Mrs. Gomes that she was receiving emails relating to my reservation from Carnival that then he could accommodate me. At this point I was scratching my head - and how will I reach Mrs. Gomes? Calling Carnival back appeared to be a mute at this point.
I am completely baffled about this situation especially on the heels of the recent bad press received for their Carnival Splendor disaster. My only guess is that they are trying to recoup some of the refunded monies and free cruises they had to give away as a result of the Splendor.
One would think in an economy like this where people are very cautious about their spending that Carnival would institute a much more customer service focused process and less self absorbed approach to their customers. I still have not decided if we will go on this cruise or not. I must admit it really is a disappointing experience as a past cruiser on Carnival and at one time a cheerleader for them.
I am hoping you will write about this undocumented cancellation policy Carnival has with your readers as I think this is important information.