Monday, August 24, 2009

Saving a few bucks can be expensive

There is nothing wrong with trying to get the best price possible when booking a cruise. When our clients call, we will ask questions to find out all they may be entitled to with available promotions- Sr., resident, regional, past passenger etc. Carnival offers a special promotion called Early Saver (anyone eligible for this depending on how far out they are reserving) and some other lines are starting to come up with variations of this also. BUT, is it really worth saving those few dollars?

This special promotion is very restrictive and the most damaging is your deposit is non-refunable if you have to cancel, even before the final is due which otherwise would be 100% refundable. So how does it become expensive?

One of our clients has booked several cabins under this Early Saver deal earlier this year for a December sailing for herself and the daughters. They saved $40 per person or a total of $160 on two cabins (each cabin was a daughter and her boyfriend) and the deposit was $250 per person ($500 per cabin). Well, Mom paid the deposits for each cabin (total $1000) and now the girls have "dumped their boyfriends" and if we cancel the boys, that is $500 non-refundable. (The boys were supposed to reimburse Mom but never have.)

Worse yet, if the girls keep their own cabins as singles, they will actually have to pay the single supplement which means they pay for the other berth anyway. If they take someone new, they have a change fee (minimum $50) and still need a new $250 pp deposit. If they switch their bookings to one cabin, one is cancelled (another $250 lost) and they still need to pay the $250 deposit again plus the new cruise fare rate which is higher now than when booked originally. Yes, we would try to get some of the fees fee waived on the cabin switch but can't guarantee this will happen. so worse case, saving $160 cost a minimum of $500, possibly $1000 and maybe even more.

Carnival will most of the time (I think) give a future cruise credit of $200 ($250 less the $50 fee) but it would be in the name of the ones who actually cancel and these certificates are not transferrable. Even though Mom paid, she can't use them, and I doubt if she would get her money back from the boys at this time if she gave the certificates to them.

Had they booked under a normal promotion or pricing, the deposit for the boys would be refunded (it is before normal penalties for cancelling are imposed since final is not due yet), plus we could switch one girl to the other cabin, protect the rate and have that deposit changed to the other cabin. Total loss - nothing.

Sometimes saving a few bucks can get expensive

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