• Report: #713432

Complaint Review: Carnival Cruise

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  • Submitted: Sun, April 03, 2011
  • Updated: Mon, July 04, 2011

  • Reported By: Allison Webb — gautier Mississippi United States of America
Carnival Cruise
Tampa Florida Internet United States of America

Carnival Cruise Representative Scam, doesnt divulge travel documents requried, refuses entry then refuses to refund payment Internet

*Author of original report: Resolution Reached

*Consumer Comment: It's your travel agent's fault.

*Consumer Comment: It may not have been a mistake..before

*General Comment: Sad story, but you may be screwed.

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    I have an ongoing concern and yet to obtain a satisfactory resolution in recouping a refund.  I first cruised on the Carnival Legend on March 28 April 4, 2010 with my sister Danella McNeal.  Being that I reside in Gautier, Mississippi I drove six hours to Jacksonville, Florida to meet my  sister then we travelled an additional three and a half hours to Tampa, Florida to board the Legend. Boarding the ship I had my drivers license and social security card. I am not sure what documentation my sister had at the time however, we were allowed to board with no issue and had a tremendously wonderful time. So much so that we decided to book the same cruise the following year and bring our spouses as a surprise.
    Early January, 2011 I logged onto the Carnival site and expressed interest in booking the Carnival Legend 7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise from March 27- April 3, 2011 for myself and my husband. A representative by the name of ****called me and I agreed to book the cruise with her. I expressed that I travelled upon the same vessel to the same locations during the same time the previous year and that although my sister booked her tickets through a military source, I would like to ensure we were seated at the same table for dinner time. **** stated she would need to verify some information first and was able to ensure we would dine together. 
     On January 12, 2011 I attempted to pay for the tickets. I received four payment decline emails. There were complications with $1780.00 being debited from my account in one lump sum due to daily limitations set forth by my financial institution; I submitted a request asking the daily limit be raised as **** suggested. Later I would learn that the option to properly pay over time was available, however just not mentioned to me.****understood the situation and over the course of the next few days I paid $1780.00 using credit and debit cards. Each time a payment was posted **** would call me and advise of the remaining balance and despite playing phone tag the balance was paid. Upon the final I did not receive payment confirmations and did not think it unusual because she and I had been in constant communication and I definitely had documentation from my bank and credit card showing  the charges.  Upon the final payment being posted I was able to access my booking.
I accessed the site to view excursions. I never heard from Elizabeth again until I received the Bon Voyage email on March 20, 2011, stating it was a pleasure assisting me and to be sure to refer her to my friends and family. 
    My husband and I travelled from Gautier, Mississippi to Jacksonville, Florida picked up my sister and her husband. That night at 11:53pm in excitement we logged on to the Carnival site to discuss excursion options yet again. I noticed the fun pass section and printed it out -thinking it had something to do with possibly obtaining free drinks or discounts, after all I had not needed a pass to board the cruise last year. We attempted to log back into the site a little after midnight and noticed our bookings were gone. After calling customer service, it was explained that the booking goes away the day of the cruise. There was still no logical explanation for this and seem to be no concern being that our information was still in the main data base. The only down side seemed to be that my sister had not been able to print fun pass which in our minds meant no discounts or free drinks for them. 
    We travelled to Tampa, Florida. My husband and I were turned away because we did not have passports or birth certificates! We had our Drivers Licenses and Social Security Cards just as I had been able to board with the year prior. The agents at the gate asked if we had fun passes, which we did. They called supervisors and the final word was that we could not board with the identification we had.  They expressed that Homeland Security had enhanced restrictions over the past 11 months and that others were turned away despite having faxed hospital Birth Certificates. I suppose sharing this information with us was meant to convey empathy; however it only incited me more. I began thinking this must be some sort of scam.
My sister and her husband, being active military, had their passports but no fun passes. They were allowed to board. After tearful deliberation my husband and I convinced my sister and her husband to board the ship. 
    I called Carnival Customer Service the same day and expressed my concern as well as requested to recoup my funds. I was told despite the documentation that was accepted last year and the communication I had with the booking agent, it was my responsibility to check the site for the list of acceptable documentation. I was also advised that the notes on the account stated Elizabeth told me what documentation was needed; this is not true. I asked to submit a request to have the audio of the conversation retrieved.
Throughout the week that followed I spoke with about five different representatives. I was told since I did not elect to purchase the insurance I would not be able to have anything but the taxes refunded; no one else will tell me anything differently; there were no managers available to take my call, I would have to contact another department; no one has direct phone extensions. During one conversation I was on hold for a supervisor for over sixteen minutes then the call was disconnected. 
    I called yet again on April 2, 2011 to inquire about the status of the recording and resolution. After speaking with two customer service representatives and one supervisor, I was told there were no notes other than my initial call on March 27, 2011. After reliving the situation so many times during my scheduled vacation, it was like a slap in the face to be told only one call was documented.
(When I shared this point of view with one rep, she told me no one made me relive it, that I chose to share the information on my own). The supervisor assured me she would check the status of the call retrieval and contact me on April 4, 2011. I truly hope this occurs but I have little faith it will.
At this point I am beyond concerned. Carnival is supposed to be a trusted name, yet I feel like I have conducted business with a back alley salesman.   

    I do understand that I elected not to purchase the insurance that would allow 80% of my payment to be refunded in the event of cancellation. However, I also am aware that Carnival did no lose money because of my booking. Up until four days before the cruise there were still rooms available. I am asking that at least 75%, $1335.00 of my payment be refunded.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/03/2011 08:52 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Carnival-Cruise/internet/Carnival-Cruise-Representative-Scam-doesnt-divulge-travel-documents-requried-refuses-en-713432. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
1Author 3Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Author of original report

Resolution Reached

AUTHOR: Allison Webb - (United States of America)

Carnival has agreed to allow us to cruise at a later date within the year to compensate for the cruise.
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#2 Consumer Comment

It's your travel agent's fault.

AUTHOR: Flynrider - (USA)

   Back in the days of travel agents, the person who booked your travel would also advise you of documentation requirements and all of those other important things that are listed in the contracts that cover your trip.     Now that you have become your own travel agent, you should know who is ultimately responsible for this issue.   Go to the mirror and give your agent a thorough talking to.

   We see this all the time on this site.   Something as simple as a spelling mistake on your airplane ticket can end up making the ticket unusable and unrefundable.   Real travel agents have procedures in place to make sure things like that do not happen.  If you're acting as your own travel agent you need to accept the responsibilities that come with the job.
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#3 Consumer Comment

It may not have been a mistake..before

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

Not knowing the exact cruise you took in 2010 and if it was EXACTLY the same cruise you attempted to take this year it is hard to say if they made a mistake in the documentation requirements.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was supposed to go into full effect in 2009.  As of that time you were required to provide a Passport for any form of travel outside of the US(including Cruises).  There is an exception for what are considered "Closed Loop" cruises.  For a "Closed Loop" cruise if you don't have a Passport you would be allowed to show a Government issued picture ID(such as a Drivers Licence) AND a copy of your Birth Certificate.  But they require one from the County, Hospital Birth Certificates are not acceptable.

I seem to remember that there were some issues fully implementing it and I believe that the full implementations were delayed a few months, mainly because of the Passport backlog.  So it is possible that your first cruise was during this period so they were able to make an exception.   However, since then they are not able to make exceptions, as this has been in full effect for quite a while.  If they had made an exception for you and Homeland Security found out they would be in serious trouble, not to mention you probably would have been pulled off of the ship by Homeland Security anyways.

Unfortunatly it is your responsibility to know what documents are required and you can not assume(you know what happens then) that nothing has changed.  They make it quite clear on their web site and in your travel documents that you should have known.  Not only for this last cruise but for the cruise in 2010.

As for it being a "scam".  These are Government requirements, Carnival(and other cruise ships) are just following the regulations.  These complaints pop-up every now and then.  But with the number of cruises and taking into account when it is reported it always seems to be only a couple of people who "didn't get the message".  So one must figure that 99.9999999% (approx) of the other people got the message. 
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#4 General Comment

Sad story, but you may be screwed.

AUTHOR: Michael - (U.S.A.)

One thing I find confusing is how they let you on board in 2010 with just a driver's license and SS card.  You have needed a birth certificate or passport for as long as I can remember.  That has not changed in the past 11 months.  That's the way it's been for a long time.  If they let you on board with just that documentation in 2010, they made a mistake.  A federal mistake.  I have a feeling they gave you the 11 month story to cover up the fact they made a mistake.  Unfortunately, I do not think you are going to get anywhere with this.  I've seen these complaints time and time again and the canned response from the cruise lines is you should have read your cruise contract that spells out what documentation you need to sail.  And they do have a point there. 

As far as your on-line booking, that's standard with all cruise lines.  You cannot access the booking on the day of the cruise.  Shore excursions are also not available.  Those are cut off a few days before the cruise.     
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