On October 30th of 2000, I received a $1600 travel voucher in the mail offering a "luxurious sun-splashed" Florida vacation including a "first rate" cruise to the Bahamas I called the 800-203-9783 number and I was told by the rep that I needed to take advantage or the deal at that moment or it would be void and she was only allowed to offer the deal one time and asked repeatedly for my credit card number.
I gave them my Chase credit card number to secure the cost of $698 for one ticket. We set the travel date for 4/27/02 and she said we could change it later if needed. We received the confirmation package a few months later which included brochures of the places we'd be staying and videotape of the cruise ship. We decided to save the trip for our 1 yr marriage anniversary.
We called in May of 2002 and changed the vacation dates to June 30th through July 8th 2002 and paid the balance with my husband's debit card. (We have the statement that shows were charged a $29 renewal fee for this) We booked our own airfare, which came to a total of $579. We would have to take two planes to get to Florida and back. We received our itinerary and directions to Continental Car Rental company about 10 days before we left for vacation. We were supposed to have a car through Alamo but were told when we called to question it that we were being upgraded and it was closer to the airport.
We arrived June 30th and took a shuttle to Continental. There we had to go through the whole booking process again. We had to pay $120.88, were expected to fill the tank, and a $200 deposit for a car that was supposed to be free. Our "reserved vehicle" was a run down Suzuki Swift (all they had left) with no power steering/brakes and bad wipers. This vehicle was in no way suitable for the type of driving they were making us do, a 4hr drive from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale.
We later learned that they put another $200 charge on the card, a hold until we returned the car and we'd have to fill the tank. We drove to the Welcome Center which was 26 miles away and took us almost an hour to get there.
We were given the vouchers and directions to our hotel (not the same address as printed on our itinerary packet). He collected $20 from me to guarantee we would show up to the mandatory scheduled tour the next day. (Again, something we were not told about) Without putting that money down we could not get directions to our next destination.
We drove 15 miles to the Radisson Barcelo Hotel and checked in. We were told we had "Deluxe Accommodations" for the duration of our stay from June 30th until July 2nd. We had to pay hotel tax of 11% per day, fees and a deposit of $50 per day. They told us it included nothing. (No food, no fridge-as requested since my husband is insulin dependant and no amenities)
They said in no way were they responsible for what anyone had told us the room would include. We got to the room and it was small, smelly, there were burn holes all over the comforter and there were dirty towels hanging in the bathroom. There was hair in the sink and the clothes dresser was broken. We had to keep everything packed in our suitcases.
We went to bed early.The second day we went on the tour so we could get our tickets and our money back. We drove to the Calypso Cay Resort (owned by AmeriSuites) and waited in a huge group of people for over an hour. We met our "guide" who was very nice and did not pressure us at all when we finished telling him about our trip from hell. He exposed us to more of the lies After being with him for more than 90 minutes, we wanted our tickets and to leave.
He told us we should just go along with the tour and act interested when we spoke to his boss otherwise we would not receive the vouchers for our hotel and cruise.Finally, I get up and left and my husband demanded the tickets and our money.
We checked out of our hotel on July and drove four hours to Fort Lauderdale Welcome Center. We were taken into a cubicle and there he asked us how our trip was going and then tried to convince us to go on another tour. I became very angry and told him I had every intention of suing when I came home because I felt I had been scammed every step of the way. He told me "Sweetheart, we pay several marketing companies to get people to come down here to take these tours, we give them $400 for every person they book. They can tell you they're sending you to the moon and back for free and if you believe them without seeing a written contract then you're the one to blame." We talked to a lot of people on the ship and at the hotels and found out that everyone was paying different prices and I had paid the most out of all of them. I was fuming to find this out.
We asked at the welcome center about it and they told us that it's up to the telemarketer on how much they can get. We also talked to the Manager and she said that everyone is charged the same price. Either way I knew I had been ripped off. He gave us vouchers for the next portion of our trip, which was a 4- day stay at the Hilton Airport located at 1870 Griffin Road in Dania NOT Fort Lauderdale. All the vacation material we were sent where labeled to be administered and fulfilled by: MVI MARKETING located at 410 Ware Blvd., 10th Floor, Tampa Florida.
We endured another long drive there and had to pay more deposits and the 11% tax at the desk amounting to about $75. The hotel was very far away from all major restaurants and other attractions in the area. It was embarrassing, dirty, infested with mosquitoes, the room lamp was broken and non-functional, no meals included and again, no fridge or clean towels. The closest beach was more than 30 minutes away.
I went to the front desk to see if we could get a cleaner room only to find that others were there and already complaining. We were treated rudely and as if we were "free loaders" because we were issued Ramada vouchers. They said they were completely booked and we'd have to just "make do".
We were so upset and scared of losing more money, we stuck to our rooms the entire time until our departure for the cruise on Friday the 5th. (except a stop at the grocery store to buy more food and trips to the ice machine to use in the ice buckets to keep my husband's insulin cool.) Housekeeping never came the entire 4 days we were there so we had to take towels from the pool house.
We checked out on the Friday the 5th and drove to the final part of our trip which was to board the "OceanBreeze" a "luxury cruise liner" which turned out to be a 48 year old rust ridden tub. We were ushered up the ramp to the front desk where we were told we needed to pay a $100 per person "credit deposit" before we were allowed to board. (This is supposedly in case we damage our room or steal the towels etc.)
Without this we were not allowed to board. The room we were escorted to was tiny and smelled of human urine. The toilet seat was broken in our room and our mattress was in a shape that resembled a bowl. Then we were paged to go to a mandatory orientation seminar held by the cruise director. This lasted about two hours.The announcement was made that we were leaving Port Everglades in Florida at 5pm that day and would reach Nassau that night at around midnight. This seemed like a very short time to travel such a long way but the person at the front desk later insisted that this was the schedule and not to worry.
Then they went on to say we would be in Bahamas until 2 am the next morning, so we thought we would have 2 nights and a whole day in Nassau. The cruise director and the shore excursion staff (who most did not speak much English) then began feeding us mis-information about what was available onshore in Nassau. They told us we would be wasting our entire trip if we did not join one of the excursion groups since there was nothing else to do. I am convinced this was a plan to get us all to commit to their expensive tour packages, none of which were worth the money they were charging.
We decided to try the "Blue Lagoon Island and Dolphin Encounter Experience" which was said to be included. Then we left to go explore the ship and soon found that nothing in the brochures and video matched what this ship looked like. The pool was a small 5x5 (5ft deep) hole they called a "splash" pool that was labeled open until sunset but was closed and drained. We went to look for the gym and library and neither were there. We went back to our room to change for dinner.
We were seated with three other couples who were all having similar problems. Everywhere we went on this ship, we heard angry people complaining about how this ship was crap and a scam and that there were endless hidden costs and tons of misleading information. We gave up, we were tired and upset so we went to bed early. The next morning we met again with the same three couples at breakfast and they said they were all staying onboard that day in hopes of avoiding more stress and scams.
The ship docked in Nassau at around eight in the morning but were not allowed to go ashore until after ten. Afterward we went to the lobby, found our group and set out for our "tour". In the end we were charged $51 per person for a trip to "Blue Lagoon Island", which included the round-trip boat ride, snorkeling (only a half hour-no scuba diving equipment available), a meal and all the "amenities" of the island.
However, when we got to the island we were told "that way is the showers and this way is the food." The bathrooms were all open stalls. Drinks were available but for a charge of $3 for a small can of soda. The "buffet" was a small table of warm side dishes and fruit that was supposed to be served until 2:30pm but was packed up by 1:30. No one directed us to the "Blue Lagoon" or hammocks, or any of the other facilities or clubs. The lovely white sandy beaches turned out to be full of rocks (onshore and in the water) and was littered with cans and garbage. Anything you wanted to do such as the Dolphin Encounter (supposed to be included) was on the other side of the island and it would cost more than one hundred dollars per person.
We would have been much happier renting a moped for fifty bucks for the whole day and going out on our own. Instead, we had been told all the beaches in Nassau were closed to the public and only hotel guests could use them. This we found out was a downright lie but at this point they refused us a refund.
Then we were supposed to be back at the ship by six for the six thirty departure (rather than a 2 a.m. departure) so we had to hop on a ferry at around five. We were never able to go out on a single night of dining or dancing.
We woke up on Sunday the 7th and an announcement was made that we were back in Florida and we would need to place our luggage outside our rooms by 2pm so Customs could clear us for our "disembarkment". We were then told to check out and wait in the lobby until further notice. A lot of us were confused because we were told we would be docking early the next morning (Monday) not Sunday afternoon.
We went to get our deposit back and found we only got a little less than $25 back (combined). They took twenty dollars each from us for "tips and gratuities". We got off the ship and found our rental car. We had to pay a parking fee of $30 (again, this was supposed to be included) and we went to return the rental since it was due back that day by noon. We returned it and got the $200 hold charged back to our card. We caught a shuttle to the airport to see if we could exchange our tickets to come home a day early.
We couldn't as the airline said they were overbooked and we were stuck with no money and no where to go. We called a friend we had met on the ship who booked a room close by and stayed with her overnight and went to the airport together in the morning. If not for her generosity we would have had to sleep at the airport because we were lied to about the date we were coming home.
The bottom line here is that Ramada is currently holding my hard, earned money which was obtained by using fraudulent marketing practices. Any fine print disclaimers upon which Ramada may rely, which are in themselves unfair and deceptive, were not made available until after I had signed up for the vacation package. Not only that, but details about the package remained unclear even after I received the materials.
Another example of that is the fact that I was expected to pay taxes and fees on the hotel stay. This was given later in the fine print, but I was not told this prior to purchasing my package. Ramada represented that the cruise would be on Premier, Carnival or Imperial Majesty cruise lines.
This representation was true in as much as the cruise offered was on Imperial Majesty. However, Imperial Majesty, when compared to Premier or Carnival cruise lines implies that the three lines are of comparable value. In truth, the Imperial Majesty cruise line is inferior, yet Ramada unfairly and deceptively used a well-known and respected cruise line as a benchmark for the cruises offered while providing an inferior cruise. This is a fraudulent "bait and switch" scheme carried out by Ramada and is in violation of the NH Consumer Protection Act and FTC regulations.2
These actions by Ramada constitute unfair and deceptive trade practices and are violations of the Consumer Protection Act and FTC regulations. Had we booked this vacation ourselves, it would have cost us less than a thousand dollars and instead it cost us about $2600 including airfare.
Lawrence, Massachusetts Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Ramada