It started off as the dream vacation. My family and I had always wanted to take a cruise and we had found a 12 day adventure around the Mediterranean that fir the bill perfectly!
After searching the web (and checking Ripoff Report) we decided to book through Vacations To Go. Their pricing was good for the cruise we had selected and they had a toll free number for use from the UK. Since we had only recently moved to the UK from Texas, we were also keen to pay in US dollars, which they offered.
Unfortunately the ship and cruise we were interested in did not provide interconnecting cabins, which was a must for my family of five, including three small children. Thankfully our agent was very helpful and searched and found alternate cruises that would meet our requirements.
The first offer was for adjacent cabins, but not interconnecting. On second check they were not exactly adjacent as there were several rooms in between them.
Moving on he found interconnecting rooms with an ocean view. This sounded ideal. On second check these were already sold out.
On his third call back he had found two even better options for us. The first was a Family Ocean View Room that sleeps five and the second was a Stateroom that sleeps five AND has a balcony. Unfortunately these options were more expensive, at around twice our original budget.
On consideration I decided it was worth paying the extra and getting the balcony room, which sounded attractive, while not a suite, but was described as "decently large".
$12,256 later I received my check in information. We duly checked in on line to find that a view of our stateroom was not available at this time. This raised my eyebrows, but I assumed it was a typical internet glitch and I would be able to view the room the next day.
Two days prior to our cruise I was finally able to view the stateroom on line. It turns out it was the same size as ONE of the rooms I had previously tried to book as an interconnecting pair!
I had ended up paying twice as much for half as much room. "Decently large" 25 sq ft larger than the previous rooms we had discussed, but 154 sq ft SMALLER than the interconnecting concept we had been discussing.
I immediately went back through the paper work, assuming there was a second room hidden next door that would make up the gap. I could find nothing.
Picking up the phone I immediately called Vacations To Go to seek clarification. The agent who had helped me originally initially seemed as confused as I was and he called Royal Caribbean to check what was going on. It seems implausible that five people would be able to safely occupy the cabin we had been allocated.
When he came back on the line he advised that technically the room was allowed to have five occupants and so it met the criteria of "sleeping five".
I was forwarded to a manager for further discussions around the issue to be told "you were advised the room was larger, not how much larger, but you must admit you were advised it was larger". I was also advised that I would not be allowed to listen to the recording that they had made of the booking without a subpoena!
Once I advised them that perhaps it was better to talk options than lawyers in the first instance they told me I was welcome to wait on hold while they worked out how to resolve this, but it might be "several hours" of music before they picked up the line again.
To their credit it was typically only ten minutes between communication over the next several hours as the situation played out. Several calls were made to Royal Caribbean, promises were made regarding "wait listing" for larger rooms and suites (am not planning on holding my breath).
In the end I was told I had bought the room that was offered and they were going "way beyond what was reasonable" in offering me $100 in on ship credit, which I refused.
The cruise departs in around 30 hours and I am yet to decide if my family and I will be on it, but I do not want to accept $100 in compensation for being charged an additional $5,000 over the advertised price for half of what we had discussed.
To put this in context the room I have been given is 204 sq ft. The Family Ocean View Room was 319 sq ft. The interconnecting room option totaled 358 sq ft. In my mind this is a significant and material disparity that should have been very clearly explained rather than being described as "decently large" in response to my concern that it might be "a little cramped".
My kids are 8, 5 and 3. Tomorrow we fly to Barcelona for what is meant to be our dream family holiday. If you have kids you know I will have little choice but to take it on the chin for now as it would break their hearts not to go.
What I requested from Vacations To Go was recognition of the materiality of the difference between what had been discussed and what I was sold. Compensation for this should be commensurate with the difference, for example the interconnecting rooms we discussed or financial compensation in kind.
They were not willing to discuss this.
United Kingdom CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.