It seems too good to be true but apparently it is true. (Free Carnival cruise)

Last week my wife got a fairly nondescript letter in the mail from Carnival Cruise lines. There was a little sticker on it that said something like “Special Offer inside”. Frankly, I’m surprised that she even opened it as we get crap like that all the time. She read the letter and Carnival said that they wanted to give us a free cruise. She ignored it and was even hesitant to show it to me. When I got home later that evening, she said “Here. Look at this.”

I read it and read it again. It certainly looked like Carnival wanted to give us a free cruise. I’m thinking that there’s got to be a catch. We’re not big players in the casino. In fact, she won’t gamble at all and I don’t play more than $5 Blackjack. We don’t drink much. We don’t buy much in the shops. The most expensive thing that we’ve ever purchased on board was a Citizen watch. Curiously, the offer was sent directly to her but in the past, we’ve always booked our cruises in my name. We’ve only cruised on Carnival 4 times so it’s not like we’re steady customers. Our last cruise was in December 2012.

Still thinking that it was too good to be true, I logged onto the Carnival website, entered my wife’s ID # and lo and behold, there was her offer for a free cruise for 2 for an interior cabin. For $40 apiece, we could upgrade to a window cabin. For $80 apiece, we could get a balcony cabin. I immediately booked a balcony cabin on a June cruise out of New York for 8 days going to St. John’s, San Juan and Grand Turk.

All in all, it wasn’t entirely free because I have to pay the $160 for the spa balcony upgrade and around $300 in port fees. There will also be around another $160 in gratuities. These are all normal charges. So for $620, we’re getting a $3700 cruise! The only stipulations were that the cruise had to be booked by March 3rd and taken by June 2014. No problem there.

Moral of the story: If you’re a Carnival customer and get a letter from them with an offer inside, it wouldn’t hurt to open it.

I hope this doesn’t read too much like spam. It’s just mundane pointless stuff I had to share.

And BTW, if you did get a letter from them in the last week or so and threw it away, you can still go to the offers section of their website, enter your VIFP # and see if they gave you one. It can’t hurt.

The reservation process was a little wonky on their website because after I picked the cruise that I wanted and went to select a deal, the only thing that showed up was their regular price. There was a little link that said “Show offers” or something like that that I clicked on, entered my wife’s VIFP # again, and then the free option showed up.

When you get further away from the Cruise company itself, the “free” part starts to disappear, you can’t upgrade, you have to meet all sorts of conditions… its more like"4 for 2" than “2 for 1” ??? and so on.

But the Cruise line itself is interested in getting you back as a customer and blocking you from trying another cruise line. They may have an idea of how much you spend eg at the restaurants ??

I’m guessing they are in a business re-building phase re the amazing deals given the spate of very bad publicity they have gotten over the past year of so re nightmare cruises caused by malfunctioning ship facilities.

Maybe they need Guinea pigs to see if the ship is safe after the latest outbreak of whatever ?

Good for you. There really are some deals that sound too good to be true but really are true. I have been travelling mostly for free for almost three years using various credit card offers and airline promotions. The fine print is usually fairly restrictive but it is legit if you can meet the requirements. It isn’t a true gift. They are trying to make money off of you in some other way or rebuild their brand in Carnival’s case but, as long as you just stick to the offer as stated and don’t fall for any most of their supplemental sales pitches, you really can get travel almost for free or for very little cost.

Any condo sales pitches you have to sit through?

Wow, congrats!

Very Important Floating Person?

The offer includes 10,000,000,000,000 norovirus virions for the price of 10,000,000.

The ship makes no money from empty cabins. They’ve now taken in $160 more than they would have (maybe more, if they get money from the port fees and gratuities*).

In addition, they have you posting online about the great deal – free publicity – and you’ll be talking about the trip from now until the cruise … and beyond. That’s all the best publicity you can get, and it’s the best way to refurbish their image.

*I wouldn’t be surprised if the port fees were higher than the actual fees levied, as the ship takes something off the top to administer them.

Last year, I was sorely tempted by an offer from Holland America for a repositioning cruise. No super-secret VIP benefits or whatever - just “We gotta move this fully staffed tub across the ocean anyway, so who wants to come along for cheap?”

IIRC, it was something like $150 per person for seven days in a balcony cabin. Only snag would be getting home from Europe as it was a one-way trip.

It could be spending but like I said, we don’t spend much. The food is included in the price of the ticket unless you eat in their steakhouse, which we never do.

That’s some serious funny right there.

Fun Person. Carnival tries to stick “fun” into everything they do.

I’m sure that empty cabins was at least part of it and no doubt publicity played a part as well. But the magnitude of the deal was just staggering. Someone on the cruise board said that they gave out a million free cruises but I have no idea how accurate that is or how they would know. Sure, they’re a high fixed cost industry but I’ve never seen anything like this and I do watch from time to time. Traveling in June isn’t exactly last second. They usually only drop cruise prices within a month of departure. And even then, not by that much.

Plenty of the people on the other board that are long time frequent travelers are pissed that they didn’t get an offer so I’m not sure this will payoff for Carnival in the long run.

Does that include all the clear liquids and IV fluids you may need?

That’s my thought. The ship in question had an outbreak of Legionaire’s disease or explosive diarrhea or something, and they just finished disinfecting the ship. Hopefully they did a good job.

They never seem to! How do you disinfect every nook and cranny of a floating incubator for disease?!!

Except that I could choose from just about any ship in the North American fleet, not just the sick ship.

Its been expressed to me that because its winter & flu season, people who are just starting to get sick (but have paid for the cruise) come aboard and refill the Carnival petri dish.

… well, its either that or explosive diarrhea is some new way to repel Somali pirates… :eek:

Although you personally may not, a large percentage of people that they get onto the boat through this promotion will spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on alcohol, gambling, and off-shore excursions.

And Imodium.

No, they charge for vodka. :wink:

There seem to be some poor sports on this board. Nice find Nars.