(1:16 p.m. EST) – Carnival Cruise Lines is hoping to lure savings-minded passengers away from third-party shore excursion operators with a best price guarantee. Passengers who find the same tour offered by another operator at a lower price than their booked excursion, either before or during their cruise, can receive 110 percent of the difference in the form of shipboard credit.
Cruisers are interested in getting the best price, Mico Cascais, vice president of tour operations for Carnival Cruise Lines, told Cruise Critic.
“I want to take that concern off the table, that uncertainty that they're getting the best price or not.”
Much of that uncertainty, Cascais said, comes from all the noise created by third-party shore tour operators.
“Guests have always ventured out on their own, but it wasn't as visible before how they went out and procured their own arrangements. Now there are many websites, and one thing they are doing is making a lot noise as to what the best options are.
“While the guests have the option to do whatever they want, I want to take off the table that we are more expensive.”
To qualify for the credit, the tour comparison must be apples to apples, meaning all segments of the tour must be the same as what Carnival is offering: the date, destination, duration, whether it's guided or includes transportation and other inclusions.
Plus, it must be run by an established operator that does some type of marketing, whether through a website or official signage at the pier, not a random van driver holding up a piece of paper offering tours for $5.
Passengers who find a lower-priced, comparable tour ahead of the cruise can go online up to seven days prior to the cruise and fill out a claim form including the URL of the tour operator and tour details. Carnival will verify whether the claim is valid within 24 to 48 hours.
Onboard, passengers can visit the shore excursions desk with a photograph of the tour operator's signage at the port and the tour details. The onboard shore excursion team will verify the claim before the cruise ends.
The Shore Excursion Best Price Guarantee is available fleetwide for all shore excursions on ships sailing from North America starting immediately.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor