(3:27 p.m. EDT) -- Earlier this week, Carnival Cruise Line released a change to its pre-cruise specialty dining reservation procedures: Passengers can now book specialty restaurants online for specific dates and times without having to wait for a confirmation -- but they also have to prepay.
Under the previous system, cruisers had to wait for email confirmation before requesting specific dates and times for added-fee restaurants, and instead of prepayment, passengers would see the charges appear on their onboard bills.
Now, to lock in a pre-cruise reservation (which can be canceled for a full refund at any time, except for Chef's Table reservations, which must be canceled 24 hours in advance to avoid a $25 penalty), cruisers have to pay in full at the time of booking. That means anyone hoping to use onboard credit to cover the cost is out of luck in terms of making advance reservations.
Passengers can apply onboard credit to alternative dining if they wait until they're onboard to make their reservations.
On the forums, Cruise Critic member shof515 wrote, "This sucks. Looks like I cannot use my onboard credit to pay for specially dining anymore since they now require payment upfront."
But member purplephenom had the opposite take: "This kind of appeals to me. Not waiting on an email confirmation is nice, not that it's a huge hassle. But being able to see open dates/times for [Bonsai T]eppanyaki, since that fills up quickly, may push me to try it."
In a statement, Carnival said passengers who made reservations online prior to the rollout of the new policy will not have to prepay.