Carnival resuming vacation guarantee

By Tom Stieghorst
Carnival Cruise Lines is bringing back a new and improved version of its old vacation guarantee program from the 1990s.

Carnival said that it will refund 110% of the cruise fare for anyone dissatisfied with their voyage in its first 24 hours. The offer also includes transportation back to their city of origin, hotel and ground transfers if necessary and a $100 onboard credit for a future Carnival cruise.

The offer, dubbed the Great Vacation Guarantee, is designed to give potential cruisers "complete peace of mind" when booking.

To activate the guarantee, passengers must report to the guest services desk within the first 24 hours of a cruise. The program applies to U.S. and Canadian residents only and is valid on three- to eight-day voyages departing through April 30, 2015, to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Alaska and Canada and New England.

If a guest invokes the guarantee, any travel agent commission on the booking is protected, a Carnival spokesman said.

The program has similarities to a prior Carnival guarantee program, called the Carnival Vacation Guarantee, but its terms are more generous.

In the previous plan, the refund was pro-rated to cover only the portion of the cruise not taken, and transportation was back to the port of departure only. There was no future onboard spending credit.

That program began in 1996 and continued into the early 2000s. In a 1997 Travel Weekly article, Vicki Freed, then Carnival's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said that less than 0.001% of Carnival passengers had taken advantage of that guarantee.

In the same piece, Freed said that 50% of the guests who were aware of the program said it influenced their purchase decision.

Carnival said it will promote the new guarantee with newspaper and online ads, through travel agents, and on a special section on its website at www.carnival.com/vacationguarantee
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