Carnival steps up guarantee to help nervous travelers

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

(CNN) — Worried about booking a Carnival Cruise Lines vacation?

Problems aboard the Carnival Legend, Carnival Dream, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Splendor cruise ships may have some first-time cruise customers thinking twice about booking a Carnival brand cruise.

Maybe Carnival’s “Great Vacation Guarantee,” announced Thursday, will calm those potential fears.

If customers notify the ship’s guest services desk of their desire to end their cruise during that first 24 hours, the cruise line will return their money and take them home without any cost to the customers.

The guarantee offers even more: 10% on top of the full refund of the cruise fare, free return air transportation from the next port of call, free ground transportation and hotel accommodations (if necessary) and a $100 shipboard credit for a future Carnival cruise.

“We are proud to carry nearly 4.5 million satisfied guests each year and are very confident in the quality of the vacation experience we provide on board the 24 ships of Carnival Cruise Lines,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO, in a statement.

“The ‘Great Vacation Guarantee’ is designed to provide an assurance to those consumers who may be considering a cruise that we stand behind our product and, if they are dissatisfied for any reason, they have a simple and hassle-free means for receiving a full refund and more.”

Carnival’s original vacation guarantee, unveiled in 1996, didn’t offer as many benefits. It provided a pro-rated refund for the unused portion of the cruise and airfare reimbursement back to the port of embarkation only.

“It’s brilliant on Carnival’s part, and it’s good for the cruise industry,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of CruiseCritic.com. “The biggest barrier to entry that we see is, ‘what if I don’t like it?’ It’s going to get fence sitters who are going to give cruising a try. “

The new guarantee applies to three- to eight-day voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Canada and New England departing through April 30, 2015. Only U.S. and Canadian residents with a valid passport to return to the U.S. by air qualify.

Carnival has had a string of problems with some of its ships this year. In February, an engine fire on the Carnival Triumph caused power outages, overflowing toilets and food shortages. In separate incidents in March, the Carnival Legend had propulsion system problems, hampering its sailing speed during a cruise; and the Carnival Dream lost power and some toilets stopped working temporarily.

In November 2010, a fire in the Carnival Splendor engine room crippled the cruise ship, stranding passengers off the coast of Mexico for several days without air conditioning or hot showers.


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