“It’s funny how the little things like this can grow to overshadow a wonderful vacation”

trailThirty-two dollars.

That’s all that separated a good cruise from a bad one, in Nick Prewett’s mind. That’s how much he’d paid Carnival for ground transportation back to Miami International Airport through its Web site.

Our first night on the ship we received our shore excursion tickets which we had also booked online prior to our departure, but no transfer tickets.

On our final night on ship, I called the front desk to inquire about the return transfer. At that time I was told there was no record of a return transfer. Upon clearing customs, we exited the doors and the buses were taking transfer tickets.

Since we did not have a transfer ticket, we elected to take a cab. I never thought to ask for a receipt since I was on vacation and had been told on the ship they had no record of a transfer purchase.

Turns out Prewett had been charged for ground transfers, but for some reason, the vouchers were never delivered.

He contacted Carnival by e-mail to ask for a refund. Denied.

So he phoned the cruise line.

I called and spoke with Corina, and she was very good at explaining some facts that I wish I would have known before hand.

First, that my name was on an electronic manifest and that all I had to do was check in and they would have let me on the bus.

Second, that if I had a receipt, I could be reimbursed for my cab fare.

Third, that not everyone is on the electronic manifest and that some people still have vouchers to get on the bus.

My concern is that at no time during my booking, my trip or even when I asked on the ship, was I instructed how to take the transfer to the airport.

Corina said she was a supervisor and was very understanding of my situation, but said that she could do nothing to give me a refund regarding this situation. I asked to speak with someone else in a management position and she said that she spoke on behalf of the management in her department and that there was nothing they could do to help me in this situation.

She apologized and said that if I had a receipt or had I checked in to get on the bus that it would not be an issue. She stressed that it was out of the control of her department to issue a refund to me.

So, to recap: Prewett buys ground transfers online, but is never told that he doesn’t need vouchers to redeem the trip back to MIA. But it tells him after the fact. And now Carnival wants to pocket the money.

Needless to say, he’s disappointed.

Carnival does a great deal to ensure guests are happy and know exactly what to do to make their vacation exciting, but I feel I was let down with my purchase of a return transfer.

For me this isn’t about the $32 for the transfer, it is about providing correct, accurate information to keep guests happy.

I believe that I acted in good faith to find out how to utilize my return transfer. It’s funny how the little things like this can grow to overshadow a wonderful vacation.

I asked Carnival to check its records related to Prewett’s ground transfers. A representative responded:

Our policy, when guests claim they did not use transfers for whatever reason, is to either request the unused transfer voucher or proof of the alternate form of transportation used before a refund is considered. However, for this particular situation, we’ll offer either a future onboard credit for $32 or a refund.

Our guest care department will be contacting the guest to advise.

Nice. But really, this could have been avoided if a supervisor had just asked this one simple question: Is it worth $32 to keep a customer happy? Particularly if it’s $32 for a service we weren’t able to provide?

If Carnival’s managers can’t make that kind of a simple decision, maybe this problem goes way beyond a miscommunication over a ground transfer.

Way, way beyond.

(Photo: joshbousel/Flickr Creative Commons)

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