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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dear Carnival Cruise Lines...


This is an exact copy of what I posted on every Carnival Cruise forum that they have on their website, and what I am sending to the executives at Carnival's corporate office.

To Whom it May Concern:

My husband and I booked a cruise--the first trip without our children in 5 years.

I got sick over 2 weeks ago with a nasty, lingering upper respiratory infection/virus that I STILL am not completely over. Knowing that our cruise was fast approaching (May 7th), and having been told by my doctor that he did not advise traveling to Mexico b/c of swine flu, we contemplated canceling the vacation we had been looking forward to for so long.

Daily, we watched the pandemic level for swine flu and travel to Mexico raise from one risk level to the next. I called on April 28th to speak to a manager about canceling my cruise, explaining to him that I have been quite sick and was concerned about catching swine flu. I was told by the manager that I would lose 1/2 of my $$ due to penalties. At this point, several airlines were not charging fees to change tickets. I was confused as to how Carnival was not concerned about swine flu. The manager told me that he would still go if he were me--that if I ended up sick, the cruise line would quarantine me to my stateroom with a guard outside. I told him that I would speak to my husband and call back if we decided to cancel. I was instructed by him to "be certain that I called back by April 29th to retain any of my $$$, after that date, I would lose 100%".

On April 29th, a toddler died in TX (where I live) from swine flu. Also, the US government stated that all unnecessary travel to Mexico should be avoided. That was enough for me. In addition to that, my husband had caught the virus I had and was showing the beginning stages of my nasty cold. I am a children's photographer in D/FW. I thought that I did the right thing by canceling on April 29th. I did not want to get sick myself, but certainly did not want to bring anything home to my 3 small girls or potentially infect one of the many newborns that I have scheduled for May. I canceled and was told that I lost 1/2 of my $$ and would have to file with the travel insurance company to attempt to get back the rest. Fine.

TODAY I was tipped off to log onto the website that I booked this cruise through (vacationstogo.com) b/c there was a notice about swine flu. I discovered that my cruise (May 7th from Galveston) was completely canceled due to there were no options for itinerary changes and that there would be a FULL refund and a $50 cruise credit to all affected. WHY AM I UPSET? The letter is dated April 29th (the same day I canceled) from Lynn Torrent, Senior Vice President of Sales and Guest Relations Refunds would be processed in 3 weeks (I am currently waiting 60 days for my partial refund). Why I am being penalized for canceling a trip that was completely canceled by Carnival? If I had canceled a week before, even days before the release, I could find some understanding. That was not the case.

Upon contacting Carnival, I was at first told by the rep that they completely agreed that I should be given the same treatment as everyone else whose trip was canceled that day. However, after they spoke with a manager whom I was never allowed to speak with, I was informed that my cruise was one of 4 (different ports) that was canceled and that #1&2 were canceled on April 29th, but MY trip was canceled on April 30th and since I canceled on my own on the 29th, they are not giving me a full refund. If you look at the letter from Lynn Torrent, it states this--

"April 29, 2009
Dear Carnival Guest:
We need to make itinerary adjustments for our 4 and 5 day cruises from Galveston on departures through May 11, 2009. We will now operate two 7-day cruises on May 2 and May 9.

The new 7-day cruises will visit Montego Bay and Grand Cayman.

Unfortunately, your 4-day cruise on May 7 will be cancelled. We sincerely apologize for canceling this cruise. Unfortunately, there were no viable 4 day itinerary options available to us given the current situation in Mexico.

We will provide you with a full refund of the cruise fare. In addition, we will also provide you with a $50 per person onboard credit when rebooking on any Carnival cruise departing prior to December 31, 2010. Refunds will be processed within three weeks."

This appears to directly address those parties leaving from Galveston, concerning the May 7th cruise. Again--DATED APRIL 29th. I was told by the Carnival rep that they did not know that they were canceling the Galveston cruise until April 30th--thus, no full refund for me. Why, then, is this document concerning Galveston cruises on May 7th dated April 29th??

My thoughts? They want to hold onto every single penny that they can. they absolutely did the right thing by changing ports and canceling cruises that they did not feel would convey a true Carnival experience. I am upset, however, that they are making poor excuses as to why I am not included in the refund. I suppose that if I had just been more of a procrastinator and literally hadn't called the cruise line to cancel when I did, then I would have my money--all of it and much faster. I was informed by vacationstogo that I apparently canceled a whopping TWO HOURS before they released their cancellation of my cruise.

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