Looking to increase shore excursion bookings (particularly by first-time cruisers) – and to compete with third-party operators who sell tours at ports – Carnival Cruise Lines has launched an industry-first shore excursion best-price guarantee.
It works this way: If you book a shore excursion through Carnival and then find a similar tour advertised to the general public at a cheaper price, you’ll get 110 percent of the difference back in the form of a shipboard credit.
The guarantee is meant to reassure first-time cruisers that they’re getting a good deal when booking a shore excursion through the cruise line, Mico Cascais, Carnival’s vice president of tour operations, tells Porthole.
“We are so confident in the value. We go through an extensive audit to make sure pricing is on-line,” he says.
Repeat cruisers know that booking through the cruise line brings certain advantages – such as a refund if weather delays a ship getting to a port. But first-time cruisers are booking fewer shore excursions than they did even five years ago because they think they can find a better deal elsewhere, Cascais explains.
“First-timers are more hesitant because of all the noise out there with independent websites. There are local, one-person websites usually using price as a leader and creating great confusion,” he says. “I want to take that off the table. Yes, you’re getting a good deal with Carnival.”
Depending on the destination, shore excursions can be one of the bigger revenue streams for a ship, Cascais says.
To invoke the guarantee, passengers need to provide the name of the competitor, excursion name, where the tour was advertised, duration, price, and details of any included items such as lunch, drinks, transportation, and admission fees. The tours also need to be on the same date.
The guarantee applies to shore excursions booked pre-cruise or during the cruise on all Carnival sailings in North America. Claims take 24 to 48 hours to process, the line says.