Carnival Cruise Lines is guaranteeing prices on the 1,100 shore excursions it offers globally.
Under its new best price guarantee, passengers who find the same tour offered by another operator at a lower price than their booked excursion either before or during their cruise can complete a claim form to receive 110 percent of the difference in the form of a shipboard credit.
Mico Cascais, vice president of tour operations for Carnival Cruise Lines, said the new best price guarantee takes pricing concerns off the table, especially for first time passengers.
He said that research showed first time guests were more inclined to book private tours, thinking they may be getting a better deal.
“The trends are that there is more opportunity to book in advance than ever before,” explained Cascais, in an interview with Cruise Industry News. “There are large and small companies, even one-man operations, and there is a lot of noise. There is misinformation out there that we are overpriced and I wanted to clear that up. We have great value.”
Carnival’s guarantee will reimburse passengers 110 percent, and is another step in rebuilding confidence in the brand.
What is a comparable tour?
“It should be the same tour,” said Cascais. “We are looking at the duration of the tour, inclusions like lunch, transportation, drinks, entrance fees and guides.”
Guests that do request a refund can expect it to be processed within 24 hours, according to Cascais.
Cascais described Carnival’s shore excursion pricing as competitive.
“Guests aren’t going to do a forensic analysis of the tours like we are,” he continued. “We change the products on a daily basis and do audits of our pricing. It’s a dynamic business. We have not done any price changes as a result of this program as we continually adjust pricing.”
During the last audit, approximately five percent of Carnival’s tours had their prices adjusted.
Tours offered onboard have a misconception of being more expensive, said Cascais. Passengers may think that the line is adding cost to the tours as it buys them directly from excursion companies and resells them.
“We get the tours on a value cost basis and offer them at competitive prices,” Cascais noted, adding that the line has purchasing power and buys tours in bulk.
Tour companies working with cruise lines also have to follow strict guidelines – and lines are quick to note they will get passengers back to the ship in time, or arrange transportation to the next port.
“Our suppliers are vetted, they have local certifications and they work with the cruise lines' care teams. They have a skill-set to deal with situations if they arise. These are all benefits that are there that are not what the guests look at," Cascais said.