The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 10, 2013

Sinking feeling over free cruise that isn’t

By Joanne Arbogast

The Daily Item


Free cruise offers are nothing new. The latest one in circulation was received last week by a Lewisburg couple. Designed to look like a boarding passbook, the attractive offer — a two-night round-trip cruise out of Palm Beach, Fla., to the Bahamas, with all meals, entertainment and activities included — from Caribbean Cruise Line is appealing.

So appealing the couple didn’t immediately toss it away but instead wondered if it really could be real.

It actually is real. But there are plenty of strings attached.

The offer is being issued by Caribbean Cruise Line, but according to www.cruisecritic.com, “Bahamas Celebration Cruise Line is the actual name of the line on which you’ll be sailing. Caribbean Cruise Line is not a cruise line at all, but the name of a wholesaler that’s touting the free cruise.”

Know what you are getting into before you ever call the toll-free number provided “within the next 72 hours,” as you are urged to do, and wind up providing your credit card number to the smooth salesperson who answers the phone at the other end.

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First, read the fine print on the offer:

“This is an offer to sell travel ... to promote specific hotels and resorts in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.” and “this advertising material is being used for the purpose of soliciting sales of the vacation ownership plan.” As a travel wholesaler, Caribbean Cruise Line is, in fact, licensed and bonded in the Florida.

You will be required to spend a night or several at the specific hotels and resorts. They entice you by including a “travel credit voucher” for $1,300 in your boarding passbook for just this purpose. It looks like a check but in small print, sideways, it states: This is not a check. It can only be used to “extend your stay” in Florida and the Bahamas — at the selected hotels/resorts (meals not included).

Sign up within 48 hours and they’ll throw in another getaway to both  Las Vegas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, too!

But know that in order to get the second and third getaways, you must first fulfill the initial one’s requirements and that is your attendance at “a fun guided tour of a beautiful vacation ownership resort” in Fort Lauderdale.

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