Another reason why I love Carnival….their EARLY SAVER PROGRAM

My family and I love cruising. We love Carnival, and especially now with their Early Saver Price Protection Policy. Even though it’s not for everyone, my family and I appreciate the savings and always try to book early to snag the lowest possible rate. Here’s how it works….

1. When and what to book? You must book a 3-5 day cruise three months in advance, or 6 days or longer cruise five months in advance and select the EARLY SAVER rate.

2. If you find a lower rate after booking your cruise, you simply fill out the Price Protection Claim form or contact your travel agent to do it for you. Within 48-72 hours your booking will be adjusted. This lower rate could be any other rate that you qualify for (ex: FL resident rate, senior rate, past guest rate, fun saver, etc). Other special rates such as PACK N GO rates or rates that state “FOR NEW BOOKINGS ONLY” are excluded.  Lower rate must be: (i) for the same ship, sail date, stateroom category and number of guests; (ii) is a Carnival advertised rate, and (iii) is available for booking at the time the request is reviewed by Carnival’s reservation agents.

3. How you will get the credit: If you haven’t made final payment, then the new rate will be adjusted and you will pay less when final balance is due. If you’ve already made final payment, then you will see the difference in fare as an onboard credit. If you find a category higher than what you paid for a lower fare or same fare that you paid, then you can apply for an UPGRADE (For example, if you booked an inside guarantee or interior 4A cabin for $399 and now you find a Oceanview Guarantee Cabin for $399, you can fill out the form and choose to get an “upgrade”. You will be upgraded to an oceanview cabin based on availability.

4. What to WATCH OUT for: Keep in mind that with EARLY SAVER rates there isn’t much flexibility to change or cancel bookings. Bookings are non-refundable and changing your booking (such as changing itineraries, dates of travel, etc) usually incurs a fee of at least $50 , and name changes usually not allowed. If you’re worried about having to cancel for reasons beyond your control, trip insurance is always a good option to consider.

5. How to find lower rates? The easiest way is to use the Fare Booking Engine  http://www.carnival.com/BookingEngine/FareViewer/ . Make sure you select all the rates that you qualify for (such as 55+, resident or past guest rates) . You can also use the regular search engine at Carnival.com. I suggest you ALWAYS take photos or save the webpage in which you see the price, so that in the event they tell you that rate is no longer available, you can prove that you did indeed find that rate. You should save the FINAL booking page that displays the total price, including taxes and port fees.

6. DEADLINE: Requests may be filled out up to two days prior to sailing. Note that you may submit as many claims as you need. They usually reply within 2-3 days.

The form can be found at http://www.carnival.com/BonVoyage/requestforms/cclearlysaverform.aspx

On our last 7-day Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Liberty earlier this year, we were traveling with a group of 14 family members and friends. All our cabins were able to apply for onboard credit several times after we found multiple price drops over the six month period leading up to the cruise. It pays to keep checking after you book! Some of the cabins ended up paying $299 per person for a 7-day cruise during April, which is an awesome time of the year to cruise (usually good weather and no hurricanes!!!).

Although not for everyone (always read the exclusions and small print before booking), my family and I love Carnival’s Early Saver Program. It has helped us travel on the cheap for years.

What are some of your prior cruise experiences? How do you save money when cruising? We would love to hear from you.

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2 Responses to Another reason why I love Carnival….their EARLY SAVER PROGRAM

  1. Brad T says:

    I just completed a 16 night transatlantic with Carnival on the brand new Breeze.Guess you get what you pay for. (good price, poor value). The route was good but the service was poor and the food and entertainment very mediocre. The hot tub wasn’t hot and no one seemed to care when concerns were brought forward. Those with children seemed to like the kids programs. Met one couple that had to change rooms 3 times on this journey due to noise from various areas. If this is the best they can do, I will be travelling with another line next time.

    • travelguys says:

      Brad, what a coincidence. My parents just got off the Breeze right before you went in when they repositioned the ship to Miami. They did the cruise out of Barcelona through the Mediterranean and they agree it was a complete disaster, because the captain decided to just skip Monaco, Rome, Messina and Venice due to “weather” that didn’t appear bad at all, and they didn’t choose any alternative ports instead. There was almost a mutiny on board and everyone demanded to see the captain and he was nowhere to be found for 3 days. In their case it appears that the captain had most of the blame, but they do think that the ship itself was good. Sorry to hear about your experience, although I can tell you that we cruise a lot and we’ve had bad experiences once or twice in just about every cruise line, so I wouldn’t just dismiss Carnival, but I agree that when you sail that long and spend so much money, you deserve better and should definitely look at all options and cruise lines on your next trip. Cruisecritic.com is pretty good about keeping them all honest.

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