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Cruise Marketing Scams

If you do internet searches for best cruise deals, you will come across many companies that make some incredible offers. There is almost always a catch, so when you spot them, this page helps you understand what is going on behind the scenes. If it is a really great deal with no catches, we say go for it. But know the whole picture before you make that reservation.

Offer ends today!

We should get this one out of the way early. The offer never really ends today, or Friday, or on that certain date. The same offers are almost always continually recycled, and there to give you a sense of urgency. We would rather treat you with more dignity and not insult your intelligence.

Up to $2,000 Cash Back!

Several big website make offers like this, but there is lots of fine print. To begin with, the offer is actually less than what we offer with our CDV Credits. What we offer is a straight amount based on the cruise price. When you read the fine print with these offers, you will generally find terms that border on bait and switch tactics. For example, many companies will offer a rebate of up to $2,000 or more, but in the fine print, the calculation is based on what you spend on the ship, not the price of your cruise.

For example, they may say you get a $500 rebate on an $8,000 cruise. But in the fine print, it explains that it is a maximum of $500 based on your cruise price, and the payout amount is based on how much you spend with the cruise line in on board purchases like drinks, spa, and specialty dining. Next you have to go on the cruise and spend the money. If you spend $250 on board instead of $500, you will only be entitled to the $250, but not until you send the company a detailed invoice from the cruise line proving what you spent, and then wait up to two months for the credit to your card.

They bank that most people will not spend up to their limit, and will either neglect to submit for the refund in time after the cruise or make some mistake that invalidates the offer. CDV doesn't care what you spend on board. We just give you the credit for our tours straight up.

Up to $2,000 On Board Credit!

This is less of a scam, and more of a veiled rebate of a part of the commission they will receive. The amount of the on board credit will depend on which cruise line you are sailing with and how much your base cruise fare is (the total price minus any airfare, port charges, expenses, taxes, and fees). It is higher on cruise lines that offer a higher commission, and lower on others. For example, on a $4,000 Carnival cruise, they may offer up to $150. Additionally, they will only add it to your cruise on the day of your embarkation, because that is when they know they will get their full commission.

We are happy to match these offers, but they cannot be combined with CDV Credit, which makes this kind of offer far less valuable. In addition, we can often exceed these offers, as we already have access to thousands of sailings per year in which the cruise lines offer us additional on board credit incentives with no strings, and we can piggy back this to those. Those incentives the cruise lines offer us can be combined with CDV Credits as well, and we will always simply offer them if they are available! Remember, the on board credit offers these companies offer are limited to certain cruise lines and certain sailings. So if you want us to match an offer like that, we need to see it and make sure it is legitimate. If we believe is not legitimate, we will tell you why and you can decide if you are willing to take the gamble.

Free Pre-Paid Gratuities!

When you see these offers, they will always apply to select cabins, select sailings, and select cruise lines. You will find that the vast majority will not qualify. Additionally, they will not be combinable with any cash back or on board credit offers. This is very similar to how the on board credit offers work. We are happy to match these under the same terms, because it makes no difference to us if we give you an onboard credit or take care of your gratuities under the same terms the others do. In other words, the math works out the same. Similarly, we would also not be able to combine it with the CDV Credit offer. That said, we do have access to many special fares that do include pre-paid gratuities already, and we will always include the CDV credit on those.

Book now, Pay Later!

Some websites will boast an offer lie this. It is run through a financial institution that works with many companies in the travel business. They will waive the deposit up to $500 only if it is non-refundable, and allow you to pay over time. They actually are not giving you much of anything you cannot simply do with your credit card, and yes... a fee is associated when it is all said and done. It is a great sales tactic, but it is nothing more than that.

We have the best prices you will find!

No, it doesn't work that way. Often (not always) the prices will be better than going direct to the cruise line because there are several large consortiums that block out large numbers of cabins on thousands of cruise departures when they are first made available, and that tends to be when the best pricing is offered. Then, if the cruise line lowers the price below what they blocked, they can move their block of cabins to the lower rate. But generally cruise prices go up over time, so if we block out space early, we have a lower rate. These consortia also get little added value perks on these sailings they block out, and any agency affiliated with them has access to them. This is where you see some companies make huge claims like "$8 Billion in Buying Power." Yeah, we have that too, because we are also affiliated with the largest consortium with the most buying power and most of the blocked rooms. But nobody has super secret access to special pricing beyond that.

110% Best Price Guarantee!

Some offer an iron clad 110% Best Price Guarantee. If you find it within 48 hours, they will beat it with this incredible 110% Guarantee. Here is the thing: It is 110% of the difference. This means that excluding added value, like on board credit, taxes, port fees, etc. if someone can find you a better price, they will offer you a discount of 10% of the difference. So if you book a cruise with them for $5,000, and you go to another company that says they will give it to you for $4,900, you would need to show them the offer. First thing, you would need to prove that the base cruise price is $4,900, which it will not be, because the other company will have applied an advance rebate for you. It also needs to be for the exact same cabin category on the exact sailing. But even if you did find that better price, it will be because the cruise line lowered the price between the time you booked and the time you checked with the other company... in that 48 hour window. In that case all they are doing is moving your cruise to the new, lower rate that is now available, and giving you $10 of credit. Who wouldn't be willing to sacrifice $10 in such an incredibly rare situation? BUT, it allows them to make a lofty sounding guarantee!

Exclusive Last Minute Specials!

There is a great myth out there that some have access to elusive last minute pricing on cruises. While it is true that many cruises offer last minute specials to fill unsold space, it is not true that one company has special access to this. The cruise lines all publish their late-booking specials (if there are any) to everyone that has an account to book with them, and it is the same across the board.

The Bottom Line

CDV is all about transparency and relationships. We don't play these games, because they all really boil down to the same thing. There is a fixed amount of commissionable sales that they are willing to sacrifice to make all kinds of offers look too good to be true. But at the end of the day no matter which offer you take, you are actually paying the same and they are actually making the same. But they can give you a sense of urgency and try to make you feel like you are getting a great deal. We structured the CDV Credit differently. We are actually sacrificing a greater portion of that commission, but we make part of it up because you will be using that credit on our vacations. It gives us the added benefit because we get to foster more of a relationship with our guests. We keep it straightforward and simple. If you want the immediate gratification of one of their offers, sure... we can match them. But we will be extremely direct in explaining the pros and cons.