Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cruise Advice - Check Your Invoice

If you've gone on a cruise, you are familiar with receiving an invoice for everything you've purchased on the cruise that arrives, tucked so delicately, under your stateroom door on the last day.

For those of you who haven't been on a cruise, here's how it works.  As part of the check-in process at the port, the cruise agent asks for a credit (or debit) card to link in with your room key.  Cruises do this so that you only have to carry your room key around; all purchases on board are done through your room key to (allegedly) save you the inconvenience of carrying around cash.

As you can imagine, when your wallet isn't literally getting lighter with each transaction (there is a bar around every corner on a cruise ship, and, what, I can't have a mimosa on vacation!?), it gets difficult to remember just how much you're spending (it is very easy to spend as much as you spent on your ticket to the cruise while on board the ship).

So, just from that perspective, it's a good idea to keep the receipts that you receive with your drink orders (or duty free purchases, or art purchases* for you big spenders) to make sure that you haven't been double-charged.

My problem, however, had to do with excursions (somewhat obviously, this is how the cruise ship refers to tours or activities off of the boat while you're at a port).  You see, there are a finite number of spots for any given excursion, so my wife and brother and I decided to purchase at least one of our excursions beforehand to ensure that we got to go on what we figured the most exciting excursion would be.**  So, a few days before the cruise, I booked three tickets for this excursion through the Norwegian Cruise Line website with my rewards credit card.

Fast-forward a few days.  On the cruise, I was trying to be a thoughtful consumer, so, about halfway through the trip, I asked for a copy of the invoice in order to check upon how much I had spent.  The items on the invoice all matched up except for the fact that I saw a charge on there for the Tulum tour (which I thought I had already paid for).

The next day, I marched to NCL's excursion desk on the ship and declared, "Behold: I have been charged twice," to which they replied, "Uhm, no, I don't think so; it looks like when you booked the excursion previously, you just created a reservation, and you weren't actually charged at that time."  I accepted this explanation (having no way to verify it on my own -- there is internet access on the boat, so I could have checked it that way, but internet usage costs a stupid amount [I think it was four dollars to set up an internet account (!) and then it was a dollar a minute after that), and I went on my merry way.

When I got home, I checked my credit card statement, and, lo and behold, I found that I had been double-charged.  This was disconcerting, as excursions are not cheap (this one cost $89 per person).

So, all that to say, I called Norwegian's customer service line  (which is open until 9 pm on the west coast), only to be told that I needed to call a different department (which is only open until 2 pm on the west coast).  When I finally spoke to the correct person, he saw that I had, in fact, been double-charged, and he promised to credit my card back during the next billing cycle (which could take up to a month).  I spoke with him two weeks ago, and I still haven't seen the credit, but I will give them another two weeks before I call back.

So, my advice is, if you're going on a cruise, make sure to check your invoice.  In the future, I will probably print out a copy of my credit card statement prior to the cruise showing any excursions that I have pre-purchased so that I can get my account credited right away.  This waiting around for a month business is for suckers.

Have any of you faced similar monetary issues while on cruises?  Let me know in the comments.

*I'm always surprised that they have art galleries and art auctions on cruises.  While I suppose cruise customers have extra income (as is evidenced by the fact that they are on the cruise), it seems really weird to me that people would drop several thousand dollars on an (apparently) impulse art buy.  But, maybe the art auctions are THE reason some people go on cruises (me, I just go to the art auctions for the free champagne).
**This excursion was for the Mayan ruins in Tulum.  It was awesome.  The ruins also overlooked a beach with beautifully blue water (which is pictured above).

Photo by jjjj56cp.

1 comment:

alaskan cruises said...

My wife and I are planning a vacation and a cruise sounds really great. Thanks.