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Facing increasing competition from local operators and online tours and activities sites such as Viator, Carnival Cruise Lines introduced a shore excursion best-price guarantee, one it characterizes as “the only guarantee of its kind in the cruise industry.”
Under the terms of the guarantee, cruisers who find a better online rate for a sightseeing tour, boat excursion or cultural outing, for example, than the exact tour they booked through Carnival would receive 110% of the difference in the form of a shipboard credit.
Claim forms can be submitted before and even during the cruise, and Carnival says they are typically processed within 24 to 48 hours.
The usual caveats are in play: The comparable tours must be available to the general public, can’t be offered by opaque site or via coupons or flash sales etc., and must be the exact itinerary, such as on the same date and time, as the Carnival-booked tour.
Carnival says the best-price guarantee is particularly aimed at first-time cruisers — a key target market — who want to have the assurance that they are getting the best deal on a shore excursion.
Cruise lines make big bucks on shore excursions so the new price guarantee can be seen as being defensive in nature.
Carnival Cruise Lines doesn’t operate the shore excursions itself, but partners with local tour operators.
That isn’t true of all of Carnival Corp. brands, however. In Alaska, for example, some shore excursions are operated by Carnival-owned Holland America Princess Alaska Tours.
The new shore excursion price guarantee only applies to Carnival Cruise Lines.