Cruise giant Carnival today announced a new money-back guarantee that will apply to most of its sailings - the line's latest effort to win back the trust of consumers.
The Great Vacation Guarantee, as it's being called, allows guests to end their voyages early and receive a 110% refund plus free transportation home, along with a $100 shipboard credit for a future cruise, should they be dissatisfied for any reason.
Customers must notify guest services of their dissatisfaction within 24 hours of boarding a ship.
"We are proud to carry nearly 4.5 million satisfied guests each year, and are very confident in the quality of the vacation experience we provide on board the 24 ships of Carnival Cruise Lines," Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill says in a statement accompanying the announcement. "The Great Vacation Guarantee is designed to provide an assurance to those consumers who may be considering a cruise that we stand behind our product and, if they are dissatisfied for any reason, they have a simple and hassle-free means for receiving a full refund and more."
The new guarantee is far more encompassing than an existing Vacation Guarantee at the line that lets unhappy passengers leave a sailing at the first port of call for a pro-rated refund.
The new policy comes seven months after a string of problems on Carnival ships dealt a blow to the line's reputation and forced it to discount to maintain bookings.
In the most notable incident, a fire on the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph knocked out the ship's main power and left it dead in the water. While an emergency backup power system kicked in, it was inadequate to provide passengers with basic services including working toilets, elevators, air conditioning and lighting in many areas, and passengers reported several days of miserable conditions. The ship eventually was towed to Mobile, Ala.
Polls in the wake of the incident have found that trust in the line has dropped significantly.
Carnival already has announced that it is spending $300 million to make the power and propulsion systems on all 24 of its ships more redundant and to upgrade fire-suppression systems.
The line says the new vacation guarantee is valid on all three- to eight-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Canada and New England departing through April 30, 2015. The program applies to U.S. and Canadian residents only and passengers must possess a valid passport to return to the U.S. by air.
Gene Sloan, USA TODAY