We joined Carnival Vacation Club while we were on the Pride in August 2004. We were excited by everything that was promised. However, as soon as we were back home we found things were not as advertised and we had past our 3 day right to cancel.
We couldn't cancel our credit card too late. We contacted the company no response. After approximately 6 weeks and threats to sue and contact the Attorney General we finally got a letter from some representative from Carnival, basically saying nothing we can do.
So we have tried to use it for what it is and ignore the freebies. After all they were freebies, and you get what you paid for.
We have found things that work great and are well worth the cost.
The way we look at it, we prepaid for 5 cruises and get VIP service.
As part of the VIP service is Embarcation.
We just got back from a cruise and we were 2nd on the ship. We got to the ship walked to the front of the line, showed our card and were led to a private room with about 25 other families, sat down in a leather chair, signed the credit card slip and were off. The entire process from drop off to our room took 30 minutes. When we got to our rooms, they were already made up and ready for us. We put up our carry ones, and went to lunch on the lideo before the people who arrived with us were out of line.
Not all ships have the vacation club on them so some ships don't have all the perks. We were just on the Victory which doesn't have the club. We did have a concerige and had chocolate strawberries delivered to our room, but that was all.
We booked a 9A balcony and were upgraded to a 9D. We booked a 4A inside for our two teenage girls traveling with us and they were upgraded to a 4E. Very nice interior room.
As for the points themselves, we figure we prepaid for approximately 5 cruises with our 2 silver memberships. Now that Carnival owns so many of the lines we can go anywhere and get treated as though we had sailed everyone at least 20 times. I have checked prices with travel agents and then with Carnival Club to see how the prices shake out. Carnival Club's prices may appear to be a little higher, but remember they always quote their prices including all port fees and taxes, not all travel agents do that. Also, if you don't book for an exact room you can get a pretty good upgrade.
The concierge on Victory said she had someone in the vacation club very uphappy on the cruise we were on. The booked a 2A room (just up from crews quarters) and were expecting to be upgraded to a suite. GET REAL. Book a room you want, and if you get an upgrade great.
As for the coupons, we too have been disappointed in attempting to use them. The website isn't very helpful. They do appear to be work this way. A one week stay at a hotel or condo that would normally be $600.00 you can stay at for just $299.00. If you want an upgraded hotel you pay the $299.00 plus anything over $600.00. Not much of a deal.
I have gotten our airplane ticket coupons. I haven't been able to use them. We live in Bangor, ME and apparently these are only good out of Boston. The one time, I was going to fly my daughter and myself to Los Angelos from Boston, I called the specified number to use a coupon. The company was able to get me a better price with better connections than if we had used the coupon. I recieved an additional coupon for future use in the mail from them as well.
Overall our original reaction was that this was a complete scam. It's not, remember you get what you PAY for. We have not had any difficulties getting good rooms with points at a comperable price that other travel agents have. We have gotten nice room upgrades, a little welcome gift, and VIP service getting on the ship. Everything after that is a freebee and not worth much. I think the coupons will make great gifts to young couples who want a trip but can't afford much and who aren't looking for much.
We are off on our next cruise, paid for through points, on March 1, 2006, to St. Maartin, Barbados and Martinque. We booked a 8A room (regular balcony)and have been upgraded to room with an extended balcony (one about 1/2 again as big). We can't wait. So look for us on our big balcony a few minutes after noon on March 1 when the rest of the guest are still standing in line.