The friendly folks at the Consumerist linked to my post about Caribbean Cruise Line, the telemarketing firm that offers “free” cruises on behalf of Celebration Cruise Line. As usual, the comments at the Consumerist were interesting. The blog looks out for consumers, and over the years it has fostered a savvy online community that discusses scams and corporate shenanigans.
The comments about the cruise line included one from someone claiming to be a former employee at Celebration:
I used to work reservations for Celebration Cruise Line, the company which owns the ship, the Bahamas Celebration, and this is pretty much par for the course for Carribean Cruise Line, who occupied the downstairs office.
They, us, and somehow Ramada Plaza Resorts were involved together (I’m still not sure who owns whom). The offer is legit-ish: this is their MO, and you will eventually (often months later) get a free cruise after a time share presentation (forgive me, vacation club presentation). In an interior, 140 square foot cabin. On a two night cruise leaving on a Monday or a Wednesday. Plus, the ship itself is not all that exciting; it is a converted Norwegian ferry. Just… save your money.
Other commenters debated whether it was worth taking a cheap cruise in exchange for enduring a time-share presentation. Some people thought it wasn’t that bad:
My gut says the woman who called Tedesco never took the job intending to defraud people.
And the $118 fee for the free cruise certainly sounds scammy, it could even be a scam. But I think what it amounts to is that the telemarketing company gets paid to book people who are qualified (ie, can get a loan to pay for a timeshare.) If they book a bunch of people who never show up or don’t qualify, they’d be out of business pretty fast. By charging these “lucky” people $118 it pretty much insures they’ll show up, and if they don’t then the telemarketers get the money they’d have gotten from the cruise/timeshare people.
I still wouldn’t do it myself, but like others have commented, I have also gotten some nice freebies for sitting through a timeshare presentation.
If you’ve received a call from this company, feel free to weigh in and share your experience.