I Won a Cruise Trip to the Bahamas and it wasn’t a Scam.
Kim Ng 🙆🏻♀️
Nov 3, 2018 · 4 min read
It isn’t unusual to get a call from an unknown number — blaaaring blalllalaring baaaaringgggg answeRING
My dad is one of those people who kills the call without considering the possibility it could be someone he knows. He says they’re just telemarketers and scams, but me on the other hand? I like to answer calls, especially from unknown numbers. Maybe it’s because I don’t have enough people to talk to me but I’m curious, I’m curious as to who the person on the line is.
Usually, my dad is right, it is some pre-recorded spew from a telemarketing company, but in the few cases it isn’t, I get to chat with a person that’s either trying to scam me or has the wrong number. To me, that’s kind of entertaining.
So when I received a call from a Cruise Line last week, I picked up expecting some pre-recorded voice to announce, “Congratulations, you’ve won a free trip to the Bahamas!” Well, a voice did say it, but it wasn’t pre-recorded.
The person on the other end had a voice like the slightly more emotional version of the guy who voices IKEA’s advertisements. He told me I won the Ticketmaster contest for a free cruise to the Bahamas. My dad’s tingly instincts perked-up and I was suspicious. I vaguely recalled enrolling in a contest about a cruise so I stayed on the line and listened to the IKEA voice imposter.
He told me, my lucky plus one and I would be staying in the Estate Suite of the Grand Classica. He reminded me every 5 seconds that everything would be free from food to events. The only thing I would need to pay for was the plane ticket to Florida.
I think IKEA man expected me to be more enthusiastic, but the only thing running through my mind was, THIS IS A SCAM. THIS IS HOW PEOPLE GET SCAMMED.
Everything was OK until he told me I would need to pay the one-time required $65 fee to cross the border during the cruise, required by the law. At that point, I was 65% sure it was a scam, then he asked for my credit card number and I said, “umm” for a minute while frantically searching the web for “FREE CRUISE PHONE SCAM.”
But whoever this IKEA man was, he was good, because he saw right through my pauses and said, “Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you might have.”
How could I ask someone if they’re scamming me in the middle of their possible scam?
I asked anyways:
Me: Uhh, I’m just wondering if this was real… but I can’t really ask you that if you really are trying to scam me because you’ll deny it so…
Him: Of course, that’s definitely a valid question, if I were you, I would ask the same thing, being a skeptic myself. This isn’t a scam, you entered our contest through TicketMaster and we sent you an e-mail about your winnings. Since you never responded, we decided to call. The cruise line gives away free trips for promotional purposes in hopes that you’ll have a good time and get your friends and family on-board in the future.
I checked my e-mail, and it was true, I did get an email from TicketMaster and the Cruise line about the “win” and this IKEA guy did sound quite convincing.
I decided to take a leap of faith.
Him: Great!! Thanks for trusting us! I know there are many scams out there, so we appreciate your trust in us. I just need your credit card number for the $65 fee before I transfer you to a secure line where my colleague will give you a reservation number. You can use this number to book your free trip within the next 18 months excluding December 24th to January 13.
The excitement began to race through my mind; the thought that I could actually be going to the Bahamas. I pictured myself on the beach, eating my fifth ice-cream cone.
Him: Just to confirm, you’re over the age of 25 right?
Him: …. OH! I’m so sorry but you have to be 25 to claim the trip.
Him: I’m sorry I’ll keep you in mind for future promotions!
And THAT is how I won a free cruise to the Bahamas.
Kimberly likes to write and create stuff. Read more of her stuff here:
It isn’t unusual to get a call from an unknown number — blaaaring blalllalaring baaaaringgggg answeRING My dad is one of those people who kills the call without considering the possibility it could…
6 Cruise Scams You Should Never Fall For
A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.
He is the author of “Online Travel” (2000) and “Business Travel: When It’s Your Money” (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual “Best Travel Deals” series from Consumers Union.
Perkins’ advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.
Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country’s most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).
Perkins’ travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “This Week with David Brinkley,” “The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather,” CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.
Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.
Those slick TV ads can make a cruise look like the “dream come true” experience of a lifetime. And a cruise can, in fact, be a wonderful experience. But sometimes that experience morphs from dream to disaster. A cruise is both a means of transportation and a destination resort with its own passport requirements. As a result, it can suffer some of the problems of both—especially if you fall victim to certain cruise scams.
The “Free Cruise” Scam
What you actually get in this cruise scam is some combination of (1) “fees and taxes,” including those imposed by the cruise line in addition to government fees; (2) a requirement to sit through a high-pressure timeshare presentation that may go on for four or five hours; (3) a dingy cabin in an obsolete ship without air-conditioning; (4) land accommodations in a run-down resort; and (5) constant pressure to “upgrade” ship or land accommodations. The internet is full of stories from folks who took the bait of this cruise scam.
Local Cruise Scams
Among the most prevalent cruise scams are those involving locals at ports of call. Usually they involve a minor loss of time and money, but occasionally they can be worse. Typical scams include fake taxi drivers who call out “taxi,” grab your baggage, ask for a payment, then hand you over to a real taxi driver who ignores what you paid the tout and charges you the going rate. In other cases, drivers will take you 10 miles for a two-mile trip.
Of course, you can find (or be found by) pickpockets, exchange dealers who give you counterfeit currency, and merchants who cheat on your credit card bill. Be especially wary of a merchant who tries to bill your card in U.S. dollars—it sounds nice, but it puts you on the hook for an extra exchange scam. Vigilance and wariness can insulate you from most of these local cruise scams, but there’s always a chance you’ll still fall victim. And if you get caught, you have very little chance of any recovery.
Bad Sightseeing Tours
This one isn’t quite an outright cruise scam, but many port visitors are really annoyed by a sightseeing tour that spends an hour at a souvenir store chosen because of the quality of its kickbacks rather than of its merchandise. A related minor cruise scam is the artwork produced by local street “artists” who are really just coloring in between the faint lines of a pre-printed scene.
Online Cruise Scams
A potentially dangerous cruise scam can compromise your identity, files, or both: an email apparently sent by a cruise line or resort asking you to hit a link for more information on your upcoming cruise. These originate with someone who has hacked the cruise line’s or operator’s data to get the names of current and prospective customers. And, obviously, either the message itself or the link contains malware. This online cruise scam is like those fake emails from FedEx or UPS going around that ask you to verify something about an upcoming shipment.
Fake List Prices
If it’s “75 percent off,” it’s bound to be a good deal—right? Not necessarily. The base price from which that 75 percent is deducted is often complete fiction. Even “brochure price” means very little. So forget about big discounts from fake list prices. You can decide whether a deal is good by comparing its price with prices for comparable cruises and by checking impartial cruise review websites such as SmarterTravel’s sister site, Cruise Critic.
The Cruise Line Contract
Although not a cruise scam in the classic sense, the worst problems you can face arise from the contract that you agree to when you buy a cruise. Those contracts are outrageously one-sided “contracts of adhesion” you would never sign if you had a chance to negotiate them yourself.
Although contracts differ a bit from company to company, almost all let the cruise line off the hook for a lot of problems and make you sign away what would normally be your rights as a consumer. Among them, the cruise line can:
- Cancel your trip for any lawful reason without prior notice.
- Disembark you or change your accommodations without liability for compensation or refund.
- Require that you accept its refund fees without recourse.
- Deviate from routes and schedules without prior notice.
- Refuse any refund or damage claim resulting from a cancellation or change due to factors not within the cruise line’s exclusive control.
- Make a proportionate refund if your cruise ends early or, at the cruise line’s option, give you only a future cruise credit.
- Insulate itself from any liability for actions performed by any subcontractor, including the ship’s doctor and shore excursion operators.
- Search your stateroom and belongings without prior notice.
- Refuse liability for emotional distress or mental suffering under any circumstances other than those you can prove in court as resulting from personal injury or imminent risk of injury.
- Limit your ability to litigate an issue to a single designated federal court or even a foreign country.
- Prohibit you from entering a class-action lawsuit.
- Value your personal property at no higher than $50 per traveler or $100 per stateroom unless you buy supplemental insurance.
- Prevent you from drinking locally bought liquor while on board.
- Require that disputes be resolved by compulsory arbitration.
The is just a partial list; be sure you’re aware of what you’re signing up for when you make that initial cruise purchase. Consider buying cruise insurance for a little extra protection in case things go wrong.
Your dream vacation could easily become a nightmare if you fall for any of these tricky cruise scams.