I applied for a Diamonds International credit card when I was on my Alaskan cruise. We had a full day at sea and not much to do. So we shopped on the ship. The Diamonds International store was giving away a free necklace with an approved credit card application. I had nothing to lose and it was a nice, free necklace so I applied. When the card arrived in the mail, I called to cancel it. The customer service number was hard to read since it was written behind the punched out credit card numbers. I called the number and a voice at the other end answered, “Caribbean Cruise Line.” Since I applied for the card on a cruise ship, I thought they were connected so I listened to the pitch and before long I realized that what looked to be an “8” in that punched out area was actually a “3.” That misdialed number turned out to be the best mistake I ever made.
Caribbean Cruise Line? I never heard of them. Caribbean is the marketing entity for Celebration Cruise Line. “Celebration Cruise Line?” you say. Right, never heard of them either.
What they do is market a free cruise with time share presentations. All you have to do is pay the $59 port charges (which is reasonable) and you can set sail on a two night cruise. Before you read any further, let me assure you that I have NEVER gone to a time share presentation and I’ve never paid more than $59 a person to go on this cruise.
Here’s the tricky part. DO NOT agree to any upgrades (they will tell you how small the rooms are), vacation extensions, airfare, free rental car, free gas, free meals, Orlando vacation package, etc. You have to hold your ground. They will have you talk to about three people before you are finished. The first person will always come back with, “Ms. Bella you are so lucky. I just talked to my manager and because you are from insert state name we are offering a special vacation package just to the first 50 people from you state. How lucky is that?” Tell them, “No!”
I have told them every lie in the book and they still had a comeback for every one. My favorite one was, “No, I don’t need airfare. My husband works for the airlines.” They had a great comeback, “Well, I can certainly understand that, but as an airline employee he can only travel standby. Now wouldn’t it be a shame if you missed your cruise to the beautiful, sunny Bahamas because you couldn’t fly stand-by?”
Then there was this one, “Now, Ms. Bella, won’t you need a rental car?”
“No. My mom lives in Florida. She would love to see me. She will pick me up and I will stay with her.”
The response was priceless, “We can certainly understand that, but you would be a burden to your mom. You can’t do that to her. This car is free. Come on!”
They will try to get you to come to Florida a few days early because “Don’t you agree that it’s best not to fly in the day of your cruise? It’s best to come down a few days before (so we can control you) so you can start your vacation. After all, that’s what we work hard for, right?” To that, I always respond, “I have a very nasty ex-husband and a strict parenting plan. I cannot ask him to take my son a minute early or he will have me in front of a judge on Monday. I can’t leave early and I can’t stay longer either because I have to be home for my son.” For some reason, they stop at court orders.
Once you get through all the high pressure sales, they will eventually book you on your way to Freeport, Bahamas. They will tell you that you have to come to the visitors’ center to pick up your boarding passes. You don’t! I’ve done this so many times that I actually have fun thinking up ways to get them to give up on selling to me. The number to call is (800)-237-3505.
If you prefer to bypass the high pressure sales and outright buy the passage, you can do that as well, but you will pay a lot more for the trip and I just don’t think it’s worth that much for two nights when you can get it for free. The number to book directly with the cruise line and avoid the high pressure sales is (800) 995-3201.
The website to the cruise line is Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. Remember if you want it for $59, you have to call the first number I listed above.
****Update 3/12/17-the port fees for the cruise are now $65 a person***
The ship leaves out of West Palm Beach. Usually I fly to Fort Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines. From there I take the Tri-Rail shuttle (free) to the Dania Beach Station. From Dania I take the train to the end of the North bound line at Mangonia Park. A Tri Rail schedule can be viewed on their website. From Mangonia Park Station, I take a taxi ($15) to the Port of West Palm Beach.
What I like about this cruise is it is the only two-day cruise out there. It leaves every other Friday and every other Saturday so a weekend get-away is easy to do.
The ship leaves West Palm Beach at 6:00 p.m., but people begin to board around noon. The following day, the ship docks at Freeport at 8:00 a.m. and leaves at 6:00 p.m. and arrives back to West Palm beach at 7:00 a.m. the next morning.
The port is far from town so we typically buy the Grand Lucayan Beach Resort Day excursion without lunch and walk over to the Grand Lucayan Marketplace for lunch on our own.
Beach at the Grand Lucayan Resort
Celebration’s cruise ship