(*unless you randomly decide to be super awesome and give me a few thousand dollars. THEN I will take you on a free cruise. You're welcome.)
Anyway, I got a thing in the mail today from Caribbean Cruise Lines, informing me that I had been selected for a free two-day cruise for two to the Bahamas!
I spent about 2.8 seconds in a state of glee that would be equivalent to coming downstairs on Christmas morning and finding a live pony with a Play-Doh workshop on its back. However, I am no longer
I hadn't sent in any kind of sweepstakes application, nor had I done anything else of note that might precipitate such an invitation. How had I been selected for a free cruise? I opened the envelope and read its contents thoroughly. Well, everything was spelled correctly, for starters. And the fine print sounded reasonable. They were offering these cruises "for the purpose of soliciting purchases of a vacation ownership plan," but there was no, absolutely NO obligation! We just would have to sit through a little sales presentation. There was a $59 booking charge per person, and we might be charged up to $9 per day surcharge if oil prices went up during our trip. Paying, say, $160 for the Husband and me to take an all-inclusive two-day Caribbean cruise, though, sounded more than reasonable. There was even a $1300 travel voucher to get us to the port of call! If they were providing that kind of honesty upfront, then surely they must be trustworthy, right?
PLUS, they had received the 2010 Editor-in-Chief Award from PORTHOLE Cruise Magazine!
(Okay, receiving an award from a publication called "Porthole" might make me less inclined to trust them. It sounds like sailor porn. Their homepage boasts this little gem:
"Let the pages of Porthole Cruise Magazine answer your cruising questions, entice your senses, and trigger the explorer in you."
Maybe someone should clue them in on the alternate meaning of "cruising."
Still, though, they did win an AWARD!)
Each little mini-page had a couple of highlighted or circled items, as though some employee had lovingly taken the time to hand-mark pertinent information, just for me! Upon closer inspection, however, I could tell that they had actually used fake highlighting and pen-circling through Photoshop or something. Why do companies do that? It makes me less inclined to trust them or buy what they're selling. If the company thinks that your brain is not sufficiently functional to notice that the crooked highlighting is PIXELLATED, then it probably thinks it can place a hidden-cost monster under your bed without you noticing.
Anyway, the Husband came back from taking Riley for a run, and I showed him the paper. I had scoured it for fine print and finer print, and it sounded like we could actually call, schedule a cruise, sit through a sales presentation, brush off a few pushy salespeople, and actually enjoy a long weekend in the Bahamas!
Me: Isn't this great! I'm so excited! I think I'll call them RIGHT NOW!
Husband: Hm. Maybe we should think about this.
Me: What do you mean? I read the fine print!
Me: (only marginally miffed that the Husband is not as excited about our super-deluxe fantastic vacation as I am) Well... maybe I will ask the internet if it's reputable or not.
Husband: (sounding relieved that the internet will handle the task of crushing my dreams) Good idea.
Well, consider my dreams crushed like Hawaiian ice. Here are some of the things said about the PORTHOLE-acclaimed Caribbean Cruise Line:
"...when I was talking to the guy today I didn't expect anyone to answer, but he did and he said all he needed was my credit card number. I asked to call him back so I could talk to my sister more about this, and he said it's a one time call, but after I was about to say I couldn't do this, he quickly said he would call me back in 3 hours. He also asked me how old I am (18) and he told me he'd call me back because I'm young and he likes the young people instead of the older ones or something weird like that..."
(Number of ways in which this is sketchy: 7)
"They took money from a person with brain injury illegally and wont give the money back."
(You mean, there's a way to LEGALLY do it?)
"So, I put down the money, and they took my visa and address and email and phone number and told me that I would receive my package within three days... Three days later, I hadn’t received even a confirmation email, no nothing, so I phoned the number they had given me. They told me that the dates I wanted to go were not available for the price class of room I had booked. My only options for the time would be to upgrade for $350.00 to either a better room, or a 4 day cruise package... I was now getting mad, and disturbed, which further elevated my previous skepticism about this company or ‘sweet deal’ as they kept trying to tell me."
(If they have to keep telling you it's a sweet deal, it's not.)
"There really IS a Caribbean Cruise Line and they really DO offer very low fares to the Bahamas. However, the ship is a rehabbed ferry, the food and service are of low quality... I've read reports from past passengers that the ship is often met by DEA agents when it returns to the US."
(A welcoming committee! SWEET! I heard the Coast Guard is bringing a cookie bouquet!)
Well, believe it or not, those scintillating reviews didn't entice us to respond to the free-cruise mailer. Neither did the "F" grade that Caribbean Cruise Line received from the Better Business Bureau. I guess we'll just bum around Pittsburgh some more, and maybe go to the Poconos. At least those travel destinations won't cripple our belief in human decency.
Beware the free cruise mailer, everyone! You have been warned! And if someday soon, you get a call from someone offering you a free, no-strings-attached, ridiculously-amazing, super-sweet-deal cruise to the Bahamas... well, tell them to shut their porthole.