This is going to be a long and winding story, but stick with me as it will be both personal (and hopefully fun) as well as finance related.
I’ll try to cut through the story by bolding some of the key money learnings, so those of you who just want the hardcore personal finance stuff can focus in on those.
Bottom line: This post is about how Costco Travel 1) saved us from a potentially terrible vacation, 2) saved us $10k, and 3) did so even when they didn’t have to and it cost them — but they keeping their word was more important to them.
In the end, this is also a story of how much I love Costco, but I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum. 😉
One of the things I want to do in retirement is travel. Nothing crazy, mind you, but maybe a trip every other month to keep things interesting. It can be as exotic as a trip overseas or as mundane as a drive to see my parents in Iowa.
That said, one of my favorite places to go is the Caribbean. There are so many great islands down there and it’s especially awesome to visit in the winter.
We haven’t been there for a couple years. We were looking to go this past January and for some reason backed out. It was the same the year before. So I’ve been chomping at the bit to see the Caribbean again and I’m committed to going in 2018.
My wife and I have had an on-going debate about which Caribbean trip is better — seeing many islands (which has translated to taking a cruise for us) versus picking one and staying there. BTW, I’m the many islands person and she’s in the one-island camp.
Obviously it’s a quality versus quantity discussion and in the past we have always gone for the quantity — having taken three cruises in the past several years (mostly because our kids and my parents — who have gone with us — prefer cruises too). As such we’ve probably been to 10 or more islands. Our favorites are St. Martin, Antigua, and Barbados.
This time we started by changing directions. This spring we began to look at visiting one island. We narrowed down the list until we identified St. Thomas as the target. We picked it because it’s: 1) a great island, 2) relatively easy to get to, 3) relatively affordable, and 4) had easy access (by ferry) to several other islands we liked.
From there we identified three areas in St. Thomas that we might want to stay in. We then looked at a ton of Homeaway/Airbnb rental options with the plan to visit in January 2018. We even emailed a few owners but couldn’t find something everyone agreed on (as usual, it was not only our family going, but my parents were traveling too, so there were a lot of opinions).
Change in Plans
Towards the end of this process my wife (who was doing much of the research) got a promotional email from Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL).
They were having a promotion that she thought was a pretty good deal. So she asked the rest of the family what they preferred — a cruise or staying on one island. This was her critical mistake. 🙂
In the end the vote was four for the cruise and two “I-don’t cares” (she didn’t care at this point, though later she would change her mind).
So we shifted our focus to possible cruise options.
What We Want in a Cruise
Since we’ve been on a few cruises (all with NCL), we have developed very specific criteria on what we like:
- At least 50% of the days on islands (versus at sea). So if it’s a 10-day cruise, at least five days needs to include an island stop. This is a nod to my wife who likes being on land better than being at sea.
- Over seven days long, preferably at least 10. This was a staple of our past cruises as I was working and it took me three days to detox. If we only had a 7-day cruise, I would just get relaxed and half the cruise would be over. Of course I don’t have that problem now, but there is a “hassle factor” of getting to the ship in the first place. I’d still rather amortize that frustration and cost over 10 days or more rather than just seven.
- Hits as many of our favorite islands as possible while also including some new ones.
- A balcony room at the minimum or a suite preferably. We have always had a balcony suite and I don’t think I could ever go back. My wife and I have our own room and our daughter has her own room (my son sleeps on the couch). We have two bathrooms and a spacious place to eat/sit. And we MUST have a balcony. We also get concierge service and many other perks with a suite. Of course this is much more expensive than an inside cabin on floor four, but I like luxury on my vacations.
- Convenient travel dates. In particular, we needed a cruise that left and came back in time for my daughter to get back to college.
Note one thing not on our list: low price. Of course we want to get the best price possible, but I’d rather pay more and get what I want than compromise and not totally love the vacation.
Picking the Right Cruise
So my wife called NCL and found the following cruise:
- Sun, Jan 7 – San Juan, Puerto Rico (EMBARK)
- Mon, Jan 8 – Philipsburg, St. Maarten
- Tue, Jan 9 – St. John’s, Antigua
- Wed, Jan 10 – Fort-de-France, Martinique
- Thu, Jan 11 – Bridgetown, Barbados
- Fri, Jan 12 – Basseterre, St. Kitts
- Sat, Jan 13 – St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
- Sun, Jan 14 – At Sea
- Mon, Jan 15 – At Sea
- Tue, Jan 16 – At Sea
- Wed, Jan 17 – Tampa, Florida (DISEMBARK)
This cruise was PERFECT!
Here’s why we loved it:
- 11 days (if you count starting in Puerto Rico).
- 7 different islands.
- Included some of our favorites (St. Martin, Antigua, Barbados).
- Had a day in St. Thomas which would let us explore the island to see if we really did want to visit it exclusively the next year.
- Included Martinique which we’ve not been to but wanted to visit.
- On the NCL Dawn — a ship we’d been on before and liked. Plus the ship has been refurbished since we were on it, so that was hopefully going to be a nice surprise.
- Had a two-bedroom suite where all six of us could stay.
Our plan would be to fly into Puerto Rico the Friday before the cruise, spend Saturday and Sunday there, board the ship Sunday night, then be off to the races.
We would then stay in Tampa until the 19th upon our return. My daughter would leave that day for college and we’d fly home.
Search for the Best Price
We got a quote from NCL and then searched around the web for the best price. It appeared all the prices were the same for this cruise (at least in May 2017 when we were looking).
Then I checked with Costco Travel because we had booked cruises through them a couple times.
The cruise we wanted was on their site but there wasn’t a suite option, so my wife called them.
It turns out they did have suites available, they just didn’t list them on their site.
Costco had the exact same deal as NCL (just like every other site) including the extras NCL threw in like:
- Free wi-fi
- Excursion credits
- Free drink package
- Free upgraded dining
But the kicker was that in addition to all this, Costco also offered a $735 Costco cash card when the cruise was over.
In other words, Costco’s price beat everyone else by $735!
BTW, I have noticed that Costco does the gift card promotion on products where the producing company wants to hold a line on pricing. An example of this is the iPhone. Costco had the same price everyone else had when the iPhone 8 came out, but they also gave a $125 gift card with it, effectively making it discounted by $125.
We booked the cruise with Costco for a $2,000 deposit on May 31.
By late August, NCL made us either commit or cancel the cruise. I’m not sure why it was so early but we did commit and on August 28 paid the remaining $7,955. (FYI, my parents were picking up $2k of the total.)
We paid with the Costco Visa cash back card that offers 3% on travel. That would save us another $300!
During this time my wife wanted to go back to Plan A (staying at an island) when she saw the price of the cruise. But it was too late as most of us were thrilled with the cruise by then.
Plus I convinced her it was ok because this blog was doing so well financially (unexpected income)! Ha!
During the time between the deposit and final payment, we did a few things to prepare:
- Looked for flights to PR and back home from Tampa.
- Looked for hotels in each spot.
- Considered travel insurance (my mom had been sick and there was a chance she wouldn’t be able to take the trip). We called Citi (who issues the Costco Visa) and was told we were covered up to $10k per person including sickness, weather, etc. That alone saved us a few hundred dollars.
- Started thinking what we’d do on each island.
Thinking about and planning the trip is half the fun, so this was a good time for us all as we discussed what a great time we were going to have.
Then the hurricanes hit the Caribbean hard.
First it was Irma and then Maria. One alone would have been bad enough but the two of them together were brutal — especially how strong they were and that they basically hit the same islands.
We felt terrible for the people there and sent funds via our donor advised fund to help in the recovery.
When the dust settled, many of the islands we were headed to were devastated, with Puerto Rico being one of the hardest hit.
This caused us some concern since our cruise left from PR and we would soon need to book our flights and get a hotel.
But reports were that they might not have power for months and re-building would take years.
In addition, many of the other islands we were headed to were in bad shape too.
Given all this, it seemed highly likely that NCL would change several of the ports we’d be visiting and possibly even the port we left from. For those of you who don’t know, cruise lines have the option to change ports, etc. on a cruise in the event of bad weather and the like.
So with all this uncertainty, how were we supposed to book flights and hotel rooms (getting decent prices and booking far enough in advance to be sure we got flights we wanted)? How were we to even know if we wanted to go to the islands NCL might choose over the original ones?
We were in a tough situation with lots of unknowns. What should we do?
Trying to eliminate some of the uncertainty, we called NCL in late September to see what they were advising.
We asked them about confirming the initial port so we could book flights, if there would be any changes to the cruise, if they would cover our costs if we scheduled flights and then ports changed, and so forth.
They told us:
- The situation was fluid — they didn’t really know what was going on.
- They had changed the itineraries of all cruises going to impacted islands through the end of December (which wasn’t us).
- They didn’t know if ours would be impacted or not.
- They would let us know if it was as soon as they knew.
- They couldn’t tell us when they might know.
- They would not commit to cover airfare changes, etc.
We explained that this kind of left us in the lurch as we wanted to book flights and hotel rooms. They couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer us any help or guidance.
Obviously they were uncertain and were trying to figure things out, but this was little help to us.
Our feeling was that it was likely NCL would change our cruise, probably in a dramatic way. We would likely leave from a different port, visit different islands, and possibly even visit fewer islands (meaning more sea days). These changes had a good chance of turning this from a cruise that met all our requirements to one that met a few if any.
Furthermore, we were way past their day where we could cancel and get all our money back — and they weren’t going to be magnanimous given the situation and let us back out.
Not one to take this sort of news lying down, my wife called Costco Travel.
The agent there was very nice. She said their policy was that we could cancel within 90 days and get a full refund (this would make the last cancellation date October 9).
The agent went so far as to say that if it was her she would seriously consider canceling as many of the islands were a mess and the cruise would probably change.
We decided to wait a bit, see if the smoke cleared and things became more concrete, and make a final decision after I got back from a trip on October 2.
By the time I got back, nothing had changed and NCL still didn’t have any advice for us. So we decided to cancel.
My wife called on October 3, started the cancellation process (which involved Costco calling NCL for us on a three-way line), and was informed of a major problem — the previous agent we’d talked to had incorrectly informed us. We actually needed to cancel within 120 days. Ugh.
What Happened Next
It’s hard to determine why there was a difference between the 90 and 120 days we were quoted, but it appears that NCL was saying that since we had a suite, that placed us in the “Haven Class” booking and those could only be canceled before 120 days without penalty. Other rooms could be canceled before 90 days.
For those of you who don’t know, NCL has a private area on many (maybe all) ships called the Haven. It can only be accessed by a special key and features a secluded pool area away from the crowds, a higher level of service, etc.
My rough estimate based on looking at fares is that the Haven adds about $2k more per cruise than a non-Haven room. I have always wanted to try the Haven but couldn’t justify the price. And the room we booked this time was NOT a Haven room.
Perhaps the NCL policy was that Haven and suite rooms had a 120-day cancellation clause. It was unclear.
Anyway, as it became apparent that the first agent had given us the wrong information, the issue had to be referred to a supervisor. The new agent said she was confident that Costco would make it right but wasn’t 100% sure. The supervisor was to call us in two days.
Needless to say, those were two uncertain days. Thinking that we’d be forced either to forfeit our deposit ($2k) or even take a trip that we might not like was a killer. Costco could simply apologized for the mistake, say we needed to be in the 120 days, and tell us we were out of luck.
BTW, the call my wife had with the first agent was recorded and the agent had taken great notes on their system, so the issue of what she told us was not in dispute.
On October 5 we got a call from the Costco Travel supervisor to confirm that we wanted to cancel the cruise. We said we did.
He said they would do that for us. He would arrange it so NCL would refund the $7,955 to our credit card and Costco would issue us a check for the $2k. It sounded like Costco was covering our deposit out of their own pocket, but I can’t be sure of that.
The call lasted five minutes or so (it was in the car, oddly enough, after we had just spent $200 at Costco).
Costco’s return policy has been famous through the years as has their commitment to customer satisfaction. I always hope a company will hold to their word even when it was given mistakenly, but many do not. But two reasons we shop at and love Costco is that they do what they say and go above and beyond for their members (great products and low prices don’t hurt either!)
So in the end Costco made it right, saved our vacation, and saved us $10k even when they didn’t have to, all because their agent had told us they would and they wanted to keep their word.
Booking through Costco allowed us to get out of what was likely a huge mess (both financially as well as cruise wise) and open up some new options.
Needless to say, we are loyal Costco members now as much as ever.
Our New Plans
Of course it was a bummer for us not to go on the cruise.
We really wanted to as we liked it and knew the islands would appreciate us coming and spending money as they rebuild.
But we weren’t sure we’d even get to those islands.
So after we cancelled we went back to plan A and decided to visit just one island.
We listed three options that had not been impacted by any hurricanes: Aruba (we were there 20 years ago and loved it), Grand Cayman (have heard great things about it and always wanted to go), and Hawaii (my parents have been several times and love it.)
We are in the final stages of deciding what to do and when.
Rest assured that I will share all the details of what we decide, how the trips goes, etc.
Thanks for canceling! You and others who canceled provided amazing deals for those of us who are more value-focused. Not on NCL, but Carnival, my partner and I just booked an 8 day cruise for November for $80 each, plus tax. $400 total for 8 days to four ports we’ve never visited (by the way, we’ll be spending a day in Aruba!).
I’m a distressed-value type of investor, and I sometimes like my vacations the same way. We don’t even know what the original itinerary for our cruise was (don’t care), but are super-excited to be visiting four brand new ports. Plus this puts me in the “Platinum” category (75+ days cruising on CCL), so we get to skip the lines and receive other nice benefits.
Good luck with your new plans. Consider the Big Island if you go to Hawaii. Kona is a beautiful place, less crowded, and costs less compared to the more popular islands.
Haha! You’re welcome!
We might do the last-minute-booking thing at some point once it’s just me and my wife, but with our kids, their schedules, etc. it’s just not an option. Plus, I want to be sure I get the sort of room I want. 😉
I was talking to a frequent cruiser a month or so ago and asked if they waited until the last minute to book to get the best price. He said that the prices are actually lowest EARLY (when the cruise is first announced), not later like many believe. This surprised me as I thought the best prices were always at the last minute.
Any thoughts on this?
There used to always be great last-minute deals. Carnival intentionally stopped doing this a couple years ago because people like me always waited for the best deals. The company said they’d rather have a few empty cabins than sell the last of the inventory at crazy prices. But, for whatever reason, they went back to this strategy after the hurricanes this year. Probably a one-time thing due to higher than normal cancellation rates.
Richard Ryan says
“The company said they’d rather have a few empty cabins than sell the last of the inventory at crazy prices.”
I’d be interested to know their rationale for that.
Maybe they figure that the folks who waited for the last minute deals will now book at higher rates once they realize the last minute deals are no more.
My guess is that those folks will simply now look for last minute deals elsewhere.
We do last minutes all the time and they certainly seem a lot cheaper than you ever see at any other time. Usually 3-4 weeks before sail date seems to be cheapest. We usually drive to SC/FL ports so last min airfare isn’t a concern. We’ve paid $199+tax/person for a 7 nt; $1100 total including tax for a balcony room for 4 for 7 nights. Plus cash back from ebates and/or some small OBC.
Just returned from a 7 nt on MSC Divina for $240+tax per person. That was 6 days prior to sale date.
However, I have seen some great deals 2 years out or so. Like Jan 2019 might be cheap right now.
Where did you find the cruise for $80?
Jim Wang says
I’ve never booked travel via Costco (didn’t even think about it) but it’s great to hear they’re travel arm is as good as basically every other arm of Costco. As a member and a shareholder, this makes me happy. 🙂
I’ve been on a few cruises, and it might be different now vs. years ago, but I’m not a huge fan of too many days on the ship itself. It can get a little boring… though I am a fan of longer vacations. It does take a few days to get out of the grind/work/real-life mentality.
My wife is exactly the same way. That’s why we spend 50% or fewer days on the ship. Any more and she goes crazy. 😉
Jim Wang says
I bet you if we went today, the peace and quiet would be welcome… 🙂
Penny deSaver says
This is slightly off topic, but I’ve been curious about the booking experience with Costco Travel? A few years ago we went on a cruise and wanted to book a verandah. It was our first time booking a verandah and we instinctively just picked the cheapest one available, until our booking agent (not from the cruise line) told us that the one we chose was above a smoking area. So he booked us on a different verandah cabin. During the cruise we met someone who booked one of the verandahs over a smoking area and they were upset because it ruined their experience. So we were really glad our agent switched us!
Anyways, was curious if you felt the Costco agents provided service and knowledge beyond just scheduling the booking?
I can’t say because we knew exactly what we wanted (and had even been on this specific ship previously), so we didn’t ask for/want any advice.
Anyone else have experience with this?
K D says
We have never booked a vacation with COSTCO but have rented cars through them several times. Sometimes the savings are quite substantial, sometimes not, but every time I have checked it has been the cheapest option I have investigated.
Franklin Bach says
Great story about fantastic customer service, though there was a bit of angst. $10K is a lot of money to leave on the table. We’ve been renting cars through Costco for the past few trips and their prices are fantastic. While I never thought about Costco for our other travel plans, your experience will remind me to check their offerings with confidence.
My wife and I just spent 10 days in Maui in June. We were fortunate enough to stay for free in a small condo building through work. I highly, highly recommend Maui. It isn’t crowded, there is plenty of relaxation and the Road to Hana was our absolute favorite. If you go in January, there will be some good whale watching.
Whatever you decide, I hope you have a great time with your family!
Wondering if trip cancellation/interruption coverage from one of the premium credit cards like CSR would have covered your expense?
That would have been our back-up plan — to contact Citi (who issues the Costco credit card) and see if they’d make good on the trip insurance ($10k per person noted above).
Richard Ryan says
Great post. We are Costco fans, but have only used their travel services to book a car rental (which, I may add, was a much better deal than we found anywhere else).
It really does mean a lot to me for a company to stand behind their product and their word. As I’m sure others have experienced, too often companies won’t do so, even when they acknowledge their employee was wrong and their mistake costs the customer time and money. (I’m thinking of a cellular carrier that starts with ‘V’).
Just as an aside: I have been to Grand Cayman 10 times and used to love it and recommend it. Unfortunately, however, a couple of years ago a big developer was able to get the building restrictions repealed. Consequently, there has been a construction boom on the island with several high rise developments going up along Seven Mile Beach.
As a result of the constant construction and the increased number of visitors, in my opinion, the island has lost a lot of its charm. Our last trip to Grand Cayman was Feb 2017 and after that visit, we decided to look for a new destination.
We’ve been to Aruba and Hawaii. I can say/advise hands down that Hawaii should be the choice. You can get great airbnb’s, you can comfortably visit 2 or even 3 islands in the 13 days you seem to have budgeted, the weather is consistently awesome, there are no poverty issues like Aruba or Cayman, and each island almost feels like a different destination,
You can fly into Honolulu then on to Big Island/Maui/Kauai or some combination, and then home from Maui or Big Island which have many nonstop flights to mainland.
The ecosystems are very diverse depending on the island (Big Island is lush on Hilo side and arid on Kona side, Maui has a terrific trip opportunity to Hana, Kauai has Poipu Beaches and Napali Coast.
And you can visit a different spectacular beach every day!
We stayed in a terrific VRBO in Wailea (Maui) that your whole family would love (2 “master” bedrooms and a room with 2 queen beds for the kids) walking distance to beach, and you can stay at any one of a number of terrific resort hotels or VRBOs on the other islands.
Richard Ryan says
“there are no poverty issues like Aruba or Cayman”
Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean by this. I have been to both islands, Aruba once and Cayman 10 times.
While I didn’t explore Aruba extensively, we did cover Oranjestad and I didn’t see any areas I would avoid.
As for Cayman, we’ve been to every part of the island (Georgetown, Seven Mile Beach, West Bay, Bodden Town, East End, Rum Point, etc.) and even the areas where the locals live are well kept and maintained. I would have no problem walking any street in any neighborhood anywhere on the island, day or night. It’s one of the safest places I’ve ever been.
You’re right about Cayman. Lots of finance there, so there is is money.
I didn’t feel unsafe in Aruba, just felt the whole place was run down. Oranjestad didn’t feel super luxe to me, and while the people were nice, it just wasn’t my favorite. Especially compared to HI. We stayed at the Ritz-Carleton in the hi Rise zone in Aruba.. That hotel was nice, but all the hotels in that zone down the beach were not impressive to me. Off the shore were ~a dozen somewhat rusting tankers waiting to load/unload in nearby Venezuelan ports. They ruined the view in my opinion.
Love the story and it’s a compliment to Costco’s customer service. We’ve been Costco customers for several years. We love their return policy, even on electronics. We have also used their Costco travel agency, and have found the destinations, service, and value to be superb.
I did have a bad experience with their buy direct auto program, however I blame this one on the dealership. I have also heard in order to use the program you almost have to demand to speak to a general manager from the beginning to get the deal you want.
In retrospect, this happened when I used to buy new cars … LOL.
My wife and I have been talking about doing a cruise and looking at who do we book with. This might be the place. Plus, I think we need to have the debate about one island or many. I am not sure how I fall on the subject.
Millionaire Doc says
Nice post! I love Costco too. We booked a Disney cruise to the Caribbeans a few years ago and got a $500 gift card. Now I book all car rentals through Costco.
We buy bulk items from Costco through Google Express and have it delivered straight to our door. Best thing ever. No more wasting time finding parking and fighting crowds.
Hope you have a great vacation.
Another Second Opinion says
This just settled a discussion my wife and I have been having with how to book our next vacation: Costco Travel (me) vs Travel Agency (wife). She had been hesitant to schedule a major travel package without having an agent taking care of it and this definitely eased her mind.
In other news, any thoughts on having 2 walls mirrors in the dining room? I personally think it’s redundant.
Chris @ Keep Thrifty says
I have a ton of respect for Costco here. And in the end, I believe they made the right *business* move as well. They had no idea (presumably) that you were a blogger with pretty decent reach when they made their decision to pay the deposit out of their own pocket, but they knew their reputation was their most important asset.
The positive word-of-mouth marketing here is going to help bring a lot of people into the Costco fold. We’ve been out of Costco for a few years now, but stuff like this has me seriously thinking about coming back 🙂
Especially as I look forward to booking a trip to the Caribbean next summer for our 10 year anniversary, there may be enough savings from using Costco to pay for the membership in a single purchase!
Your article made me think of a book. Have you read the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek? He mentions Costco in regards to the main point in his book of having a “Why” for running your business. Your experience really impresses Costco’s “Why” by truly believing in their employees and their customers. I am glad you guys had a great experience with Costco, and good luck choosing your next destination. Southwest is going to start adding a flight to Hawaii next year, but they may not have that going by the time you guys want to go.
I haven’t read the book but I have seen him on a couple videos and he’s impressive.
Money Beagle says
My wife and I went on our ten year anniversary trip to Cancun just a couple of months ago. Actually the hurricanes were hitting the areas you mentioned as well as Florida during our time down there, so we had CNN on non-stop. We had reservations about booking in Mexico as it was our first time, but we felt very comfortable going through Costco. And we got a cash card as well. We didn’t have to cancel, but knew that would be in good hands if anything happened since it had the Costco name on it.
Physician on FIRE says
Quite the timely post. We just booked a pre-FinCon18 cruise to Havana, Cuba and Key West out of Tampa, and we booked it with Costco on a Citi credit card (not a Costco card, but American Airlines Citi card).
September is prime hurricane season of course, so it’s good to know Costco will likely have our back if a major SNAFU threatens the itinerary. Fortunately, the cost of the shorter cruise was just under the cost of your deposit, but that’s still money I’d rather not lose.
Costco is well known for treating its employees well (paying them good wages, good benefits, receptive to unions, etc.) and it clearly pays dividends (figuratively speaking, at least) in how their employees treat their customers, enhancing or creating customer loyalty. I’ve found it’s very easy to tell how an employer treats its employees by how the employees treat the customer, and do my best to patronize stores that treat their employees well. It’s win-win-win.
If you go to Aruba, make sure to eat at El Gaucho, an Argentinian steakhouse. I ate there when I visited Aruba with my family when I was 16, and to this day (I’m 40 now) it was the best steak I’ve ever had. I’ve also heard that a day or two in Curacao, nearby, is nice if you’re interested in historical sites, but I haven’t been.
Brad - M says
Wow, nice. We’re supposed to get a Costco next year. I’m looking forward to checking it out, and all the benefits that come along with it!
Matt Spillar @ Spills Spot says
Wow, awesome story and glad it all worked out for you guys! My wife and I are big fans of Costco for buying food in bulk, but we haven’t checked out the travel options yet. Definitely something we will do in the near future, and great to hear the glowing reviews.
Excellent article on Costco travel, thank you for the details. We retired 18 months ago and traveling somewhere almost every month. We are so excited and really enjoying the trips and remind ourselves we are blessed. I never used a travel agency so your details really helped me understand benefits, plus opened my eyes to potentially a cruise. I am like your wife and want to stay on land. Reading comments from other people about locations to visit was helpful as I plan 2018 and you are right, planning is 50% of the fun of all trips.
We love Hawaii and each island has a benefit and is different from the other. The Big Island with the volcano has been a favorite for past years but Maui will be visited in December for 3 weeks, YIPEE. Thank you ESI and everyone posting a comment.
Glad it worked out. Sounds like Costco ate $1300 since they didn’t have to give you the $735 cash back card. I imagine that $735 was around half of their commission, so they’re probably only out of pocket closer to $600-800 (the rest being foregone commission plus the cash card they don’t have to give you). That’s still a lot for a mistake on their part, and not something I would expect from most agents.
And wow, you upgrade to a premium suite and they make the cancellation terms worse?!?! What kind of service is that? And why does it make sense from a biz perspective to have different terms of service for varying classes of bookings. That would really piss me off as a customer.
We booked a last minute cruise 6 days ahead of time and I heard on the ship that they altered pretty much all their sailings to avoid PR, USVI, Barbados, St Martin etc. Tough times down there.
[email protected] says
I’m a new member of Costco. Will have to check them out for our next trip!
Mrs. Retire to Roots says
What an amazing customer service experience! We have been Costco members for years and didn’t even know they offered travel services. I will have to take a look for our next vacation!
Good for you! I am posting here to provide an alternative, unfortunately opposite experience with Costco Travel. Five months ago I booked a vacation at an all exclusive resort at Playa del Carmen in Mexico, travel dates from 11/24-11/29. My birthday escape.
We were informed yesterday by Costco that our resort’s main pool will be closed and under construction during our entire visit. In addition, the swim up bar and two other restaurants in the resort are closed and they advised us that there will be noise from construction from 8am-5pm. When I called to see if we could change to a different resort, I’m told that I will have to pay $200 to the under construction resort because it’s less than a week until our stay. Costco goes on to say that we were not informed of the construction until after it was not possible to cancel without incurring this fee.
I complained and was told summarily that Costco will NOT offset the cancellation fee (even though I was willing to spend more money to stay at a different resort.) I asked about getting a cash card (for groceries,) or a discount off future travel, or a free upgraded room or free tour once we are there, or ANYTHING to make me feel a little better about giving money to this crappy resort but Costco refuses. I am told there’s nothing they can do. It is clear that they care nothing about 5+ year loyal executive members who spend $10k a year at Costco.