Cruise NewsCarnival Cruise Lines Changes Policy for Travel Agents

Carnival Cruise Lines Changes Policy for Travel Agents

Do you enjoy getting on-board credit from your travel agent for your cruises?  If you do, enjoy it while it lasts as Carnival is making a major policy change.

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Carnival Cruise Line has announced that they are instituting a new policy that says that travel agents many not offer cash equivalent perks to clients who are booking cruises through them.  The new policy goes into effect on August 1, 2012.

Many travel agents offer perks such as on-board credit, prepaid gratuities, gift cards, or discounts on hotels/airfare as a kickback for booking cruises through them.  While Carnival and most cruise lines do not allow agents to discount the price of cruises, they have gotten around this by offering extra perks.  These “perks” come out of the travel agents commission and help them offer better deals to potential and current clients.

What is on the list of banned promotions that agents can offer?

  • On-board credit
  • Cash back
  • Prepaid gratuities
  • Free/discounted travel insurance
  • Free/discounted hotel/airfare
  • Gift Cards
  • Anything that involves the cost of a cruise

Agents will be allowed to offer gifts under the value of $25 such as tote bags, beach towels, hats etc.  Carnival’s Bon Voyage gifts are allowed as long as they cost under $25 per passenger.

Before this new change, Carnival already had the strongest stance towards travel agent kickbacks out of all the major cruise lines.  They are the only line that does not allow the wholesale store Costco to sell their cruises.  Costco is known for offering discounts and cash back to their members.

There is a debate on how this will affect the cruise industry.  Is Carnival trying to get passengers to book directly with them so they do not have to pay out commission to agents?  Will this help the smaller agents compete with big advertising budget agents who can no longer give out freebies to entice potential clients to book with them?

Cruise Fever would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.  Do you book directly with Carnival or have you enjoyed the extras that your travel agent has given to you in the past?

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise NewsCarnival Cruise Lines Changes Policy for Travel Agents


  1. I can understand your frustrations with Carnival’s new policy. However keep in mind that the on board credits, discounting etc was getting out of hand. The insanity was that the cruise lines in general started this on board credit mess in the first place. All of the ridiculous promotions are insane. And add the fact that selling the majority of cruises is no longer profitable thanks to the increasing NCFs and low commissions. Thats what we as travel professionals should be fighting again. Personally I believe that the cruise lines should disclose exactly what is in the NCF which they never have.

    I applaud Carnival for their new policy. Think about it. They are keeping their prices lower which is money in your clients pockets. An on board credit can only be spent on board. If a client won’t book with you because you can’t apply an on board credit then thats not the kind of client you would want anyway.

    Instead of focusing so much of your time on cruises agents should be spending time promoting more profitable products such as escorted tours, resort packages etc. Cruises are no longer as profitable as they once were with the exception of lines such as Oceania, Regent etc and River cruises. In my personal experience its much harder to close a 3 day Carnival cruise than a $50k luxury cruise. Keep that in mind.

    My advice? Diversify what you promote and sell. Don’t just sell cruises. Cruises are only a portion of the travel industry and not everyone likes a cruise. A cruise is not the end all answer to your clients vacation needs. Diversify and promote!

  2. Carnival wants everyone to book on the Social Network therefore throwing travel agents under the bus. My clients can book a cabin very easily on Res agents can not get anyone the reduced prices shown on the website. Travel Agents must go to The site is INSANE! Takes hours to finalize a cabin assignment. Does Carnival realize they are losing travel agents? It is eventually going to bite them in the butt. It is definitely saving them thousands by not paying TA commissions. I am refusing to sell Carnival. Royal Caribbean Corp. treats passengers and Travel Agents like gold.


    They want to just control travel agents and customers like myself.

    I’ll book with other companies besides Carnival or their other cruise companies.

  4. Carnival is a huge mess. When a travel agent needs support to book a cruise for one of Carnivals passengers we are being given the run around in a big way. First, If i have a past guest I can use past guest rates but if i need to reserve a room and have carnival hold the room for me they will not use the past guest rate ( even tho they can) they will tell us they cant use the Past guest rate that I will need to go into GoCCL ( a site for travel agents to book Carnival and change the rate to past guest there. THIS IS A LIE because tonight I got an agent to do it for me after I made a name change. I told them I am about to hand you $6,000 and they made an exception for me this time only. They treat travel agents like crap with every other cruise line we are treated with dignity and respect because they know we are helping them with a cutomer that wants to sail with them. Carnival hates travel agents in reality and the rumor going around the office is that Carnival is trying to figure a way to stop all travel agents from booking Carnival cruises entirely. I hope they do because honestly I always cross my fingers when I book a passenger with them because it is normal to hear complaints from returning passengers about the Carnival cruise they went on. Carnival may be the biggest cruise line but they suck from top to bottom …. I fully understand why the Costa ship sank …. Carnival owns them…. I would not be shocked to hear if Two Carnical ships ran into each other at full steam in the middle of a hurricane and sank … would make perfect sense with that insane cruise line. Take my advise DO NOT BOOK CARNIVAL if you want to have a good time with good food and few issues BOOK ANYONE ELSE PLEASE!

  5. Carnival is flirting with a violation of federal price-fixing law. By dictating the cruise fare and forbidding agencies from spending their commissions as they see fit, Carnival is placing an illegalstranglehold on prices. Let’s find a consumer-friendly Congressman or two and put some pressure on the cruise lines to back off this anti-competitive activity.

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