That Cruise Offer Was No Scam!

They come in the mail every day.  An offer to take a cruise for, like, no money.  Just pay the fuel charges, taxes and whatnot.  Oh, and we can extend our time by taking a few days at a Florida hotel.  $99 for three days and two nights. Where?  Fort Lauderdale.  When? Anytime within the next two years.  A cruise?  Yes.  For $190 dollars, including an upgraded, ocean view room?  I was game.  I said, “where do I sign?”  Before my conversation ended, and after I verified my credit card with their credit card validation department, they read me the agreement. All I had to do was take a timeshare tour.  Was I over 21?  Um, a little.

I was now the owner of a three day, two night stay at the DoubleTree/Hilton at Deerfield Beach, and a two day cruise to the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration.  I went into this very tentatively, thinking, this has got to be a joke,  lost money.  There is no such cruise line, and the hotel will actually be an abandoned warehouse on the bad side of town.  Did that stop me from booking two airline flights?  One for my daughter and I?  The worst case scenario (my way of making risky decisions), is that if we land, get our rental car and find that our cruise to the Bahamas was actually a cruise to nowhere, and our DoubleTree hotel had closed down years ago, was that we would be in Fort Lauderdale, minutes from the beach.  We’d find a place to stay somewhere.  (Hello to my buddy Phyllis in Jacksonville!)

We headed to Newark Airport on Friday, August 15, anticipating a five day adventure of some kind, and oh yea, a possibly long and grueling sales pitch to buy a timeshare.

And, it all came true!  We had five days doing just what my original potential scam-mail promised, but the only discrepancy was where they said a 90 minute timeshare “tour” ended up being a four hour exercise in stamina-building, and discipline.

I have become quite the timeshare connoisseur, having taken quite a few of them on past trips to Florida.  They feed you and give you lots of coffee, and candy, too.  So, when you’re full and on a sugar-high, you have to find that strength to say “no,” when they keep dropping the price of a one week stay anywhere in the world.  (I will admit that I was a timeshare owner for about ten years, and we used it a lot, but it tends to become an albatross around your neck, or a monkey on your back, some kind of animal that just pulls at you.  So, this is not meant to bash timeshares. They can be very fun.)  Emily could just about keep her eyes open by the fourth hour, and finally, after what was their final, final bottom price, I said a firm, “Thanks, but no thanks.”   Our cruise vouchers were soon in our hands and we were off, like kids just let out of school for summer break.

The next day, we left the DoubleTree Hotel, drove south to the Port of Palm Beach where the Bahamas Celebration was actually taking on their passengers.  How great was this?  It was all true.  A valet parked our car, and we rolled our luggage up the ramp, checked in, and were given our cabin keys.  My 21 year old, recent graduate, with a lot of experience dorming at college, let no time go pass before she had 32 ounce “Bahama Mama,” in her hand.  From then on, she had a different drink each time, and she’d let me try a few sips.  Her bar tab was longer than my shopping list at ShopRite.  But you’d never know it, she held it like a champ.  She must have some special drinking skill. But I can’t think too much about that.


The rest of the trip was busy and relaxing.  An excursion to the Grand Lucayan Resort for beach time, and a snorkeling adventure, shopping at the local markets, playing at the casino in the evenings, watching for shooting stars when we just wanted to let time move more slowly.  And, lots of food.  Really great food, and excellent service. It was an absolutely delightful time, especially when we thought we might’ve ended up being the victims of a well-executed con.


0902142218(This photo — well worth the entire experience — shows our absolute delight when knew we were really going on a cruise!)

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