Do timeshare owners get ripped off on cruises?

Do timeshare owners get ripped off on cruises?

Have you ever used your timeshare to book a cruise? This is an option that’s available to many timeshare owners, either through their vacation club or via one of the exchange companies. It seems like a wonderful way to take a different sort of vacation for a change, but are you getting ripped off if you do this?

A new lawsuit charges just that.

Cruise ship at anchor Booking a cruise with your timeshare can be a nice change

Deceptive fees for timeshare owners?

A Florida class action lawsuit filed by Daniel Finerman charges that Carnival Cruise Lines created deceptive and inflated fees charged to customers who booked a cruise using timeshare points. Here’s the situation.

  • Finerman and his wife booked a Carnival cruise vacation in the Caribbean, using timeshare points they had in the Marriott Vacation Club.
  • Carnival charged Finerman a total of $566.17 in addition, which was to cover port fees ($159 each, $318 total), government fees ($114 each, $228 total), and a processiong fee of $19.95.
  • He contacted his vacation club about the extra fees, and was told that those are not covered by points, and must be paid to Carnival Cruise Lines.

  • Digging deeper, Finerman then went onto Carnival’s own website, and went through the online booking steps to reserve the exact same cruise through that method.
  • He said that booking through the Carnival website directly, the total government and port fees only added up to $253 for him and his wife, instead of the $566 he was charged when booking using his points.
  • Both government and port fees are charged by outside entities, and should be the same for every passenger on a cruise, regardless of how the cruise was booked.
  • Therefore, Finerman claims that he was overcharged $311 when booking a cruise using his points. He alleges that Carnival Cruise Lines charged him and other members of the class action suit deceptive and inflated government and port fees, in order to increase profits.

See Courthouse News Service article about the case.

Previous lawsuits by Mr. Finerman

This is not the first timeshare-related lawsuit filed by Mr. Finerman. In 2014, he sued International Cruise Excursion Gallery Inc. and Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. At that time, he alleged that both companies used bogus fees to overcharge members of a timeshare program.

Finerman later dismissed his claims against International Cruise Excursion Gallery. The charges against Marriott Vacation Club are currently pending.

Is somebody ripping off timeshare owners? Are timeshare owners getting ripped off?

Could you be getting ripped off?

I don’t know how much merit this case has, or what the outcome will be. I do know it will be interesting to see the results!

If it turns out that Carnival (or any other company) is charging timeshare owners inflated fees, then this lawsuit could be one step toward protecting the rights of timeshare owners, and reducing or eliminating (hopefully?) that practice.

Comments? Questions?

Have you ever tried booking a cruise with your timeshare? Did you compare cost or fees vs. booking the cruise through other avenues? If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences, please leave them in the Comments section below.Timeshare Owner's Guide to Winning the Timeshare Game

Being able to use your timeshare to book a cruise is a cool benefit, giving you additional flexibility in your vacations. It’s always smart to compare the prices using different avenues though, because this may not always be the best deal. For more tips on maximizing your vacation ownership, see my new book Timeshare Owner’s Guide to Winning the Timeshare Game

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PHOTO CREDITS:  Cruise ship - Pete Markham, Ripoff - Erokism


  1. doug gressett

    We are owners/members with Westgate Cruise and Travel. This was a program formerly called Icess. We use our Westgate weeks to trade for cruises. We have done this 4 times in the past 6 years and really like this vacation option since we only used our timeshare once in the previous 10 years. We did not compare prices booking direct vs. using the timeshare exchange. Our first cruise was booked directly with the cruise line and since that time we have done our trips through Westgate C&T. We will certainly try to check out these fees when we book our next cruise as they can add up to quite a sum of additional money that we have to pay.

    Thanks so much for WTG.

    Doug and Kathie Gressett
    Midland, TX

    • Hi Doug –
      Thanks for your comment! I am delighted to hear that you two are able to make good use of trading your timeshare for cruises. It sounds like that makes all the difference for you in getting good value from your ownership. I hope you don’t find any deceptive fees on these. Maybe a lawsuit will steer companies away from doing that? We can hope! (-:
      Thanks, and happy cruising! – Deanna.

  2. Ann Stone

    My husband and I just bought a timeshare through Calypso Cay in Orlando Florida. I need some serious direction on how to start depositing my weeks and how to do exchanges. We love to cruise and if we can do exchanges with Interval International for cruises – that would be right up our alley. I have generally always booked directly with Carnival on all our cruises. So I will definitely compare the fees they charge in using our week exchanges.

    • Hi Ann –
      If you’re looking for advice on getting started with deposits and exchanges, the best thing I can suggest is my Timeshare Owner’s Guide. It covers this topic in great detail, with lots of tricks to help you get the most out of it. I hope it all works out well for you! – Deanna.

  3. Annie

    I purchased 1000 points through Villa Group in Puerto Vallarta. I want to use them to do a cruise through Interval International. When I spoke with II, I could not find out how much the cruise would cost me as I need to give them my week with the Villa Group. When I spoke with Villa Group, they told me once I give the points to II for a cruise, I cannot get them back. I also want to do the cruise around Christmas and fear the cost would be crazy. Any thoughts you have would be very much appreciated!

    • Hi Annie –
      How frustrating for you! Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to how much a cruise would cost because there are so many variables, but you’re probably right that Christmas is going to be one of the most expensive times. Also, it’s true that once you deposit your timeshare with Interval, you can’t get it back for another purpose.

      Do you think you’ll want to use your own timeshare, or are you going to want to exchange it for something else (whether that’s a cruise or another timeshare)? If you’re not going to want to stay at your own timeshare, you could go ahead & deposit it with Interval. See if their cruise offerings and pricing are going to work for you, but if not, then you could always get some other timeshare exchange with it instead.
      Good luck with it! – Deanna.

  4. Rick

    While vacationing at our timeshare at Cabo, we attended a ” timeshare member meeting” which was actually an upgrade meeting.Anyway to make a long story short we wound up upgrading to 360k points from 180k points.The main reason for doing this is we were told that we could rent out unused points with them and be maintenance free from the income of the rental.Well we put up 240k points last year and was able to rent our unit for Christmas week (in Cabo). Wow we thought no problem it’s in the bag now! NOT – by the time they take out their commission
    and fees we received half of what our maintenance fee costs for the year.

    • Hi Rick –
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I think this falls into the category of “if it sounds too good to be true…” Buying more points in order to rent them out to cover the fees you’ll incur from buying more points? It’s an imaginative sales pitch, but as you unfortunately discovered, not a very honest one.

      I’d look at it like this: How much is the rental really worth? If the company could make more money by renting out those points than by selling them to you, then that’s what they’d be doing. They’d just rent them, and keep all the income, and you’d never be in the picture at all. So obviously they make more money by selling the points to you. Now they get your purchase price + your maintenance fees + their commission on the rental.

      Sorry to hear this didn’t work out for you! And thanks for sharing so perhaps someone else can avoid ending up in the same situation.
      Best of luck, – Deanna.

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