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Everything posted by Balsam12

  1. We have two cruises currently booked. The good part is that they are both with P & O Australia, and were booked on their $1.00 deposit deal. The first one is a New Years cruise out of Brisbane, and the next payment is $500 due at the end of June. We already have $800 credit with P & O from a previous cancelled cruise, so don't actually need to outlay any more until the final payment which is in the middle of October. At this point, we would not be booking any more cruises that need "normal" deposits paid at the time of booking, but losing $2.00 won't break us 😁
  2. If you are working outside Australia for more than 90 days continuously, you do not pay tax on income earned overseas. You are however required to report it to the ATO, and it is used in calculating the tax rate for any income earned while in Australia. e.g. you do a 6 month contract overseas, earning $45,000, then return to Oz and work the next 6 months here. You pay tax on your Australian income starting at 32.5% with no tax free threshold. Been there, done that working on cruise ships myself.
  3. So a little more success 🙂 It appears the TA has released our P & O booking. We lost $100 credit that was from the TA, but that was only to be expected. Never again.
  4. I'll continue with the good news.... our refund has just landed in our bank account. Now to get them to release our other booking back to P & O.
  5. I seriously doubt there will be many people who fit that category after this fiasco....
  6. I tried that line with RC, and as always, the cruise line refuses to discuss any financial matter with the customer when there is a TA involved. This has basically sealed the deal on never using a TA again. I think I posted earlier, we are completely at the mercy of the TA, and have no way to even know if they are telling us the truth. Unfortunately, I have another booking with the same TA, which was made well before the Covid outbreak. We had only paid $2.00 deposit on that one, but then the next payment of $800 was due. Balcony cabins on the cruise were sold out, or we would have simply made a new booking and given up the $2.00, so we had to pay the $800. Once we sort out this refund, I will be requesting the TA to release the booking back to the cruise line. I wonder how hard that fight will be...
  7. I initially contacted Fair Trading NSW as the TA is located in Sydney. They suggested contacting AFTA in the first instance and gave me the number 1300 363 416. I called, and negotiated my way through their menus, getting through to a lady by the name of Gina. She initially asked for my story without the name of the TA, and then asked for that information at the end. Once hearing who the TA is, she seemed very confident that I would get the money, and that they were in no danger of going bankrupt. As I posted earlier, she then advised me to wait two weeks, and if there was no money by then, she provided her direct email for me to get back in touch. Cheers, Balsam
  8. I have just spoken to the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA). They have advised that if I have not had the refund within two weeks, they will pursue the matter with the TA.
  9. I can confirm that it's definitely another week with no money for me. Have now emailed the TA advising I will be commencing legal action to recover my money as they have had the funds for more than three weeks.
  10. Do this and pay much more than you would have by purchasing in advance. Having said that, nobody knows how things will work when cruising starts up again. Maybe it will be cheaper to purchase on board, maybe it won't, but in my experience, it has always been cheaper pre-cruise, as long as you keep an eye on the prices and grab the drinks package at it's lowest price (or keep cancelling and repurchasing when prices drop). Here's my spreadsheet of price fluctuations for our cancelled NZ cruise on Radiance: The right hand column is where we purchased, and then when we cancelled and repurchased. 27/04/2019 $87.68 24/07/2019 $90.42 12/08/2019 $89.05 30/08/2019 $83.57 $83.57 6/09/2019 $89.05 21/09/2019 $78.09 $78.09 4/10/2019 $83.57 8/10/2019 $72.61 $72.61 20/10/2019 $83.57 29/10/2019 $78.09 27/11/2019 $69.87 $69.87 5/12/2019 $75.35 11/12/2019 $65.76 $65.76 20/12/2019 $69.87 8/01/2020 $65.76 13/01/2020 $68.16 17/01/2020 $72.42 22/01/2020 $68.16 31/01/2020 $65.76 10/02/2020 $69.87 15/02/2020 $75.35 25/02/2020 $65.76 4/03/2020 $69.87 6/03/2020 $65.76 You can see that from the top price of $90.42 ($2170.08 for two people over 12 nights), we got it for $65.76 ($1578.24 total). That's a difference of nearly $600. As far as your cabin mate not drinking enough to justify the package, from what I read, there's no need to tell porkies. You can't buy just one package online, but you can do it over the phone. Just tell them your cabin mate hardly drinks alcohol. They will have to buy the refreshment package, but that will cover their coffees, softies and mocktails as well as bottled water. They then pay for their alcohol as they go. Don't go getting alcohol on your package and giving it to your room mate, because if you get caught, they will take the package off you and charge you for every drink you have already had. It's the old story... be upfront and then do the right thing, and you'll have no problems. Tell lies and try to scam the system, and it could end up costing you. I have heard that some phone operators won't allow it, but then you just call up again and get a different operator that will. Again, nobody knows how it will work in the future, so anything might change.
  11. If they changed it to non refundable, but then just set the prices rather than running pretend sales all the time, it would make life much easier. It would, however, take a lot of the fun out of it... I quite enjoy checking the Cruise Planner every day looking for better prices 🙂
  12. Yep, those prices are in AUD. The actual prices I used for individual drinks are educated guesswork, but won't be too far off the mark. 🍸🍹🍺🥂🍻🥃🥤🥛☕🍷 = 🙂
  13. Looks about right... It's pointless me going off at the bloke on the phone, as he probably can't do anything to assist me, hence escalating to someone that (hopefully) can help.
  14. OK... my information may not be 100% correct as nobody knows what will happen when cruising resumes, but here's what I can tell you: 1. No.Cruises booked through RC Australia and sailing from Australia work in AUD. Forget about winning on exchange rates, as RC will ensure you never win. 2.Forget about the pricing of drinks. The way RC packages work will ensure that standard drinks and cocktails are included in the package. All your standard two shot cocktails will be covered, and it will only be three shot drinks or ones using top shelf booze will cost extra. The same goes for wine and spirits... you will have quite a good selection available within the package. 3. I don't think so, for the same reason as in 1 above, but I'm not 100%. As for the drink package pricing, again who knows in the new era, but previously the prices fluctuated wildly. For a cruise to NZ on Radiance that was cancelled at the last minute, the package price varied from $90.42 down to a low of $65.76 over the 12 months I was tracking it. The beauty with RC is that if you purchase something in the Cruise Planner, and the price then drops, you can always cancel and repurchase at the lower price. You will need to pay for the new purchase up front, and then wait for a refund on the cancelled one. For the Radiance sailing we ended up doing this five times. As for the value of the package, everyone needs to work this out for themselves. Here's an example for a port day (with some rough prices): Breakfast - Fresh juice $3.50 - Proper coffee $3.50 Water x 2 to take ashore $6.00 Afternoon cocktail $10.00 Pre dinner drink $10.00 Dinner - glass of wine $10.00 After dinner cocktail $10.00 Water x 2 to take back to cabin $6.00 That's $59 spent, and if you didn't have the package, you would need to add the 18% gratuity, taking it to about $70. On a sea day, you would possibly have a few more drinks, even if it were more coffees or soft drinks in the afternoon. On top of the monetary cost, there's a couple of other points to note... With the drink package, you can try a drink, and if you don't like it, put it down and order something different. Could be a cocktail or a wine with dinner, but it doesn't cost you any extra. You also don't have to worry about a drinks bill at the end of the cruise.... less to worry about = more enjoyable holiday 🙂 Ignore all the people that will say you need to be rolling drunk 10 hours per day to get value out of a drink package. As you can see in my example, four alcoholic drinks in a day, and you've broken even at $70 for the package. Throw in a few soft drinks, mocktails or coffees, and you could probably break even at two drinks per day. Work out your own rough break even point, and then start checking the cruise planner on a regular basis.
  15. So... I went back to Consumer Protection, who contacted RC and were advised the refund was sent to the TA on 8 February. This means they have been sitting on my money for two and a half weeks. I have asked the phone monkey at the TA to escalate this as it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, they don't work on Fridays, so I can't do any more until next week.
  16. Further update: Today, a week after the TA confirmed they have our refund, there is no sign of it in our bank account. I called them again, only to be told it was "still in the queue". I advised them this was unacceptable, and that I would be going back to Consumer Protection. I confirmed the amount of the refund and our bank details, both of which are correct. I have now emailed back to Consumer Protection.
  17. The response to Consumer Protection was from Royal Caribbean, and they have actually stuck to this and refunded the money to the TA within the promised time. Even Consumer protection suggested I give the TA up to a week to process back to me, which is probably more than sit should take, but in the current climate, I'll give them a week.
  18. To update my own situation... Royal Caribbean gave an undertaking to Consumer Protection that they would issue the refund within three weeks. At three weeks and one day, I called the TA, who acknowledged they had received the refund, and it was "in the queue" to be refunded to me. Tomorrow will be a week since then, and if I don't have the funds, it will be back to Consumer Protection. I feel a week to process is more than sufficient. I also will never deal with a travel agent again. Other than delays, the simple fact that I cannot talk to the cruise line, and therefore have no way to know if the TA is telling the truth is enough for me to wash my hands of them.
  19. Just realised I had not updated this thread. Consumer Protection have spoken to Royal Caribbean and actually confirmed they issued FCC. This was because the payment was made using FCC. The extra cash deposit has been refunded to my card by the TA. It did get to my correct account, even though the card was long since expired... well done Comm Bank. Royal Caribbean gave an undertaking to Consumer Protection that they would issue a cash refubd to the TA within three weeks. Consumer Protection have advised me to give it four weeks to allow the TA to process the refund to my bank account. This is half the time I was quoted by the TA. This was on 27 January, so I have a couple of weeks to see what happens. Stay tuned 🙂
  20. OK... I'm in a similar situation, waiting on a refund for a cruise that was cancelled in September. I booked through a travel agent, so the cruise line won't talk to me. I can't believe a word my TA says, so I lodged a complaint with Consumer Protection in my own state. Basically, the TA tells me the cruise line has issued a credit instead of a cash refund, and that it will take a further 60 days to get a cash refund. I have had nothing to confirm this. Consumer Protection have spoken to the cruise lie and actually confirmed this, but the cruise line have given an undertaking that the cash refund would be issued within three weeks. This is the last time I will ever deal with a travel agent. There is no way to know if they are telling you the truth. As for credit card chargebacks, I work with them in my line of business, and 180 days is the cut off for most things. There may be exceptions, but for the transactions I deal with, 180 days is the limit.
  21. Not as yet, however I had a lengthy phone call from Consumer Protection today, and they are following up.
  22. Hmmm... Encounter is scheduled to commence sailing from Brisbane in early May. The reconfiguration from Star Princess is supposed to take about a month. Allow another two weeks for getting crew aboard and sailing to Australia, and she needs to com out of the reconfiguration by mid march at the latest, and that's not taking in to consideration any quarantine period for the crew. Do you really think they will dry dock the ship twice in the space of six weeks, or will they just do everything in the one dry dock?
  23. Tracked Star Princess tonight, moving into what appears to be drydock in Singapore. View from the Bridge cam and the location. Hopefully we will see Pacific Encounter in a few weeks...
  24. This TA charges a transaction fee regardless of debit or credit. If it is Mastercard or Visa, they slug you. The cut off for chargebacks is 180 days, so yes, too late for us anyway.
  25. As you say, no harm in trying... stay tuned 🙂
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