CheapCaribbean.com: Cheap? Compared to What?
Aug 10, 2009
I love to travel and I am always checking my favorite travel web sites for deals on vacation trips. I have a few I check on a continuous basis, as well as some that I check only from time to time. One that I got to know better in the past few months is Cheapcaribbean.com, a web site that aims to take you to the Caribbean or Mexico for less money.
What Does This Web Service Offer?:
Cheapcarribbean.com is a site that focuses its efforts on travel. It includes information on:
In addition to searching for all of these types of travel, Cheapcaribbean.com offers other helpful features, like an interactive Caribbean map, a travel bulletin, and special offers on wedding and honeymoon packages.
Cheapcarribbean.com is one of the newer travel web services for me and it is a web site I got to know from an advertisement in Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine. This web service specializes in finding good deals on complete vacation packages, including both flight and lodging, to and from the Caribbean islands and the nations that border the Caribbean.
Cheapcaribbean.com tries to make travel searching as easy as possible by displaying its search function on the home page, complete with a drop down menu that includes more than 200 world cities. Most any United States city with 150,000 or greater population can be found in the drop down menu. There are also dozens of world cities, but these are limited to the larger cities. A quick selection of your city, travel dates, number of travelers, and inclusive option and your vacation options will generate. Once the list is displayed, it will include the option to sort either best deals, resort name, rating, or price. The displayed price at this point is per person. You have to select a resort and move to the next step before you will see the total price of the trip.
Cheapcaribbean.com presents a few offers for extra services when you reach the checkout lane, and some of these services can prove to be quite useful, such as tours of your destination, special travel insurance, car rentals, and more. However, you need to watch this screen carefully, because it will often default the Airport Transfers add- on to a yes selection. This isn't necessarily a bad idea, because depending on where you are traveling, transfers to and from the airport are probably something you want anyway. But you need to be sure to uncheck this box if you would rather purchase your own transfers. From my experience, airport transfers in the Caribbean and Mexico can usually be obtained for lower prices at the airport so it is most economical to uncheck this option before you continue your transaction.
The prices offered at Cheapcaribbean.com are good and mostly competitive at this point. Unfortunately, there is one other fee that will likely spoil the fun: A tax and service fee that comes out of nowhere at the end of your vacation planning. Just as you are about to accept the offer and enter your credit card number, a "Tax and Service" fee appears. This fee is usually between 7% and 15% of your total cost and it can easily take what was once a good deal on Caribbean travel and place the price above those of other travel sites. At the point when the extra fee is announced, Cheapcaribbean.com attempts to cushion the blow with a comment that reads "Great Deal, What's the Catch?". The catch is right in front of your eyes in the form of a hefty surcharge. This is why it is very important to price compare what you see here with another travel web site. Before this extra fee comes into play, Cheapcaribbean.com offers better deals about half of the time. But once you tack on this fee, the deals are better than the competition only about 20 to 25 percent of the time.
I like that Cheapcaribbean.com allows you to complete a purchase without establishing an account first. This is good for those who are wary about storing their credit card information, address, and other personal data online. I also like the option near the very end of the checkout process where it lets you enter your frequent flyer number. Many other web sites do not let you enter your frequent flyer number, forcing you to contact the airline at a later date to receive your miles. The interactive map and helpful hints about passports are also nice, even though they are not good enough to make me forget the high price of the trips.
Looking at other aspects of this web service, I like the resort information. Another window opens when you access this and it does include a good deal of facts as well as some nice photos. I also like the default flight options. If you don't specify an exact time of day for your flight, Cheapcaribbean.com will try to find you one that is economical and that leaves during a more relaxed time of the day (in other words, no early morning or late evening flights for the arrival and a good midafternoon flight for the return). You can always click the option to select a different flight, but the defaulted ones are usually good. On the other hand, I don't like the rating system used at Cheapcaribbean.com because it isn't based on consumer reviews. Instead, Cheapcaribbean.com has created its own rating system that is based on the amenities of the hotel or resort. I would rather read actual reviews from actual people.
Overall, Cheapcaribbean.com is a web service that doesn't live up to its name. The service is fine until you reach that final screen when it adds the additional fee and then tries to fool you into thinking you just got a great deal on a Caribbean vacation. This is a service with some good potential, but considering its prices and other faults, it is a service I cannot recommend.
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