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Tldr: Amstar is a shady company with no support and Apple Vacations LLC continues to do business with them and does not take any responsibility for mistakes on behalf of Amstar. We paid for transportation and Amstar did not show up and we had to get a cab back to the airport. Apple did not fully refund us for this! If you use cheap Caribbean, don’t book anything but flight and hotel or better yet, book direct because Apple is a terrible organization. Update. Cheap Caribbean has since offered us a 50 percent refund after my partner submitted a claim with the BBB.
My girlfriend and I booked a weeklong stay in Puerto Vallarta Mexico through CheapCaribbean.com. We booked a European-style package meaning no food or drinks included since we don’t drink a lot. The airfare and hotel were fine. We also booked transportation to and from the airport as well as a Marietas islands snorkeling trip through CheapCaribbean.com. CheapCaribbean is owned and run by Apple vacations LLC, and a company called Amstar coordinates the activities and transportation in Mexico. Amstar also books tours and activities through a company called Vallarta Adventures.
We had 2 issues with our trip: We were not satisfied with the snorkeling trip as I will explain below and Amstar did not pick us up from our hotel to go to the airport. We were told there would be an Amstar representative at our resort. There was no representative. We were told by staff they usually come for a short time in the morning but when we woke up early to catch them, they were not there. Amstar and Apple have absolutely no support and when you call the 800 number for help, you can only speak to offshore call centers that can’t really do anything but listen to you complain and say they are sorry, an unpleasant interaction for both parties.
We filed complaints with post-travel at Apple which is a call center in India by the sound of the agent's accent. Very nice staff who are there to take your complaint and forward it to apple, which then decides to either escalate the case to someone who can actually help or reject it. Then it's up to these poor Indian guys to take all the heat and apologize for Apple's poor business practices. They told us that Amstar was unresponsive and there was nothing they could do.
Apple should have just refunded us and taken some responsibility for doing business with a poorly run company like Amstar. The snorkeling trip was straight-up false advertising, and the transportation was paid for and not even provided! Apple has completely closed all lines of communication, both email and phone, and just pay these call centers to take the heat so that they don’t have to have any contact with furious customers. If I was in the Philly area, I'd try going to their HQ in newton square PA but I'm sure that would be a waste of time also. After some searching, I found that they also have a declaimer on the site that they don’t take responsibility for false advertising, definitely the first red flag that you should not book anything through Apple or subsidiaries.
Here is the description of the snorkeling trip on cheapcarribean.com: “Visit the volcanic Marieta islands made famous by Jacques Cousteau. Snorkel, kayak and explore the wonders of this unique ecosystem and rock formations that make this an experience to be remembered for a lifetime” What the trip is actually like: Wake up at 5:30 am to get to the port. First bad sign, the entire time the boat is underway, they are blasting party rock from the early 00s. Think “party rockers in the house tonight…”. For hours… they suggest to ride up top if the volume level bothers you.
we arrive at the islands and are required to wear lifejackets so no free diving, whatever national park rules. Then we are forced to swim in a group of 40 or so, for about 10 minutes and get back on the boat. That’s it. 10 min of swimming around in deep jellyfish-infested waters where you can’t even dive to see things up close. Then the boat circles the island and we leave.
Kayaks are a lie, secret beach is a lie, even the snorkeling is pretty much a lie. We then cruise on the party boat for an hour or so to a private beach. The whole time blasting party rock with an open bar of cheap liquor and beer. neither I nor my girlfriend drink so that was completely wasted on us. Music blaring the entire time of course.
Then we arrive at the private beach where we have to spend another hour or 2 with nothing to do but drink or ride on speedboat towed, banana rafts (And of course the party rock, they have speakers up and down the beach). I would have loved to go snorkeling at this beach which would have made the whole thing a little enjoyable, but can’t do that because of speed boat traffic from the stupid banana boats. At this point we would have gladly paid to take a taxi back but there are no roads to or from this beach. As if it couldn’t get any worse, Vallarta Adventures makes the poor crew perform karaoke and air guitar reenactments of popular funk and R&B hits with James Brown wig, fake guitars and everything. At least the lead crew member has a great voice, just a shame he has to do these ridiculous skits. This not only wasted an entire day of our vacation but also a night since we had to get to bed early.
Apple should take responsibility for their products and they should hold their partners to a higher standard but I guess that’s what you get when you book with budget sites. Both these companies exist to take tourists' money and provide the bare minimum of service and I’m sure their workers don’t see any benefits of this profiteering. Then each company can say it’s the others responsibility and once they take your money, it’s not coming back whether you receive the product you paid for or not.
My advice to anyone considering a budget vacation would be to go to a site like cheapCaribbean.com and find the flight and hotel, then book directly through the resort and airlines. If anything goes wrong, Apple vacations had insured that they don’t have to take any responsibility for the quality of the products or lack thereof since they only exist as a middleman. This was a good lesson in why you don’t use Apple LLC or any subsidiaries. We are only out a few hundred from it but it's hard to put a price on wasting an entire day of a short vacation.
Purchased a vacation package to Mexico all-inclusive and got double charged as CheapCaribbean website experienced technical issues. I ended up with two reservations resulting in duplicate booking. It was a nightmare to fight for a refund which is still in 'process' every time I call and spend more than an hour on the phone with Customer Service Team. The customer service is horrible (language barrier) and nobody knows what's going on. Every time I call I am being promised to receive a refund but nothing is done. Be aware it's a scam and I never received a refund plus was somehow charged penalties from the air company to their company's account.
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I bought a trip for two to Puerto Vallarta from CheapCarribean.com with an add-on serene snorkeling trip from Puerta Vallarta adventures and added transportation to the package managed by Amstar. My transportation did not arrive to take me to the airport even after calling almost making me miss my flight. The serene snorkeling experience to the Marietas Islands was a false advertisement for essentially a booze cruise with 10 minutes of snorkeling in 7 hours. The boat blasted music which made sure there was nothing serene about it or animals around as the trip was advertised. I would have paid to get off of this boat as it was not at all what was described.
I just wanted my money back for the transportation that never arrived and was ten times more than the local fares and a refund for the add-on package since it wasted an entire day of my trip. The parent company, Apple, would not refund me anything and simply offered me free transportation on my next trip with the which will NEVER happen. It took over six weeks to get this response and around 10 phonecall and more emails. Horrible company, Amstar was horrible, Puerta Vallarta adventures was horrible, and the parent company Apple is horrible to deal with. Do not get your vacation through any of these companies.
We purchased a 4,5 star resort from CheapCaribbean. When we arrived in Punta Cana the resort was maybe a 2. No towels, mosquitoes everywhere in room, water leaking from bath roof, room and bath filthy. I contacted the phone provided for problems, the lady that took complaint said she would call hotel and have all fixed. Nothing! Called again and nothing so we spent 1500$ pp and 5 days in a dump, oh and agent taking complaint acknowledged they knew the hotel's declined but still rate it on Cheap Caribbean as a 4.5 star… This is plain and simple fraud. Nothing was done to fix problems. We were simply left in DR without any means to resolve our problems.
Everything seemed fine until the day before we left on our trip and I noticed there was no confirmation about the travel from airport to the resort. After an hour with 2 different customer service agents they informed me that the transportation I had booked 2 months ahead was not available. Now they want to charge me an extra $98 to get my family to and from the resort. I know it's only $98 but at the beginning of this experience they magically couldn't get me booked one night for the vacation and instructed me to call back in the morning.... guess what? Vacation increase over $1000.00 at that point. Customer service is available but what a joke. Do yourself a favor and use a reputable company or your local travel agent.
We booked a trip to Puerto Vallarta 4 months before we were hit with the pandemic. We called them and asked them for a refund. And they told me that we can get a voucher and use it at a later date...By the way we had another trip schedule for November of the same year to South America ...With upgraded seats...The airline for South America returned our money and even the upgraded seats..And Cheap Caribbean didn't...Now that for the past 3 months I have been trying to book again using my credits for Cabo. It turned out that they cannot because the airline which is what they reserve does not allow baggage...Just a small backpack...This I was never notified of because I would of paid the extra if I had to or never booked with them...I would of done individually airline and hotel...
Now I am asking for an extension and since I have until 6/30/22 I have to take within the next 2 weeks and pay full amount for air...So far no resolution for this...They took the $1300...That I paid...And they will not do anything...For everyone that reads this do not book anything with these people they are... Bogus..And very poor in their promises...Do not book with them...
We booked this trip through CheapCaribbean in January for Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa Del Carmen, five months before the departure date. My friend and I were so excited to take our first international vacation together. We planned, shopped for, and talked about this vacation non-stop. I don't think disappointment would even be an appropriate enough way to describe how we felt our entire stay.
To start, and quite possibly the worst part of the experience, the food. INEDIBLE. I have been on plenty of all inclusive vacations. I know the food is usually ok, but nothing too spectacular. I always go to an all inclusive resort with a realistic expectation on the food not being the best. But I have always been able to find options that I am completely satisfied with. I am astounded that they would serve such poor quality and poor tasting food. The meats always looked like a mystery. The ones we were brave enough to try, we could not even distinguish what animal the meat came from or the texture or flavor was so bad that we could not eat more. My friend and I are not picky eaters. One of the things we enjoy most about traveling together is trying different food. How a resort in Mexico can have little to no Mexican food options, I will never understand.
The 1 Mexican restaurant that is on site should not even be classified as Mexican food. It was cold, bland, grey, and the meats were always weird textures. And that's how the food was at every restaurant and buffet. We had to order food from outside the resort twice for dinner and left the resort to have food in town for lunch too. We should not have to leave the resort or order food just to be able to get something decent to eat, so that we do not make ourselves physically ill from either eating the food at Sandos, or not eating at all.
The alcoholic drinks were equally bad. Despite our many efforts, we did not feel buzzed, drunk, tipsy, or even the slightest bit relaxed like you feel when you drink alcohol. We did not taste alcohol, period. The "alcohol" is either so watered down that it is practically water, or it's actually just water. One of the things that excited me the most was reading the food and drink menus online for the resort. The drinks sounded so exotic and delicious. Every single thing I tried that wasn't a beer was so unbearably sweet, syrupy, and artificial tasting. Everything fruit based tasted like it had a lot of artificial sweetener in it. They also do not clean the reusable plastic cups very well, because they always felt sticky.
The room was not what I was expecting for the Select Club, which we paid more to be in. I can't imagine what the regular rooms are like, if this is what we got for paying extra. The floors were filthy (just walking from the shower to the bedroom barefoot would turn my feet dark and dirty. There were also lots of ants in our room. Our balcony door would not lock and we were told that if we had any food in the room to be careful because monkeys can open the door and will come in to steal food. We were in a building near the adults only pool and every time we walked around the bend to get to our building, all we could smell was a raw sewage smell. It was revolting.
The Select Club was a scam. We paid extra so that we could enjoy adults only perks. The beach and pool mainly. The adults only pool and beach was filled with kids, and no monitoring. So what exactly did we get charged more to be in adults only for? It's really unacceptable. The beach is next. Massive, massive amounts of seaweed covering the shoreline and in the water. If you want to get to the clear (not really clear like I was expecting, but as clear as it could get there I guess) water, you have to wade through tons of seaweed first. Which also makes the beach smell bad. While I can understand and appreciate that this is something that is typical to happen in Mexico this time of year, we had no knowledge of this and would have likely scheduled the trip for a different month if we knew.
It would have been nice to have that disclosure prior to booking, considering we learned that this was not a 1 time phenomenon and it happens every year around this time. During the Royal Elite timeshare pitch, our rep suggested that we visit the sister resort, Sandos Playacar, that is 5 stars. We paid $42 for the taxi roundtrip (literally 5 minutes away) only to experience the same gross beach covered in seaweed and the adults only sections being inundated with children. The food was equally as bad/inedible. So what was 5 stars? The only positive I can say is that at least Sandos Playacar attempts to take care of the seaweed problem by having a beach plow driving up and down and having employees use rakes to move the seaweed.
The night life was another issue. Because there was no night life. There was a nightly show at 8pm. It would be over by 9pm. There would be another hour of the same dj'ed music every night. By 10pm, the entire resort is dead. No energy, no excitement. No dance club on site. I've never been to a resort that had nothing going on at night. So we would go back to the room and put the tv on, only to be disappointed that there are approximately 5 channels available.
One of the most triggering situations is the fact that there are non-stop people violating your personal space and approaching you to sell something. Whether it be a massage, excursion, hair braiding, photos...it never ended. Outside vendors selling things is something typical to Mexico and the Caribbean, but this was on another level. I'm not even sure if the vendors were 3rd party, or working for the resort. Either way, it was completely aggressive, disruptive, and it was happening about 30-50 times a day. Even if you're laying on the beach taking a nap, they will wake you up and ask you to buy whatever they have. This was even happening in the pool, while we were inside the pool.
Someone literally hovered above us at the edge of the pool and tried selling us something. Does that sound like an enjoyable experience? To be relentlessly harassed and followed around and have people begging you to buy from them and not taking no for an answer? The demanding sales people did not stop when you told them no either. You would have to say no 4 or 5 times before they would leave you alone. It made me dread leaving the room to even walk around the resort daily or to go to the beach or pool.
The Royal Elite scam is something I also need to discuss. They ask you to be part of a sales pitch to buy a timeshare, which they keep insisting is not a timeshare. They promise all these free things in order to lure you in and offer to only take 90 mins of your time and that it will take place over breakfast. So we show up for our presentation and are taken to the same gross buffet that's available to everyone. No special breakfast, and certainly not offered anything that the Royal Elite members would receive.
We were rushed to eat and get out of breakfast, but the sales pitch was long and drawn out. We were told that the food and drink quality is way better for Royal Elite members. Two things: 1. Why wouldn't the sales presentation include a meal from the Royal Elite exclusive restaurant so that you can actually experience the better quality? and 2. So, there's better quality food available and they are choosing to purposely feed people the same quality of food as prison slop? I am fully confident that the food in the Royal Elite section is the same garbage they're feeding everyone at the resort.
I have been reaching out to Cheap Caribbean every day since returning home, but they do not respond to emails or call people back. I would not have booked this trip if Cheap Caribbean was honest and disclosed what we would actually experience and what we should expect. We were bamboozled into thinking this was a 4 star resort, when it absolutely is not.
We have booked several vacations with Cheap Caribbean over the last 6-7 years. Previously we had no issues but this round has been highly frustrating. Purchased a trip to a resort that advertised free use of partner resort with water park (ours did not have water park, and the one with waterpark had no reservations available). This was entire reason we purchased this as we have kids, and the water park is our go-to.
About 3 months after purchasing and well before our trip, I happened to go to the actual website of the hotels, only to find out that the water park has planned renovation for 5 months, during which our trip is planned. Nonetheless, CheapCaribbean STILL says complimentary use of water park. I spent 30 minutes on chat and over an hour on the phone requesting to cancel my trip, as the water park was the main attraction for us. I explained in detail that FALSE ADVERTISING is the reason for our cancellation. This is not an error that we made or our own need to cancel, we simply bought something that is not going to deliver as advertised. We were told that we can cancel but it will use/void our trip insurance, which will not be refunded to us and we will only get a travel credit, not an actual refund.
I repeatedly explained that this was through no fault of our own and requested a supervisor but the agent delayed and made every attempt to keep me from talking to one, even said she talked to one for me and was told there is nothing they would do. I was offered a resort with no beach instead. I continued to request a supervisor, but was told it would be 20-30 minutes because they were helping other customers, then after waiting about 15 minutes was told that none of the supervisors were willing to talk to me because they would not change anything. I will NEVER purchase a trip through this company again.
Bought and paid 4 months in advance, arrived at airport only to find out they had no flights that day. All money went thru Cheap Caribbean, airline refunded to Cheap Caribbean, but Cheap Caribbean will not refund to us, completely scammed. Never took our vacation, what a mess.... THIS COMPANY SUCKS!
Just recently used this travel agency for our trip to Jamaica and we are highly disappointed with the lack of customer service. Our flight was delayed due to mechanical issues with our plane and it caused us to miss our connecting flight to Jamaica. We tried calling CheapCaribbean and could not get through to anyone after being on hold for almost an hour. We then decided to send an email to see if we could get help that way, but kept getting pointless emails that were of no help. We ended up getting stuck in Miami for the night and lost an entire day in Jamaica. The airline was able to get us a flight out of Dallas to Miami the same day thankfully and paid for our hotel and food, but Cheap Caribbean was nowhere to be found.
We decided to contact Cheap Caribbean's "During Travel" department once again to see if they could add an additional day onto our trip (which the resort approved), but once again they were nowhere to be found. After several pointless emails from Cheap Caribbean. Thankfully, the hotel was able to provide us an additional night and the airline was able to adjust our flight to accommodate us. Cheap Caribbean, you guys really dropped ball this time. This trip was for our renewal of our wedding vows as well as our honeymoon. Never again!
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