There’s no such thing as a free cruise… Or is there?

About 10 years ago, my wife ran into the room and yelled, “Babe! I won a free cruise!  All we need to do is take a phone survey and we get to go on a free cruise!”

Bless my wife. She’s gullible. It’s one of her many adorable qualities (and also probably the reason she married a fool like me.)

I hated to burst her bubble, but I said something like … “There’s no such thing as a free cruise, babe. When something sounds too good to be true like that, it’s usually a scam. If you want to go on a cruise, we can just buy one.”

She was heartbroken. She didn’t want to buy a cruise, she wanted a FREE one!

After a couple of weeks passed, my wife ran to me again. “The free cruise people keep calling me! Are you sure it’s not a scam? I’ve been ‘especially selected.’ We could go to Mexico or the Caribbean!”

Again, I had to be the bearer of bad news: “There’s no such thing as a free cruise! I promise, it’s a scam.”

If I recall, we went back and forth like this for a few months. She kept getting calls, I had to convince her they were fake, she’d get excited, then disappointed again, etc. Our frustrations continued to grow. I was mostly frustrated at the Do Not Call Registry because we somehow kept getting spam calls even though our numbers are private. My wife was mostly frustrated at ME, for being a big meanie and not letting her go on her free cruise.

Fast forward 5 years… It was now some time in 2017…

We received a random letter in the mail one day. It was from “Birchmeier et al v. Caribbean Cruise Line Inc.”  It took me a while to decipher the legal jargon, but it turned out the free cruise calls were definitely a scam. A pretty big scam! The marketing group was really just trying to sell time-share packages. They violated some privacy laws, and now they were being sued by a bunch of pissed off people who wanted free cruises.

I ran over to my wife. “Babe! We’re part of a class action lawsuit. We’re gonna join in and sue those bastards who were trying to scam us years ago.” I was pretty excited. Mostly because after 5 years, I was holding written proof that I was right: There is no such thing as a free cruise!

My wife got excited, too. She asked, “If we win the lawsuit, does this mean they’ll give everyone the free cruise?”

Sadly, I had to burst her bubble again. I explained that most class action lawsuits result in everyone receiving about $12.50 in compensation, and they take years – sometimes decades – to reach a settlement.

Once again, our excitement turned to frustration. I was frustrated with the lengthy claims process, which required us to dig up phone records from 5 years earlier. My wife was still mostly just frustrated at ME, for still being that asshole husband who never takes her on free cruises.

Fast forward another 2 years… It’s now the middle of 2019…

We had almost forgotten about the whole free cruise saga. Then another letter arrived in the mail. This one had 2 big surprises inside…

free cruise lawsuit

The first surprise was a cashier’s check for $200! No questions asked, no forms to fill. Woohoo!

The second surprise was the letter. It read: “This is your first of two installments. At a later date, you will receive your final installment.”

This was awesome news! Not only was $200 WAY more than we were ever expecting, but we were also told to expect more.

I was over the moon! But my wife was still a little sad … “What about the free cruise?… They promised me a free cruise!!!”

Another 2 years went by… It’s now mid-2021…

I just received the final letter in the mail. It’s been almost a decade since this all started, and now our payday has finally arrived…

Here’s what I received…

free cruise scam settlement

BOOM! Our final installment check is $575. Wow.

$200 + $575 = $775 total. Not bad at all! I guess sometimes these class action lawsuits really do work out well. Thank you, Caribbean Cruise Lines.

I’m pretty happy!

… but not as happy as my wife is going to be…

Maybe we can take a “free” cruise now?

I may not be the smartest husband in the world, but I’m not a complete dumbass. If there’s one thing my wife wants more than anything out of this lawsuit, it’s a free cruise. She doesn’t care about money, revenge, corporations paying fines … she just wants a free cruise.

So before telling my wife about the final check, I went on the Carnival Cruise website to look at some deals. Here’s what I found…

This Mexican Riviera package will give us 5 days cruising from Los Angeles down to Cabo for $300 per person. Which with about $150 in fees and taxes, will equal about ~$750 total. Almost the exact same as the total settlement amount we received.

After finding this, I quickly ran to my wife. “Babe! We just got our final letter from the Free Cruise settlement! Guess what they’re giving us?”

“A free cruise?” she said sheepishly, fully expecting another let down …

“Yeah, babe. We got a 5-day cruise. Me and you, in Mexico. You won us a free cruise.


Believe it or not, the story above is 100% true. Here’s the class action website if you’re interested in reading the legal side.

Have any of you readers received a decent sized class action settlement? How much and what for?

Happy Friday!
Love, Joel

**Update 2/7/2022… We just received a 3rd check in the mail for $131!! This thing never ends (well I hope we continue to just receive checks in the mail 🤑)**

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  1. The Millennial Money Woman July 2, 2021 at 6:23 AM

    Happy Friday!
    What an awesome story! There is no such thing as a free lunch (or cruise in this case)… but clearly with some time and patience, it sounds like you guys were able to change the meaning of this saying! Congrats on the win :)


    1. Joel July 2, 2021 at 9:53 AM

      haha it only took 10 years, but it happened eventually! Happy Friday Fiona :)

  2. Stevo July 2, 2021 at 9:44 AM

    Great story! Glad she finally got her ‘free cruise’ haha!

    1. Joel July 2, 2021 at 9:52 AM

      And, I learned that my wife is always right. :)

  3. Chris July 2, 2021 at 10:53 AM

    We went to a time share presentation in Branson. I hated it because I hate pressure. My husband didn’t mind it. We ended up buying a one year package instead of lifetime. It actually turned out to be a good deal because we homeschooled and lived only a few hours away. So we could go in the middle of the week when the “points value” was lower and get more stays out of our trial. We also took friends who paid their share (we charged them our very cheap rate). We took our parents and counted it as their Christmas gift. We went many times. We had several locations nearby there available – even stayed in a large villa when we went with a larger group of our friends. Plus, many times when we would just use the condo, they would give us $75 cash for trying to upgrade us – those weren’t as high pressured. We actually did this for two or three years. I think we actually broke even, so we had the lodging part of our vacation for free for two or three years and we got many trips out of it. I wouldn’t want to do it again, though, at this season of our life. The pressure was BAD. They even insinuated we had money problems and were cheating on our taxes.

    1. Chris July 2, 2021 at 10:58 AM

      PS When they gave us the $75 cash for staying at the condo – the condo nights were only $25 each during the week. (We didn’t have to pay it – that is the amount of points we used). Because we had paid up front. So if we stayed Monday through Thursday, the cost was $100 and they were giving us $75. Sweet! This was over 10 years ago.

      1. Joel July 2, 2021 at 12:02 PM

        $25!!?? Ah, that’s an amazing deal. They must be making the majority of their money off others, and on the weekends. Feels great taking advantage of things like this, while it’s available.

        I hate the pressure of timeshares also. They are highly trained negotiators and use really interesting tactics that sneak up on you. Luckily, my wife and I have always been able to walk away without getting pressured into buying something we’re not ready for.

    2. Chris July 2, 2021 at 11:17 AM

      (oops I meant they insinuated we have marriage problems).

      1. Joel July 2, 2021 at 12:06 PM

        Wow. That’s pretty low. Creating problems in relationships just to make a sale… ooof this is why sales people get a bad rap.

  4. Accidentally Retired July 2, 2021 at 11:11 AM

    This is awesome! Good for you guys for filling out the paperwork and helping to stop scams like this. And enjoy your cruise to Cabo! Sounds great right about now!!

    1. Joel July 2, 2021 at 12:04 PM

      I just filled out some new class action forms for a CenturyLink Stock Holders class action suit. Luckily I was able to dig up our share owner records from 2013 from old statements (we held individual stock for some reason back then). Not sure how much this suit will yeild, but even if it’s just a few dollars, I am never scared of paperwork. I find it strangely fun.

  5. Impersonal Finances July 2, 2021 at 1:32 PM

    Haha that’s some great husbanding right there. I love a good class action–all you need is just a little patience to get just a little bit of money. But when that check comes–what a rush! Enjoy the cruise!

    1. Joel July 2, 2021 at 2:17 PM

      Yep, free money is sweeter than earned money sometimes!

  6. Nick July 2, 2021 at 3:49 PM

    I “won” $4.12 because Redbull did not give me wings. I could not cash the check via mobile because it was so small. I never bothered going to the bank and misplaced the check. No wings and no $4.12.

    1. Joel July 6, 2021 at 12:59 AM

      Haha! They need to create an option or a check box to “donate your settlement to charity if under $xx amount”. That way anyone with a small amount they never want to cash they can pool up with other people and give all the money to charity.

  7. Leticia July 5, 2021 at 9:59 PM

    Love it!

  8. Adam July 11, 2021 at 12:42 PM

    I know this isn’t the point of the story, but it’s what really stuck out to me.

    Let me, as a decade long telemarketer (sorry,) explain the Do Not Call List.

    The DNC and private numbers are in NO WAY connected.

    A private number just means that your phone number and information isn’t listed in the phone book and doesn’t show up on caller ID.

    Telemarketers legally cannot use the phone book to make calls. They need to buy a list. In fact, just going through the phone book is super illegal.

    So, making you number private won’t stop telemarketers from calling you.

    Now, thr DNC list will scrub you from all EXISTING lists. It doesn’t mean thag you will never get calls again.

    Oh sure, in theory if you sign up for thr national DNC lsit you COULD never get calls again, as long as you don’t give those telemarketers permission to call you.

    If you’ve signed up for thr national DNC list and you get a call from an actual company (not a scam, they tend to disregard the laws anyway) then it is 100% your fault they’re calling you because you’ve expressly given them permission to call you.

    You know when you sign up for a website, credit card, or anything else that haa lengthy terms and cinditions you never read? Yeah, well burried deep inside of those is a line that goes something like this;

    “By clicking agree, you give us permission to share your personal information with out trusted partners and affiliates.”

    That permission you’ve given bypasses the national DNC and allows companies to call you.

    That company that you just gave your information to, they take that information from all their custimers, compile it into a list, and sell it to as many companies as they can to make a profit off your informtation.

    So, maybe next time don’t yell at the telemarketer for calling you because you were to lazy to read the terms. It’s not their fault, it’s yours.

    Side note, you can get a company to take you off the list and that will remove you from their list.

    If you ask a legitimate company to put you on the DNC they have to comply. It generally takes a few days. Usually, at the end of the week when they scrub their leads. And, they legally have the right to take some time to put you on the list, so you may get a few more calls in that time.

    But, asking a company to put you on the DNC only takes you off of their list. A single company can’t take you off of every list; for that you would have to sign up for the national DNC.

    That will scrub you from all companies lists. That is, until you once again blindly agree to some terms and conditions and it starts all over again.

    1. Joel July 11, 2021 at 4:28 PM

      Cool, thanks for the insight!

  9. steve August 1, 2021 at 10:57 AM

    Congrats! Just to clarify, this class action did not have anything to do with carnival cruises, correct? They are a large legit company. It says Caribbean cruises on the check

    1. Joel August 1, 2021 at 11:08 AM

      Good catch! I get the two mixed up… Yes the settlement was from Caribbean, not Carnival.