Disclosure: In this post I share my wife’s and my experience renting an RV from Cruise America while on a media trip to the Florida Keys. As part of that experience, we were comped an RV for the week through a third party (not Cruise America). We are also Outdoorsy users who rent our RV on this site.
It was 3:15PM, three hours after our supposed “reservation” and we were still waiting to pick up the RV we were renting through Cruise America RV in Miami.
We were supposed to be heading south to the Florida Keys. My sunblock was already on (because redhead priorities) and we were dangerously close to missing our first dinner reservation, but the Cruise America RV we’d rented was nowhere to be seen. We joined our fellow renters on the waiting room couch for several hours before we were finally handed the keys to our RV.
The whole rental experience was extremely poor. I’m typically not a person who feels the need to publicly complain or make a big deal out of my time, but this scenario was different.
Why Renting an RV from Cruise America Was Frustrating
- They didn’t honor the time we’d scheduled on our reservation. We had limited time in Florida for this trip, and because Cruise America wasn’t ready for our reservation, we lost half of a day in the Keys. That’s one less piña colada!
- Overall lack of service. There was very little concern or urgency with the fact that several renters were waiting all afternoon. Employees were leisurely walking around and barely acknowledged us.
We were excited to start an awesome road trip in the Keys, but instead we started our vacation on a sour note, not getting our RV until after four o’clock and instantly hitting Miami’s Friday afternoon traffic.
My Experience Renting Out Our RV
Over the past year, my wife and I have rented out our 2016 Winnebago Brave on several occasions. Because of this, I knew what a good experience should look like.
When renting our RV out, we would cater to the needs of our renters. We’d give them proper training on how to use the RV and absolutely make sure it was ready on time. As the first step of any vacation, I understood that promptness played a large role in how things start out.
From my perspective, it seemed that Cruise America packed its schedule so tight, it left no room for error. After watching the training video for the fourth time, I wondered why they didn’t buffer more time between rentals. This would be a fairly obvious solution seeing as you have first time RVers driving 29 foot vehicles. There would inevitably need to be maintenance and cleaning time for the rigs.
Several hours later, we finally took off in our RV. Our trip to the Keys was a blast and we didn’t have any more issues with the RV. Plus, Cruise America allowed us to return the rig late since they delayed our pick-up.
I would highly recommend taking an RV road trip down to the Florida Keys, but renting an RV from Cruise America is not something I would recommend. The experience was subpar, reservation delayed, and service was poor.
I hope if someone from Cruise America reads this and can take our experience as constructive criticism.
My Advice to Cruise America
If I had to offer any words of wisdom to Cruise America, it would be:
- Add more buffer time between RV rentals (or hire additional employees to service the RVs)
- Train your staff to engage and interact better with customers. You’re dealing with a fun travel event in someone’s life!
- Shell out at least one pre-loaded roll of toilet paper into the RV
- Include a coffee pot! We always tell our renters ahead of time what type of coffee maker we have on board. Life in the Cruise America with no way to make coffee was painful.
As an alternative to renting an RV through a company like Cruise America, I’d advocate to rent directly through a peer to peer RV rental company like Outdoorsy. As I mentioned in the disclaimer at the top, my wife and I have rented our RV out through Outdoorsy several times over the past year and have had nothing but positive experiences so far.
Why Peer to Peer RV Rental Is a Better Option
- You’re able to connect with actual RV owners. We’ve been able to spend ample time with our renters so they can test drive our RV and walk through all the features. Our goal is to make sure they feel extremely comfortable before taking off. Plus, throughout the trip they have my number and can reach me at any point, which is a great reassurance for first time RVers.
- There’s a higher level of service accountability with Outdoorsy. If for some reason an RV owner doesn’t provide you with a great rental experience, you’re able to rate them. Outdoorsy removes the RV owner from the platform is poor reviews continue. This means a higher level of transparency and accountability with Outdoorsy users.
- Your rental can be discreet. One knock that I have with Cruise America is the giant billboards on the side of their RV. I get it, it’s free advertising. But I’d much rather have a plain jane RV than drive a rig with a panting dog on the side door, next to the world’s largest picture of the Arches National Park. It screams to everyone around you that you’re a tourist.
Dog murals aside, I’d rent an RV from a company like Outdoorsy for the same reason I prefer to stay in an AirBnB instead of a hotel chain when possible: you receive a much more personal experience. You can connect with real people and you know your money is going directly to a small business owner.
Plus, as an RV enthusiast who occasionally lists his RV for rent, I’m able to share this lifestyle with renters and/or future RV owners. I’m able to connect with them, support their vacation, and play a small role in helping them create new memories on the road.
If you’re looking to plan an RV road trip in the near future, I’d definitely recommend renting from an actual RV owner on a platform like Outdoorsy.