Cruise America, as a corporate rental company, strongly contrasts with popular peer-to-peer rental service providers like RVshare and Outdoorsy. And looking for the best RV rental service, you are likely wondering whether Cruise America is a good place to rent an RV from.
To figure out whether renting an RV from this company is worth it, we need to cover a lot of details, including rental options, fees, penalties, insurance, and whatnot. They are important for our points that we will present to you in the end, as well as for your understanding of what Cruise America is.
Let’s begin with the rental options offered by Cruise America.
Cruise America Review
The primary rental options offered by Cruise America is the traditional round-trip rental where you rent an RV, drive it to your destination, spend your vacation, drive back, and pay the fees. This rental has a minimum duration of 7 days.
Aside from this, however, Cruise America also offers one-way and long-term rentals. Let’s overview them a little more in-depth.
One-way rentals can be cheaper than round-trip rentals, with the rates sometimes being as low as $1/night. However, there is a drop fee associated with one-way rental – usually between $250-650 – as well as some other fees that we are going to talk about a bit later.
With peer-to-peer RV rental, people very rarely rent-out their RV for one-way trips. The vast majority of the rental offers are round-trip. Thus, the one-way rental option certainly is a plus for Cruise America.
On the other hand, Cruise has “more than 120 rental locations” in the United States and Canada, which is very little given that they are servicing almost the entire North America. So even though one-way rental has some nice benefits, you will be rather limited with drop-off locations.
It should be also kept in mind that Cruise America won’t always able to provide RVs for one-way rental due to certain RV number requirements at each location.
Cruise America also offers long-term RV rental. In fact, they offer this type of rental for both temporary housing needs for individuals and for business uses. The pricing for these rental options is set on a case-by-case basis, so you’d need to contact Cruise America and provide them with all the details of your trip so that they could set a fee.
As a corporate rental company, Cruise America has its own RV fleet.
One very common complaint with Cruise America is their poor selection of RVs. And indeed, even though they do offer RVs of different sizes for rental, they only have a couple of Thor Majestic class C motorhomes, which are basically reinforced variants of Thor Four Winds RVs.
Cruise America has 4 RV rental options to offer – Large, Standard, Compact, and Truck Camper. These options differ by their amenities and comfort, and we think we should briefly overview them so that you know what you are dealing with.
Cruise America seeks to always maintain their RVs in good condition for rental, so you could be sure that you are getting a problem-free RV from them. Even if mechanical breakdowns do occur while on the road, Cruise America has an assistance and reimbursement program, which we will cover a bit later.
Before moving on to overviewing the RV offers, we’d like to note that Cruise America provides quite a lot of information on their RVs. Compared to offers available on peer-to-peer rental websites, it may be much easier to make an informed decision with Cruise America.
Cruise America doesn’t dive too deep into the specs of their RVs – which they maybe should – but they do provide you with some crucial information in regard to floorplans and key amenities.
Large RV Rental
The RV in this offer is a 30 feet class C motorhome, the Thor Majestic 28A. This motorhome offers up to 7 sleeping spots. Among the amenities provided with this RV are:
- Air conditioning.
- Shower & freshwater toilet.
- Gas cooktop.
- 4KW generator.
A thing that Cruise America also lists among the comfort features of this plan is pet friendliness. This actually is a feature of all the rental plans, and it is among the things that we like about Cruise America. With peer-to-peer rental, not everyone is going to allow you to bring along pets.
Cruise America also allows towing with their 30 feet class C motorhomes. However, there are certain limits to towing:
- Cruise America doesn’t provide hook-up services or towing equipment.
- The towing weight needs to be within 2,500 pounds of tow weight restrictions.
- A daily towing charge is imposed if you tow a vehicle to Cruise America’s RVs.
Keep in mind that before rental, Cruise America requires that you declare the intention to tow prior to departure from a rental center.
Cruise America also allows customers to attach a bike rack to the receiver hitch free of charge. The customer needs to again let the rental center know about the intention of mounting a bike rack so that the RV’s locking pin can be removed.
Standard RV rental
With Standard RV rental, you get a 25 feet Thor Majestic 23A class C motorhome.
The amenities are very similar between the Standard and Large RV rentals. One difference should be noted though – at the moment of the review’s writing, Cruise America provided customers with generators only in the US, so do keep that in mind if you want to rent an RV from them in Canada.
Aside from that, 25 feet RVs sleep up to 5 people.
Compact RV rental
With the Compact RV rental option, you are getting a 20 feet Thor Majestic 19G motorhome. The RVs in this plan offer up to 3 sleeping spots.
Like it was with the Standard RV rental plan, Cruise America only provides US customers with RV generators. And aside from some differences linked to the smaller size – like smaller water or fuel tank sizes – the Compact RV rental doesn’t differ from the previous two options.
Truck Camper RV rental
With the Truck Camper rental, Cruise America basically provides you with a Ford F-150 truck with a truck camper mounted on top. Aside from the much smaller size, one crucial difference in this option is that the RVs don’t include a generator, as well as can’t be used for towing.
On the other hand, the interior amenities in the Truck Campers are very nice, essentially corresponding to those of the previous rental options. And like the Standard and Compact RV rental options, you are getting 3 sleeping spots out of this thing.
RV rental rates
Compared to peer-to-peer renting, Cruise America certainly offers a couple of good things for the money. However, there are also some downsides that you should know about. Cruise America’s payment system is a bit convoluted compared to peer-to-peer renting, and there’s a lot to know about.
One thing that we and many other people dislike about Cruise America is the variety of fees they impose, as well as the variety of upsells they offer.
Aside from that, what we personally don’t like is that Cruise America has all the fee info scattered throughout their website instead of having it easily accessible in one place. Not only that, but we actually had to go to third-party websites to get some of the fee information.
Overall, here’s what you will have to pay for when renting from Cruise America:
- Reservation deposit.
- Nightly fee.
- Mileage fee.
- Environmental fee.
In addition, there are some charges that you may or may not need to pay:
- Generator fee if you use the RV generator.
- Early Bird Departure Special fee.
- Optional kit fees.
- De-winterization fee.
- Towing fees if you use the RV for towing.
- Certain penalties for failing to comply with the rental conditions.
As you can see, Cruise America has many service fees, and this is a big reason why people prefer to opt for peer-to-peer rental services. If you will indeed be renting an RV from Cruise America, we’d advise you to find out about all the possible fees directly from them since we may have missed something, and things may change over time.
Cruise America requires that all the payments be made with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express credit cards. In the US, they also accept Discover Cards. The credit card needs to bear an imprint of your name that matches the driver’s license. The cardholder is required to be listed on the contract as the primary renter or an additional authorized driver.
Upon the return of the vehicle, Cruise America accepts stored value/prepaid/gift cards.
Now, let’s overview all the aforementioned charges one by one.
The very first thing you are going to pay for with Cruise America is deposits. Cruise America requires you to make two kinds of deposits – a $300 reservation down payment and a refundable $500 security deposit.
The reservation down payment will be applied toward the rental charges. As for the security deposit, it is used to cover any excess charges that occur during the trip. Upon return, extra charges are balanced against the security deposit.
If you didn’t use up the $500 security deposit, Cruise America will issue a credit to cover the refund. If you aren’t using a credit card, Cruise America will issue a check and send to your home address. Cruise America doesn’t do cash refunds.
Speaking of cash, the $500 security deposit needs to be paid with a credit card. If you are using any means other than a credit card, the security deposit charge will be $1,000. Keep this in mind in order to avoid quite expensive surprise costs.
A thing to note is that for certain rental applications like Bonnaroo or Burning Man, Cruise America may impose increased charges at their own discretion. In addition, they may require you to make a full prepayment in advance for rental events like auto race events, music festivals, or gatherings in remote areas.
Cruise America imposes per-night fees which vary from season to season. On average, it seems that the nightly fee is around $90-100. It may be lower or higher depending on the season.
Given that Cruise America rents out RVs for at least 7 days, your fees per night will likely quite easily exceed the $300 down payment deposit.
Cruise America calls their daily rental rates Flex Rates since they vary over time, and sometimes quite significantly. If you book an RV early and there are plenty of them available, the daily rental rate will be lower for you.
If you need a change after booking and confirmation (aside from changing party size and adding pre-paid items), the rate will be recalculated using the most current Flex Rate. This Flex Rate will be compared to the Flex Rate that you’ve booked an RV with. The higher rate of the two will be selected as a new Flex Rate.
Aside from a nightly fee, Cruise America applies estimated mileage charges to your rental in advance. Mileage charges are per night based on 100 miles for round-trip rentals and 250 miles for one-way rentals. In other words, you will be charged 100 miles per day with round-trip rental and 250 miles per day for one-way rental.
At the end of the rental, you will be refunded if you’ve driven fewer miles than you’ve paid for. Conversely, you will be charged $0.35 per mile if you have exceeded the estimated mileage.
Cruise America offers pre-paid mileage packs as well – the 100-Mile Package for $28, 500-Mile Package for $140, Unlimited Miles Package for $750, and Unlimited Miles Plus Package for $1000.
The Unlimited Miles Plus Package includes unlimited mileage, one personal kit for each passenger, one vehicle departure kit, and unlimited use of the RV generator for 21 days. Past 21 days, Cruise America will charge you with $29 per day. The same applies to the Unlimited Miles Package.
All the costs above are excluding taxes. Since these will likely depend on the area you will be renting the RV from, it is difficult to say how much tax you will have to pay.
Cruise America imposes a $5 environmental fee per rental. As Cruise America writes, this fee’s purpose is to offset a “wide range of environmental expenses” associated with the proper disposal of shop waste, filters, tires, batteries, etc.
Cruise America also imposes a generator fee of $3.50 per hour. This fee will be collected upon return based on the onboard running time meter. There is also an option of purchasing unlimited generator usage at an $8 daily rate.
Keep in mind that the generator is not required for normal RV operation, so you don’t have to operate it while traveling. A generator will be required only if you decide to run the RV electrical appliances while on the road. You can power all the appliances at campgrounds with electrical supply systems.
Early Bird Departure Special fee
Cruise America offers an optional Early Bird Departure Special for a $350 fee. The Early Bird Departure Special allows you to depart from a rental location as early as 9 AM instead of the regular 1 PM.
You will then need to return the vehicle at the specified date between 9 AM and 3 PM. Regular renters need to return the vehicle by 9 AM and in no case later than 11 AM.
The Early Bird Departure Special needs to be reserved at least 30 days in advance and prepaid. In addition, keep in mind that Sunday departures/returns aren’t allowed.
Cruise America also offers a couple of optional kits for borrowers. These kits are the Vehicle Provisioning Kit and the Personal Kit.
The Vehicle Provisioning Kit includes kitchen-related items like bows, forks, knives, plates, and many other things. The Personal Kit includes items like bath & dish towels, pillows with pillowcases, etc.
The Personal Kit costs $60 per person, while the Vehicle Provisioning Kit costs $110 per vehicle. All items must be returned clean to Cruise America.
In locations with colder winter weather, Cruise America winterizes their motorhomes from around mid-October to late March. When winterized, you cannot use the RV’s water and holding tanks. Due to this, if you chose to have the motorhome de-winterized, you will need to pay an up to $40 fee.
If you plan to tow a car or boat behind the motorhome, keep in mind that Cruise America imposes towing charges of $25 per night.
Aside from the charges we’ve described above, there are certain penalties that borrowers will need to pay should they fail to comply with the rental terms.
These penalties include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Housekeeping charges of up to $250 for returning an RV uncleaned.
- Reservation changes are charged at $50 per change from second and subsequent reservation changes. The first change is free of charge.
- Dump charges of up to $50 for not emptying the RV holding tank prior to returning the vehicle.
- The RV is overdue after 11 AM on the return date. If you fail to return the vehicle on time, you will be charged a fee of $25 per hour after 11 AM of the return date.
- You are responsible for any damage or equipment loss, except mechanical wear. The penalty for damage or equipment loss is limited to $1,500 per occurrence or incident.
- Cancellation is charged as well:
- $200 – 46 days or more prior to departure.
- $600 – 16-45 days prior to departure.
- $850 – 8-15 days prior to departure.
- $1050 – 1-7 days prior to departure.
- Full rental charges – departure day and no-shows.
Cruise America rental deals
Cruise America from time to time offers rental deals and discounts. For example, for departures between September 4, 2019, and December 31, 2019, from any of Cruise America’s North American rental centers, a mileage rate reduction of 50% applies. Another deal is 300 free miles for departures by December 31, 2019, in the US.
Offers are typically not combinable with others, but they do offer some remarkable value. These were examples of deals available as of June 2019, but Cruise America will surely introduce others in the future as well.
How Cruise America handles RV maintenance & breakdowns
Overall, it seems that Cruise America keeps a good eye on their RVs. They appear to be quite strict when it comes to RV condition, so you could be sure that the RV you are renting from them is in a good state.
But for cases when the rented RV breaks down, Cruise America offers nice support to the clients.
Roadside assistance & repair reimbursement
In the event of mechanical breakdown on the road, Cruise America provides the around-the-clock Travelers Assistance Hotline. For authorized repairs, your expenses will be reimbursed by Cruise America. Alternatively, Cruise America may directly pay for the repairs.
According to the conditions of Cruise America, any vehicle service expense over $75 requires authorization from Travelers Assistance, where your problem will be documented in a customer service log.
For repairs costing under $75, you may have repairs done, but you will need to keep the receipt with you for reimbursement. Rental centers will reimburse receipts under $75 without a service log. If a repair service costing over $75 isn’t documented by Cruise America, you will not be provided with a reimbursement.
Aside from that, engine battery jump-starts require approval from Travelers Assistance, so keep that in mind.
Long service time reimbursements
If as a result of a breakdown the RV is in repair for 12 hours or less through no fault of yours, Cruise America may refund you a portion of the daily rental rate. If the repair requires more than 12 hours, certain living/transportation expenses may be reimbursed by Cruise America as well. However, you will need to immediately report the breakdown to Cruise America.
Cruise America provides up to $30 a day per party for transportation expenses and up to $30 a day per person for lodging. Total provisions are limited by Cruise America up to $3000 per tour. To receive reimbursement, you will need to provide all receipts for your expenses.
In certain cases, Cruise America does not reimburse for repairs, transportation, and lodging. Cruise America does not cover expenses associated with the breakdown of the RV generator, AC unit, refrigerator, microwave, appliances, and cruise control since these aren’t needed for the basic operation of the RV.
In addition, Cruise America doesn’t reimburse damage caused by collision or accident. Plus, failure to call Travelers Assistance immediately after a breakdown will make the reimbursement void.
There are certain travel restrictions as well. The areas that fall under Cruise America’s restrictions are:
- Death Valley and other desert areas.
- Alaska and Manhattan, New York City, in the US.
- Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Newfoundland in Canada.
If issues occur in specified areas, Cruise America coverages will not apply. In fact, you may be held responsible for all vehicle damages associated with driving the RV in the restricted areas.
Aside from that, Cruise America prohibits entry of their RVs to Mexico, so be mindful of that.
How Cruise America handles tolls and traffic violations
Cruise America also has specific procedures with regard to tolls and parking/traffic violations.
Cruise America has a policy for All-Electronic Tolling. If you didn’t know, with All-Electronic Tolling, the picture of a vehicle’s license plate is taken and then used to determine who will be billed.
In some cases, a process called reassignment is utilized by Cruise America. The company basically transfers your information to the relevant tolling authority. Then, you will have to handle the fees yourself.
For other cases, Cruise America will pay the tolling authority directly. However, Cruise America will impose a $10 administrative fee on you and charge the credit card you used for rental. The administrative fee is per rental.
For other tolling services like EZ Pass lanes or Fastrack, it will be your responsibility to use a corresponding transponder in order to avoid any fees or penalties.
Cruise America handles parking and traffic violations in a similar manner to tolling. However, in cases where they pay the fines for you, you will be charged a $35 administrative fee per rental.
At rental return, you will be responsible for reporting and paying for any parking or traffic violations. If you fail to report a parking/traffic violation at return, Cruise America will charge an administrative fee of up to $250.
Cruise America rental coverage
A very nice thing about Cruise America is that they offer coverage options for their customers in case of accidents or mechanical breakdown. We’ve overviewed mechanical breakdown coverage above, but there’s more to the coverage provided by Cruise America.
All in all, Cruise America offers:
- Up to $1 million Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) against claims made by third parties for property damage or bodily/injury caused by the operation of the RV. There are certain exclusions to the SLI, a part of which is contained in the rental contract.
- Expense reimbursement of up to $3,000 in case of long service times, which we overviewed earlier.
- Responsibility of up to $1,500 for vehicle damage or loss per occurrence. If you do not abide by the terms of the rental contract and fail to promptly report any incident, you will be fully responsible for the damage or loss of the RV.
RV departure & return at Cruise America
The RV departure time at Cruise America begins at 1 PM. For Early Birders, as we mentioned above, the departure starts at 9 AM and ends at 12 PM.
A common point of complaint among users of Cruise America services is that it can take several hours before you actually leave the rental center. Early Birders may be able to avoid waiting for hours, but they aren’t insured from it as well.
As for RV return, regular renters are required to return the vehicle by 9 AM and no later than 11 AM. As we mentioned above, Cruise America imposes a $25 fee for each hour past 11 AM. At the same time, no refunds will be made if you return the vehicle early or if you pick it up late.
For Early Birders, which we again mentioned earlier in the material, the return time is between 9 AM and 3 PM. Failure to return the vehicle in this time frame will incur an hourly $25 penalty.
Keep in mind that departure and return times on Saturday may vary because some Cruise America locations close earlier.
Customer interaction is another area where Cruise America is notorious. If you look around for user reviews, you will find that quite a considerable number of people have complained about the customer support of Cruise America in various areas, starting from the quickness of service and ending with the inability of the company to resolve issues.
A testimony to this may be Cruise America’s frankly quite low BBB rating, which indicates how the company is expected to interact with customers. There have been so many complaints about Cruise America that BBB has even put alerts on the company profile page, indicating noticeable issues with customer service.
What we really think of Cruise America
With everything above in mind, we’d like to present to you the advantages and disadvantages of RV rental with Cruise America, as well as what we really think of Cruise America.
So, the advantages are:
- A good amount of information provided on the RVs.
- Well-maintained RVs.
- One-way and long-term rentals available.
- Reimbursements for mechanical breakdowns and long maintenance.
- Quite advantageous deals.
What we didn’t like about Cruise America.
- The plentitude of fees makes rental quite pricey.
- Poor selection of RVs.
- The customer interaction isn’t always spot-on.
- Quite uneasy to find fee information.
- The minimum rental period is 7 days.
As a corporate RV rental company, Cruise America isn’t going to provide you with much flexibility. They have a mechanism that works and doesn’t really take into account your specific needs, unlike peer-to-peer rental platforms. You have limited options when it comes to fees and RV selection. Their customer service also isn’t spot-on.
On the other hand, they do have some benefits like one-way rental, a comprehensive reimbursement policy, and occasional deals. So we can’t say that Cruise America is a bad place to rent an RV from.
In the end, we’d say that those who want to quickly rent an RV may want to go for Cruise America since it has an established policy that is designed to ensure hassle-free rentals. But if you want flexibility and don’t mind spending a lot of time finding the right RV, you’d want to go for a peer-to-peer platform.
If you’d like to see how Cruise America is rated against other RV rental companies you might want to check out our review of the best RV rental companies.