30 Days of Boat Drinks – Introduction

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Getting Informed

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Credit Card Plays

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Barclay Arrival Miles and Ultimate Rewards

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Membership Rewards and Cruise Privileges

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Shopping Strategies and Getting Booked

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Backup Plan

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Onboard Spending Strategies and Life On Board

30 Days of Boat Drinks – Conclusion

We’ve been through the ideas of getting smart on where the most affordable cruises are, the best currencies to use to pay for them, and how to book them. Now it’s time to set sail. When you check in for your cruise, you will be asked to establish an onboard account. Some people do that with cash. That’s kind of a pain as you have to go to Guest Relations every so often and pay up…in cash. I use a credit card to establish my onboard account, and suggest others do the same. No trips to the desk to stand in line so you can “settle up.”

Onboard Spending

When I’m establishing an account on board, I reach for one of two cards – and the answer to what you should use depends on your needs. My two choices are either the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases with the Arrival card, and since your cruise expenses will be categorized as travel, you’ll be earning 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar if you reach for your Sapphire Preferred card. Whether one card is better than the other depends on your specific situation, and what other uses you may have for your miles and points. I will tell you that for me personally, the Arrival card has quickly become a favorite, and is a card I have recommended that people who are thinking of acquiring one of the cruise line card products seriously consider instead.

Spending strategies reach beyond a question of which card to choose for your onboard account. If you will be spending time on a Royal Caribbean ship during your 30 Days of Boat Drinks adventure, you should get up to speed on the relationship between RCL and MGM M-Life. I covered this in a couple of posts. I know many Boardingarea readers are Hyatt elites, and as such, you should take advantage of that to earn M-Life status and some onboard benefits through M-Life’s partnership with Royal Caribbean. The benefits are basic and include things like complimentary drink vouchers and “exclusive cruise offers” and increase in value as your M-Life tier rises. The fee for taking a cash advance on your onboard charge card/room key, known as SeaPass, is waived for M-Life Gold and higher members. If you need a little cash for gambling or other needs, take an advance on you SeaPass for no fee, and the cash advance amount will be charged to your onboard account which you should have covered with a card earning 2 points/miles per dollar. You’ll earn some extra points. (Note: need to earn M-Life the hard way to benefit from this)

Life Onboard

Just a quick blurb about life onboard. The longest amount I’ve time I’ve spent on one ship is 14 days. I could do 30 pretty easily, but I would have to discipline myself. If you can party for 30 days straight, my hat is off to you. My advice – keep the drinking under control, and be mindful of what you are eating. While I wouldn’t call the food on most mass-market lines anything like “5 star,” it is good…. and cooked with plenty of love, salt, and butter. Stay hydrated, and given that you’ll be seeing some ports more than once, skip a little time off the ship and hit the gym from time to time. Frankly, I love staying on the ship when everyone else is in port. Get the pool chair you want, and the staff onboard are eager to please. If you’re invited to any repeat cruiser parties, go. Make friends. Socialize. That’s a big part of what cruising is about. Enjoy yourself, but keep things in perspective too! This concludes my 30 Days of Boat Drinks Public Service Announcement.

Coming soon, the concluding post of 30 Days of Boat Drinks. We’ll tie everything together, and hopefully, soon after that…one of us will set sail for 30 days of boat drinks. 🙂

-MJ, January 5, 2014