Last year, I wrote a short series called 30 Days of Boat Drinks. The purpose behind that was answering a question, could you use rewards points to pay for 30 days of nonstop cruising? The answer to that basic question is, of course, yes. Whether that represents the best value for your rewards points is an individual judgement call. For now, the value proposition of paying for a cruise with rewards points is usually not as good as paying for air travel with those same points. I emphasize “for now” because I do not know what the future will bring for frequent flyer programs. I suppose it is possible that the day could come when the math gets easier on justifying spending points for a cruise vs. premium class air travel.
My reasons for bringing this up now are two-fold. First, it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the topic of paying for a cruise with points. Second, and perhaps most importantly, I was recently shopping for a cruise that served as a good reminder of why now is the perfect time to bring this up. In short, the itinerary I had been watching for a few months dropped from an average of $350 per person to $159 per person. The lowest price I’ve seen was $139 per person for a 3-night cruise on the same ship. As I noted in the series, focusing on the 3- and 4-night cruise market can offer the best deals for maximum time on a ship at attractive prices. From now until just about Thanksgiving (a couple of holiday weekends excepted) very attractive pricing begins to appear. I covered shopping strategies and getting booked during the series here. Once you set sail, whether or not you leverage use of the casino to help replenish your points balances while you’re at sea is up to you. 🙂
Stringing together a couple of 3- and 4-night itineraries can offer you several relaxing days at sea for bargain prices. However, there are good deals in other markets as well as I’ve noted in my new weekly cruise deal posts. The bottom line – now is a good time of year to maximize the value of your rewards points if you are interested in using them to pay for a cruise. Attractive prices abound, especially if you have some flexibility to sail on short notice.
-MJ, August 9, 2014