The Best Ways To Use Points and Miles On Your Cruise

use points and miles for your cruise

If you are looking to book a cruise and you’re also looking to use points and miles on your cruise, let us tell you how to go about it the best possible way. Sure, many people seem to have a common misconception about cruises, which is that they are for those who are on their honeymoon and those who are celebrating their retirement. It’s true; you do see a lot of retirees and honeymooners on cruises.

  • Cruises are one of the least expensive vacations
  • Meals are included
  • You see many locations without moving hotels
  • Transportation everywhere you go is already handled

Those are just a few of the many reasons that people in these particular genres prefer to cruise. It’s affordable for newlyweds, and it’s pretty much hassle-free for those who are a bit older and less likely to want to bother with seeing the world via flights, rental cars, taxis and numerous hotels. It’s nice to hop on a ship and see the islands and some of the most amazing cities in the world without changing rooms, taking numerous flights and doing anything other than sipping a cocktail between destinations.

As a Florida native, born and raised, I can tell you that cruises are easy. We can hop on a ship for three nights on a long weekend and enjoy an inexpensive getaway with the kids or with friends without much hassle. Do I find ships romantic? Not particularly. Are they my favorite vacation? Not even close. While I won’t choose a cruise over other vacations, they certainly do have their advantages, and those are not to be ignored.

That said, if you have points and rewards you want to redeem on a cruise vacation, go for it. we can tell you how to use points and miles on your cruise so that the out-of-pocket expense is even less than it already is. It would be great if cruise lines offered their own amazing rewards the same way that hotels and airlines do, but they don’t. That’s why you often have to get creative when you want to use points and miles on your cruise.

Get a Co-Branded Cruise Card

One of the only ways to use points and miles on a cruise is through a co-branded credit card. If you have, for example, the Celebrity Visa card or the Royal Caribbean Visa card, you can earn points with your everyday shopping, more points when you book cruises on those cards with the proper cruise line and doing everything else you do on a daily basis. When you have enough points accumulated, you can begin trading them in for free cruises or onboard credits.

Let’s use the Norwegian card for example; you can get a $50 credit on the ship for only 5,000 points. Considering the fact that you can apply for this card and earn a 10,000 point bonus at sign up, you can definitely get something free on your cruise. You could get two $50 credits or you could redeem your points for a 2-category upgrade or you can have the cruise line take $100 off the total price of your cruise for that number of points.

Book a Short Cruise

This is an option for those who are like me and live near a port. If you have to take a flight and get a hotel and go through that type of trouble to take a cruise, this is not a great option for you. However, some cruise lines offer their own rewards programs, but they don’t allow you to start utilizing your miles and rewards until you’ve already been a passenger. This is where a short cruise will come in handy.

Let’s say you want to take advantage of the Norwegian Cruise Lines Latitudes program, but you cannot begin to use it until you’ve already been on one of their cruises. Wait until the off-season (now, fall, winter and anytime but spring break and summer) and book a short cruise out of a Florida Port. I could book one out of Miami right now for less than $300 per person anytime this month or next. Now you’ve been a passenger for next to nothing and you can start taking advantage of the points and miles you earn through this program. Unfortunately, it is a required first step.

The good news is that now that you’ve cruised, you can begin utilizing your points and your miles for upgrades, free rooms and other onboard amenities.

Buy Your Hotel

This is something anyone can use. It’s not going to benefit someone like me who lives an hour from a port and less than two hours from two other ports, but it’s going to benefit those who do live far away and either have to road trip or fly to get to their departure port prior to their cruise.

Use your points to book a hotel room. You have rewards points and you want to use points and miles on your cruise, so go ahead and book your room for the night before your cruise. It makes sense to book that night since you don’t want to travel on the day of your cruise. What happens if your flight is delayed or cancelled and your next available flight is too late for the boat? If you miss departure, you’re not going on that cruise.

It’s a good idea, if you travel from afar, to travel a day early to be sure you arrive in time for your cruise departure. If this works for you, then you will be able to use your points for your hotel expenses if those are the points you have.

Use Points for Flights

Another great way to use your points and miles for your cruise is to use them for flights. If you don’t live near the port, you have to get there somehow. Why not take a free flight and minimize the price you’re paying for this cruise vacation in this manner? It’s a great way to ensure you are able to minimize expenses, get to the boat and enjoy that cruise vacation you’ve been wanting to take.

Keep in mind, too, that even if you do not have enough points for a roundtrip ticket, you can utilize them for one way of your flight. You can use them for upgrades and other perks, too, so that you can enjoy more and make sure it feels as though you are getting the best possible value for your cruise vacation.

Unfortunately, cruise lines do not have a very big or impressive rewards system, but hopefully one day they will. Enough people cruise on a regular basis to make it worthwhile for some, so it only makes sense that you might see something like this in the future. For right now, though, you can use your points and miles on a cruise in a few creative ways. It’s not what you might want, and it’s definitely not as lucrative as using them for other things, but it’s still going to minimize the cost of a bit of that cruise vacation when it comes down to it.

Photo by Getty Images

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