(Newbie) Cruise Help

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by thunderl, Aug 8, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. thunderl

    thunderl Silver Member

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    I'm planning to take a 7-day Cruise with my wife November 6th. I'll be flying from Southern Cali (read: LAX or SAN) to Miami. I have a 33k on Delta for a free flight, but am open to other options to getting both of us there for free. Also, are there any rewards programs/credit cards that can help with the price of the cruise itself?

    Thanks for your help!
    Bryan
     
  2. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

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    Hi Bryan,

    Make sure you have a look at the message boards here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/ for cruise information, very helpful site.
    Sounds like you have the miles for a free flight but check your options on fare pricing. If fares are under $300, it may not be the best use of your miles. Sometimes it's cheaper to leave a day early for a cruise and find cheap lodging at your destination.
     
    kenbo likes this.
  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    DL domestic coach RT award tickets are 25,000 in low, although sometimes the computer requires 32,500 miles for a mixed award that's low in one direction and medium in another. When connections are involved, the computer can do some goofy overpricing. Low award tickets can be tough to find if you're not elite, although DL tends to open more inventory close to travel dates. DL also does a low of schedule changes, which sometimes allow especially elites to rebook onto more desirable flights. The bottom line is that using DL miles isn't likely to work well for you, especially if you're not elite on DL. However, if you have a DL credit card, you might be able to use "pay with miles" to pay for all or part of a regular ticket; normally this isn't a good deal but it might make sense if you otherwise won't use the miles. You can also use stray DL miles for hotels as well as gift cards and magazines.

    It's early enough and your travel dates aren't likely to be heavy travel days, so it might be best to just buy the tickets if you see a good fare that works for you and your wife. Otherwise, do you have AmEx MR points to use or other credit card points that can be either used to get tickets or transferred to an airline FF program?

    Two pieces of advice:

    1. Don't transfer points unless award seats are available. Transfers are normally irreversible and you don't want to end up with useless orphan miles. Also, some transfers can involve a fee. Miles can be purchased, but they're expensive unless you're just topping off an account for an award ticket. You might be able to "borrow" AmEx MR points (which you will be charged for if you later don't earn enough points to repay the loan).

    2. Remember to arrive the day before your cruise departs (at least) in case something goes wrong.

    3. Have you investigated getting the plane ticket booked by the cruise line? Sometimes this is cheap, although you generally don't have a choice of airline and flights.
     
  4. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Well. . . unless you plan to spend a whole lot of money on credit cards between now and November, your chances for both tickets are low. The 33K miles on Delta will get ONE ticket, if you can find it that rate. (35K for one is possible) The only credit card that I am familiar with that actually has cruises listed as a redemption is Hilton HHonors. But it takes a minimum of 300K points for a Royal Caribbean Cruise. Others may have redemptions that can be done thru their Vacation Booking sites.

    For a trip such as you are considering, you would need approximately 50000 to 100000 airline points for the flights (If you can actually book award tickets on Delta) and 300000 to 600000 points on Hilton to book the cruise. And that does not even cover lodging before or after the cruise if necessary.

    Myself, we live in Tucson, and have traveled often to South Florida for Cruises. Usually we can find flights in the 35K to 50K range by including MIA, FLL, and PBI in the options to fly into. Flying from either PHX or TUS. In your case, also check LGB, and BUR for flights to South Florida. And if all else fails, Southwest covers South Florida well and you can get some really cheap fares, (if you do not mind 6-8 hours and one to two changes of planes)

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    It's also safer to leave a day early to make sure any flight delays don't cause you to miss the cruise departure.
     
  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP. I'm confused because I had previously understood that you have already purchased a ticket on this cruise, but I see that you're asking about using points to pay for it. If it's already been purchased, even if you haven't made the final payment, I would assume that the answer is no. Also, I don't know of many cruise ships that have an association with a hotel chain, although I believe that Sheraton at one point had a connection with cruises in destinations such as Egypt.

    OTOH, in principle AmEx MR points should cover cruises, but I think you have to work with them from the beginning, before booking anything.
     
  7. thunderl

    thunderl Silver Member

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    Thanks everyone. I have not booked my trip yet. Was looking here for advice first...
     
  8. Ktremor

    Ktremor Silver Member

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    I own my own travel agency and I recommend to all my cruise clients to fly in a day early as it minimizes the chance missing the ship due to delays and cancellations, lost luggage, and stress of traveling on a deadline. Even when someone is not flying, I still recommend to stay the night before near the port as you could have car trouble, traffic, or something else. Trying to catch up to the ship is not a fun way to start a vacation.

    On your return flights, I would not recommend booking something before noon. You never know when the ship may be delayed getting back into port or take a long time clearing customs. I always hear of people running off the ship in a frenzy trying to make that early morning flight. Worrying about catching a flight is not something that you want to have to deal with at the end of your vacation.

    If you have Thank You points, you can redeem 10K points for a $100 gift card on Carnival or Royal Caribbean. These gifts certificates can be used to pay for the cruise deposit and balance. You can use multiple certs for one reservation. The one restriction is that you have to book directly through the cruise line.

    If you have any other questions, send me a private message and we can chat more.
     

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