Book Cruises Via An Airline Portal
If you are paying cash and want to earn miles simultaneously, airlines allow you to earn bonus miles by booking cruises via their site. For example, there are United Cruises, American Airlines Cruises, Delta SkyMiles Cruises and more.
The cruises we priced out via United Cruises were the same price as booking directly with the cruise lines the only difference is that you would earn bonus United miles per dollar spent for booking via the United site.
On our test Royal Caribbean cruise booking, United credit cardholders can earn up to 7 miles per dollar spent on the cruise cabins base rate for booking via the airline website. Your earnings are capped at 45,000 MileagePlus miles per purchase.
Keep in mind that these bookings are considered third-party purchases, so cruise lines are not obligated or may not be inclined to allow you to make changes.
For this Royal Caribbean sailing for a family of four, that could mean picking up 8,372 United miles valued by TPG at a total of $109 in miles.
Those with United elite status can also cash in on some perks. Bonuses vary per cruise line and are based on your elite status tier, but you could get anything from relaxing spa treatments to complimentary wine, or even up to $300 to spend onboard.
Extra Cruise Perks For Amex Platinum Cardholders
Even if you use your Membership Rewards points to defray your cruise expenses, youll be able to take advantage of a slew of Platinum perks, including up to $300 stateroom credit on cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and others.
Additional Amex Platinum perks vary by cruise line, such as a $200 shore excursion credit on Crystal Cruises or a bottle of premium Champagne or wine on Royal Caribbean.
How To Book A Cruise Using Points And Miles
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Here at TPG, we love a goodcruise and so do thousands of our readers. Unfortunately, cruising took a hit during the pandemic and continues to be a popular travel option, albeit one that has had several ups and downs as cruise lines have returned to the seas.
Whether youre a first-time cruiser or a long-time veteran, traveling solo or with your entire extended family, planning your 50th-anniversary trip of a lifetime or just a quick weekend getaway from reality, theres a route, experience or destination to suit you.
If youre ready to start cruising again in the foreseeable future and you have a stash of points saved up, you may not have to pay for your next cruise out of pocket. Here are the best ways to cruise on points and miles.
Interested in more tips and tricks for cruises? Sign up for TPGs free cruiseletter
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Why A Cruise With Flight
If you do not want to spend several weeks at sea, the travel options are usually limited from your home port. Destinations in the Far East, the US or a round trip in the Mediterranean seem so unattainable. If you book the flight separately, you may expect some unpleasant surprises: fares can fluctuate greatly and you may have to take the flight on the day of your dream at a particularly low price. Even if a passable flight is found, it can still be late and cause a delay in your arrival at your departure port.
This does not happen to you with our cruise with flight offers: Find your cruise with flight and benefit not only from the low airfare, but also from a smooth journey. The airport transfer takes care of getting you from the airport to the ship in time. Even if you have a delayed or delayed flight, you do not have to worry, as the cruise line will take care of your cruise. Depending on the circumstances, the ship will either wait for you or you will be taken to the nearest port and board.
Why Use The Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
With various partners across airlines and hotels, including United Airlines, Hyatt and British Airways, you can often get the most value from your Ultimate Rewards points when you transfer points and book an award rather than using the portal.
Its always worth comparing the number of points youll need to book the same flight or hotel stay directly through the portal to the number of points required for an award if transferring to the partner program. When you book through the portal, the points price is tied to the cash cost of the flight or stay, and in some cases, youll pay fewer points by booking it that way.
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Things You Need To Know About Booking Airfare For Your Cruise
When it comes to purchasing airfare for a cruise vacation, travelers have many questions. There are a lot of factors to consider and once in a while, you’ll see an air-plus-cruise deal thats so obviously outstanding, it’s a no-brainer.
A few years ago, I got an email from Seabourn Cruise Line announcing a one-week September cruise in the Mediterranean that included economy-class airfare from the East Coast for $2,199. Checking the airfare to and from the ports, the best deal for those dates I could find was $1,600 in economy class. Do the math: Thats a luxury cruise for a mere $599 per person. But deals like that are rare. The best way to learn about them is to sign up for every cruise line’s email announcements. Do that, and then consider these five tips on how to get the best airfare for your cruise vacation:
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is a TPG favorite. It currently comes with one of the highest sign-up bonuses weve seen from Chase or any business credit card 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
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Advantages Of Booking Flights Through Your Cruise Line
Imagine sitting at the airport because a flight was delayed due to weather or mechanical issues, or you were bumped from a flight. Trying to make alternate plans to get to your cruise on time could be overwhelming and potentially cost more. When you book the flight along with your cruise, most cruise lines guarantee to get you to the next port at no cost to you and supply a complimentary hotel room in the meantime. Cruise lines often offer the lowest rate on base airfare. They can do this because they negotiate bulk contract fares with certain airlines. However, some cruise agents say that fares for short flights usually compare to what you’d get if booking yourself, with the most savings on long-haul flights.
Pay In Cash When An Excellent Cash Fare Comes Up
As with airline tickets, theres zero point in playing the points-and-miles game if you dont take full advantage of the truly cheap sales. If you find a cruise booking that costs less in cash than your points value, pay for it outright and save your points for another trip. As always, dont forget to use TPGs valuations guide to help you calculate what your points are worth.
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Considerations For Booking A Cruise Including Flights
Not all flights included with cruises are the same. Some flight packages have a tight connection or arrival time that can make you nervous about getting on board in time to sail. Carnival and Princess offer protection guarantees that will get you to the ship at the next port. Choice of travel time may also be limited, which could mean red-eye flights that leave you bleary-eyed and weary at the start of a vacation. Those wanting a more flexible schedule to enjoy the origination city for a day or two might want to pass on cruises that include flights.
How To Book Hotels
Booking hotels is similar to booking flights on the travel portal. This is an advantageous strategy if youre looking at hotels that arent part of a major chain that partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards .
Its worth comparing Ultimate Rewards rates against the points required by these hotel loyalty programs to ensure youre getting the best deal.
Heres a sample search for hotels on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, which hosts solely boutique hotels. Theres not a hotel in sight, so transferring points isnt even an option here.
In this case, Ive chosen La Fortaleza De Haro, where Ive selected my room type and navigated to the payment page:
Here youll see the same box, which lets you specify how many points youd like to use:
Once you hit Complete Booking, the reservation is finalized, and youll get an email confirmation.
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Cruise Line Air Packages: Pros And Cons
Should you or shouldn’t you relinquish control of booking your pre-cruise flights? The deals and the simplicity of booking your cruise and flight together via cruise line air packages certainly look tempting, but there’s always that nagging question of whether one-stop shopping is the right way to go. We scoured cruise line air policies and stacked up the pros and cons to help you make the decision that works best for you.
Jetblue’s New Flight And Cruise Packages Offer Passengers Peace Of Mind And Great Deals
The airline launched vacation packages with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival.
JetBlue passengers will now be able to book their flights and cruises at the same time with the launch of “JetBlue Vacations’ Flight Cruise” packages, the company shared with Travel + Leisure.
The airline, which was voted the best U.S. airline in 2021 by T+L readers, will allow customers to book a cruise with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, or Carnival Cruise Line and secure their flight and hotel room all in one place through jetbluevacations.com.
Cruise packages are available for sailings starting Nov. 1.
“Continuing to build upon the trust that JetBlue has established over the last 20 years, we want customers to book their entire trip, from flights and cruises to hotels and more, all with us,” Andres Barry, the president of JetBlue Travel Products, said in a statement provided to T+L. “Handling the customer service ourselves, rather than sending them to multiple entities, allows us to go above and beyond while meeting JetBlue standards at every single touchpoint. With cruise lines increasingly beginning to sail again, we’re excited to refresh our package offerings, as we continue to drive ancillaries and build our non-ticket revenue base.”
The airline will also cover up to 150% of a customer’s original package price for a new JetBlue Vacations package if they completely miss a sailing because of a flight issue.
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How To Book A Cruise Including Flights
Spend more time anticipating your cruise and less time on the planning when you book your flight along with the cruise itself. There’s no need to plot connections your cruise line offers up options that work best with your cruise’s departure. The move might also save money on your vacation budget, leaving more for souvenirs and fun along the way.
Cons To Booking Flights Through Cruise Lines
You have far less flexibilityFor standard air transportation bookings, the cruise line’s agent will pick your flights, and you wont have a choice when it comes to which airline youll fly, when youll fly, and whether or not youll fly direct or with a layover.
Also, you won’t likely be able to make a longer trip out of it. If youre booking airfare through a cruise, some cruise lines, like Oceania and Viking, mandate that you arrive the day of your ships departure for certain sailings, unless youre willing to pay a deviation fee to get in a day or more early. Other lines, like, Celebrity, Carnival, and Uniworld, do offer their guests more flexibility from the get-go, such as arriving at the departure port a few days early to explore that city sans an additional fee. Its crucial to speak with a booking agent directly to find out the precise terms of your cruises air transportation program. And if you move forward with the package, be ready to pay for flexibility.
Youll still have to deal with the airline directly to manage your reservationWant to pick a specific seat on your flight, or opt for the vegetarian meal? Youll have to contact the airline directly to manage those aspects of your reservation if you book your airfare through a cruise line. Youll also have to handle checked luggageand the associated feesyourself.
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If There Is An Amex Offers Deal Available For The Cruise Line You Wish To Sail
Amex Offers have only gotten better in recent history to your benefit as a consumer. From time to time, American Express offers special limited-time bonus points deals to card members that book cruises. In the past, through its Amex Offers, the company has let cardholders earn 15,000 to 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for putting a cruise purchase on their credit card.
A 25k bonus points offer is worth $500 at current TPG valuations. In the past, offers have included various cruise lines such as Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Cunard and Crystal Cruises. Amex Offers are targeted and subject to change at any time. To see if youre targeted for a specific offer and to enroll in the offer log in to your American Express.com account. Scroll down to Amex Offers and Benefits and see what deals are presented.
Our best credit cards for cruises guide is a great starting point for newcomers and veterans alike, covering these logistics in more detail.
But the bottom line in miles and points is this: Theres no point in accumulating miles and points if you dont know when to use them strategically. If you find a route that makes more sense to purchase in cash, do it and dont look back.
If you do end up booking in cash, dont forget to check CashbackMonitor.com for special offers from airlines and other travel partners who may offer increased cash back, miles or points for booking through their online portals.
Pros Of Independent Air
It is easier to arrive early or stay over. In most cases, if you prefer to arrive early or stay extra days in port, or to fly in or out of a city other than the port city, it is often easier to book independently. Some cruise lines handle these complications at no additional charge, while others charge extra fees for flights other than same-day arrival or departure.
You are in control throughout the process. If you are that person who flinches at handing over the details of your trip to someone else, air packages are probably not for you — especially if your travel plan has complications. Group travel, small children, special seating needs or special dietary requests are best handled independently, in most cases. Booking independently is also wise if you prefer a specific airline or airline group. If you have status or air miles accumulated, booking independently allows you to manage your own upgrades without the restrictions caused by the cruise line’s low fare deal with the airline.
You can use a travel agent just as easily. If you regularly use a travel agent, in most cases, your agent can find you a comparable airfare without stripping you of your independence, your seat selections and your upgrades. Even if the air is a tad higher, you may maintain upgrade options and flexibility you would forfeit with the cruise line’s air package.
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How To Book Air Travel For Your Cruise
Question: Ive heard it is cheaper to book my air transportation separately from my cruise. But then a friend told me I should book my flights through the cruise line. Im confused. Which way is better?
Linda Thibodeau,Portland, Maine
Answer:This is always a tricky question, Linda, and its not surprising you have gotten some contradictory advice.
Booking air transportation through your cruise line is the easiest way to book your cruise vacation, but the resulting air/sea package is often more expensive than separate bookings. There is also the problem that flight schedules are sometimes unavailable until 30 days before departure. If you want to book particular flights, or you want to travel on dates that differ from the departure and return dates of the cruise, you will have to pay the cruise line an air deviation fee of between $35 and $50 per person. Moreover, you cant use frequent-flier miles if the cruise line books your air. For these reasons, many cruise passengers choose to book their own air travel.
Heres another piece of advice: No matter who books your air travel or cruise, get yourself some travel insurance. If you encounter travel problems or miss the ship, the right insurance will cover the cost of getting you to the next port and will also pay your expenses until you can catch up with the ship.