I finally, at long last, have booked another cruise. I don’t mind admitting that having no flights, no hotel stays, and no cruises on my booked itinerary for so many long months this year has been really depressing. That awful feeling is now gone.
Well, mostly anyway.
So why book now and where am I going and when am I going? First up I am not going on a “cruise to nowhere” i.e. just getting on a ship to get on a ship – no thanks! Next, I am not sailing anytime soon.
There was a cruise I planned to take this year — but clearly, that is on hold. I have little confidence that by this time next year the entire planet will be COVID safe. Thus, my booking is for 2022! That will mean it will have been over 2 years since I set foot on a ship when I normally sail 2-4 times a year.
NCL, my preferred cruise line that I am Platinum Plus with, off and on every month has different offers that are just about all the same. You get a “free” drink package (you must pay tips as an add-on, however) as well as a number of specialty dinners (again, you pay tip charge) and other bits that are nice. But what is less common is offering a lower price for the base of the cruise.
But there is more that made me pull the trigger now.
I have for a long time been a Wyndham Diamond that let me, even though I never ever gamble even one cent ever, be a Caesars Diamond member. That gives me a very nice discount (20% on this cruise) on top of whatever lowest base price including a discount off of sale prices that NCL offers.
I also had a few NCL cruise next credits I wanted to burn. You buy these at 50% of face value when you are on a cruise (the only time you can get them, BTW) and have up to 4 years to spend them.
What else you ask? Take a look:
This was the final real and sweet Amex offer on my Platinum Card® from American Express that motivated me to “buy now,” if you will.
Both my wife and I had this offer targeted on our cards. NCL lets you, once you have a reservation, make as many small payments as you want. We will make two separate $500 payments and each get the discount from the Amex offer you see above (#ProTip: Another reason to HOLD a number of Amex cards long term). Not just this but I hope to see more similar offers over time on other Amex cards we hold before the final payment is due a long time from today.
Now I know what you are thinking – doesn’t René usually use points to all but sail for free?
That is true. 🙂
I have on a number of occasions used my Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to pay for the sailing in full (including tips). But this year I have cashed out all my UR points via grocery stores at 1.5 cents so I am now just slowly spending that travel cash to buy the cruise. So I am, in a way, at least using the proceeds of those points to travel.
Without telling too much about the cruise, it is one I have always wanted to take. I am booked in a front suite with a massive balcony that allows, on a smaller class of ship, me to get the “posh deck” feel I like, that is, tons of space but also an overhang for when you want to be in the shade.
I am thrilled to be “back in the game,” if you will, even though that goal is a long way off. My cruise, in fact, is so far off I can not even look at air or hotel options for a long time to come.
I can, however, start to plan the things I want to do pre-cruise in my departure city as well as the stops along the way on the cruise. I can begin to consider what points I will use for air and how to maximize that experience at the best price in points. Bottom line I am feeling so much better just having something booked and feeling that giddy excitement that one day I will be able to travel safely and enjoyably once again.
Now let’s just hope that by 2022 COVID is GONE and cruise life can return to what it was before!
Are you considering booking a cruise again for 2021 or 2022 or beyond? – René
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