Booking Cruises Through Marriott Rewards
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Like most other loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards is pretty simple at face value: Stay at the brand’s properties, and you’ll earn points. Of course, as avid readers of The Points Guy know, there are a litany of ways to accrue Marriott points beyond hotel stays. But the basic premise of the program is to entice travelers to remain loyal to the brand. The underlying principle is that staying elsewhere would hurt your earning power for future Marriott redemptions. That’s true in nearly every case but one.
Marriott Rewards, unbeknownst to many, has a great program that allows members to earn nearly as many base points on a cruise as they would by staying at a Marriott hotel. The program has partnerships with all the major cruise lines, making it easy to find one that suits your individual desires. Even better? It runs deals that make cruises as affordable as any other vacation. Some three-night cruise packages cost less than $200.
With this in mind, here’s a guide to booking cruises through the Marriott Rewards site.
Get the Co-Branded Credit Card
Paying with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card gets you triple points on cruises booked through the Marriott Rewards website. Cruises typically pay 3 base points through Marriott Rewards, which isn’t a great haul compared to what one would get spending the same on a vacation that required a stay at a Marriott property — the card gets you 5x points at Marriott and SPG hotels. For the avid cruiser, this won’t make a difference. But for someone looking to try a cruise for the first time or for someone just deciding between vacation options, having the card makes cruising more enticing from an earnings standpoint.
Search Double and Triple Points Offers
Marriott Rewards often runs “Double Points” and “Triple Points”offers for cruise bookings. But the language is a little deceiving: “Triple Points” really means double base points (so 2x 3 points per dollar) plus the 3 points per dollar you get with the Marriott Rewards Premier Card. Still, that means you get 9 points per dollar spent — an 8.1% return based on TPG’s latest valuations.
Often, the “double points” offers stipulate that you purchase an upgraded room with a balcony or ocean view. But those offers differ based on the cruise line, so be sure to cross-check the “double points” deals among all the lines so that you find the cruise type, length, room and, most importantly, price that fit your preferences.
Look for Onboard Credit
More than any other vacation type, cruises are best known for being all-inclusive. Meals, snacks and most onboard activities come with the price of your boarding pass. But there’s still a charge for alcohol, and some lines charge for fountain drinks. Nearly all the lines offer specialty restaurants for an additional charge as well. So any deal that offers onboard credit gives you a little more freedom to do what you want on the ship.
Seek Price-Cutting Opportunities for Multiple Passengers
Marriott advertises deals that slash the price for a second passenger by as much as 50%. Some deals also offer 25% off for third and fourth passengers. Even better, kids under 12 sail free when booking certain cruises. It can be difficult to find such an offer that also pays double points, but discounts on additional passengers can make sense for families looking to keep costs down. With the Marriott Rewards Card, you still earn 6 points per dollar spent. So, it might be worth the concession if the savings are big enough.
Try to Find Room Upgrade Offers
One of my favorite aspects of the Marriott Rewards program is that you’re offered upgrades based on status. Some of the cruise lines offer that too when you book through Marriott. And who wouldn’t want a bigger stateroom? When booking a room with a balcony, this can mean an upgrade to a suite. So considering offers that include room upgrades can be well worth it.
If earning Marriott points is a priority, be sure to book any upcoming cruise travel through Marriott Rewards. It’s worth it and will only enhance your earning power. Like any aspect of the program, maximizing your earning power involves a little strategy. Each of the outlined tips can help pad your points total and even save some money. Throughout the calendar year, the program offers different deals that make cruising a great option, especially for larger families.
What are your favorite tips for maximizing cruise bookings through Marriott Rewards?
Featured image by AFP/Getty Images.
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