Enjoy shipboard credit, cruise perks with Amex Platinum and Amex’s Cruise Privileges Program
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information. It was originally published on April 18, 2019.
The Platinum Card® from American Express has many benefits that can justify its $550 annual fee (see rates and fees). You probably already know about the yearly credits that effectively lower your annual fee: an Uber credit of up to $200; an airline fee credit of up to $200; a Saks Fifth Avenue credit of up to $100, and a statement credit for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years (up to $100).
And, you’re probably aware of the card’s many perks, including a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Centurion Lounges, access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, Hilton Honors Gold status and excellent evacuation insurance when traveling, whether or not you paid for your trip with your Platinum Card.
Let’s consider another Platinum Card benefit: access to the American Express Cruise Privileges Program. This program offers U.S. Platinum and U.S. Centurion cardmembers exclusive benefits and complimentary amenities on sailings of five nights or more. Here are the details:
Related reading: The 8 most exciting new cruise ships of 2020
The Cruise Privileges Program is valid for cruises of five nights or more on select cruise lines. You’ll need to book through an approved channel, as noted below in the “How to book” section. The program benefits require double occupancy, and the Platinum or Centurion cardmember must travel on the itinerary booked, although up to two other staterooms on the same sailing can be booked by the cardmember and also be eligible for the program’s benefits. So if you have the Amex Platinum, you could book a cruise trip for your family and everyone could enjoy the perks.
If you book an eligible cruise, you’ll receive exclusive benefits and complimentary amenities on your cruise. In particular, you’ll get a shipboard credit and additional exclusive amenities unique to each cruise line. These benefits aren’t available on Celebrity Cruises Galapagos Sailings, and additional amenities aren’t available on the Silversea Expedition Fleet.
For eligible cruises, the shipboard credit per stateroom depends on the type of stateroom:
- $100 shipboard credit for inside and outside staterooms
- $200 shipboard credit for balcony, veranda and mini-suite staterooms
- $300 shipboard credit for suites on Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International
There are some exceptions for particular stateroom types with select cruise providers:
- $300 shipboard credit for all Queen Mary ocean view staterooms category EF or higher, and Queen Victoria/Queen Elizabeth ocean-view staterooms category FA or higher on Cunard Line
- $300 shipboard credit for all stateroom categories on Ama Waterways, Oceania, Regent, Azamara, Seabourn, Crystal, Silversea, Uniworld and Windstar
- Centurion Members receive an additional $200 ($500 total) shipboard credit on Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn and Silversea
All shipboard credits will be credited to your stateroom folio upon checkout, but they can’t be used for casino charges or gratuities.
For eligible cruises, you’ll get an additional amenity unique to each cruise line:
- Ama Waterways: $100 spa voucher per cabin
- Azamara: Behind-the-scenes ship tour and a bottle of premium champagne
- Celebrity Cruises: Bottle of champagne or wine per stateroom
- Crystal Cruises: $200 per stateroom shore excursion credit
- Cunard: Bottle of wine
- Holland America Line: Plate of chocolate-covered strawberries
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Complimentary dinner for two at Le Bistro Restaurant
- Oceania: Premium wine-tasting event, plus a complimentary bottle of wine from the wine-tasting event
- Princess Cruises: Plate of canapés
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Exclusive private galley tour
- Royal Caribbean International: Bottle of champagne per stateroom
- Seabourn: Bottle of premium wine per stateroom and exclusive “Suite Dreams” turndown service once per cruise
- Silversea: Bottle of premium champagne and tour of the vessel’s galley
- Uniworld: One bottle of wine and fresh flowers per stateroom
- Windstar: “Romance Under Sail” amenity package, canapés, a bottle of premium champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries
How to book
Once you’re ready to book, American Express recommends going to americanexpress.com/cruises or calling 866-669-4423. You can also book through the Platinum Travel Service, Centurion Travel Service, any American Express Travel office, eligible Travel Associate Platform agencies or the Agency Services Desk.
You’ll need to pay with an American Express card in the Platinum or Centurion member’s name. If you book through American Express Travel or an eligible Travel Associate Platform agency with most American Express cards, you’ll usually earn two Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on the cruise. But, the American Express® Green Card will continue to earn 3x points as long as the purchase is classified as travel.
You can also use Pay with Points at a rate of 0.7 cents per point. Considering that TPG’s latest valuations peg American Express Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, this is a poor redemption rate unless you have more Membership Rewards points than you can use.
Note that there are often Amex Offers for select cruise lines. These Amex Offers require you to book directly with the cruise line or “through your travel professional.” So, presumably, you could book through some of the methods listed above and get both the Amex Offer statement credit and the benefits of the Cruise Privileges Program. I haven’t tried this though, so please comment below if you have recent experience with this.
What to know about booking cruises through Amex Travel
Although only Amex Platinum and Amex Centurion cardholders can book through the Amex Cruise Privileges Program and get the statement credits and additional amenities described in this guide, any American Express cardholder can book cruises through Amex Travel.
How to book
To book, you can go to the Amex Travel homepage and click on Cruises.
If your cruise departs more than 90 days in the future, you may be able to book with only a deposit. In this case, you’ll receive a confirmation email with your final payment due date and online payment instructions after booking.
Benefits of booking cruises through Amex Travel
Although bookings through Amex Travel that aren’t part of the Amex Cruise Privileges Program won’t necessarily get statement credits and other perks, some itineraries do feature special statement credits or experiences when you book through Amex Travel.
Earning points on Amex Travel bookings
Most American Express Membership Rewards cards will earn 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on cruises purchased through the Amex Travel portal. However, the American Express Green Card earns 3x on travel, so it will earn 3x points per dollar spent on cruises purchased through the Amex Travel portal.
Cancellation fees on Amex Travel bookings
There are no service fees charged by Amex Travel for changing or canceling your cruise reservation online. But, individual cruise line penalties may apply depending upon the sale date, the length of sale and the destination. So, you should check the cancellation fees and policy of your cruise line. In general, cruise cancellation fees increase as you get closer to your departure date.
Bookings made through the Amex Cruise Privileges Program come with a shipboard credit and additional amenity. So, you may come out ahead when compared with simply booking directly with the cruise line. You may find better offers through websites such as CruiseComplete.com, other credit card programs and discount booking venues including Costco. So check all your booking options to get the best deal.
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- New cruise itineraries you should book now
- Which cruise brand is best for you? A guide to the most popular lines
- Why now might be the cheapest time to plan a cruise
- An overview of cruise line loyalty programs
- The best Caribbean cruise for every type of traveler
- The most exciting new cruise ships of 2020
- Ship shape: Tips for staying fit on a cruise
Featured photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.
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