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Enjoy shipboard credit, cruise perks with Amex Platinum and Amex's Cruise Privileges Program

July 23, 2021
10 min read
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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 $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). You already know about the yearly benefits that effectively lower your annual fee: Up to $200 in Uber Cash ($15 every month plus a bonus $20 in December); an airline fee statement credit of up to $200; up to $240 in digital entertainment credits (up to $20 each month); up to $200 in hotel credits when booking through Amex Travel (two night minimum stay required); a statement credit for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years (up to $100) -- the list goes on (enrollment required for select benefits).

Oh, and it's got a massive 80,000-point welcome offer after spending $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening (worth $1,600 in travel, per TPG valuations).

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You're probably also aware of the card's many VIP-esque perks, including a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta and the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, etc. (enrollment required for select benefits here, too).

But let's consider another Platinum Card benefit that doesn't get as much air time: 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.

(Photo by Eden Batki/The Points Guy)

Related reading: The 9 most anticipated new cruise ships of 2021

Program basics

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.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

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. Per the programs terms, onboard amenities will vary by participating cruise line -- and select cruises won't offer any amenities at all:

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  • Silver Explorer
  • Silver Galapagos
  • Silver Discoverer
  • Celebrity Cruises Galapagos sailings (no onboard amenities or credits)
(Photo courtesy of American Express)

Shipboard credit

A balcony stateroom with an ocean view aboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

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, verandah 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.

Additional amenities

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 (except Silversea Expeditions)
  • 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.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

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.

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

You can pare down your results by destination, month and cruise line.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

Then decide which room you'd like. Remember, the statement credits you receive from your Amex Platinum are tied directly to the type of room you get. The prices shown are per person, so double occupancy means you're paying twice the listed price.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

After you enter your traveler information, you'll be taken to the checkout page. 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.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

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.

To book, you can go to the Amex Travel homepage and click on Cruises.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

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.

(Photo courtesy of American Express)

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. 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.

Bottom line

Bookings made through the Amex Cruise Privileges Program come with a shipboard credit and additional amenity. This means 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.

Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express

For rates & fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates & fees of the Amex Green, click here.

Featured image by Getty Images/Cavan Images RF
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more