Cruise Line Loyalty – Carnival Cruises
Cruise Line Loyalty – World’s Leading Cruise Lines (Other Carnival Corporation lines like Princess and HAL)
Cruise Line Loyalty – NCL
Cruise Line Loyalty – Royal Caribbean MyCruise Rewards (including Celebrity and Azamara)
Cruise Line Loyalty – How the Bank Rewards Programs Stack Up
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Ltd. owns several cruise lines. The three best known are Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises. We’ll focus on those today as they participate in the MyCruise® Rewards program and offer multiple credit card products that tie together in a common points currency. Beyond cards and points, these three lines offer elite status reciprocity, the closest thing to status matching in cruising, and an imminently useful benefit if you would like to experience different styles of cruising but not start over at the bottom of the elite ladder on a new cruise line. I’ve covered the elite status programs at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity previously in my status matters series.
Since then, Celebrity has restructured its elite status program and changed the way points are earned, which I reviewed here. I did not include Azamara in the series, but I recently wrote about their elite loyalty program here. Personally, I am Diamond Plus with Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society, and enjoy reciprocal status with Celebrity at the Elite Level. As a result, I’ve enjoyed the benefits of elite status on Celebrity even though I’ve only taken 3 cruises with them. I have not yet made the phone call to match over to Azamara Le Club Voyage Discoverer status. It’s worth the call! But what about the points?
MyCruise® Rewards Credit Cards
MyCruise Rewards is a credit card point loyalty program shared by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Azamara. I don’t have hard data on this, but I would speculate that the Royal Caribbean card is the most popular of the MyCruise points cards, so I will focus on that and then get into why the Celebrity card may be the most beneficial.
Royal Caribbean offers a Visa Signature card that currently features the following benefits and bonuses:
- Earn double MyCruise Points for every $1 spent on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises purchases
- Earn one point for every $1 spent on your everyday purchases
- 10,000 bonus points after your first qualifying transaction — redeemable for $100 onboard credit
- Zero Liability for Fraudulent Charges, which helps protect you from fraudulent transactions
- Discounted companion airline certificate† after $3500 in card purchases within the first 90 days with the Visa Signature card (students, Platinum Plus® and Preferred accounts are not eligible)
- Perks like Visa Signature Concierge Service*, lost luggage protection, emergency cash worldwide, common carrier travel accident insurance and more
- No annual fee
At the moment, they’re also offering a $75 credit in addition to the 10,000 (worth roughly $100) bonus point offer if you make $1,500 in purchases in the first 90 days. So, with not much effort you can get $175 in value towards a cruise. Like most cruise points programs, MyCruise Rewards is a “penny per point” earn and burn program with the exception being you earn 2 points per dollar for spending on your cruise. On the redemption side, there are a few sweet spots where you can achieve 2 cents per point in value. For example, for 50,000 points you can purchase a 3 or 4 night cruise for two up to a maximum of $1,000 in value.
Of course, the value per point depends on how close you get to maximizing that $1000 price point. Could be useful around holidays, but most of the time, you can buy the same cruise for under $200 per person. There are other nuggets like this. You can review the entire award chart here. I won’t pretend that there aren’t better cards out there for many miles and points enthusiasts….even cruise enthusiasts. But I do believe the MyCruise Rewards card products are the best of the bunch for a couple of reasons. First, there’s a common points currency across multiple cruise lines, focused on different experiences. Second, there’s one card product out of the bunch that offers some benefits that make it worth carrying if you cruise Celebrity.
The card includes a $69 annual fee, but for the right kind of Celebrity cruiser, the card will pay for itself before you ever use a rewards point. The basic earning scenario is the same, you earn 2 points per dollar spent with Celebrity Cruises as well as Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises, and 1 point per dollar on all other charges. You’ll also receive a 10,000 point first purchase bonus which is worth a $100 onboard credit. The real beauty of this card is the extra benefits it comes with.
You can read the fine print here. I ran some numbers using our last Celebrity cruise as an example. MrsMJ and I purchased the Premium Alcohol package for a 14-night cruise. The price was $54 per person per day (plus gratuity). 54 x 14 = $756 per person before gratuity. If I had carried this card at the time, I could have gotten $75.60 back per person which more than pays the annual fee. The specialty restaurant discounts can add a few bucks to the total value of the card as well. That’s just one cruise. A regular Celebrity cruiser would achieve greater value.
In closing, I find MyCruise® Rewards to be the better of the cruising credit card points loyalty programs. That said, even an average miles and points enthusiast like me can find better values in other products. We’ll conclude the series next week with a look at the bank card products and how they measure up for saving money on your next cruise.
-MJ, October 17, 2014