Recently, I was asked what I thought about options for redeeming hotel points for cruises. I have not previously given this option a good look, though I tacitly knew it was available with Marriott Rewards. Turns out that you can cash in your Hilton HHonors points for a cruise too. Let’s take a look at what’s available.
I’ve been an on and off customer of Marriott’s over the years. Just depends on my travel patterns. I appreciate Marriott’s consistency of service as much as anything. I’ve collected a few points here and there, most of which have been redeemed for hotel stays. Like many airline programs, you can book your cruise using Marriott’s portal and earn bonus rewards points. Currently (ends 10/31/14), if you book an oceanview or higher stateroom, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent. Better than a stick in the eye if you’re booking a cruise anyway. Here’s the example provided.
Actually paying for your cruise is a much less attractive deal.
You can book a $5,000 cruise for 1.25 million points…..wow. Or knock $500 off for 125,000 points. For just 105,000 points, I can book a room for 3 nights at the JW Marriott Marquis in Miami in January. Currently, the hotel is pricing at $431 per night if you’re paying. My point? The only way I’d spend a Marriott Rewards point on a cruise is if they really, really, really annoyed me beyond the point of no return, and I wanted to liquidate…. something that I never envision happening. Actually, I’m not even sure I’d pay for a cruise with points under that circumstance either! If you’re minting points left and right, then have at it.
Hilton offers earning and redeeming options as well through their cruise booking portal. Again, if HHonors is a program you play in, then you may as well pick up a few points for doing something you’re going to do anyway. Earnings are currently based on the number of nights booked with double points for oceanview and higher staterooms. Currently, cruises of 1 to 5 nights are offering 12,000 bonus HHonors points, while 13 or more nights earns 100,000 bonus points. On the redemption side, you can spend 120,000 HHonors points for $250 off your cruise or up to 480,000 points for $1000 off!
Some of the points amounts Hilton wants for a room nowadays are so mind-blowingly shocking that I might actually be tempted to throw a few HHonors points at a dollars off coupon for a cruise, that is if I had any HHonors points left. Cruising brings me joy. Paying 582,000+ points for 3 nights at the Hilton Miami Downtown, not so much.
Both Hilton and Marriott offer you the opportunity to earn points if you’re booking a cruise, much like the airlines do. If you’re playing in a program, there’s no harm in picking up a few extra points for something you’re going to be doing anyway. Redeeming hotel points for a cruise is a bad deal as far as I can tell. I say just don’t do it.
Up next in cruising coverage – a look at the value of premium beverage packages.
-MJ, October 25, 2014