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I Booked a Virgin Voyages Cruise With Points — But There’s a Catch

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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...
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There are so many extraordinary travel experiences bookable with points — from luxurious flights in the sky to boutique 5-star hotels. But one thing that’s sorely missing is the ability to book cruises for good value.

A few times per year — and at the time of writing — Virgin Voyages will offer limited-time sailings that are bookable with points and miles. These adults-only itineraries are available in the Caribbean, Europe, and beyond for travelers who want to save a big chunk of change on their next vacation.

I ended up booking one of these cruises departing Miami this summer for just 115,000 points — but is this a good deal?

Here’s a look at the step-by-step booking process if you’re interested in taking advantage of the latest Virgin Voyages promotion.

New Virgin Voyages Points Deal 2024

This month, Virgin Voyages released several 2024 sailings bookable with Virgin Red points:

  • 4-night Caribbean cruise between June and September 2024: 95,000 points
  • 5-night Caribbean cruise between June and September 2024: 115,000 points
  • 7-night Mediterranean cruises on May 19: 120,000 points
  • 7-night Mediterranean cruise between May and October 2024: 160,000 points
  • 14-night Barcelona to Miami on October 27, 2024: 280,000 points
  • 16-night Rome to Miami on November 28: 320,000 points

Virgin Red and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club are part of the same loyalty program. You can link and transfer your Virgin Points between the 2 programs, and there are many credit card programs that can transfer over.

Virgin Voyages Exterior
It can be difficult to redeem miles for cruises, but you can do so for decent value with Virgin Voyages. Image Credit: Stella Shon

Thanks to a couple of 30% transfer bonuses from American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, booking these cruises will cost even less. For example, this summer, a 4-night Caribbean cruise will only cost 74,000 points.

Virgin makes it clear that “taxes and fees are payable separately,” but I wasn’t sure how much I’d owe until checkout.

Hot Tip:

There’s no end date to any of these deals, but Virgin Voyages says these are limited-time promotions with only a certain number of cabins available. It’s unlikely these deals will last longer than a few more weeks.

How I Booked Virgin Voyages Cruise With Points

I had recently canceled an award flight booking via Virgin Atlantic, so I already had 100,000 points in my Flying Club account. Thanks to these new cruise deals, this promotion seemed like a great way to take advantage of my unused points that couldn’t be transferred back to American Express Membership Rewards from The Platinum Card® from American Express.

The first step to booking these cruises is to link your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Virgin Red loyalty accounts. If you haven’t joined either program already, it’s free to sign up. You’ll add your Flying Club number under Accounts and the Link Accounts section of your Virgin Red account.

Then, you’ll want to log on and browse the Virgin Red deals, where you can book cruises and hotels, among other redemption options. I had already connected my 2 accounts in the past, so I could already see that I had 100,000 points ready to redeem in the upper right-hand corner.

Of course, I was shy of 15,000 points for the 5-night Caribbean cruise booking I was eyeing. But with the current 30% transfer bonus, I only needed to transfer 12,000 more points from my Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance to book, saving me a few thousand points. The points instantly transferred to my Virgin account, and I could hit Redeem to start the booking process.

5 Night Virgin Voyages Cruise Redeem
This was the itinerary I was most interested in booking. Image Credit: Virgin Voyages

When selecting your reward, you don’t have to specify which sailing date you’re interested in — that part comes later. Once you redeemed the points, I received the email confirmation below with information on the “Access Key” that would be needed to finalize my booking.

Virgin Email Confirmation
I received a confirmation email within minutes of redemption. Image Credit: Virgin Voyages

Virgin says it can take up to “3 working days” to receive this information. I booked the cruise on a late Friday afternoon and received it by Monday morning — so no business days in between — which was pleasantly faster than I expected.

Virgin Voyages Access Key Email
I got my access key instructions less than 72 hours later! Image Credit: Virgin Voyages

I received the instructions for my 5-night Caribbean sailing, eligible on travel dates between June 1 and September 30. I headed directly to the Virgin Voyages website and found my itinerary of choice, the Dominican Daze.

Virgin Voyages Dominican Daze
The cash price was nearly $2,700. Image Credit: Virgin Voyages

Scroll down past checkout to see the Access Key section. You’ll enter the code provided in the email there, and you’ll see the grand total of your sailing.

Virgin Voyages Sailing Taxes Fees 1
Enter your access key to see the price drop to the taxes and fees. Image Credit: Virgin Voyages

I sailed on Virgin Voyages last year and was impressed with the Central Sea Terrace room because of its large balcony and comfortable bed. As you can see, the same sailing costs about $2,700.

These points deals are terrific, there’s no doubt about it. That’s especially the case since it’s pretty difficult to redeem points for cruises for maximum value.

But travelers should know that there are taxes and fees to pay, which came out to $364 for this particular itinerary. You can check the exact amount you’ll have to pay for any Virgin Voyages itinerary — on top of any redeemed points — by getting all the way to the checkout page and seeing the cost of the Taxes and fees. I recommend paying these extras with one of Upgraded Points’ recommended best travel credit cards.

Virgin Voyages Greek Island Glow
Use this handy tip to easily check the taxes and fees you’ll have to pay with this deal. Image Credit: Virgin Voyages

I got roughly 2.1 cents in value with my points, which is roughly on par with our monthly valuations of Amex and Chase points. I’m excited about my redemption because I already had 100,000 Virgin Points in my account and could use them on a 5-night Caribbean cruise this summer.

Bottom Line:

Redeeming points doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t an out-of-pocket cost. But if using points for a Virgin Voyages cruise makes sense for you, then you can easily save a couple thousand dollars.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to know that these Virgin Voyages points deals require about $350 in taxes and fees. Knowing this can help you decide whether these promotions are really worth it for you and figure out what you’ll need to pay up before transferring points to your account. Happy sailing!

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Stella Shon's image

About Stella Shon

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in The New York Times, USA Today, and more.

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