You probably think of points and miles as a great way to book a flight or hotel room without spending a lot of money. While those are great ways to use your points, you can also book other types of travel, like a cruise, with points.
A cruise might not be something you think you can book with points or miles, but it can be done! In this post, we’ll walk you through all of the ways you can use your points and miles to book the cruise vacation of your dreams.
While there are no programs that offer a cruise line as a transfer partner, you can still use your points to book a cruise. The key is knowing which type of points you need and how to use them wisely.
As always, we’ve got you covered here at Upgraded Points — this guide will give you all the tools you need to book your next cruise with points.
American Express Membership Rewards Points
American Express Membership Rewards is a popular transferrable currency because its points are easy to earn and it has lots of great airline and hotel transfer partners.
You can also use Membership Rewards points through Amex Travel, a travel portal that acts like an online travel agency. The downside is that you’ll get less value for your points when you use them this way. Booking through Amex Travel will give you 0.7 cents in value, while transferring your points to hotel or airline partners often gives you 2, 3, or more cents per point in value.
If you’re also interested in flights and hotels, your best bet will be to transfer your points. However, if a cruise is what you’re after, the lower value might be worth it if you’re getting to book the vacation of your dreams.
There are lots of great cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points — here are some of our favorites:
Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)
If you’re a business owner, see our article on the best Amex business credit cards.
How To Book a Cruise With American Express Membership Rewards Points
- To book a cruise using your Membership Rewards Points, just search for your cruise on Amex Travel as you normally would.
- After you select the cruise you want to book, you’ll see the cruise summary page. Click on the small calculator underneath your fare summary.
- Next, you’ll see a pop-up where you can select how much of your cruise you want to pay for in points. You can pay for the entire cruise if you have enough points or just a portion of the cruise.
- You may notice that your total cost still shows in dollars. That’s because the full cost of the trip will be charged to the credit card that’s linked to your account. Then you’ll see a credit based on the amount of Membership Rewards points you chose to apply towards your cruise.
Bottom Line: You can book a cruise through Amex Travel online or by calling 866-669-4423. However, booking a cruise online through Amex can be glitchy, so you might have to end up calling. Unfortunately, many agents won’t know how to apply points to your booking, so you may have to call several times to get someone who can help you. You’ll get 0.7 cents per point in value when booking a cruise through Amex Travel.
Amex Cruise Privileges Program
As an American Express cardholder, you’re also eligible for some extra perks when you book a cruise.
When you search for a cruise, keep an eye out for the Special Offers tab that will be next to your search results. This tab will list the current deals offered to Amex credit cardholders. Perks can include things like onboard credit or prepaid gratuities.
Cruise Privileges for Amex Platinum Card Members
As a cardholder of Amex Platinum card or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re eligible for exclusive benefits when you book a cruise through Amex Travel.
On eligible cruises of 5 nights or more, you’ll receive a shipboard credit of $100 to $300 per stateroom (based on cabin type and cruise line), plus an additional exclusive amenity based on your cruise line.
Here are the extra amenities you can expect to receive from each cruise line (please keep in mind these are subject to change at any time):
- AMA Waterways: $100 spa voucher per stateroom
- Azamara: Behind the scenes ship tour and a bottle of premium Champagne
- Celebrity Cruises: Bottle of Champagne or wine
- Crystal Cruises: $200 shore excursion credit per stateroom
- Cunard: Bottle of wine
- Holland America Line: Plate of chocolate-covered strawberries
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Complimentary dinner for 2 at Le Bistro Restaurant
- Oceania Cruises: Premium wine tasting event and a bottle of wine of your choice from the tasting menu
- Princess Cruises: Plate of canapés
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Exclusive private galley tour
- Royal Caribbean: Bottle of premium Champagne or wine
- Seabourn: Exclusive “suite dreams” turndown service plus a bottle of wine
- Silversea: Bottle of premium Champagne and a tour of the ship’s galley
- Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Bottle of wine and fresh flowers
- Windstar Cruises: Canapés, a bottle of Champagne, and chocolate-covered strawberries
To redeem these benefits, book online with your Amex Platinum card or call the Platinum Card Travel Service at 800-525-3355.
Hot Tip: If you need a few more points for your redemption, check out these ways to earn more American Express Membership Rewards points.
Capital One Credit Cards
One of the easiest and best ways to use points to pay for your cruise is by using a “purchase erasing” credit card — one that earns points or miles that can then be redeemed as a statement credit. These types of cards tend to be easy to use and a great option when you want to book something other than a flight or hotel.
Capital One offers some great purchase erasing cards that may come in handy when booking a cruise including the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
When you use this method, you can take advantage of any other sale or promotion since you don’t have to book through a specific portal, so it’s a great way to get additional discounts.
Recommended Capital One Cards
Bottom Line: With the CapOne Venture card, CapOne VentureOne card, or the CapOne Venture X card, you’ll be able to use your miles to “erase” your cruise purchase at 1 cent per point in value.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program gets a lot of hype because its points are easy to earn and use and it has great transfer partners.
There are so many ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points and they can be redeemed in many ways. You can even book a cruise through the Chase travel portal and use points to pay for it.
The value you get for your points will depend on which credit card you have. Here’s a quick look:
As you can see, Chase credit cards (including Chase’s business credit cards) have different rates of earning points, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card yielding the most value for your Ultimate Rewards points.
Recommended Chase Cards
How To Book a Cruise With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Once you have enough points, you can take a look at the cruises offered through the Chase travel portal. The good news is that you’ll find cruises from all the major cruise lines you would expect, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, and more.
You’ll see the prices listed in dollars, so you’ll also have to do the math to figure out how many points you will need. You’ll be able to see the total amount of credit you have at the top of the cruise portal screen.
Once you have selected your cruise, you’ll have to call 855-234-2542 to book as cruises can’t be booked online through Chase.
Bottom Line: Cruises can be booked using Ultimate Rewards points, but you’ll have to call 855-234-2542 to make your reservation. The value you’ll get for your points is determined by which Chase credit card you have, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card offering the most value.
Citi ThankYou Points
Citi ThankYou Points are another option when you want to book a cruise with points. Just as with Chase and American Express, you can use your ThankYou Points in the Citi travel portal to book your cruise.
You’ll get 1 cent per point in value when redeeming ThankYou Points in the Citi travel portal, which isn’t bad, but you’ll probably get more value utilizing one of Citi’s hotel or airline transfer partners. However, if a cruise is what you want, using Citi ThankYou Points might be a good option to explore.
Recommended Citi Cards
How To Book a Cruise With Citi ThankYou Points
To book a cruise with your Citi ThankYou Points, select Cruise from the Citi Travel Portal.
You’ll then be able to search for a specific cruise or choose from any of the featured cruise offers. Once you’re ready to book, you’ll need to call Citi Travel at 800-842-6596.
Hot Tip: Not sure where to start? Check out our detailed guide to the best websites to use to book a cruise.
Cruise Credit Cards
If you are interested in booking a cruise, you might be tempted to check out a co-branded cruise line credit card. These are generally not a great value — even for booking a cruise. But, if you’re still interested, we’ll give you a quick taste of what you can expect.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the credit cards offered by cruise lines:
Carnival® World Mastercard®
This card comes with a welcome bonus of a $250 statement credit after spending $500. You’ll earn 2x points on any Carnival Cruise purchases and 1x points on all other purchases. You can redeem your FunPoints for 1 cent per point towards Carnival cruises, including onboard charges. Unfortunately, this card’s points are tied to Carnival, so they aren’t super flexible.
Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Card
This card comes with a measly 10,000 point welcome bonus (worth $100 in ship credit on Royal Caribbean), Celebrity, or Azamara Club Cruises, plus 10,000 bonus points (worth $100 statement credit). You’ll earn 2x points on Royal Caribbean and sister brand ships and 1x point per dollar spent on everything else.
The Royal Caribbean MyCruise Points program is complicated — there is a list of specific redemptions with very specific requirements. If you’re looking for a straightforward, easy way to pay for your cruise with points, this isn’t the program for you.
Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card
This card is another lackluster cruise line credit card. The welcome bonus is 10,000 Princess Points, which is worth $100 as a statement credit towards a Princess Cruises purchase. You’ll earn 2x points on Princess Cruises purchases and 1x points on all other purchases.
Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®
With the Norwegian Cruise Line card, you’ll earn 3 WorldPoints for every dollar you spend on Norwegian Cruise Line purchases, 2x points per dollar on airline and hotel purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. This card also comes with a 25,000-point bonus offer that is worth $250 towards upgrades, discounts, onboard credits, and more.
Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Card
This is a standard cruise line card, offering a welcome bonus worth $100 in onboard credit. This card earns 2x points on Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises. You can redeem your points for onboard credits or cruise vacations.
Disney® Premier Visa® Card
While the Disney Premier card isn’t specifically a cruise card, the Disney Rewards Dollars you earn can be applied to Disney cruises. This card comes with a decent welcome bonus worth $300 and even offers bonus categories for points:
- Earn 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars from purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations
- Earn 1% in Disney Rewards Dollars on all other purchases
You can use your Disney Rewards Dollars toward Disney Cruise Line packages and onboard charges.
Bottom Line: If you are looking to book a cruise with points and miles, surprisingly, a cruise line credit card isn’t your best option! These cards don’t offer very lucrative welcome bonuses or earnings categories. Plus, they don’t give you much flexibility with your points. In most situations, you’ll be better off with a credit card that lets you use your points as a statement credit or a card that earns flexible points.
Marriott Bonvoy Points
You may be surprised to know that you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a cruise. While many people might think of Marriott Bonvoy points as hotel points, they are actually transferable and very flexible — they can be used for hotels, flights, and even cruises!
Marriott Bonvoy partners with Cruise With Points to allow you to use your Marriott Bonvoy points towards a cruise vacation (or you can choose to earn Marriott Bonvoy points on cruises that you pay for).
Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards
How To Book a Cruise Using Marriott Bonvoy Points
- To book a cruise using Marriott Bonvoy points, first head to the Marriott Bonvoy cruise portal. You can also go to Marriott.com and click on About Marriott Bonvoy > How to Use Points/Certificates > Use Points/Certificates > Travel > Get On Board.
- Next, click on Redeem Points at the bottom of the screen.
- Here you’ll be able to search for an available cruise. Once you find a cruise, you’ll need to call 800-596-0452 Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST to make your reservation.
You can redeem your points for a certificate that you can apply to your cruise:
|Number of Marriott Bonvoy Points
||Discount Certificate Awarded
|Varies based on price
While it’s great to have this option, unless a cruise is the only way you want to travel, it’s not the best use of your Marriott Bonvoy points since you’ll only get 0.4 cents per point in value when booking a cruise. Marriott Bonvoy points are worth ~0.7 cents each so you’ll miss out on some value by using Marriott Bonvoy points for a cruise.
Bottom Line: You can use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a cruise or get a discount off of a cruise by calling 800-596-0452 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. You will get 0.4 cents value per point when using Marriott Bonvoy points this way.
United MileagePlus Miles
Did you know that you can book all or part of a cruise using United MileagePlus miles? Alternatively, you can choose to pay for your cruise and earn United miles on the cost of your stateroom.
As with most options for booking a cruise, using United miles isn’t the best option as far as value is concerned — you’ll get ~0.7 cents per mile when booking a cruise. United miles are generally valued at right around 1.3 cents per mile, so you’re getting less than half the value you could get if you used your miles for a flight.
But if you’re flush with United miles and just want to go on a cruise, it might be an option to consider.
How To Book a Cruise With United MileagePlus Miles
- Visit United Cruises to get started or go to United.com and click on MileagePlus > Use Miles > Cruise Awards.
- Search for a cruise as you would on any other online travel agency.
- You’ll see that the prices will be listed in United miles instead of dollars. The price will be shown in total and per night just as it would if it were listed in dollars.
- Once you select your cruise, you’ll be prompted to log in to your United account.
- During checkout, you’ll be able to see the price breakdown in miles just as you would with dollars. The taxes and fees will be charged in miles, too.
- Once you get to the payment screen, you’ll be able to select exactly how many points you’d like to use. You can pay for all of your cruise (if you have enough miles) or part of your cruise with your United miles. You can only make your initial payment with miles, so if you want to use miles for your entire cruise, you’ll need to pay in full at the time of booking.
Bottom Line: You can expect to get ~0.7 cents per mile in value when booking a cruise with United miles. This isn’t a great value considering United miles are valued at ~1.3 cents each.
World of Hyatt Points
You can use your World of Hyatt points to book Lindblad cruises. To pay for your cruise with points, you’ll need to book through the Hyatt/Lindblad website or by calling 866-537-5099 or 646-969-4997. You’ll get ~1.6 cents per point in value which is great considering we value World of Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each.
Other Cruise Perks, Discounts, and Bonuses
Let’s review a few other ways to get the most out of your next cruise.
MGM Rewards Benefit
Qualifying Platinum and Noir members in the MGM Rewards program can receive a free cruise on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises each year.
Amex Offers are a great perk of having an American Express credit card. Keep an eye out for offers on cruises — you may be able to get an additional discount or bonus Membership Rewards points. These offers can be stacked with any other discounts or bonuses! You can always pay for part of your cruise with your credit card to get the bonus, then use points for the rest.
Similarly, Chase Offers also features cash-back offers across many categories, including travel.
Cruise-related offers have included cash-back and percent-back offers with Carnival and Crystal. Make sure you’re checking your current Chase Offers frequently to see what’s currently available on your card!
Earn Tons of Points When Booking a Cruise
If you decide you would rather pay for your cruise and save your points for a better redemption, be sure to set yourself up to earn the most points on your next cruise:
- American Airlines Cruises: Earn up to 100,000 bonus American Airlines miles on select cruises when you book through American. Most cruises earn 1 to 2 bonus miles per dollar (capped at 10,000 bonus miles or 20,000 bonus miles if you are an American Airlines credit cardmember).
- Marriott Bonvoy Cruises: You can earn up to 30,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points (3 points per dollar spent) when you book a cruise through Marriott Bonvoy.
- SkyMiles Cruises: When you book your cruise through Delta, you can earn up to 10,000 Delta SkyMiles, depending on the length of your cruise. Plus, you can earn even more bonus SkyMiles on select sailings.
- United Cruises: You can earn up to 7 miles per dollar when you book select cruises through United. Most cruises offer the chance to earn up to 25,000 miles, but United MileagePlus credit cardmembers can earn up to 45,000 bonus miles per cruise.
Hot Tip: If you’re not sure how to pay for your cruise, check out our guide to the best credit cards for booking cruises.
While booking a cruise with points and miles might not be as straightforward as booking a hotel or flight, it can be done! There are lots of options to pay for your entire cruise with points or to use points to get a substantial discount.
Keep in mind, with most of these methods, the value you are going to get for your points is less than what it could be if you were using them in a more traditional way (for flights or hotels). But, if a cruise is what you want and your points can help get you there, then it’s a good redemption for YOU! Happy sailing!
The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Carnival® World Mastercard®, Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Card, Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card, Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard®, Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Card, and Disney® Premier Visa® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.