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  1. #1
    BruinSteve Guest

    Redeeming those RCCL Visa Points...

    RCCL VISA Point strategy and planning...

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    Okay, I just got home from a cruise last week...
    I've got two more already booked for the coming year...
    BUT...I am obsessed...

    I was looking at my RCCL Visa card statement and recalling that I now have 144,403 "points"...

    Originally, when I went over the 125,000 mark, I booked a cruise on Oasis of the Seas for July 2010...but as the planning for that one went on, we decided to drop that booking and go to the Baltic on the new Celebrity Eclipse instead...What we were planning--a week at Disney, the Oasis cruise, then a plane ride up to NYC for the Celebrity Summit to New England/Canada--was just getting too much out of hand...the cost was becoming prohibitive--even WITH the free cruise points...and who wants to schlepp around Disneyworld in July in the Florida heat and humidity with the summer vacation crowds? And New England not in the fall just didn't make that much sense...

    So, we blew the whole thing off and will do the Eclipse in the Baltic instead...which still leaves the question of what to do with all those points?

    First thing to realize is that the point redemption schedule makes very little sense...
    Most of the minor awards are at a 1:1 level--not a good value...And the difference between different level awards in the "free cruise" category creatres some intriguing discrepancies:

    >>5. 75,000 Royal Points (choice of one)
    • Free Companion Fare on a 7 night Caribbean or Mexican Riviera sailing (minimum available oceanview stateroom). Value of free companion fare may not exceed fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500 USD value).

    6. 125,000 Royal Points (choice of one)
    • Free Companion Fare on a 7 night Caribbean sailing (minimum available balcony stateroom excluding suites). Value of free companion fare may not exceed twelve hundred fifty dollars ($1,250 USD value).
    • Free Companion Fare on a 7 night Alaska sailing (minimum available oceanview stateroom). Value of free companion fare may not exceed twelve hundred fifty dollars ($1,250 USD value).<<

    So, wait...a 75,000 award gets you a companion fare not to exceed $1,500, but the 125,000 point award companion fare can't exceed $1,250???

    >>6. 125,000 Royal Points (choice of one)
    • Free 5-7 night Caribbean or Mexican Riviera sailing for two (minimum available oceanview stateroom). Value of free cruise fare for 2 may not exceed twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500 USD value).
    7. 250,000 Royal Points (choice of one)
    • Free 7 night Caribbean or Mexican Riviera sailing for two (minimum available balcony stateroom excluding suites). Value of free cruise fare for 2 may not exceed twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500 USD value).
    • Free 7 night Alaska sailing for two (minimum available oceanview stateroom). Value of free cruise fare for 2 may not exceed twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500 USD value).<<

    For 125,000 points, I get a Caribbean cruise worth up to $2500 in a window cabin...But I need TWICE that many points for the same 7 night cruise in the Caribbean in a balcony cabin or to Alaska in the same window cabin??? Do they realize that the differential between a window cabin and a balcony cabin on many of their Caribbean sailings is as little as $100 pp? Of course they do...which is why last time we did this...and I expect next time, they will allow us to use the 125,000 award and pay the difference to upgrade to a balcony...Still sort of silly when on so many sailings, a balcony cabin still costs less than that $2,500 limit...

    In any event, we long ago determined that the "best value" is the 125,000 Caribbean 7-night free cruise award...

    Here is where it gets tricky: There is an incentive to take the cruise with the highest prices for an oceanview cabin up to or slightly exceeding $1,250...Then, assuming they let you pay the difference and upgrade to the balcony, what you really want is an oceanview that comes close to $1,250 with the smallest differential to a balcony...

    I was looking at the possibility of a cruise the week following New Years 2011. My wife works for a school district with a three week Winter Break that includes that week (The RCCL Visa rules, of course, exclude the Christmas and New Years' sailings)...I found three cruises that closely approximate my model:

    Allure Of The Seas
    Departure Port: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    Ports of Call: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    2011 Date: 02 Jan
    Outside 1,159.00
    Balcony 1,259.00

    Freedom Of The Seas
    Departure Port: Port Canaveral, Florida
    Ports of Call: Port Canaveral, Florida; CocoCay, Bahamas; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Port Canaveral, Florida
    2011 Date: 02 Jan
    Outside 949.00
    Balcony 1,149.00

    Liberty Of The Seas
    Departure Port: Miami, Florida
    Ports of Call: Miami, Florida; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; Miami, Florida
    2011 Date: 02 Jan
    Outside 949.00
    Balcony 1,199.00

    Note that all three leave the same day...It doesn't matter much to us whether we leave from Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral or Miami--we have to fly in from LA in any event.

    The Allure gives us a brand new ship and that is proobably the best attraction there...the itinerary is rather limited...we've been to Labadee and Cozumel including recently and we've been to Jamaica as well--though not Falmouth...

    Freedom gives us St. Maarten--a port we've somehow eluded thus far...

    Liberty gives us Belize--another new port for us...

    But, here's the interesting part...
    Assuming they allow us credit only for the cost of the minimum oceanview cabin and we pay the cost of the balcony upgrade...

    The credit on the Allure is for $2318...The upgrade to the balcony costs us $200...
    The credit on the Freedom is for $1898...The upgrade to the balcony costs us $400...
    The credit on the Liberty is for $1898...The upgrade to the balcony costs us $500...


    Even though the award has a value of UP TO $2,500, it is very hard to achieve that full value...unless you cruise on the Oasis or Allure in the Summer months--when the award won't even cover the cost of an Oceanview...

    It SEEMS that the choice becomes exceedingly clear--to just book that cruise on the Allure, take the bulk of the award value and cough up the additional $200 for the Balcony...

    Now, here are the quirks I don't know:

    We are Diamond Crown and Anchor members...We will be on the Mariner of the Seas in January...Now, I believe we have some benefits for being Diamond and/or if we book while on the Mariner...Like discounts on cruise bookings or on balconies--I can never remember because they keep changing them...Do these help us at all?

    Or do I just jump in and book the Allure and not worry about it? I cannot picture it is worth paying more for the now "older" Liberty of Freedom...

    Does any of this make any sense to anyone?

  2. #2
    Cruizer Guest

    Re: Redeeming those RCCL Visa Points...

    You are over analyzing the choices. Pick the one you are most interested in and don't worry about maximizing your return. You will be much happier on a cruise that you want to take than you will be on a cruise you took only because it maximized your return.

  3. #3
    azmavis Guest

    Re: Redeeming those RCCL Visa Points...

    Makes perfect sense to me. Go for the Allure. There is no extra benefit for booking on board anymore if you are going for a balcony. It used to be that Diamond members booking whle on board could get both a balcony discount and onboard credit for a future cruise. No longer so. You only get one or the other. If you book on the phone or with a travel agent you will get the balcony discount anyway. The only advantage to booking while onboard would be if you were booking below the balcony level and then could get an on board credit. We just cash in our Viisa points for on board credit. Probably noit the best way to get maximum value but it works for us.

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