So, my fiance and I are planning a honeymoon cruise for next June. She teaches, so to best fit her schedule, June is the best month for us.
As for flights, I plan to use 107,000 United miles, and buy 13,000 miles, and looking at 2 tickets from Atlanta to Barcelona, and 2 tickets from Venice to Atlanta. Thats gonna be about $670 +107,000 miles. Seems like the best deal I can find right now. I'm not sure if I can sweeten that at all by using a certain credit card to get extra miles, such as the United Mileage Plus Visa (which I got 50K of these miles from already), or maybe AMEX Blue Cash has something like free flight/trip cancel insurance?
As for the cruise, we found one we really like. It goes one-way from Barcelona to Venice, 9 nights. Called directly to Carnival, and they are at about $1930 include 2 passengers and standard taxes, etc. Called United booking service through the airline website. They are the SAME price, except she claims if I book and pay for ANY portion of the cruise on that Mileage Plus Visa card, that I'll get 4 miles per dollar (for the entire cruise amount, regardless of how much we spend on the actual Mileage Plus card). Unfortunately, she says none of those miles will post until after the actual cruise, even if we pay now. I find it hard to believe they will give me 4 miles, per dollar, for a 2K cruise if I only spend 500 bucks on that card.
I found a site called cruisecompete.com where supposedly travel agents bid against each other to offer you the best price on a cruise. I got 6 quotes, all are within 30 dollars of each. One is the lowest, AND says that I can add 5 extras choosing things such as 1. 4 drink vouchers, 12 soda vouchers, 25 dollar ship credit, photo voucher, wine.. etc.
So, IF thats true, its a decent little perk extra. On the flip side, the 8,000 miles have SOME value, cause another 50K miles signup bonus and we are near 60K miles again for another free flight.
Any thoughts suggestions on how to sweeten this scenario?
I plan to get some more signup bonuses on cards to help offset the wedding costs, since its "spending" anyway, which will meet those cards minimums.
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posted: Oct. 30, 2012 @ 6:27p
Have you checked cruises.united.com/? I ask because all the airlines always offer big mileage bonuses for cruises, but I have not compared how they do against cruisecompete, vacationstogo, etc.
Edit: This looks like it may be the same thing you did with calling United. Offering 2-8 miles per dollar depending on class of room.
Senior Member - 2K
posted: Oct. 31, 2012 @ 5:47a
Carnival prohibits agencies from discounting below a certain price so I'm not surprised your bids were so similar. You'll have to pick your favorite perk - miles, beverages, etc. - and go with that. You can use an agent and your United Visa to double dip - miles and your agent's perks.
Have you checked the availability of frequent flyer flights on the days you need? Finding seats in the summer is tricky and finding them that connect with a cruise can be even trickier. I'm going on a similar itinerary (on Princess) and had to book the day seats were released (approximately 330 days in advance). Not a lot of seats are released and you won't be the only ones on the cruise trying to use miles for their flights.
A few hints: 1. Plan on arriving into Barcelona a day early. You don't want a delayed/cancelled flight to cause you to miss boarding your cruise. 2. Check on other cruise lines. The new Royal Princess is cruising between Barcelona and Venice next summer so compare prices with Carnival. 3. Visit Cruisecritic.com and become a member. You'll find a ton of information which will help you if this is your first cruise or not. Find the roll call for your specific cruise (line and date). You'll meet up with people from your cruise and often they'll arrange private shore excursions in some ports. These private excursions can save you a lot of money compared to the cruise line's excursions. 4. Buy trip insurance. If you use a travel agent, they can tell you about the options. You can purchase from Carnival or from others (Travelex, TravelGuard, etc.). For some, purchasing insurance when you book the cruise will waive pre-existing condition exclusions. For me, that's important because my parents are not in good health. I typically select an option that allows me to cancel for any reason. That's more expensive but I've invoked that option when another line had a bargain-basement sale for a similar itinerary on similar dates. The discount far exceeded the price I paid for the insurance so it was worth it to change and buy new insurance. If you buy insurance from Carnival, read the fine print - sometimes the cancellation only gives you 100% refund in the form of a future credit that can only be spent on Carnival. Also read the restrictions on any credit card trip insurance you might want to use because they have a lot of restrictions and less coverage than the extra insurance you should consider purchasing. 5. Ensure your health insurance covers you outside of the USA. Probably does but you should confirm.
posted: Oct. 31, 2012 @ 7:57a
I'm not sure if you considered leaving from Rome instead of Barcelona (although the ship also has a Barcelona itinerary), but the Celebrity Equinox was absolutely amazing. My wife and I went on our honeymoon in April and sailed from Rome to Mykanos, Santorini, Athens, Istanbul, Naples and Kusadasi. The ship is relatively new and the food was excellent. They also have a Cirque du Soleil like show that is great (as opposed to most cruise shows).
Also, we bought ours through cruise.com, they had free prepaid gratuities included, an on-board credit and were very helpful with helping reducing our cost as the price changed prior to final payment.
Senior Member - 2K
posted: Oct. 31, 2012 @ 4:03p
I just booked our flights on United. Good to go there, just had t obuy 13,000 pts.
As for the cruise, I mentioned in the OP that I called united booking and they couldn't offer anything different on the price, BUT they said I would get 4 bonus pts per dollar of the cruise price if i booked with them and used the card.
However, she said I only had to charge 1 dollar to the mileage plus card, and could pay the rest on a different card, and I would still get the 4 mile bonus for the whole cruise. The total cruise is around 2K, and she indicated I would get over 10K in miles for it. I only found info on United.com regarding 4 bonus miles per dollar, but what she said indicated 5. I'm thinking maybe its the standard 1 mile per dollar, IF I DO use the Mileage plus card for the whole thing, and then 4 miles per dollar bonus for the whole cruise price, even if I just put a few dollars on this card. I'm hesitant to say I'll book the whole cruise on this card because I'll probably cancel the card before the final cruise payment is due in. (Hoping to sign up again in a few months for another 50K mile bonus.
posted: Oct. 31, 2012 @ 7:24p
Stay away from Aruba and scuba diving. Just saying...
Senior Member - 1K
posted: Oct. 31, 2012 @ 11:11p
Yup - they all generally at the same price - cruise lines trying to control the pricing and discounts.
If you are AAA member, you can check with them (& even without membership may be fine). They typically will have 1-2 cabin class upgrades - so they don't directly discount it but indirectly through the upgrades.
Also check your PM - I sent you something else that may help.
By the way, there is another thread floating around on the Fatwallet about shareholder perks. Buy 100 shares and get $100 onboard credits. I wouldn't rush out to buy the stock - it is pretty high right now. But if you see a good pullback, that may be an opportunity to do so. Don't forget to sell a deep covered call to remove the risk of stock fluctuation wiping out the $100 shipboard credit.
Senior Member - 2K
posted: Nov. 1, 2012 @ 8:58a
We do have AAA. I read your PM and sent that gentleman an email. We will see what he says.
I wonder what the real difference between a 4E and a 4G cabin is? a deck or two higher, but doesn't that mean we are closer to the noisy decks?
Also, last time we cruised, we got a call about 3 weeks prior to, offering us a cheap upgrade to an outside window cabin. We took it. Does that usually happen or not really? I've got 1 official past cruise on my record, but my fiance has probably 5 to 10. I recall my cruise card was blue and hers was gold I think. Wonder if that triggered the call?
Of course that cruise was in the bahamas, and this one is in the mediterranian and in June, vs that one before was in Oct. Might be a whole different level of busy.
Looks like the base rate is 790 for the inside per person, and the window rate is about 920 per person. So, 130 bucks per person, but it starts to add up quickly so trying to keep it in reason.
With regards to the flight, I see that United charges $100 for the second checked bag. On top of that their literature reads like its $100 per CHECKIN interval. Which mean to me, mean $100 going and $100 coming back. However, on the booked flight site, and the email confirmation I got it indicates the following: $100 fee going from Atlanta to Frankfurt. $100 going from frankfurt to Barcelona and $100 going from Venice to Atlanta (But that flight also changes planes in Frankfurt.
So, it does not make good sense. Both plane channges are only about 2 hours difference between landing and leaving so I'm sure we aren't going to collect our luggage and recheck it. it should be a standard deal. Any insight on this?
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