I’m floating back into cruising & reaching NCL Platinum status ASAP. Here are my H2O plans!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

NCL SKY RenesPoints blog

I admit it, I have missed cruising (it has been a few years) and I miss NCL. I have not giving them one single dollar of business for a long time now after my last cruise went so badly (broken engine, fire on-board just to name a few issues). But I am ready to get back on the water and I have to say I like NCL ships, their elite program and the overall feel of NCL.

NCL night credits for status

Since I am jumping back in, like with all things travel, I don’t want to be just “anyone”. I want to hold as close to top status as I can with the cruise line. And when I took the time to really look at it, with reasonable goals, that means reaching Platinum status with the new updated NCL elite/rewards program. Thankfully, unlike some hotels chains that come up with simply ridiculous elite names (hello Hyatt-ist) theirs are reasonably simple and can be compared to airlines and other elite programs and names.

ncl elite levels

Also, when you think about it, they only have 4 “real” elite levels. The first one is for almost anyone even if you have only done a 1 day cruse. So to me the first impressive status is Silver when you have hit 30 nights. The last one on the list above is to me like Delta360 – that is, the uber elite level that I doubt I will ever reach.

Thus to me the sweet spot really is Platinum with NCL Latitudes. I will get:

  • Laundry Service 1 free bag
  • Priority Tender Tickets
  • Priority Disembarkation
  • Priority Embarkation
  • Dinner for Two at Cagney’s or Le Bistro with a Bottle of Wine
  • Dinner for Two at Moderno or La Cucina
  • Free Internet 30 free minutes
  • Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
  • Behind-the-Scenes Ship Tour
  • Concierge Service to assist you with specialty restaurant, entertainment and shore excursion reservations

This on top of all the other perks of the lower elite levels makes it so even a basic i.e. cheap cruise with a modest room will get you an amazing amount of perks and privileges. I love this.

So how am I doing this fast? Well, like all things Delta I am doing it by using the program rules to max out all I can. First off I am reaching Platinum i.e. 80 nights credit in just 5 trips. No, I am not doing 5×16 night cruises, but I am doing most of the trips in “cheap” suites and stacking, when I can, with “insider” bonus nights. I am only at 14 nights now but have 2 long-ish suites sailings booked that will put me just a few nights shy of my goal. One more short trip after this and job done!

But I hate paying for travel – any kind of travel. Air, hotels or whatever I like using points whenever I can to reduce my costs. When it comes to ships I try to max everything out with layers. First things first.

At this point in time, unlike airlines that are so full that they will drag you off the flight to make room for flight crews, they are not selling out all cruises. So they still like to work with travel agents and that includes OTAs like Expedia (that also has a rewards program to layer more rewards).

After finding the best deals I can on I do this: TCB>Expedia>NCL to get 12% cash back (even better than AMEX Platinum perks most times btw), plus Expedia points and then call NCL to apply any current promos on top (sometimes this last part works, sometimes not).

expedia back on boats

This is just part of the fun. With Expedia I can make payments over time in any amount I want with any card. I am making those payment via my Barclays Arrival+ card (at least $100 per payment for 10,000 points) and will pay for the cruise via MS on this card one small payment at a time. Oh, and I also used for one cruise an AMEX SYNC offer to prepay the tips separately (and some on-board credit) to get even more cash back!

The best part of all of cruising is it is “lifetime” status unlike the airlines or hotels where you must re- qualify year after year. I really like the fact that once I reach Platinum then every time get on an NCL ship I will be enjoying the elite perks that minimal personal out of pocket will cost me.

Are you a cruise fan? Do you strive for elite status and and stack promotions / offers for max perks as well? Are there other tips you do that I am missing and should be doing too? Let me know in the comments below. – René


Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Achieved Diamond with Royal Caribbean that crosses over to Celebrity and Azamara a couple of years ago. Love the perks and that do not expire – planning ahead for long trips in retirement is the plan. Seems like a nice way to cross the pond if have the time.

    • @Jane – Nice. I know my fellow blogger MJ on Travel is a HUGE Royal Caribbean fan. I have been on one trip and enjoyed it very much – just not as much as NCL 😉

  2. Diamond on Royal.

    I find that non-OTAs give much better group discounts that may save you more than that 12%. Check out before booking. You can also pay over time.

  3. Louis Parker Reply

    buy 100 shares of NCL stock and get shareholder OBC. You can get from $50 to $250 OBC depending on length of cruise

    • @Louis – I am on that one right now. Thanks! (well maybe I will wait till it drops back to around $40/share range)

  4. Thanks for the post. Flying over to Copenhagen at end of May for a 10 night NCL Baltic cruise. Flying over on Virgin Air on bonus Membership Rewards and Arrival Plus covering fuel/tax I hope. CSR paid $300 of the cruise.

    We have taken overall 17 cruises. We normally stay either inside or balcony depending on the deal. We have been on all major cruise lines and really prefer Celebrity. Reflection and Silhouette are amazing ships with awesome service. Understated elegance. 2nd favorite is a tie between Princess and NCL. Nothing like floating the Carribean in the winter, bucket of beer by your side and watching Bears and Vikings on the big screen over the pool. Cruising is like flying Bus. Class but in slow motion.

  5. René,

    I have been on NCL and Holland America. Personally, I prefer Holland America, as did my wife. Our last cruise before she passed was on the NCL Pearl for a music cruise and the ship was just not that enjoyable and our cabin’s head wasn’t properly cleaned. Something I at 6’3″ didn’t notice, but my wife at 5’3″ did.

    Also their Brazilian steakhouse, Moderno Churrascaria, was a big miss. Way too salty and not worth the upcharge… We live in South Florida and went out of Miami (we have lots of good Brazilian steakhouses here). The family sitting next to us demanded a refund and walked out.

    As Florida residents, we also get great last minute deals on cruises in general and if you have a friend that works for NCL, see if they can add you to the friends and family program. You will still get your nights counted, but can get huge discounts on cabins when available.

  6. We have done Holland once and never again. On formal night the hair dryer went missing from out stateroom. We found this out when the wife had her long hair all wet. They could not find one for 2 hours. Water was a little rough and Captain announces he is now turning on stablilzers and he had not done that before to save money. Yes, he actually said that. Entertainment started one night in theater with Old Man River, and continued with music of that genre. While we are 62, that was just too way old for us. I have never seen so many old geezers on a ship too. Never again

  7. I enjoy Norwegian. I’ve been on them a few times. Most recently it was one of the shorter cruises to the Bahamas. The best part was the private island! It is nice the Sky has an open bar. You just have to be careful to not get the pre-made drinks, which are super sweet.

    • I believe i heard a comercial today.for the Sky. The 4 day now goes to Cuba.

  8. Our next cruise on NCL will put us at silver. Took the Escape back in January and loved it. Going back on the Getaway in January.

  9. Currently platinum with Princess and working my way to Elite – Princess has hands down the best top status benefits of any large cruise line. Gold on NCL, working towards platinum. Princess is definitely our favorite, but we like the slight formality of the line. Holland America has the most beautiful ships I’ve seen yet for large cruise lines. Have never enjoyed Celebrity as much as NCL and Princess.

  10. @rene I don’t have the Barclay card so sorry for basic question. If I understand correctly, you make $100 payments using Barclay for points. What do you mean by doing this that you “pay yourself back”?

    • @KathyB – You get 2 points per dollar on Barclays for spend. Once you have 10,000 points you can make a $100 payment for travel then wipe out the charge with points. I can via creative spending earn the points for a cost of 10-20%.

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