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Cruise Lines Desperate – Offering Big Deals (and FREE cancels) to Get You Aboard – But it is Not Enough!

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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.


Oh, to live in interesting times! We are currently living in just such a time. Clearly the travel industry has been simply devastated by the COVID19 virus and it is going to be this way for a while to come. I myself, usually a frequent flyer, am self-grounding myself even though I am not sick at all. I was to fly American Airlines first class this week but will not do so – and will forfeit the miles I spent to buy the tickets because AA will not let me cancel or move the “web special” flights for free (the miles are not worth the change fee). But that is air.

Cruise lines, and their stocks, have been crushed. My favorite cruise line NCL or Norwegian Cruise Lines stock ticker NCLH will soon (if the decline continues) be worth 1/3 of what it was just a few months ago. As a disclaimer, I currently hold no NCLH shares but have, many times, over the past few years held the stock before a cruise to benefit from the shareholder perks of on-board credits.

It does not help that those in power in the US are telling folks to stay off of cruise ships – then again I am also publicly stating there is no way I am getting on a ship for a very long time.

The cruise lines are trying to do what they can to bring folks back. Like what?

Unlike the airlines, that are piece meal offering free 1x changes on new bookings or certain old bookings, NCL is offering a blanket change up to 48 hours before the time of sailing through 30SEPT2020. A very impressive and good start. But there is more.

NCL is famous for offering, when you book a specific cabin, some type of sweet promotion that could include a free drink package (tips not included) or specialty dining (again, tips not included) or a range of other bits. Now they are offering up to $1000 on-board credit if you book a cruise. That is a lot of on-board nonrefundable cash. What could you do with all that NCL money?

You could buy a specialty dining package that, even on a lengthy cruise, could keep you out of main dining every night of your voyage. Impressive. Maybe. Let me explain.

With this much NCL cash “floating around” the specifically dining package will be a very, very popular option (I know this as a frequent floater). Booking reasonable specialty dinning times on a “normal” cruise is somewhat hard to do (i.e. not dining at 9:30PM) with mega NCL cash on-hand this will become a nightmare.

What is much more impressive, as mentioned above, NCL is the offer to allow you to cancel any booked voyage up to 48 hours before the sailing (fyi normally that close to sailing you lose all your payments). So this change, even though for a limited time, is a big deal. There are strings attached. Like what?

  • You do not get your money back – you get NCL spend credit.
  • You do not get other perks on your re-book like the on-board credits offered now.

Bottom line, the cruise lines are sinking fast and these offers, even though they sound big on the surface (of the ocean) they really are not enough. It is going to take a lot more.

OK like what?

Mega travel insurance that includes a ton. Really? Do tell…

If NCL, or any other cruise line, is going to convince me to get on-board they are going to have to cover me COMPLETELY if COVID19 shows up. I mean all medical costs, travel costs, lost income costs as well as free everything on-board if I get sick on-board or have to stay on-board for any extended period of time.

I don’t see this happening.

All of this should get the airlines’ attention. The airlines are offering limited bits to get us on-board again but it is not nearly enough. I posted yesterday a good start – we will see if they listen. Back to the cruise lines.

Let me start by saying I really feel for everyone everywhere who is impacted by this total disaster. From the simply amazing people who work on-board to each port that so benefits from passengers who spend cash to all those who work to make the cruise machine work i.e. dock workers and suppliers etc. That these fine folks are hurting hurts me. Understand this with this next idea I am going to share.

There may be a way we can points “game” the current situation.

I am a currently a HUGE Chase Ultimate Rewards fan. I used to be a big Barclay Card Arrival+ fan until they destroyed what was an amazing card. But the ability to earn UR points at mega levels from all kinds of cards like the INK Cash as well as the Freedom Unlimited as well as the Freedom card (which was seemingly replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex) and then send them all over to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card that I can spend on a cruise at 1.5 cents each is stunning. But only when I spend them.

NCL giving me an option to cancel free and get NCL credit is interesting.

In a way “gaming” this is a way to use this opportunity to lock in my UR points at 1.5 cents each almost as a transfer partner. I can book something expensive, cancel the cruise, and then have a few years to spend my in house NCL credits on a number of sailings and there are ways I can step up the value even more (will blog about that later on).

Anyway, as mentioned, these are interesting times. There is real massive pain still on the horizon for the entire travel industry. It is going to take massive efforts to get folks to travel or even book travel for months to come. – 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.

6 Comments

  1. If a cruise line pay me to get onboard of one of their ships I won’t. BTW, even on normal times (no virus) I will pass. The bigger these ships get the higher is the risk you will get sick. Just way too many people confined in a closed space for too long. No tks!!!!

  2. “Self-grounding”? Really? When the flu is going around you don’t self ground. Why now? The sky is not falling. It’s not the zombie apocalypse. Look at the statistics and compare.

  3. I anticipate that the travel industry will pick up after a substantial number of people who have already had the Covid-19 flu want to kick up their heels. These folks will presumably be immune from further infection, and they will see all the deals and go for it.

    Prices will be cheaper and the crowds will be thinner…ideal for travel.

    • @Miles – Agree. The question is how long will it take. Also, if a vaccine is found, that will change everything VERY quickly.

  4. To things in perspective, in the past nine days 21 Americans have succumbed to COVID19 while more than 900 have died from gun violence. I am not changing any of my flight plans but I won’t be booking a cruise on Corona Cruise Line’s Petri Dish anytime soon.

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