Large ship cruising is as popular as ever. The hot new destinations are the South Pacific and Australia/New Zealand. The old standbys such as Alaska and the Caribbean continue to attract cruisers due to the cost-effectiveness of getting to the departure ports.
Marriott owners have several choices on how to pay for a cruise:
- Use Marriott Rewards points – 145,000 points = $1,000 cruise credit.
- Trade a week with Interval International and receive credit towards a cruise – the cruise credit averages $600.
- Use Club points towards a cruise – Club points needed for a 7 day cruise for 2 people range from 3,750 to 13,000 Club points plus taxes and fees. Upgrade the cabin or share the cabin with your children and your out-of-pocket cost escalates.
I checked on a cruise for a client to the Caribbean, 4 people to a cabin. This cruise cost $4,760. Marriott required 7,500 Club points plus $2,160. If you own a Platinum week in Arizona, you would need to elect Club points for 3 years to acquire 7,500 points. Don’t you think giving up 3 years of timeshare usage is worth much more than the difference of $2,600? I do.
One of my clients called Marriott and was told that a Regent Seven Seas cruise to Australia in a balcony cabin, costing $23,600, would require 13,000 Club points (sounds like a deal, right?). What they didn’t tell her was the additional cost was $17,100.
What you have to calculate is “what are your weeks worth that would be used to acquire these Club points?”. At a minimum your ownership weeks cost you your maintenance fees — at least $1,000 per week of ownership. In the Regent Seven Seas example above, many of you would need to turn in at least 4 ownership weeks to acquire 13,000 points equivalent to $4,000 in maintenance fees. In this example you save $2,500 but would you not receive more value by staying at your timeshare? You could even rent your week for more than your maintenance fees and use that money to pay for the cruise.
The moral of this story is to pay for your cruise with cash and enjoy your timeshare stays or turn your timeshares into cash by renting them to pay for the cruise.