I received a marketing e-mail from AA today. It’s definitely not the type of e-mail I would normally consider, but it did a good job getting my attention with a 60,000 mile bonus offer for booking a cruise.
My family likes to cruise, so it piqued my interest just a bit. Cruises are actually the only travel I’ve ever actually used a travel agent for. I’m more than capable of booking my own travel, and I’m actually perfectly capable of booking a cruise by myself. But, the cruise industry has a perverse way of encouraging you not to book directly with them. Generally, most cruise lines offer commissions of between 10% and 30% to travel agents for bookings. But, if you book directly with them, the benefits are usually much smaller than this. The cruise lines have actually gotten a little more generous for direct customers lately, but there’s still plenty of deals to be had by finding a hungry travel agent.
There are downsides. You generally have less control over your reservation prior to sailing, especially for things like getting the cruise line to honor a price drop. But, a 20% haircut can make it worth taking that gable.
While I’m not in the market for a cruise, I decided to see how big and flaming the hoop was that you had to jump through to earn 60,000 miles.
A quick peek at the terms & conditions shows that there’s a 50,000 mile bonus for booking a balcony or suite on Oceania Cruises.
I’ve never cruised Oceania, but heard good things. They cruise all the normal places you would expect a cruise line to go. In my adult life I’ve only cruised on Royal Caribbean, and all of those except for one were in a suite of some sort. I tried to do a quick price comparison to see how people might fare booking this deal. The few cruises I looked at fell into the same category. A base room on Oceania is definitely pricier than Royal Caribbean. But, a balcony is a lot closer than I would have thought. The gap between suites seems to be even narrower.
Bottom line: While I’m not looking to book an Oceania cruise anytime soon, people considering a balcony or a suite cruise should give this offer a look. The miles are worth roughly $1,000, and on some of the cruises it appears you still get the normal onboard credits you might otherwise get booking through a travel agent.