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I can’t believe I am doing this, that is, sailing on Carnival again. Despite being a huge Frequent Floaters fan I have only been on a Carnival ship once and it was, well, beyond uninspiring. To be fair that ship was really, really old and during COVID the ship I sailed on was beached in Turkey and was recycled into who knows what.
This new “free” cruise, on the heels of the 11 day nearly free cruise from my Caesars status match, is a 14-day adventure. I had discounted (no pun intended) the chance for another free cruise because I did not get an e-mail from Carnival with any kind of an offer after submitting my request for a free cruise. But Nick’s recent post on FrequentMiler here on BoardingArea prompted me to take another look if I had perhaps missed something.
When I logged in to my Carnival account, low and behold, while looking at “my offers” I found a proposal for up to a 23-day balcony room cruise for free. To be accurate, the offer was that I spend $200 for the two of us for the cruise and get $200 onboard credit (bad blogger, I did not do screenshots – very sorry). The only cost for this free cruise would be port taxes and “mandatory” daily gratuities.
I did not choose the stunning 23-day from Australia back to the USA via Tahiti but rather a long 14-day sailing that would work around my already busy sailing schedule over the next year or so. Then I paid to upgrade the difference to a massive rear balcony and ended up saving over $3,000 vs. booking this same cruise outright. I could have (other than fees) sailed 100% free for just a side balcony but I am happy to pay a bit for a much better experience for a long sailing.
How am I paying for the cabin upcharge? One of the neat things about Carnival I do like very much is they let you pay any amount (when booked a long way out). I have a bunch of Swagbucks points and each month redeem 2175 of them for a $25 Mastercard gift card and will apply them to my balance (same with Lisa so $50 per month free toward the sailing). I will also look for every opportunity to buy discounted Carnival gift cards and make payments on the balance that way as well.
I can not begin to tell you how much you need to read Nick’s long post and the fact that one credit card with a $95 fee can mean weeks and weeks of either nearly free cruises or massively discounted balcony cruises. Plus, as a very important side note, it will open the eyes to so many who never apply for business card offers and are missing out on such a MASSIVE blizzard of points to add to your travel perks.
Bottom line I am paying $84 per person per day all-in including fees and tips for 25 days of cruising over the next year or so and each of them in a rear balcony cabin. We often talk about points travel is “free” when it never really is but the discounts are so huge that it is, as a wise man once said, “at prices we can afford“!
Plus, for the sake of the blog, it will be fun to revisit the Carnival brand. This will either remind me why I avoid booking their line or if my first experience was not what to expect every time. Now it is time to get busy looking for flights as well as hotel rooms that I can pay for with points as much as possible to make this another epic vacation to remember. René
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