Booking My Norwegian NCL Alaska Cruise — and Stacking Fail With Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points

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As I am someone who does not gamble at all, you may find it funny that I hold near-top status with Caesars Rewards. I got this through a status match from Wyndham hotels Diamond status. Why do this?

a group of cards on a table

By using this number, I can call Norwegian Cruise Lines Casinos at Sea and book a cabin up to 20% off under most circumstances and even use any other discounts or promotions offered, as well as apply Cruise Next coupons from my account.

Sweet, right?

Now notice I also have my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card in the shot above because that, too, is one of my go-to travel cards for booking cruises. I can get 1.5 cents of value for each point redeemed when the Chase Cruise partnership books my cruise.

But how do you blend these two?

The simple answer is you have NCL Casinos at Sea book your cruise but pay nothing, that is, just put it on hold. Then you have to call Chase and they send in a request (that takes about a week) to take over the reservation and book it using points – even paying with points the daily gratuities!

My current Alaska cruise was not booked years out like most of my sailings and was much more rushed when everything started falling into place to make this adventure work, that is, cheap first class air, the hotel right across from the train station on points, the hotel in Vancouver before flying home and more.

a cruise ship in the water

The other advantage of booking so close to sailing was that prices had really come down. This is often the case when they have sailings with lots of open rooms. While June – August sailings are normally 100% booked up, May is so early and often cold that our sailing was light with passengers, and thus the reason for the very affordable balcony cabin offer.

But there was an issue.

You see, back in the day, Chase could instantly take over an NCL Casinos at Sea reservation right over the phone without the lengthy send in the request form. With my sailing so close to the time of booking, it could only be held at NCL for 24 hours without payment.

Rats!

The very nice Chase rep informed me that the only shot I had was to pay in full with my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card and then hope they could, after the fact, apply points to wipe out the charge.

That did not happen.

I went way up the food chain with Chase asking for help. But the booking folks could only help with new bookings — not existing charges. The Chase side would not help with an existing charge and only directed me to the Chase cruise booking partners.

I was stuck.

So, a lesson learned: If I am going to take advantage of using both my NCL Caesars discount and then pay for the voyage with Chase Ultimate Rewards® points I have to book far enough out that my reservation can be held for a week or more! – René

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Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. FrequentFloaters and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. All information related to any credit cards above was collected independently by Frequent Floaters and was neither provided nor reviewed by the respective card issuers

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
René de Lamberthttp://www.FrequentFloaters.com
René de Lambert has been a travel blogger for over 10 years covering the travel industry - including cruising.

7 COMMENTS

  1. @René – I had no idea that you could get 5/10/20% discounts on cruises on NCL, Oceania and Regent based on Caesars Rewards status. Great tip!!! I’m assuming that I would not be able to utilize my travel advisor to book these reservations (they offer me a ~10% rebate on the fare), so I would only benefit by being Diamond status to exceed the 10% “hurdle” that comes with Platinum status. It looks like the best way to qualify as a Wyndham Diamond is to have the Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Card with a $95 annual fee. Is this how you qualified?

  2. How far out was the sailing when you were trying to book?
    Would this play work for cruises a month out? Noticed my Iceland/Greenland cruise next week dropped massively in price a couple weeks back so we upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite.
    So I want to start playing around with more closer in bookings.

  3. I normally book mine through United Cruises and they can take into account any discounts I have when I start the booking thorugh NCL. I then get about 10 miles per cruise dollar on my United account and then I get 3x points on my Reserve card. My recent Australian cruise earned me 66,000 United points. I find those United points harder to earn and only use my Chase points for Hyatt. I am sure Delta and American have similar deals.

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