Part of my talk at TravelCon was a theory that I might be able to obtain cruise benefits from mLife based on an unwritten rule system. Upon my return, I thought I might have been wrong about this, as the first call to Royal Caribbean resulted in them sticking to the rule book, but things changed yesterday, and it seems I may have been onto something.
Here’s the partnership rules, which outline the mLife and Celebrity (Royal and Celebrity are the same parent company) relationship
Note the terms.. you must earn mLife Platinum or Noir status (not match into it via Hyatt) in point 1, and you get a certain type of cruise in point 3.
During the day in Vegas I earned mlife Gold status, which as you can see does not make you eligible for a free cruise.. but here’s the email, offering a cruise option that is outside of the terms above.
The real thrust of my presentation in Vegas was to create gigs that pay in perpetuity, and while getting a few things for free (dining, drinks, haircuts and such) at the time is good, it really only pays off when you start getting emails like the above, and suddenly your vacation options look a lot better.
How free is free?
I enjoy ‘free’ cruises and have just returned from a week on the brand new Norwegian Escape, and we are headed on a 10 day cruise of Europe from Barcelona in April. NCL prices free differently from Royal Caribbean, who interestingly price differently from Celebrity. Here’s some data points on that, though we should note I am at first offer with Royal/Celebrity, which tends to change based on shipboard reporting.
NCL tends to price as follows for a comp cruise:
$25 per person per day, plus port fees/taxes. You might get this offer for an Inside Stateroom, or for a top suite (I believe the best I have been offered for this rate is Balcony) you can then upgrade that to higher levels. Anything above Mini Suite on NCL (basically just a bigger balcony cabin) leaps up, but to go from Balcony to Mini Suite can run at about $240 pp as you can see from the below.
Note that the 3rd person pricing (Dylan) is free here, but to get that with NCL you need to , else he would be at full fare, rather than $25 per diem. Also, I have no idea why the base rate isn’t $250 pp for this cruise, but am not complaining!
Also, I picked up 4x ‘Cruise Next’ coupons on the Escape, they cost $250 each, but you get $500 against your bill on the cruise (even if you only buy the coupons..) and applied one on my return.
If you were offered a base cabin lower than balcony, you could upgrade to each level (Inside>Oceanview>Balcony>Mini Suite) for a fee, but going from Inside to Mini Suite would cost more than the $240 pp shown above. I believe I was offered an Inside to Mini Suite for $600 pp in the past.
I picked a random date in February for Celebrity. They quoted me $400 for 2 people all in, and $800 for 3 (that kid fare..) I’ve not yet tested to see if I can find a 3rd guest free fare like with NCL, but it is a possibility. My mLife Gold cruise offer is any Caribbean cruise on Celebrity or Royal Caribbean in an inside cabin. For Celebrity, to upgrade that the policy is 30% off the published rate.. which came to a price of about $3000 for a 7 day on the Celebrity Reflection.
Royal Caribbean Pricing
For Royal, I started off with the Oasis of the Seas (mega ship of about 225000 tons) the base fare there was $1220 for 3. I was surprised to see it higher than Celebrity for an inside cabin, though the rep mentioned the fare was absolutely all inclusive, in that it had the service charges along with port fees and charges and other costs prepaid. Upgrading on the Oasis to a balcony came in at around $1500 for an inside view (it’s a weird ship) and about $1900 for an ocean view. Pricing was more aligned with the NCL system, and the rep informed me that you can get a variance of $100-1000 based on how sold out the balcony cabins are on your week.
Overall, I’m super happy that my hairbrained theory in Vegas came true, and tempted to hop on a Celebrity cruise for $800 and haggle for an upgrade onboard. Oh.. and for those who care, I had my second haircut this year onboard the Escape for free 🙂