Earning Miles For Booking A Cruise

Since we were going to be headed to Europe to attend the VIII International Parrot Convention, I wanted to maximize our time over there.  One of the ways I chose was a Mediterranean cruise after the conference using Iberia Avios to fly from Tenerife to Venice.  I did consider a shorter cruise and then spending more time in Italy and using trains to get around but decided it would be too much hassle to navigate train stations with large bags.  Also since we would already have formal clothes for the conference evening program, we might as well take a cruise and double the use of our formal clothes.



Since I am collecting United miles for an upcoming trip, I chose United’s cruise booking portal.  Other airlines such as American and US Airways also have cruise portals.  You should also check Cruise Compete to make sure you are getting the best price.  You don’t want to pay more and negate the value of the bonus miles.

Here’s the deal if you don’t have a United Explorer credit card.  Non-Americans should be able to get at least this deal since they can’t get the credit card from Chase.


If you do have the credit card, this is what you get.


For more T&C’s see their website.


I began the process last year of selecting a cruise.  I usually prefer Princess Cruises so I was really hoping they would have a suitable itinerary that was compatible with the conference dates.  Unfortunately they didn’t, their Regal Princess Grand Mediterranean turned around right in the middle of the conference and we would have had to wait 10 days after the conference to join the next cruise.  I waited until October 2013 for all the cruise lines to post their Mediterranean itineraries.  NCL had an itinerary which departed 27 Sept from Venice which worked with our dates as the conference ended 25 Sept and we had the 26th to travel from Tenerife to Venice.  I wanted an itinerary that covered the highlights of Mediterranean Europe and came up with this one.  As you can see, United Cruises does offer substantial discounts on cruises in addition to giving you miles.  This is similar to what I found last year when I was researching the cruise I booked.  I went with the cheapest indoor category as this is a port-intensive cruise and we would only be using the cabin to sleep.  On a Panama Canal itinerary, I recommend a balcony as you have a lot more to look at!   I also managed to get a $25 onboard credit, bottle of wine and free cover charge in the Italian restaurant onboard the ship so I got a killer deal!



At the time of booking (Oct 2013), I had a United Explorer Visa so used it to pay the deposit.  They had a special deal going where you only pay the $24.99 booking fee, then defer the $400 deposit until 3 months before the cruise.

In Jan 2014, the annual fee came due on the United Explorer and I tried several times with Chase retention to get the fee waived with no luck.  When making the decision to cancel the card, I had to weigh up the difference between using the card to get an extra 2 miles per $ and paying $95 annual fee vs cancelling the card, saving the $95 and using a Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay for the cruise which gets 2 miles per $ on all travel purchases which includes cruises.  I chose to cancel the Explorer and use the CSP to pay for the cruise.


The cruise ended on 9 Oct.  Just today, I saw the miles post to my United Mileage Plus account so I’d say it was excellent service from United Cruises and I would certainly use them again to book another cruise, the only exception being the Parrot Lover’s cruise when you need to book with the sponsoring agency.  I was pleased to note that the miles i got included the full price of the cruise including port taxes and $24.99 booking fee.

Coming in 2015 – a new series on how to use cruises to get you to birding hotspots!

Recently Returned From Tenerife & The VIII International Parrot Convention

You probably didn’t notice because I had pre-written posts scheduled to appear daily on this blog, but I was away for over  a month.  The main focus of the trip was to attend the world’s top parrot conservation conference in Loro Parque, Tenerife – VIII International Parrot Convention.  This amazing conference is held every 4 years and I had been to the 2010 one and loved it!  For readers coming from the miles & points community think of it as FTU on steroids with people coming from all over the world!

Since we were traveling all the way from Australia to Europe in business class, I wanted to maximize the time we were over there so I had a pretty convoluted flight schedule booked.  I wanted to visit Israel since I hadn’t been there since the mid-80’s and my husband had never been there.  Since most of our trips are birding/eco-tourism type trips, I wanted to do something different so we took a Mediterranean cruise after the conference.  Since the cruise didn’t stop in Monaco, I used miles to slot in a 2 day stop-over in Nice before the conference.  None of this would have been possible without the extensive use of miles and hotel points!

I will be elaborating in further detail on how I booked everything and how I maximized my miles and points after my Tasmania series is finished but for now, here is a synopsis of the trip.  Since the Israel, Europe & cruise parts are off-topic for this blog, I won’t be elaborating on what we did and saw there but just covering the parts that pertain to miles and points as it shows how you can take a business trip and maximize it.

BNE-BKK-IST-TLV business class – outbound leg of US Airways award before they left Star Alliance for OneWorld.

2 nights Crowne Plaza Jerusalem – IHG points

2 nights Park Plaza Orchid, Tel Aviv – Club Carlson points with 2nd night free

TLV-IST-NCE economy class – one way award using United Mileage Plus

2 nights Radisson Blu Nice – Club Carlson points with 2nd night free

NCE-MAD-TFN economy class – one way award booked with Iberia Avios

5 nights at Hotel Botanico, Tenerife as part of conference package, paid cash (actually Chase Ink)

TFN-MAD-VCE economy class – one way award booked with Iberia Avios

1 night Comfort Inn Diana – Choice Rewards points

12 Day Grand Mediterranean NCL cruise – booked with United Cruises to earn points, also some minor manufactured spending is possible on cruise ships.

BCN-ZRH-FCO-PEK-SIN-BNE business class – return leg of afore-mentioned US Airways award)  This one got pretty convoluted as it was hard to find space in business class and I was trying to get a 12 hour layover in Beijing on the return for a quick trip to the Great Wall.

As one might expect with any trip booked so far in advance (I was pretty much right on top of it at the 330 days mark), there were dramas, schedule changes and world events that threatened to wreak havoc on my carefully planned trip.  Did all go as planned?  Tune in after a month or so when I start blogging this trip in detail!