Thinking about booking a cruise with The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection — the new cruising arm of Ritz-Carlton? Here’s the good news if you hope to keep your cash outlay down: It’s one of the few cruise brands where you can use points to pay for a trip.
It’s also one of the few cruise brands where you can earn points when paying for a trip in cash.
That’s because The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection is participating in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program.
Specifically, Marriott Bonvoy members are able to earn and redeem points on The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruises, as well as enjoy elite status perks on voyages. This is welcome news considering that some exclusive Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties don’t participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program and Ritz-Carlton properties do not offer the same range of benefits for elite members that other high-end Marriott-associated labels do.
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That said, the earning and redemption rates and elite perks for Bonvoy members booking The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruises are significantly different than they are for Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotel stays. Below is a guide to everything you need to know.
Earning Marriott points and elite status on The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
Marriott Bonvoy members earn 5 points per dollar spent on cruise fares when booking The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection trips. They also earn points on hotel packages at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels booked through the brand.
Note that members do not earn points for spending on incidentals, and elite members do not earn their usual points bonuses on spending. Everyone just earns a flat rate of 5 points per dollar.
The 5 points per dollar are good but not great, of course. By comparison, the majority of Marriott hotels — including Ritz-Carlton properties — offer 10 points per dollar spent on stays, including on-property charges such as restaurant tabs and spa bills.
The usual exception is for Marriott’s long-term stay brands, including Residence Inn and Homes & Villas by Marriott, where members typically earn 5 points per dollar.
In addition to the above, Marriott cobranded credit card holders earn the same points bonuses when booking a The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruise that they do on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
On top of that base earning rate, here’s how many points you will accrue on The RItz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruise fares depending on the Marriott credit card you have:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 3 bonus points per dollar on eligible purchases.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 6 bonus points per dollar on eligible purchases.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 6 bonus points per dollar on eligible purchases.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 6 bonus points per dollar on eligible purchases.
Given how high fares are for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection sailings (five-night sailings start at $4,600 per person), this could really boost your earnings dramatically.
In addition to award points, Bonvoy members booking a The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruise also receive one elite night credit per night on board. Additionally, the cruise fare and hotel package rate apply toward the annual qualifying spending requirement for top-tier Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite status.
Redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points on The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
The redemption structure for using points to pay for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruises also works quite differently from traditional hotel stays. Points have a fixed value, so there are no “sweet spots” to speak of. You also don’t need sufficient points to cover your entire trip.
Here’s how it works: You can redeem a minimum of 180,000 points toward a flat $1,000 savings on the cruise fare. After that, you can redeem increments of 90,000 points toward a $500 savings, up to the entire cruise fare. As with paid bookings, you must call to book.
That’s quite a lot of points, for sure. Assuming you booked the least expensive sailing currently available on The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, with a fare of $4,600 per person, you’d need more than 800,000 points to cover the full cost of the trip. That’s not per room but per person. Also, it’s for the least expensive rooms on the ship.
Some top cabins on longer sailings can cost $30,000 per person or more. If you want to book one entirely using points, you’d need 5.4 million or more points. Again, on a per-person basis.
This redemption rate equates to about 0.55 cents per Marriott point, which is well below TPG’s valuation of 0.84 cents per point, but the same you’d get when redeeming for vacation homes through Homes & Villas by Marriott.
Marriott also lets you redeem points toward cruise bookings through its Cruise With Points program. In that case, redemptions start at 63,000 points for a $250 credit, yielding an even lower 0.4 cents per point in value, so at least luxury cruisers will do better than that.
Although Bonvoy elite members might not earn bonus points on their voyages, their status will still get them special perks on board. The benefits are different from those offered by hotels since the cruises are already all-inclusive.
Here’s an overview of the benefits, broken down by status level. The benefits will apply to the elite member, plus any companions staying in the same suite.
|Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite
|Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite
|Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite
|Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite
|Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite
|Private invitation to Marriott Bonvoy elite reception
|Choice of in-suite welcome gift (varies by status level)
|Complimentary first evening laundry pressing
|Priority boarding and departure
|Early access to S.E.A. specialty restaurant reservations
|Complimentary laundry throughout the cruise
It’s good to see that Marriott has thought through how to reward its elite members on The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruises with perks like early restaurant reservations and complimentary laundry. However, in our opinion here at TPG, it would have been more impressive if suite upgrades or some sort of bespoke service had been included for top-tier Ambassador Elites.
The earning and redemption rates for The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection cruises may seem a bit lackluster compared to the rates found for hotel stays in the Marriott Bonvoy program. However, it’s great news that the brand is participating in the program.
At least Marriott Bonvoy members can earn some points on voyages and have the option to redeem points for savings — albeit at a low-value rate. Further, there are some tangible benefits for elite members.
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