Cruising has become a popular way to travel but comes at a considerable expense when factoring in all the additional fees. But did you know there are ways of winning a cruise vacation or snagging complimentary cruises? The idea of taking a free cruise sounds incredible.
Who wouldn’t want to relax by the pool while you listen to the sound of the ocean and watch the scenery change as you sip on a martini? While you may think this is impossible, it can certainly be a reality; your reality! Follow this guide to learn how to take a cruise for free.
Credit Card Points
Credit cards can be a fantastic way to help pay for vacations, flights, and hotels; provided that you keep your balance at zero and have control of your spending. To maximize the benefit of your credit card and earn points, use it to pay for everything; and I mean everything.
Instead of cash or debit, use your credit card instead. That includes your groceries, gas, cell phone bill, cable, internet, utilities, insurance, everything.
Don’t change the way you shop and don’t spend more for the purpose of earning points. It’s important to keep your balance at zero so pay it off each month.
While there are many credit cards out there, find the one that best suits your needs. We have two that we use to collect travel money. Our primary one has made us CAD 1,800 of free cash in one year.
The secondary one has earned us two long-haul airline tickets in North America, up to a value of CAD 750 each.
Most people already utilize a favorite travel credit card that collects points, but these are the cruise line’s exclusive credit cards you may want to consider. Some have additional bonuses of an extra 5,000 points.
Carnival World Mastercard
With Carnival Mastercard, you will receive a bonus of 10,000 Fun points upon your first purchase using the card or from a balance transfer. Most companies don’t offer a bonus on a transfer, so this is a great perk.
The Fun points are worth USD 100 towards your cruise booking. Using the card will earn you two Fun points for every dollar spent on Carnival purchases and one Fun point everywhere else. Also, the card carries no annual fee.
Princess Cruises Reward Visa
The Princess Cruises Visa card has the same perks as the Carnival card. It includes the 10,000 points for the first purchase, which is worth USD 100 towards a cruise or onboard credit.
Additionally, it is free of fees and earns the same points: 2 times on Princess purchases and one time everywhere else.
Disney Premier Visa
The Disney card charges a USD 49 annual fee. For this, you will receive a USD 250 credit after spending USD 500 in purchases within the first three months. You will also save 10% on select Disney and Star Wars purchases.
The card also earns 2% in Disney Rewards Dollars on card purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and most Disney locations. Earn 1% on all your other card purchases.
Holland America Reward Visa
The Holland America Visa has no annual fee, and you earn a bonus of 5,000 points after your first two purchases. Like the other cards, Holland America purchases earn two points per dollar spend and one for one, on everything else.
Celebrity Cruises Visa
The Celebrity Cruise Visa has no annual fee. Receive 10,000 Bonus Points after making a qualifying transaction in the first 90 days of account opening – worth USD 100 in onboard credit.
Earn 2 points per USD 1.00 spent on qualifying purchases with Celebrity Cruises and their sister brands (Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises). Earn 1 point per USD 1.00 spent on all other purchases.
Royal Caribbean Visa
Like most other cruise lines cards, the Royal Caribbean Visa has no annual fee. Instantly receive 10,000 Bonus Points after making a qualifying transaction in the first 90 days of account opening. This is worth USD 100 in onboard credit.
It also earns 2 points per USD 1.00 spent on qualifying purchases with Royal Caribbean and our sister brands Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises). Earn 1 point per USD 1.00 spent on all other purchases.
Norwegian Cruises Mastercard
The Norwegian Mastercard is a no-annual-fee card. Get 10,000 bonus WorldPoints reward points after you make a qualifying transaction in the first 90 days of account opening. That’s enough for USD 100 off your next cruise.
Then earn 3 WorldPoints points for every USD 1.00 spent on Norwegian purchases and 1 WorldPoint point per USD 1.00 on all other purchases. Then redeem points for stateroom upgrades, travel discounts, onboard credits, car rentals, hotel stays, or gift cards.
You’ll also get exclusive redemption opportunities for last-minute cruises and other special offers.
Earn Complimentary Cruises By Gambling
If you’re a high-roller and spend time in the casino during your vacation, you could be earning yourself a complimentary cruise. Whether you play slots, a round of poker, or blackjack, avid playing wins you free drinks, specialty dinner meals, and cruise vouchers.
Also, frequent casino goers get invitations to exclusive tournaments where the cash prizes are significant.
Once onboard a cruise ship, visit the casino and join the players club. While you’re there, pick up your free lanyard, one of the complimentary freebies on a cruise.
Once you’re a member, start playing, rack up player points and have fun. The more you play and spend, the more points you accumulate. Playing in a casino is much like earning points on a rewards credit card.
Once you’re a regular player at casinos on cruise ships, land-based casinos will invite you to their venues and sometimes reward you with free cruise vouchers.
Complimentary cruises are allocated to inside cabins, but cruisers can upgrade to another grade of cruise ship cabin for a fee. Typically, cruise lines cover the base cruise fare and only charge taxes, fees, and service charges or gratuities.
Bingo Cruise Giveaway
Most cruise lines play bingo throughout the cruise, but the prize is generally a free cruise for two on the last night. The award varies by the cruise line.
While some offer the prize cruise in an inside cabin (subject to availability), others give a USD 1000 deposit towards a new booking. Also, there is a time limit to take your free cruise.
Group Travel Earns Free Cruises
If you travel as a group, some members will earn their cruise for free. Consider sailing as a group for family reunions, a birthday cruise, weddings, anniversaries, or for business.
Group travel is easily customizable to suit your needs.
For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line allows two people to sail for free for every 14 passengers and seven cabins booked.
Time Share Presentations
Attend a timeshare presentation, and you could earn a free cruise for two. The prize consists of three days in the Bahamas in an inside stateroom. While the trip is complimentary, the airfare to get to the cruise port is not.
These free cruises are generally not offered to people who live in Florida but people who live further away. Free vacations for timeshare presentations rely on the fact that most won’t use the cruise vouchers due to an airline ticket’s cost.
I attended a timeshare presentation years ago and was given two free cruise tickets for the Bahamas. The trick to utilizing these tickets is to use them as awarded. It’s best not to request an upgraded room.
The company giving the tickets will try to sell you airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, etc., at a higher price than what you can purchase elsewhere. Stick to your guns and take the short free cruise.
In the end, I didn’t take a free cruise because I live on the west coast of Canada. The cost to fly to Florida outweighed the benefit of a three-day cruise.
Lectures And Teaching
It’s common knowledge that you can attend lectures and classes on a cruise vacation. I’ve taken everything from scrapbooking, computer, photography, cooking, watercolor painting, and ballroom dancing classes.
Unfortunately, I still have two left feet and haven’t mastered ballroom dancing. How come they make it look so easy on Dancing with the Stars?
Ocean-going cruises have lots of sea day classes to keep passengers entertained on non-port days.
On the four Alaska cruises I’ve sailed, I attended numerous talks by local naturalists who tell you about the wildlife and eco-system in Alaska.
If you are knowledgeable in any of these fields, you could sail regularly for free if you teach or give a lecture. A friend of mine is a quilting teacher, and she is frequently invited to offer classes on a cruise ship.
Bonus Ways To Cruise For Free
Having A Travel Blog
One of the major draws of having a travel blog is free travel, or travel-related perks. While this all sounds amazing, the truth is, running a blog is a tremendous amount of work.
So, I’m only kidding when I suggest you start a blog. The upside is, companies will offer comps in exchange for blog posts, videos, or promoting their company.
Sometimes, these comps include free cruises. Other times, it could be free products, hotel stays, restaurant meals, or complimentary tours.
While the free perks are NOT the reason to start a blog, having one can certainly earn you a perk or two.
Epic Fails Earn Free Vouchers
Vacations take a considerable amount of planning, and one of the best parts is the anticipation. Nothing is worse than a spoiled holiday when something goes dreadfully wrong.
I’m not talking about a minor mishap like not having hot water for a few hours. While none of us wishes something terrible to happen, sometimes things go wrong.
When the worst happens, cruise lines sometimes reimburse the cruise’s cost, making it free or offering a cruise voucher for a future booking. Obviously, this is not the way anyone wants to earn a free cruise.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know I suffer from celiac and have some major food allergies. During a Mexican Riviera cruise, my waiter served me something I am allergic to, which made me horridly ill.
I was unable to eat or leave my cabin for three days, ruining my vacation. The cruise line admitted fault and offered a cruise voucher for a future booking. While the coupon didn’t cover the next cruise’s entire cost, my portion was less than USD 100.
Now you have learned some of the ways to earn a free cruise, how about some free onboard spending money too?
Happy sailing ~ Karen