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United just announced you can use your MileagePlus miles to book cruises at Cruises.MileagePlus.com.
New options to use your miles are always welcome, but you should always take a skeptical view of options that don’t involve flights. That’s because the savings your miles offer are often subpar when you redeem for things besides flights.
And unfortunately it looks like cruises are no exception.
We ran the numbers on several cruises and stateroom types, and in every case we found United is giving you about 0.8 cents per mile in savings, which is not a good deal.
You should stay away from this option if you plan to fly in the next year or two.
3 day Royal Caribbean Cruise Miami to Caribbean
$1,057 or 124,235 miles
$457 or 56,353 miles
$449 or 52,824 miles
1 Day Princess Cruises Vancouver to Seattle
$179 or 20,341 miles
$129 or 14,659 miles
$99 or 10,114 miles
$79 or 8,977 miles
7 day Seabourn cruise Istanbul to Black Sea
$2,499 or 283,977 miles
Consider that you can book a flight to Europe for 60,000 miles roundtrip, and a flight often costs $1,000 or more, getting you 1.6 cents or more in savings per mile, twice as much as the cruise deals at 0.8 cents.
The only time we can see this being a decent deal is if you don’t have many miles in your account and want to use them for a short cruise, like the one night Vancouver to Seattle excursion that costs less than 10,000 miles.
But really, you’re better off building up your account to earn enough for an award flight, which will yield much higher savings.
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