Ever thought of trading your timeshare week for a cruise, or using your RCI points toward a week long adventure at sea? As many of you may already know, RCI owners are able to book cruises through RCI timeshare exchange by applying unused points, borrowing points from a future year, or banking and trading a weeks time share. RCI will generally use the option for cruise vacations as a selling point for their program, but are they really a good deal? This article will explore the ways to book a cruise through RCI, and look at whether or not trading your timeshare for a cruise is worth it.
Hidden Fees - RCI is glad to post their low costs for cruises on the RCI Cruises website, but be aware that these totals do not include taxes, airfare (if necessary), Port charges, and other government fees. Also be aware that if you are a single traveler, or traveling with an odd number, your rates will be higher due to the fact that all of the prices are calculated based on double occupancy.
Exchange Fee – The following text was taken directly from the RCI Cruises website – “Savings based upon an exchange of a qualified Vacation Week (i.e. any resort that is not in high demand with a good rating will not be accepted by RCI for trade toward a cruise) or RCI Points an calculated prior to the single exchange fee of $199 USD.” So in addition to paying for any taxes, airfare, hidden fees, and all inclusive packages, you will also be charged the standard exchange fee of $199.
All-Inclusive – All of the cruises offered by RCI require you to purchase the all-inclusive option for travel in addition to paying for the actual cruise.
Availability – There is very limited availability when booking a cruise through RCI Cruises, and being flexible with departure and return dates is a must. The prices they promote on their website as their best “deals” are substandard rooms sandwiched on the inside corridor of the boat with no view; not exactly the luxurious accommodations they have promised. **UPDATE 1/09 – As the economy has taken a downturn, more and more luxury rooms have become available on RCI sponsored cruises for deeply discounted rates.
Preferential Treatment – There seems to be a trend in which RCI members with high demand weeks for banking are chosen preferentially for cruise discounts, so that their banked weeks may be offered for a higher price to other consumers; i.e., a person with a week in Hawaii will not be given the same cruise offers as a person with a week in Missouri
When you take into account all of the extra fees added to the base cruise price advertised on the RCI Cruises website, the “deal” seems to fade away. I found many comparable, in some cases the same room/trip, for much less than the price RCI offered the cruise for – and that was WITH either using your points or banking your timeshare week for the cruise. It seems that taking advantage of RCI’s cruise program just is usually not worth the exchange, especially if you are able to use your timeshare week in addition to going on the cruise. My advice, hold on to your timeshare week and search for a cruise elsewhere. By doing so you will end up saving money and have more options with regard to travel dates and room accommodations, not to mention still be able to use your timeshare at another time.
Do you have experience with RCI Cruises? Have you made a timeshare exchange for a cruise using RCI? Share your experience below or on our timesharing forums @ http://rcivip.com/forum
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