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Delta made a huge change to its cruise booking program — and it’s one you’re going to like


Getting a big pile of Delta SkyMiles when booking a cruise just got easier.

In a major overhaul unveiled Wednesday, the Delta SkyMiles Cruises program switched to an award structure that offers 2 Delta SkyMiles for every dollar spent on a cruise.

That could bring significantly more mileage earnings than the former program for some cruisers, depending on how much they typically spend on cruises.

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The program is also rebranded as Delta Cruises, with a new website, cruises.delta.com.

Under the former system of mileage earning, Delta Cruises customers would earn a fixed number of Delta SkyMiles when booking a cruise, no matter how much they spent on the trip.

The fixed number started at 1,500 miles for a voyage of up to five nights and maxed out at 10,000 miles for a sailing of 13 nights or more. A typical seven-night cruise would bring 3,000 miles.

Under the new program, some cruise bookings earn more miles, while other cruise bookings earn less than with the previous system.

On average, SkyMiles members will earn significantly more miles than they would have earned under the old structure, according to an executive at World Travel Holdings, the travel agency group that runs the Delta Cruises program. That’s what we see, too.

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Related: The ultimate guide to picking a cruise line

For example, let’s assume you book a seven-night cruise for your family of four this summer on Royal Caribbean’s new Wonder of the Seas in a midship balcony cabin. The pricing right now for such a scenario for an August trip is around $4,400, not including taxes and fees.

Under the old Delta Cruises earning system, you would earn a flat number of 3,000 miles for such a booking. Under the new system, you would earn around 8,800 miles.

That’s a decent, if not amazing, number of bonus miles for booking a cruise. TPG currently values Delta SkyMiles at 1.41 cents each, putting the value of 8,800 SkyMiles at $124. It’s far better than the value under the former system — 3,000 miles would be worth $42.30.

Keep in mind that Delta Cruises sometimes offers additional bonus miles with specific lines as part of short-term promotions. A recent Delta Cruises offer brought an additional 20,000 bonus miles when booking a cruise with Disney Cruise Line, for instance.

Delta Cruises also sometimes offers bonus miles for customers who book using an American Express card.

As a result, total miles earnings when booking a cruise through Delta Cruises can end up being far higher than just a 2-miles-per-dollar ratio.

Delta Cruises’ terms and conditions

Note that the spending we’re using here to calculate mileage earnings is the cruise fare before port charges, taxes and fees. Under the new system, cruisers will not earn miles on the port charges, taxes and fees portion of a cruise’s cost.

Here’s a look at all the specific rules around the new Delta Cruises mileage earning system:

  • You will get 2 miles for every dollar spent on cruise fare.
  • You will not earn miles on the added cost of port charges, taxes and fees.
  • You will not earn miles on the cost of travel insurance, if you add that to your booking.
  • There is no limit to how many miles you can earn.
  • Mileage awards are per cabin and are only awarded to one passenger per cabin.
  • You must book through Delta Cruises to get the miles.
  • Mileage will post to your Delta SkyMiles account six to eight weeks after you cruise.

In all, there are 21 cruise lines that participate in the Delta Cruises program, including all the major big-ship brands such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line.

Which credit card should I use to book?

Looking to earn even more Delta SkyMiles? You can maximize your purchase with Delta Cruises by using a Delta SkyMiles credit card, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. It earns 2 miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases — including flights and Delta’s vacation offerings. This card is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first six months of cardmembership.

Don’t have a Delta-affiliated card? Use a card that earns bonus points on cruises. A good option is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel, including cruises. Right now, you can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

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