Background on us: recently retired, currently MR Platinum, getting close to Lifetime Platinum, also Marriott Vacation Club weeks and points owner at the Premier Plus level, now "grandfathered" into the Chairman's Level.
Over the past 3 years we have taken two Celebrity Cruises and one Collette land tour using MVCI points.
2013: 7 night cruise to Alaska on the Celebrity Solstice.
2014: 10 day Collette Sunny Portugal land tour (which we paired up with a week at the MVCI Marbella Beach Resort).
2015: 11 night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise on the Celebrity Reflection (we just returned to the US a few days ago).
Each of these three vacations was fabulous, and we have no regrets about taking any of them (we might choose a different itinerary for an Alaska cruise, but that is about it). My question is as to the relative value of using points for either type of non-timeshare-stay vacation.
We have tentatively reached the conclusion that cruises are not the best use of our points. Since cash cruise or tour costs, as well as MVCI points cost for cruises change over time depending on availability, it is difficult to go back and reconstruct after the fact what the costs would have been at the time of booking. Next time we plan one of these vacations we will try to figure it at the time. But I will describe why we feel this way, and would welcome thoughts from others who have considered this question.
The reason for our impression is this: with the Collette land tour, the points cost was whatever it was, the only "extra" charges were purely optional excursions such as a boat tour during an otherwise free day at one of the locations in Portugal. In other words, our 7500 points (as I recall) bought us a 10 day tour, including guide and driver, hotel stays, a certain number of meals, and transportation from location to location within the tour. Period.
On the other hand, with the cruises, the 7500 points only bought us into a broad category of stateroom type (veranda or balcony), and did not include fees, taxes, port charges and some other amenities that would have been available if the cruise was booked for cash. To give more detail, while port charges and taxes are always itemized separately, the veranda category could have put us in an obstructed or partially obstructed veranda stateroom, so to get a better category of veranda in a better location, we paid extra cash fees, At the time we booked, Celebrity was doing its "1-2-3-Go" promotion, under which three amenities were offered "free": Classic Beverage Package, Prepaid Gratuities, and $300 onboard credit. While we don't come close to drinking enough to justify the rack rate of the Classic Beverage Package, there is no doubt that these three amenities combined add up to over $1000 of value for the passengers. But using MVCI points, we were required to pay extra to get these amenities (not full sticker price, but a lot). So, to get a nice, unobstructed stateroom in a good location, with gratuities, Classic Beverage Package, and $300 onboard credit, as well as to pay port charges and taxes, cost us an extra $2200 on top of the 7500 points.
Let me know what you think. Thanks.