As mentioned last week, July was spent exploring Northern Europe’s Baltic region. With smaller capitals, this area lends itself pretty well to touring by cruise ship. Oceania Cruises has a great (albeit, very busy) itinerary that offers three full days in St. Petersburg, Russia; full day stops in other Baltic capitals and an open-jaw format that began in Stockholm, Sweden and finished in Copenhagen, Denmark. By adding on hotel days in the start/end cities, this trip gave a very good overview of the region.
As repeat cruisers with Oceania Cruises there are several things that appeal to us about the line:
- great itineraries with longer time in port than comparable cruise lines
- caters primarily to well-traveled adults
- elevated food/wine quality
- tasteful and sophisticated ship décor
- moderate to small ship size
While I did use points for hotel stays on this trip, as you’ll see below my “bang per point” was not especially impressive. Mid-to-higher end, well-located city center properties were running about $350-450/night this July and using points was an easy/lazy way to avoid tacking on several thousand dollars above and beyond airfare, cruise fare and sightseeing/dining costs.
Sheraton Stockholm: Category 5 – Standard Award Night 12-16,000 points/night
Natty Gal Point Usage: 17,750 for Superior Room (standard room award not available)
TPG valuation $0.025/point
$443.75 per night valuation…OUCH!
Property Pros: Great location 5 minutes walk from the train station/Arlanda Express train, 5-10 minute walk to Gamla Stan, the new town and City Hall (site of the Nobel dinner), upgraded room had a great view of City Hall and Gamla Stan, on-site coffee shop made for cheap, easy breakfasts
Property Cons: Lobby a bit chaotic on changeover days when people are transferring to/from cruise ships
Marriott Copenhagen: Category 8 – Standard Award Night 40,000 points/night
Natty Gal Point Usage: 50,000/night 40,000 standard + 10,000 upgrade (the only rooms available)
TPG valuation $0.007/point
$350.00 per night valuation ($280 base, $70 upgrade)
Knowing we just didn’t want to lay out any more cold, hard cash on this trip, I opened cards specifically to get the points for these stays. The Marriott card was opened in February and the SPG card in March, 2016. With the bonus point offers at the time, minimum spend requirements, etc. it was easy to get enough points for the stays within a month or two.
Property Pros: Good location short walk from train station (which goes to airport), Tivoli and the top of the Stroget pedestrian street; lovely waterfront setting, the rooms have enormous windows
Property Cons: A bit far out from some other sites such as Little Mermaid, Amalienborg Palace, etc., big business hotel, bit lacking in charm (as you’d expect)