The 7 Step Checklist to Earn a Free Cruise


I DID THIS! I used this plan and successfully got a 100% FREE cruise. I spent $0 dollars out of pocket. That’s right, ZERO for a week long cruise.

I’ve left my original blog post below so you can read through it, but since my original post I’ve refined, mastered and added more steps to earn my free cruise.

Want to know how I did it? I’m happy to send you my free guide,“The 7 Step Checklist to Earn a Free Cruise”.

Simply enter your name and email in the box to the right or scroll to the end of this post, with 7 steps to get started earning your own free cruise.


April 14, 2014

I’m a huge fan of cruising. Since I went on my first one in 2006 I’ve averaged about one a year. (Though sadly it’s been a while since my last one.) And I’ve got some really crazy stories from the characters I’ve met like the time I played family feud with the golden girls.

Dollar for dollar it’s a tremendously good deal. For one price you’re getting your hotel, meals and entertainment all taken care of. You also get to visit a foreign country or two. And it’s usually much less expensive than any other options, especially if you book last minute or so. Try getting a clean hotel, unlimited gourmet food and full day’s worth of entertainment for the same price as a day on a cruise ship.

So after trudging through another winter and longing for the Caribbean air I hadn’t experienced in a while, I decided that come the next winter, roughly January/February of 2015, I was definitely going on a cruise. Then I thought, what could be better than going on a cruise?… How about going on a cruise completely for free?

Challenge Accepted


Remember, your goals and resolutions don’t have to exist only around New Year’s. Create new ones whenever you get a good idea. My good idea (I think it’s good anyway) is to craft a plan that will get a completely free cruise. My goal from now until the time I want to cruise, roughly January/February, is to be able to get a 100% free cruise.

Not just discounted, but a completely free cruise. My roughly nine month goal is to walk on board and as the ship departs, turn to the person next to me and say, “You know I paid zero dollars for this cruise…”

So am I talking in riddles? How is this possible? No I’m not planning on going on “Steve’s discount rowboat cruises.” And I’m not planning on stowing away or working on the ship. Though Earl over at Wandering Earl has a great writeup of his time spent with a cruise job. Four words are going to get me a completely free cruise. Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. Okay maybe that’s four and a half words.

Barclay Arrival World Mastercard

From opening the card, receiving the 40,000 mile welcome bonus and using it for some everyday spending, I currently have just over 43,000 miles/points. The Barclaycard works a bit differently as other reward cards, as you don’t earn reward miles in the classic sense. Instead you wipe out the charges at 1 cent per 1 mile. 10,000 miles = about $100 in redemption. If you buy a plane ticket that costs $200 and you have 20,000 miles, you just drag and drop and it removes the charge like it never happened.

My non-negotiables for the cruise are:

A) I want to go on a ship that’s in the mid to higher end range of quality
B) I want the trip to be at least seven nights long
D) I want to go to the caribbean.
C) I want to visit at least one country or territory I’ve never visited.

My goal is to continue to accumulate as many rewards as possible on my card so I can redeem for a completely free cruise. So how will I do this? Here’s 3 keys I’ll remember.

1) Don’t spend more than I would normally.

Sure I could spend thousands of dollars on clothes or electronics and earn points. “See, look at all the points I got!” But the key is not to spend dollars to earn pennies in rewards. A free $500 cruise is great, but not if I go $600 into debt. I’ll only spend what I normally would and just use the credit card as needed. From gas, to groceries, gym membership, utilities, cell phone bill and more. Over time I won’t overspend on the things I need but I’ll still be racking up points.

If I decide to apply for new cards and get additional bonuses, I’ll have to balance this out with new cards I’m applying for since some of my spending will go to those new options.

2) Track, Track, Track.

If you have a goal, especially financial, it’s vital to come up with a plan and track your success. “I want to go on free cruise,” is nice to say. But if you think it’s just going to happen, you’ll find there wasn’t really a plan in place when you come up short. So I’m going to keep good records of all the miles I earn and I can use towards the cruise.

3) Consistent updates.

Every two or three weeks I’m going to evaluate where I am and how I’m doing. I’ll check my progress, start looking at options and figuring out what’s feasible. It’s important to stay on top of a plan to ensure it works out.

So that’s a new goal for 2014 – to go on a cruise for exactly $0.00. A 100%, completely, unequivocal, free ticket on a Caribbean cruise by approximately this time nine months from now. And… GO!


Me again. This blog post was only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got lots more information, more updated and detailed tips, and additional options to earn a free cruise.

Now that you’ve read my original, way back in the day, post on my attempt to get a free cruise, take a look at a more in-depth write up of how to earn enough to get a free cruise.

Get my guide, “The 7 Step Checklist to Earn a Free Cruise”, by subscribing below.

I’ll email it to you immediately so you can begin planning how to earn your free vacation. It’s 100% free as my gift to you.



  1. Margo
    April 14, 2014 / 5:45 pm

    I have had good success in the past using my points from the arrival card to pay for all our onboard expenses. We are planning a cruise in March and am debating on cashing in some of our Ultimate reward points to defray the cost of the cruise., not a great use of our points though, we will see. Cant wait to see what you do

  2. Steve Bierfeldt
    April 15, 2014 / 1:50 pm

    Wow Margo that’s great! “All onboard expenses” is something I’m wrapping my head around and excited to test out.

  3. Brent
    May 30, 2014 / 9:53 am

    I love to cruise as well and we will be going on our 10th cruise to Bermuda next week. Although I am paying for this one with cash I have taken 6 cruises for FREE using points for both the air and the cruise itself.

    I wish there were more options to using points for cruising besides the Barclays Arrival and other cash back cards. I have not found many ways to cover the costs except using tons of AMEX Reward points which have a horrible 1.3 to 1 conversion rate.

    I hope to learn more from you and others.

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      May 30, 2014 / 10:19 am

      Brent, it sounds like I could definitely learn from you. Can you give me more details on how you’ve paid for cruises using points? Which cards or points programs? I’m eager to learn more and it sounds like you’re a good example to learn from!

      • Brent
        May 30, 2014 / 10:49 am

        I was lucky when I was working as a VP of a group of construction companies. We put everything on our AMEX cards and I usually got about 1 million American Express Reward points every year. I simply used those to book the cruises through American Express Travel. The problem is the exchange rate: 1.3 AMEX Rewards to 1. Therefore, for a $1,000 cruise cost which should take about 100,000 points, it takes 130,000 AMEX Rewards points. Not the best use of point but I was getting so many of them it didn’t matter.

        Now that I am retired I am much more careful about how to burn my points. I am using points from my Barclays Arrival card and my wife’s Arrival card to help pay for over half the cost of our Bermuda cruise next week leaving from New York. This Bermuda cruise is on the new Royal Princess ship which only launched last year and is still in its inaugural year. I can’t wait………………

        • Steve Bierfeldt
          May 30, 2014 / 1:09 pm

          Wow that’s great. Brent could you circle back with me when you return and fill me in? I’d be very interested to know the ins and outs from someone who used the Barclay card on the ship and then on board. I’m especially interested in onboard expenses when you get your final folio bill. If I pay $10 for food, $40 for a picture, $500 for a watch, etc etc, all from the ship’s stores… Does that all get counted as “travel” on Princess? I’d love to hear your story.

  4. June 1, 2014 / 9:10 am

    I have taken many completely free cruises using points. Yes, barclaycard being the bulk of it but I also get up to $250 back for being a stockholder in the cruise line and also up to $250 for being a veteran up to $100 just for using any master card, $125 future cruise certificate good on next cruise, discover card discounts, and many other upgrades because i take a two week cruise each month mostly free. i also get free drinks, free laundry, free internet and much more. Many tricks to learn but always changing deals that are not always available makes it a bit time consuming figuring out what cruise line, what destination, what credit card to use for what but well worth my time. i just finished a 7 night eastern caribbean and in miami for the day and getting back on the same ship the carnival conquest for a 7 night western caribbean. total cost about $100 out of my pocket. last three cruises were completely free

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      June 1, 2014 / 2:01 pm

      Wow Jim. That’s good to know. Thanks for the information on the Barclay card. It looks like my free cruise challenge is going to bring results!

    • Alabamadaisy
      September 18, 2014 / 11:22 am

      I know I’m a few months late reading this but I’m wondering about the cashback for being a veteran? Do you mean getting a military rate on the cruise or something else? Thank you!

  5. August 16, 2014 / 9:21 pm

    I will be leaving on the 31st of August and don’t know when I will be back. First cruise is completely free using points, flight was free using only 10,000 miles hotel could have been free but found I nice hotel that would pick me up at the airport and take me to the cruise for a total of $55 hotel and all and free breakfast and internet so I will save my points for another cruise. I don’t know when or how I will be getting back or how but plan on just hoping from ship to ship or stay on if they give me a good deal. Since I will be at the port already I hope to find some last minute deals. probably only going to be gone 3 or 4 weeks. Its time consuming but many of the credit cards will give you a better deal if you use their card. Time consuming but maybe worth another $50 savings. They all ad up. Get cruise line credit card with $100 bonus, search hard for deals and you will have no problem doing it.

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      August 16, 2014 / 11:55 pm

      Jim, again that’s amazing. That’s great advice and tremendously helpful.

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