Having only been on one cruise the Alaskan cruise was pretty special. While Marriott did not help me arrange it they played a key role in the enjoyment of the trip. I stayed going and coming at one of my favorite hotels, The Marriott/Harbor/Pikes Street Market.
Please enjoy the pictures and have a wonderful trip.
Thanks for the photos and the kudos about Marriott's contributions to your enjoyment of the trip."Has anyone made cruise reservations utilizing the points system?" may require more probing:
"Access to the Explorer Collection is made available through the Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Exchange Program.. Actual experiences will be provided via contractual arrangements with third party providers and may require the payment of additional fees. Marriott International, Inc., its affiliates, and subsidiaries, make no warranty, express or implied, as to the condition, capacity, performance or any other aspect of the activities, events, or service providers listed herein. No inquiry has been made into the activities or events, or the qualifications or the quality of services offered by the providers. Do not consider this an endorsement of or recommendation for any of the activities, events, or providers.]" Footnote #3
I think it probably is too early in the Destination points program for much feedback to be available. The "cost" factor isn't bad. . .the comment about $31k for the points would be applicable if you were buying a week's cruise every year going forward. I have been on several cruises and would suggest you first explore all of the options available re: ships, destinations, etc. Then, call your MVCI advisor and find out what options are available through the destination points program. Also find out what "extra fees" might be involved. If you get a good match at a reasonable cost, go for it! And have a wonderful time. By the way, Royal Caribbean is my favorite cruise line.
Confidence and trust in the integrity of the Marriott brand motivated me and my wife to purchase Marriott timeshares. Year after year, week after week, Marriott took full accountability for maintaining resorts to brand standards to ensure delivery of memorable vacation experiences.
From that perspective, the Destination Points program appears to step away. As the fine print discloses, Marriott contracts 3rd parties to deliver vacation experiences (under the Explorer Collection), but does not endorse the provider or take accountability for the quality of services.
Although Disney is an exception, on the lodging side, Marriott (Hilton, Sheraton and others) rely upon hundreds if not thousands of franchisees to deliver hospitality services worthy to be under a brand umbrella. While I can see how a cruise line or tour company strikes a parallel to a hotel franchisee, it's unclear (to me) who will be accountable if a Destination Points vacation experience does not meet expectations. Does the owner recover Destination Points, get a refund or a credit?
If anyone has insight on how this will work or disagrees with the views expressed, do feel free to comment.