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My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary next year. We got married as teenagers and somehow managed not to get divorced so far, despite my best efforts. We’ve talked about doing something special for that milestone. A quarter of a century is kind of a big deal, right?
But a couple of things happened recently. First, Jet Blue currently has a convenient schedule for flights to San Jose (Costa Rica). Also, Frontier Airlines has just added a route to Liberia from Orlando.
I’ve been wanting to check out Andaz and Nayara resorts for years, and figured this was my chance. I don’t know what flight schedules will look like in 2023, so I’ve suggested to my husband that we celebrate our 25th anniversary a year earlier. This was to be my big/special trip, and next year we could simply spend a weekend at a nearby beach in Florida.
He agreed, and I figured that was the end of it. Then a few days ago, he confessed that he was in the middle of planning a cruise to Tahiti to surprise me with next year. He got as far as pulling a trigger on a deposit, but then realized that we will also need to buy airfare. And that’s kind of my specialty. So, reluctantly, he had to give up the element of surprise.
We’ve been to Tahiti in 2018 for our 20th anniversary, as part of grand South Pacific adventure, and loved every minute of it. We both agreed that someday we should go back and do a cruise around the islands. I figured it would be when we are old and decrepit, but apparently my husband had a different idea.
There aren’t many choices on cruising in French Polynesia, and they are all quite expensive. The one my husband picked is on Wind Spirit, a ship with real sails. It’s actually more of a big yacht. You can view a short YouTube video on it here
It only fits 150 passengers, something we definitely prefer to huge mega ships. So, it’s a dream vacation…except for the price. Once you add gratuities and taxes, it would cost us around $8k all-in for a 7-day cruise, assuming we don’t do any tours. That’s a lot.
Right now I’m saving for a downpayment on a new van. Ours is approaching 200k miles, and is starting to have serious issues. So, that money would now have to be diverted to this super expensive cruise. That’s why even though I was flattered that my husband would even consider it, I wasn’t sure it was the right move due to our financial circumstances.
Here is a short exchange we had:
Me: How would you feel about staying in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives instead?
Husband: Would you prefer it to the Tahiti cruise if the cost wasn’t an issue?
Me: But cost is an issue.
Husband: Tahiti cruise it is.
First of all, the irony of the Maldives vacation being a consolation prize isn’t lost on yours truly. What happened to me!? Honestly, the main reason I’ve mentioned it was because I know I can use miles and points to cover most of the cost. And of course, it seems like a beautiful destination. There is a reason so many hobby fanatics end up in Maldives at some point. But yeah, cruising French Polynesia is more appealing to me personally.
My husband made some valid points on why we should go now as opposed to far in the future. We are in relatively good health, and can still handle overnight flights in economy. More importantly, my MIL is still in relatively good health and can watch the kids. At some point soon, we will likely have to become her caretakers.
I don’t like the idea of leaving the kids for nine nights (once you add flight time), but it’s not something we do often. My husband is absolutely set on going, and he isn’t normally into travel planning. I feel like if I don’t go along and get over the money factor, I may end up regretting it. We can always make more money, but we may not always have the health to do something like that in the future. Life is so unpredictable.
One thing I can do is cover the flights via miles and points to reduce the financial pain.
Some potential options
I have various currencies to get us from Florida to west coast, specifically to Lost Angeles and San Francisco. I will likely have to cover those and flights to Tahiti separately, due to award availability issues. Here are a few choices I’m looking at:
1) French Bee airline flights to/from San Francisco
French Bee is a low-cost airline that flies from San Francisco to Tahiti. It offers really good prices, as low as $180 one-way, but you pay for luggage, seat selection etc. However, it’s highly unlikely I will go this route for one simple reason: incredibly narrow seats. My husband is a pretty big guy, and it would be torture for him. I love saving money, but sometimes it’s just not worth it.
2) Air Tahiti Nui flights via AAdvantage program
I should have enough miles to cover two one-way tickets at 40k miles each. We flew on Air Tahiti Nui last time, and it was alright. The food in economy was surprisingly good. Legroom was pretty decent too, except for this super tall guy in the row next to us.
3) Air France flights via Delta or Flying Blue programs
Delta doesn’t seem to show a lot of award availability via Air France, at least in my experience. If you find it, the cost should be 45k miles one-way, plus tax. It’s not the best deal, but an option nonetheless.
On the other hand, award availability via Air France Flying Blue program is much better, especially in economy. Air France uses dynamic pricing, and the lowest rate is usually 25k miles plus $100 in fuel surcharges. Business-class seat will cost you at least 64k miles+$200. The latter is probably your best bet if you want to fly upfront.
I don’t currently have any Flying Blue miles, but I should soon have enough Capital One points that I could transfer to it, in order to cover two one-way business tickets. I don’t mind sitting in economy, but it would be fun to surprise my husband with a business class. We’ll see.
4) United flights via United or other Star Alliance programs
I have some UR points I could transfer to United in order to cover flights from San Francisco to Tahiti at 35k miles apiece. I also have some Avianca miles I could use for the same purpose, though the cost is 40k miles. The latter would be preferable, as I would rather burn Lifemiles than highly valuable UR points.
5) FINALLY burning my Merrill points on revenue flights
Awhile back, I wrote a post on trying to find good usage for these points that have been sitting there for over four years. This could be my chance. I’ve seen flights to/from Tahiti for $500 apiece, so my 50k points could potentially cover two tickets.
I have no idea if we will actually get to go on this cruise. But I told my husband that I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life, regardless. This is a truly grand gesture, and even if it doesn’t work out, it’s the thought that counts. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for our 50th anniversary!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.