RCI members, Pat and Charles Anstead, were delighted to discover they could enjoy great-value cruise holidays with leading cruise brands using their RCI membership. Being able to tag a fabulous resort stay onto the holiday with the RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays package was a real bonus for the couple.
It had to be an ocean-bound getaway for Pat and Charles to mark a special occasion. The couple are celebrating milestone 60th birthdays for both Pat and her life-long friend this year.
Booking the RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays package, which brings spacious timeshare accommodation into the mix, meant the Ansteads were able to treat their friends to a memorable birthday celebration.
It was an RCI Cruise Holiday sailing from Mexico in January 2016 that alerted the couple to the value of cruising using RCI membership. Pat explained: "At that time, the deal included a free week's stay in Mexico, and we used our points to add a second week to the holiday.
"We stayed for seven nights at a gorgeous Mayan resort property in Acapulco that was affiliated to the RCI Exchange Holiday programme. We couldn't have asked for anything better. The location of the resort was idyllic and the accommodation was so spacious.
"You know you are going to get quality accommodation booking through RCI, and a week's stay in resort is the perfect way to start or end your cruise holiday.
"Charles and I love to see places that are very different, and Acapulco was just that. A standout for us was watching the famous diving off the cliffs, and then dining in the evening by the light of blazing torches - all very spectacular.
"Mexico was very hot though and, after touring the islands for a few hours, we were glad to take the ship's tender and return to the ship. While Mexico was fascinating, when you are in a strange destination like that, you can easily make rubbish decisions on where to eat - and a bad decision can have a big impact on your time away.
"Returning to the ship to eat, where there were so many restaurants and so much choice of quality dining options, was a great end to a great day."
On February 11, last year the couple set sail from Rio de Janeiro on a nine-day cruise calling at several islands off the coast of Brazil and finishing the cruise in style by visiting both Montevideo in Uruguay and Buenos Aires in Argentina.
They sailed with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), a brand Pat and Charles favour. It was this cruise that inspired the couple to book a high seas adventure to celebrate with their friends.
"Brazil is a fascinating place. We called at several islands which were very pretty. Lots of colourful houses and cottages, with friendly local people to greet you wherever you ventured.
"The places the ship put us ashore were always so very cute. We just walked and walked, taking it all in. We loved the relaxed ambience of these islands and, overall, the destinations on this cruise had a very Spanish feel to them which we liked.
"The Uruguayan island we visited was completely different. It was a very wealthy area peppered with designer boutiques - but it was still a pretty place. We ended our cruise in Argentina, and my only regret is that we didn't book a stay there and take a few days to explore Buenos Aires.
"We are glad to have seen what we did of South America by cruising through these wonderful destinations; it was so very different from anywhere else we have been."
What's to love about cruise?
Pat and Charles discovered that cruising ticks many holiday preference boxes for them. Have you ever wondered who uses those gyms on board the ship? Well that would be Pat and Charles... "We enjoy our time on the ship as much as we do our time ashore," said Pat.
"There's lots to do on the cruise ships, even ice skating and rock wall climbing on some! The shows in the evening are very good too. You have all the entertainment you need under one roof - it is a proper holiday," she said.
"Typically, after a morning spent exploring ashore, we love to return to the ship to soak up the sun on a lounger by the pool for an hour, then we head for a session in the well-equipped gym, or take to the running track around the top deck - my favourite form of on-board exercise. Finally, we return to our cabin to relax before dressing up and going off to enjoy one of the ship's many dining options.
"The food is of a high quality and the different cuisines on offer mean that dining never gets boring. Although we don't always take the 'dressy' dining option, we do like to dress up during our cruise, as it makes for a special occasion. But you don't have to dress up - it's all about you choosing how you want to customise your holiday with cruise."
For the Ansteads, there is no doubt that it's the opportunity to see many different destinations that has them hooked on cruise. "We feel a cruise is like having the best of an all-inclusive holiday, but with the bonus, which takes it one step better than an all-inclusive, of being able to go out each day to explore a new place to see things you've never seen before. Each day you enjoy a completely new adventure," Pat explained.
The couple have owned timeshare and been RCI members for over 20 years, having bought it while on holiday in the Dominican Republic and converting their ownership at Hurricane House Resort (3041) in Florida to RCI Points. They have seen much of the world using their RCI membership and use their timeshare to visit destinations they have sampled while on a cruise.
"We used our RCI Points to stay in Saint Maarten, a magical Caribbean destination we visited on a cruise," said Pat. "Having had that taster of this beautiful island, we fell in love with it and just had to return. We stayed in traditional Caribbean-style accommodation with RCI, right on the beach. It was a dream holiday."
Pat and Charles will next be setting sail with NCL to sail the Caribbean with their friends on an RCI Cruise & Resort Holiday. They will stay for a week in RCI accommodation in Fort Lauderdale, which Pat knows will comfortably accommodate the two couples, before setting sail.
"RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays are really good value, and so flexible having the stay option to be used at either end of your cruise," Pat concluded. "Being RCI Exchange Holiday accommodation, we know our stay will be in the comfort of a quality resort in a superb location with lots of space to take friends and family with us."
If you are a timeshare owner but not yet a member of RCI, what are you waiting for? There are so many holiday experiences out there to enjoy with RCI, and to share with your family and friends. To become a member, all you have to do is click on the Join RCI button below and you could be changing the way you holiday for the better!
If you need any more reasons to become a member of the RCI holiday community, click on the RCI Resort Directory button below and you will find more than 4,000 of them! RCI has the largest number of resorts and destinations affiliated to its Holiday Exchange network of any of the timeshare exchange service providers, giving its members the greatest flexibility and choice in their holiday planning.