Celebrity Equinox
Photo By: Jeremy T. Hetzel (Creative Commons)

There are many things we love about Celebrity.  Whenever we board one of their ships, we feel like we are visiting extended family, and if ever we have a problem, the friendly helpful staff always resolve our issues to our complete satisfaction.  And then there is Celebrity’s loyalty programme, which in our view, must surely be one of the best within the cruise industry.

However, I write this piece whilst aboard the Equinox, where despite having completed over forty cruises, this is our first transatlantic one with the company.  We all have our favourite aspects of cruising, the things that draw us to certain companies, or even certain ships.  For us, one of the things we love most, that keeps us coming back to Celebrity, is the two-hour per evening Captain’s Club event which is open to passengers who have reached Elite level within the company’s loyalty programme.

Of course there is the generous unlimited free drinks available, but for us it’s much more important than that. We really enjoy the opportunity to meet fellow passengers in a relaxed peaceful and uncrowded atmosphere, and also to get to know the many officers that visit during the two-hour period.  It’s also nice to get to know the staff who are serving you.  We all like to feel appreciated, or even important, and this Captain’s Club feature certainly does that.

Tony Russell

But here on the Equinox there is no two-hour per day Captain’s Club event because there are far too many passengers at Elite level or above that can be catered for in any of the ship’s many venues.  Apparently this is becoming a common problem on Celebrity’s transatlantic cruises, and it’s a problem we feel that will only worsen as Celebrity gain more and more regular and loyal passengers.  If we are right, then sadly  we will be saying goodbye to Celebrity which would be somewhat ironic, as the very programme that keeps us loyal to Celebrity could eventually drive us away, unless a solution can be found to what we believe will be an increasing problem.

However, for a moment, let’s take a closer look at the problem and perhaps offer some solutions.  Firstly, as I said earlier, the generous two hours of unlimited free drinks on this cruise has been replaced by giving all qualifying Captain’s Club members three vouchers per day, entitling them to a free drink per voucher.

Why only three?  If it’s just a capacity issue?  Cynics might say it is in fact a cost cutting exercise.  We all differ on the amount we drink, be it alcoholic or otherwise, my wife and I would not consider ourselves to be prolific drinkers, but in a two-hour period with good company we would probably have a drink every half an hour or so.  That would mean Celebrity’s arbitrary three vouchers have left us one drink short, for some it may be more.

Like I said, it could look like a cost saving exercise.  Perhaps Celebrity need to look at this.

As for the venue issue, there are at least three possible solutions as far as we can see.  Firstly, the two-hour period could be extended and there could be two Captain’s Club events, and the qualifying members could be split between them, or more than one venue could be used, although we concede that could inconvenience non Captain’s Club members.  Otherwise, perhaps Celebrity will need to take another look at their loyalty programme, and make some difficult decisions, because as I said before, this growing membership of the loyalty scheme will continue to increase the capacity problem on board ship.

We really hope the senior management  are taking steps to resolve this problem as we love our extended Celebrity family, and we have certainly raised our concerns with Guest Services on board.   Meanwhile we really miss our two-hour social event, but luckily we are on board with two very good friends who we met in the Captain’s a club four years ago – says it all…….

Happy Cruising! And I would love to hear what others think of this issue @tonyr2011