Carnival Cruise Line has sent a letter to guests who have reached the Diamond and Platinum levels of its Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) program, informing them that the cruise line has made changes to the benefits these guests would have normally enjoyed during two Carnival Journeys.
The two ships that have been affected include Carnival Pride and Carnival Spirit, where guests will not be able to enjoy priority boarding and debarkation in the homeports as well as any ports during the cruise.
The move from Carnival Cruise Line is surprising, as it is these longer voyages that usually draw in the more seasoned cruisers who would expect their benefits to be honored.
Carnival Cruise Line Sends Letter to Guests
In the letter sent to Diamond and Platinum guests, Carnival Cruise Line explained that due to the high number of VIFP guests on the Carnival Pride April 13 sailing and the Carnival Spirit April 16 cruise, the company has made the decision to change their priority boarding and debarkation benefits.
In the letter sent to guests, Carnival Cruise Line states the following: “Due to the high number of Diamond and Platinum guests joining us on these voyages, we will not be able to provide priority embarkation or debarkation (including at any of the ports of call). Additionally, staterooms will be ready after 1:30 PM. Once on board, please feel free to drop off any carry-on luggage in your stateroom before heading to lunch.”
Guests with Diamond and Platinum status will now need to board during the normal boarding times, will not be able to enjoy priority boarding during the cruise at any of the ports of call, and will also need to debark the vessel at the end of the voyage during the regularly scheduled hours.
Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald responded to guests after a high number of angry posts: “I have to say I have been slightly surprised at the harshness of some of the comments that have been sent to me about this with some other threatening language included in some who boarded the Carnival Pride yesterday.”
Heald added, “You see, we (had) have over 1000 on both of these cruises of our most loyal diamond and platinum guests. It is, therefore, not operationally possible to say that we can offer 1000+ people priority boarding. This is why yesterday on the Carnival Pride we could not offer this and why the same will apply on the Carnival Spirit. We will, of course, make sure that diamond and platinum guests are boarded as soon as possible”
Carnival Pride and Carnival Spirit Cruises Affected
The two cruises onboard Carnival Spirit and Carnival Pride are both a Carnival Journey. These are longer voyages, often repositioning cruises, where guests stay onboard for up to 31 days.
These are also cruises where the cruise line will see Diamond and Platinum VIFP guests in larger numbers and where guests would have expected the cruise line to honor the benefits they have earned over the years.
Carnival Pride embarked on a 13 Night Transatlantic Carnival Journey from Tampa, Florida, on April 13. The cruise schedule includes stops at Ponta Delgada, Azores; Malaga, Spain; Valencia, Spain; and a final destination in Barcelona, Spain, on April 26.
Carnival Spirit is set to sail on a 16 Night Panama Canal cruise from Miami, Florida, on April 16. This cruise’s schedule features stops at Santa Marta, Colombia; Cartagena, Colombia; Panama Canal; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; and concludes in Seattle, Washington, on May 2.
Carnival continued by saying that the cruise line taking away these benefits for these two cruises is consistent with other voyages where a larger than usual number of Diamond and Platinum guests are onboard.
“This operational change is consistent with other Carnival Journeys cruises where we have a very large number of Diamond and Platinum Guests. We apologize for any disappointment and thank you for your understanding. We look forward to welcoming you aboard for FUN and memorable cruise.”
What is the VIFP Program?
The VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Program is Carnival Cruise Line’s loyalty program designed to reward frequent cruisers with various benefits and exclusive offers.
VIFP Points are earned based on the number of days spent at sea, with one VIFP Point awarded for each cruise day. The program consists of five membership levels, which are determined by the total VIFP Points accrued by each guest.
The program does not offer many advantages through the Blue, Red, and Gold levels, but it does get interesting with the Platinum and Diamond levels.
Platinum members receive all Blue, Red, and Gold level benefits along with priority check-in, priority embarkation and debarkation, and tender service; a unique Platinum and Diamond VIFP pin; an exclusive ship lapel pin; a complimentary beverage at the casino bar; and more.
Diamond level members enjoy the most exclusive benefits, including all Platinum level perks plus a complimentary meal at a specialty restaurant, a dedicated Diamond guest services phone line, unlimited complimentary laundry service, and a one-time free cabin upgrade or third and fourth guest sail-for-free offer. However, this system could soon be overhauled entirely.
These benefits may be subject to change, as seen with the recent changes on the Carnival Pride and Carnival Spirit cruises. Nonetheless, the program remains an attractive incentive for cruisers to sail with Carnival Cruise Line.