Carnival Ends Loyalty Donation But Charity Partnership Is Strong

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The most loyal of Carnival Cruise Line guests are no longer associated with a one-time charitable donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but the cruise line’s commitment to the popular charity remains strong with donations made in multiple other ways.

New Diamond level members of Carnival’s Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) program have noticed that the one-time donation – to be made in the new Diamond guest’s name as they reach the top tier status – is no longer available. This omission happened at about the same time the cruise line removed the casino credit benefit from both Platinum and Diamond level guests.

Guests reached out to the cruise line’s brand ambassador, John Heald, about the change, asking about the loss of the donation.

“I noticed another thing that Carnival has removed from the Diamond list of perks – there’s no longer a one-time donation to St. Jude,” commented one guest. “When was that removed and why? I’m sure it wasn’t a large amount, but it did look good on the list.”

The donation was listed as an active benefit on Carnival Cruise Line’s list of VIFP benefits as recently as March 2024, but has since been removed. Heald confirmed that it has been discontinued.

“This is something that we have stopped simply because it was a bit unmanageable with so many of our wonderful Diamond guests cruising,” Heald said. “It was just very hard to keep track of it all. But I promise of course we continue to make wonderful donations as a company to this fabulous organization.”

The donation was made one time per Diamond guest, as they reached that highest loyalty tier. To become Diamond, Carnival cruisers would need to earn 200 points with the cruise line. One day sailed is one point, which means cruisers would spend more than 28 full weeks – over 6 solid months – at sea with Carnival.

Heald has previously addressed the VIFP program and commented that it needs an overhaul. While this is apparently in progress, there has been no announcement about how or when the program may be changed. The current VIFP program was fully implemented in 2013.

It is possible that a new program may include even higher tiers to reward ongoing guest loyalty, as well as new benefits and recognition at different levels. Likewise, some perks may be discontinued as no longer being as popular or practical to implement. At times, Carnival Cruise Line has been unable to offer exclusive benefits when higher numbers of VIFP guests are sailing on select cruises.

Carnival Still Donating to St. Jude

It must be noted that the loss of the one-time Diamond level donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital does not signify the end of the cruise line’s support of the incredible charity. Carnival Cruise Line first partnered with St. Jude in 2009 with a three-year commitment, but has continually renewed its support.

Most recently, the cruise line committed to raising $50 million for the charity by 2030. The pledge was unveiled during the naming ceremony for Carnival Jubilee on February 24, 2024, and was accompanied by a symbolic $50,000 donation – the same amount the cruise line first donated in 2009 to kick off what would become a very successful partnership.

St. Jude Event Onboard
St. Jude Event Onboard (Credit: Cruise Director Kyndall Fire)

“As the cruise line that serves more children and families than any other, we look forward to seeing the good that will come from reaching this new and ambitious goal,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival Cruise Line President.

On every Carnival cruise, guests have the opportunity to participate in the cruise line’s signature fundraising event, Groove for St. Jude. This dance party collects donations and gives guests the chance to show off their best dance moves in a fun way to celebrate the hospital’s lifesaving efforts.

While the amount of donations varies on each sailing, some Groove events are truly exceptional. On the June 1, 2024 sailing of Carnival Jubilee, for example, a whopping $12,512 to support the hospital, which never charges patients or their families for any treatment. Guests who donate to the Groove for St. Jude can choose to receive either a teddy bear or a t-shirt for their donation.

Carnival Cruise Line also offers a variety of other unique ways to support St. Jude through one-time opportunities. When Carnival Ecstasy was retired in October 2022, for example, a number of ship-related items were auctioned, including a life ring, various plaques, and more. In total, that auction raised $39,000 for the charity.

Some guests also contribute to onboard fundraising efforts. On a recent Carnival Jubilee sailing, one cruiser donated a handmade Dr. Seuss quilt that was auctioned off for $825. Other guests have occasionally offered items for donation as well, including blinged-out cruising ducks and other great mementos.

Read Also: Cruise Ducks – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know!

In another crazy challenge, several entertainment and cruise directors, including Joey Boyes and Chris “The Flying Scotsman” Williams, offered up their hairy chests to be waxed for donations. This was certainly one of the more unique fundraising efforts ever seen onboard!

Want to help Carnival Cruise Line support St. Jude? Find out how else you can donate and be sure to Groove for St. Jude on your next Carnival cruise!

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