Cruise passengers frequently set sail with the same cruise line over and over and over again, and not just because they like that specific line. Cruise lines offer a wide range of tempting benefits to repeat passengers, and the more you set sail, the better your individual rewards. But are those rewards worth staying loyal to just one line?
What Cruise Line Loyalty Programs Offer
Every cruise line offers different benefits to its most loyal guests, often with several tiers of recognition for passengers who keep returning. While the exact benefits available vary between different lines and different tiers, typical loyalty rewards include…
- Exclusive sales or priority access to bookings and sale rates
- Regular newsletters or member communications
- Exclusive phone numbers or other contact information
- Drink coupons or beverage discounts
- Free gifts and souvenirs, often collectible or personalized
- Priority consideration for dining, spa or shore tour reservations
- Priority embarkation, debarkation or tender access
- Complimentary laundry, dry cleaning or shoe polishing services
- Advance access to bookings for new cruises, new ships or onboard reservations
- Onboard parties or receptions, often with free drinks or hors d’oeuvres
- Priority seating at signature entertainment events
- Cabin upgrades when available
- Dedicated lounges during the cruise
- Discounts for onboard shops or photo gallery pictures
- Free or discounted internet access or online packages
- Free onboard credit or even the ability to earn a free cruise
Loyalty program benefits can change as cruise lines adjust their programs, and not all benefits are necessarily available aboard every ship or sailing. For example, some past guest parties or receptions are only held on longer cruises, or priority embarkation procedures may not be available at every embarkation port.
Earning Your Benefits
With cruise line loyalty programs, the more you sail, the more rewards you earn, but how do those rewards add up? Different cruise lines calculate past passenger loyalty in different ways. Some cruise lines count only the number of total cruises completed, regardless of the length of the cruise – a seven-night cruise would count the same as a three-night cruise in terms of building loyalty. Other lines count the days sailed, whether the cruises are long or short, and more days add up to more benefits. Some cruise line loyalty programs also offer extra points or reward benefits for booking suites or other luxury staterooms.
Cruise line loyalty programs typically never expire, but lines may adjust their loyalty programs at any time, which could cause passengers to inadvertently switch tiers. It should also be noted that the benefits and loyalty from one cruise line do not generally transfer to a different cruise line, even if both lines are run by the same parent corporation.
Is It Worth It?
With so many benefits available to loyal cruisers, there is no reason not to join a cruise line’s loyalty program. Joining is free and most lines offer at least some benefits after a passenger’s very first cruise. Because those benefits do not expire, they can be invoked at any future time even for guests who don’t have the opportunity to sail frequently. Passengers who do sail regularly, however, may consider staying loyal to just one line in order to build up their reward benefits more quickly, but is this worthwhile?
If one cruise line truly represents your ultimate vacation, it can be very nice to build up loyalty benefits not only to receive discounts to take more vacations, but to get special rewards and priority treatment while cruising. It can be a fun goal to plan vacations to reach the next tier of benefits, and to enjoy what new surprises cruise lines create to keep enticing their loyal passengers to return. It can be especially easy to build up loyalty on one cruise line if your home port only services a single cruise line, or if it is easiest for you to reach an embarkation port with just one cruise line.
If you enjoy cruising with multiple lines for the different experiences they offer, however, or if you can easily reach different, busier embarkation ports, you may not want to restrict yourself to a single cruise line, no matter what loyalty rewards they offer. Of course, there is no reason why you can’t work to build up loyalty benefits on different cruise lines. These are not competitive offers and you are not disqualified from one line’s program just because you happen to be a loyal passenger on another line as well.
Whether you want to be part of Carnival’s VIFP Club, Disney’s Castaway Club, Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society, Celebrity’s Captain’s Club, Princess’s Captain’s Circle, Norwegian’s Latitudes Rewards or any other cruise loyalty program, these can be great rewards programs to be a part of. As you build up more loyalty rewards with multiple lines, you will find yourself enjoying cruising more and more with all the benefits you’ve earned.