Many frequent cruisers eagerly set sail to earn loyalty points and benefits with their favorite cruise line, and one very privileged pooch is now among the top tier of Carnival Cruise Line’s VIFP program.
The retired U.S. Army service dog, Sarge, was honored aboard Carnival Celebration not only for his cruise line loyalty, but for his overall commitment to service.
A Carnival Diamond Dog
Sarge was aboard his 55th Carnival cruise when he was celebrated for reaching Diamond status in the cruise line’s VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) loyalty program. Appropriately, the sailing was on the brand new Carnival Celebration, a roundtrip, 7-night Eastern Caribbean sailing from Miami and visiting Amber Cove, San Juan, and St. Maarten that set sail on February 5, 2023.
It wasn’t in port that Sarge was really able to shine, however, but during the past guest loyalty party. At that time, he was awarded his official Diamond status for spending 200 days at sea, the highest level of recognition offered by the cruise line.
“I have shamelessly confessed that some of my favorite cruisers have four legs and wet noses,” said Lee Mason, Carnival Celebration’s Cruise Director. “This is a special story that I was honored to play my part in.”
Mason presented Sarge with his official VIFP status to recognize the dog’s loyalty, which is even recognized by higher-ups in the Carnival Cruise Line leadership team.
“What could be more fun than celebrating a beloved four-legged friend as a Diamond cruiser?” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “We’re proud to celebrate and support veterans at Carnival, as the cruise line that carries the most service members, and I’m delighted to count Sarge among them.”
As a Diamond cruiser, Sarge is now entitled to all the honors and benefits of that elite rank as a “Very Important Fun Pooch” – priority check-in and boarding, a special event invitation from the Captain on each sailing, and unlimited wash and fold laundry service, and more.
At 14 years old, Sarge also has the distinction of being the youngest Diamond cruiser at his commemorative celebration with other VIFP guests.
Sarge is a Belgian Malinois (also known as a Belgian Shepherd), an athletic, highly intelligent breed of herding dog related to the more familiar German Shepherd and known for excellent service roles as detection dogs, guard dogs, police dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Belgian Malinois have served in the military through both World Wars, and continue to fulfill military roles today.
Sarge spent most of his life serving in the U.S. Army, and is now enjoying his retirement with his owner, Justin Marcum, Sr., who is also a Diamond VIFP guest aboard Carnival ships. To date, Sarge has sailed with Carnival 55 times!
Service Dogs on Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival welcomes working service dogs aboard all its ships, provided the animals are “legally defined and individually trained to meet disability-related needs.” Dogs must be updated on appropriate vaccinations, and meet the requirements of all ports of call for animals, which may differ from port to port.
Guests interested in sailing with their service dog should contact the Guest Access Department at Carnival Cruise Line to discuss the requirements and ensure their dog is eligible to begin building up their own loyalty points.