Beginner’s Guide To Cruise Loyalty Programs
Don’t be intimidated- cruise loyalty programs aren’t only for cruise ship veterans anymore. Joining a cruise line loyalty program is a great choice for any type of traveler! The more you cruise, the more you can cash in on amazing amenities and experiences!
What Are Loyalty Programs?
Cruise lines want guests to travel with them often and stay loyal to their brand. In return, cruise lines will offer guests various extras and promotions to keep them returning. Loyalty programs’ perks typically include cabin upgrades, voyage discounts, and restaurant priority reservations. The rewards improve as you sail with the cruise line, with tiered systems (think bronze, silver, and gold-level tiers). Are you interested in knowing more about five cruise lines’ loyalty programs? Keep reading!
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line’s VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club is separated into five tiers- Blue, Red, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. A nice feature of this program is that you are immediately placed into the Blue tier as soon as you embark on your first cruise. The program is free to join and applies to all Carnival Cruise Line-owned cruise lines. You earn one point for each day of your cruise. For example, you’re three points richer if you sail on a three-day Caribbean voyage.
The rewards begin with a complimentary bottle of water, then progress to extras such as priority check-in, boarding, debarkation, and restaurant and spa reservations. In the highest tiers, the perks include members-only parties, complimentary laundry services, free specialty dining for two, and a one-time free cabin upgrade. The main drawback to the VIFP Club is that the most critical rewards don’t become available until you have reached 75 points (Platinum Level). Don’t worry- the more you sail with Carnival Cruise Line, the more points you’ll earn to get to Platinum Level in no time!
Royal Caribbean’s rewards program, the Crown and Anchor Society, is divided into six tiers- Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Club. Like Carnival Cruise Line’s loyalty program, guests earn one point every night they spend on a cruise, but you can also earn an additional point for each night spent in a suite (the suite cannot come from a room upgrade). Also, like the VIFP Club, Members of the Crown and Anchor Society can match their status with Royal Caribbean’s sister brand Celebrity Cruises.
The Crown and Anchor Society’s perks begin with special rates for certain sailings, then move on to priority reservations for excursions and the spa. Finally, at the highest tiers, guests will have access to members-only staff, events with a ship’s officer, and the biggest: a free, seven-night cruise for two in a balcony cabin. The drawback to this rewards program is the same as Carnival Cruise Line’s program, where the most prominent perks are unavailable until you have spent significant time sailing with Royal Caribbean.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitudes Rewards program allows you to earn one point for each night of your cruise but also additional points for
- Staying in a Concierge-Level cabin, full-fare suite, or The Haven rooms.
- Being on a cruise booked using members-only discounts.
The Latitudes Rewards program is separated into seven tiers- Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Sapphire, Diamond, and Ambassador. Like the previous two programs mentioned, you are enrolled in the program as soon as you embark on your first cruise. The beginning rewards are helpful- a 30 percent discount on an unlimited open bar package and a 10 percent discount on duty-free shops. From there, the rewards include a 25 percent Internet discount, free specialty dinners, and a seven-night cruise for two in a balcony suite (you’ll still have to pay for taxes, fees, and service charges).
Unlike the previous two programs, the Latitude Rewards program offers beneficial rewards early on. However, most of the perks are discounts and not complimentary items. If you like getting free stuff, consider looking into this program more deeply.
MSC Cruises’ Voyagers Club is less intricate compared to other loyalty programs, but it is still an investment worth making. There are four tiers- Classic, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. However, earning points can be tricky as different factors determine how many points you earn per cruise.
Points are accrued depending on the duration of the cruise and the type of MSC Cruises “experience” selected for the trip. MSC Cruises offers five unique experiences, each featuring unique offerings and varying price ranges. The fundamental and most economical option is Bella, while the ultimate experience is the MSC Yacht Club. The experiences called Fantastica, Wellness, and Aurea are situated between them.
Moreover, apart from the methods mentioned earlier, you can accumulate points by spending on additional amenities during your MSC Cruises voyage or booking these extras before setting sail. For every $150 spent on prepayment for services and onboard expenses, you will earn 100 points.
However, there is one significant condition to note: Only the MSC Voyagers Club member responsible for settling the final onboard expenses will receive the corresponding points. On the other hand, when it comes to fees for prepaid services that apply to all individuals sharing a cabin (rather than single occupants), the points earned will be evenly distributed among all the cabin occupants. For example, if the total amount spent on prepaid onboard services applicable to all cabin occupants before the cruise amounts to $600, and there are four occupants in the cabin, each member’s points calculation will be based on $150 spent, resulting in 100 points for each individual.
Finally, another method to accumulate points is by updating your contact information up to 72 hours before the departure of your upcoming cruise. By doing so, you will earn a total of 100 points.
So, what about the rewards? The top rewards offered through the MSC Voyagers Club include reaching the Diamond tier, which provides a complimentary dinner at a specialty restaurant, priority disembarkation in ports with tender boats, a one-hour thermal area session, a gift, and access to an exclusive Diamond Party. Diamond members enjoy priority boarding, late cabin checkout on disembarkation day, a dancing class, and a chocolate gift. While the program lacks “wow” perks like free cruises, the Diamond tier’s privileges stand out as some of the most enticing benefits within the loyalty program.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club is another modest loyalty program, but it is worth it if you’re a fan of the cruise line. The revamped tiers are Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Pearl. You move through levels based on how many cruises you have completed, not how many nights per cruise.
In the first tier, you can book onboard activities up to 90 days before sailings. The perks go from priority check-in and members-only staff to discounted voyages and a free dinner at Palo, the cruise line’s adults-only upscale restaurant. Overall, the extras are not as extravagant as many other cruise lines, but if a Disney cruise is something your and your family enjoy, it may be a good idea to become part of the Castaway Club.
Cruise lines’ loyalty programs come in all shapes and sizes. The rewards can be anything from a complimentary bottle of water to a free cruise in an exclusive suite. If you’re a seasoned cruise veteran or just want extra incentives to book a voyage, joining a cruise line’s loyalty program is the perfect way to get the most out of your experience.
What perks are you most likely to use in a loyalty program? Let us know in the comments!
By Ethan Leckie