A Brief Guide to Premium Cruise Line Loyalty Programs
Photo courtesy of Holland America Line
As airlines and hotel conglomerates continue to merge, a preoccupation on travelers’ minds is often loyalty perks and how their points will be honored by each individual brand. While there are no impending mergers on the horizon for cruise lines, they too offer enticing incentives for their loyalists. We took a look at the mainstream lines before, and today we’ll delve into the benefits afforded by premium cruise companies.
Celebrity Cruises has its Captain’s Club, featuring six tiers of status – Preview, Classic, Select, Elite, Elite Plus and Zenith. Joining the program even before setting sail at the Preview level will get you delivery of the club’s online newsletter and access to the exclusive club section of the website, and once you do take a cruise, the Loyalty Desk member service center is made available between sailings, club promotions apply to future cruise bookings made onboard and double points can be accrued by solo travelers. Plus, you can get a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership towards free rentals and with discounts, upgrades and other benefits therein.
Once you've taken your first sailing with Celebrity, you'll receive points, at least two per cruise night or more per night on a scale depending on your level of accommodations onboard. At 2 to 149 points, you are considered Classic which adds to the base benefits the following perks: onboard Loyalty Host access, an exclusive celebration event, access to Reunion Cruise and President’s Cruise events, a one category upgrade up through the AquaClass, a free scoop of gelato and 10 percent discounts off any one internet package and photo package at the gallery.
At Select (150-299 points), you’re boosted up to a 25 percent discount off any one internet package and 15 percent off a photo package. Also, you get free pressing of two garments and one discounted bag of laundry service on voyages 12 nights or longer, as well as priority cruise embarkation, a free wine seminar, priority shore excursion waitlisting and a senior officer’s cocktail party. At Elite (300-749 points), the perks that are tacked on include club lounge and breakfast access, evening cocktail hours, elegant tea, a free 90 minute internet package, 20 percent discount off a photo package, complimentary access to Persian Garden on a port day, free dry-cleaning of one garment, one complimentary bag of laundry service, a priority onboard departure lounge and breakfast and priority tender service and waitlisting in the main dining room.
At the uppermost tiers, Elite Plus (750-2,999 points) members are upgraded with a 200-minute internet package; free tea, cappuccino, latte and espresso; a 10 percent discount off any beverage or wine package; 15 percent off any specialty restaurant and two bags of complimentary laundry service. And Zenith (3,000 plus points) members jump to a 1,600 minute internet package, unlimited complimentary laundry, a free beverage package, 25 percent off specialty dining, a free lunch at Bistro on Five when sailing consecutively, the chance to remain onboard longer on disembarkation day, priority theater seating, upgraded bath amenities, Michael’s Club lounge access and free luggage valet service from the ship to your final airport.
Also, when reaching the Zenith level, the club will make a charitable donation on behalf of the member, and the member will receive a free seven-night Caribbean or Bermuda cruise in a veranda stateroom. With every 3,000 points accrued thereafter, members get another complimentary Caribbean or Bermuda cruise in an AquaClass cabin. Plus, reciprocal benefits are granted across Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited’s other brands. Select level and higher members receive comparable perks in Royal Caribbean International’s Crown and Anchor Society and Azamara Club Cruises’ Le Club Voyage and vice versa with some restrictions.
Cunard Line breaks down their World Club program into four tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond based on cruises taken or nights spent onboard. After completing just one cruise, guests are considered Silver with the following benefits: special member savings and offers, international club desk and exclusive web page access, an onboard loyalty representative and a subscription to the Cunard magazine.
Members who reach Gold (2 cruises or 20 nights) status are given additional perks of a gold membership pin, a free two hour internet package and an invite to the Cunard World Club cocktail party. At Platinum (7 cruises or 70 nights), guests get a platinum membership pin and an extra two hours of free internet time, plus bonus priority check-in at New York and Southampton, a private disembarkation lounge, free wine tasting, a 10 percent discount off White Star luggage service and an invite to the senior officers’ party.
When guests get to the Diamond (15 cruises or 150 nights) level, besides a diamond membership pin and the aforementioned perks, they receive an additional four hour internet package, priority disembarkation and appointment for future cruise sales, a free meal at an alternative restaurant and a dedicated contact at the international club desk.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Club has only three tiers – Silver, Gold and Platinum – and is based simply on the number of cruises sailed. After completing 1-4 sailings, Silver Castaway members get exclusive webcasts, tips, information, news and a biannual Compass eMagazine, plus access to a dedicated Castaway Club phone number.
Before the cruise, Silver Castaway members receive early access to reserve onboard specialty dining, spa and nursery services and shore excursions 90 days before the cruise. Once to the terminal, Silver members are granted access to an exclusive check-in line, and once onboard, they get a welcome back aboard stateroom gift and special onboard booking savings.
Jumping to the Gold Castaway (5-9 cruises completed) level bestows you with extras like the opportunity to book new itineraries early and reserve the aforementioned services and experiences 105 days prior to your cruise. There’s also an onboard reception with senior ship officers on four-night and longer sailings and an exclusive merchandise shopping offer for Gold and Platinum members.
Lastly, as a Platinum Castaway (10 plus cruises completed) member you get special Platinum check-in priority at the terminal, as well as exclusive discounts, a free dinner at the Palo specialty restaurant and access to making reservations on your cruise 120 days before the voyage.
Holland America Line
The Mariner Society from Holland America Line is structured from one to five stars, and the levels are based upon credits that are awarded for each day sailed and each time an onboard purchase is made. Guests can earn double credits when booked in a suite or penthouse and an extra credit for each $300 spent onboard.
After just your first cruise, as a 1-Star member you will be treated to a free Mariner magazine subscription, an exclusive reception, a collectible gift, access to special sailings and cruise offers and a 50 percent discount on third and fourth guests sharing your stateroom on select cruises. With 30 credits, you become a 2-Star Mariner with bonus 10 percent discounts off onboard logo clothing, 15 percent off online merchandise, a free photo of the ship, special lapel pin and annual cruise planner.
3-Star Mariners (75 credits) also get a 25 percent discount off specialty restaurants, wine packages, Explorations Cafe drinks and mini-bar purchases; discounts off select spa and salon treatments and advance info about new itineraries. 4-Star Mariners (200 credits) receive bonus free laundry and pressing services; priority check-in, tendering and disembarkation; a free wine tasting session and a one-year subscription to “Travel + Leisure” or “Food & Wine;” plus an upgrade to free third and fourth cabin companions; 15 percent discounts off onboard logo clothing and 50 percent discounts off specialty restaurants, wine packages, Explorations Cafe drinks and mini-bar purchases.
And at the top tier, 5-Star Mariners (500 credits) also are given a 50 percent discount off a 100 minute internet package, two free dinners at the Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant, a complimentary Culinary Arts Center cooking class and a free day pass to the spa and salon thermal suite.
Princess Cruises offers its Captain’s Circle program, granting tiers based on either total cruise or cruise day count. At the completion of just one sailing, Gold Member benefits include special cruise savings and offers, exclusive onboard events, Princess Passport and destination stamps, a recognition pin, onboard Circle Host access, a quarterly magazine, e-newsletter, special online features and free entry into the line’s photo competition.
Next, Ruby Members (from your 4th-5th cruise or 31-50 cruise days) tack on a trip insurance upgrade, special access to the Captain’s Circle help desk phone line and a 10 percent discount off the Reflections cruise documentary DVD. And Platinum Members (from your 6th-15th cruise or 51-150 cruise days) add on still a free Cruise Atlas itinerary planner, preferred check-in, an exclusive disembarkation lounge and free internet credit depending on voyage length: 150 minutes for seven days or less, 250 minutes for 8-20 days and 500 minutes for 21 days or more.
Once the Elite Member (from your 16th cruise on or 151 or more cruise days) status is reached, you achieve even more including priority tendering and disembarkation, unlimited complimentary laundry and shoe polishing services, one-time free mini-bar stocking, deluxe canapes, afternoon tea, upgraded bathroom amenities, a free wine tasting and 10 percent off discounts at the onboard boutique.
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