Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sun June 28 2015

Opinion Home | Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

  • Amber Nolan | June 28, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    How 6 Mainstream Cruise Lines Honor Crew That Go Above and Beyond

    How 6 Mainstream Cruise Lines Honor Crew That Go Above and Beyond

    Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

    Anyone who has cruised before has probably met a staff member who went out of his or her way to be friendly, genuine, and accommodating. Crewmembers can be the bright spot when a vacation doesn’t go quite as planned or they can add to an already wonderful experience. Most cruise lines have feedback surveys for passengers to fill out, and these are a perfect opportunity to acknowledge that special crewmember.

    So what happens after the cruise to these deserving individuals? Here’s what six mainstream cruise lines are doing to honor the hard-working crew.

    Carnival Cruise Lines

    Carnival has several honor programs including “Team Member of the Month” and “Leader of the Month,” which are recognized on all 24 ships with a special on-board celebration and cash prize. These individuals are then entered as finalists for the “Team Member of the Year” and “Leader of the Year” award, which are announced at a huge celebration at Carnival’s Miami headquarters with awards presented by Carnival President Christine Duffy.

    Other honor programs include “Embarkation Staff of the Year,” (which is based on guest comment card rankings) and “Volunteer of the Year,” a 20-year tradition that recognizes a shore-side employee for his or her community service efforts. 


    Costa has taken its crewmember-voting program digital, and passengers can use their cabin cards to recognize standout crewmembers on a daily basis. At several information kiosks (which are also used to register for shore excursions), passengers can select the Bravissimo voting program to cast their vote.

    If they didn’t catch the crewmember’s name, there is an option to search by department (such as housekeeping or dining staff) and photos will appear next to each member. Winners are selected bi-monthly to be honored by senior officers and receive a day off from work.

    Holland America

    At Holland America, guest satisfaction surveys play a part in determining the employee of the month on each ship. Winners receive a small recognition event onboard.

    MSC Cruises

    On MSC, department heads nominate one crewmember from their team for employee of the month, with an explanation of why they are being nominated. After a vote, the winner is announced on stage in the theater during the welcome gala night. The employee of the month receives a certificate, $100 shipboard credit, and is recognized in the daily program as well as on the cruise line’s television channel.


    Norwegian Cruise Line has an in-depth program to honor crewmembers in several ways, and even encourages guests to get involved by providing Facebook feedback. The Vacation Hero program allows guests and officers to recognize 350 crewmembers each month fleet-wide with a $50 internet card and award luncheon. These members are then entered into a “Final Four” pool, where winners will receive a one-night stay in the guestroom, $100 internet card, dinner for two, bottle of wine, and award luncheon.

    Each month, NCL tallies the comment cards submitted by guests and those with the most positive comments are invited to the bridge with the captain and senior officers. In addition, they are entered into a raffle to win prizes like phone and internet cards, days off of work, spa treatments, shore excursions, and specialty restaurant dinners.

    Royal Caribbean

    Outstanding crewmembers at Royal Caribbean can be honored by the company’s GOLD Recognition program for employee of the month and year. In addition, members of Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society (a frequent cruiser program) are given “WOW cards,” that can be delivered to crewmembers. These cards go on their permanent record and can help with promotions and honors.

    However, the program isn’t emphasized as much as it used to be, so guests need to be a little proactive in order to receive the cards. Those who aren’t members of the Crown and Anchor society can use the electronic guest feedback forms to recognize crewmembers.


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
Finding Your Transportation at the Cancun Airport

Vacation Packages