Cruise lines love repeat customers and reward them through loyalty programs. Similar to airline frequent flier programs, cruise line loyalty programs offer special discounts and amenities, from the nice (such as a small “welcome aboard” gift) to the spectacular (such as a free cruise).
The best cruise line loyalty program for you is probably
the one offered by your favorite cruise line; it’s usually better to sail often
on a line you love than to choose a line based on its loyalty program. Still,
it may be helpful to take a quick look at how these programs work and some of
the top-tier benefits.
In most cruise line loyalty programs, you earn points based
on how often and how long you cruise, as well as your cabin category. Most
programs have four to six “tiers” to move through as you accumulate points.
There are attractive rewards even at the lowest tiers, such as gift shop discounts
and “members only” events. Rewards in the middle tiers may include lovely
extras like complimentary internet time, priority booking for shore excursions,
or discounts for onboard specialty restaurants.
It can take time to earn enough points to qualify for the
top tiers, but the rewards – such as priority boarding, cabin upgrades, and deep
discounts on future cruises – can be very worthwhile.
Here are some specific examples:
The top tiers of
Holland America Line’s Mariner Society offer a nice benefit for families or
groups of friends: on select sailings, the third and fourth guests in your
cabin are free.
Guests at the highest
levels of MSC Cruises’ Voyager’s Club have priority status on port calls that
require the use of a tender to reach the shore, which can give you hours more
to explore. This program also “status matches” your tier in many other cruise
line, hotel, and tour operator loyalty programs.
The top level of Royal
Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society provides a sweet reward – a free,
seven-night Caribbean cruise in a balcony cabin, plus the opportunity to earn
additional free cruises.
If you sail to the top
level of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Latitude Rewards program, you’ll enjoy a free,
seven-night cruise – in a balcony cabin – to any of the cruise line’s
Loyalty program enrollment is usually free, so you have nothing
to lose by joining your favorite cruise line’s program. In fact, some lines
automatically enroll you as soon as you book a cruise. For more information,
talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor.
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