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 destinations.
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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