Go into any department store, supermarket or restaurant chain and when coming to pay the chances are you will be asked if you have that particular company’s loyalty card. People collect the points awarded in the hope of saving enough to get something for free, anything from free vouchers to free flights and even holidays. Everyone likes something for nothing, so what about cruise lines what do they give?
Most cruise lines operate a loyalty club. They operate under various names, Captains Club, Crown & Anchor Society, Peninsular Club, Mariners Society, MSC Voyagers Club and many more. The benefits vary widely depending on the particular cruise line and what tier you are at. In most cases you are eligible to join the ‘Club’ after your first cruise and then the more cruises or days at sea you take with that company, so you start to climb up through the various levels or tiers as they are known. So what do the ‘Clubs’ give you? P&O and MSC give discounts on purchases made on board which are very popular with their loyal passengers. There are different tier levels which have variable percentage discounts on a variety of onboard items including any drinks you may have from the mini bar in your cabin. The loyalty clubs of Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises give 2 for 1 vouchers to lower tier members, which is in fact a 50% saving on various venues on the ship. As you climb through the various tiers, so automatic cabin upgrades become available and at the upper levels free drinks are available each day for a limited period which can make quite a saving on your drinks bill. These are just a few of the major benefits, there are many others.
As already said most cruise lines have loyalty clubs but the full list of benefits that each offers is far too long to list here. Needless to say they are all different and the loyal followers of the various cruise lines will always tell you their favourite cruise line offers the best loyalty package. It is also a case of do you actually benefit from what the ‘Club’ offers. Some do free laundry, but one lady posted on a cruise forum once that there was no way she was going to be giving her ‘personals’ to the ship’s laundry for washing. Some offer a pressing service, which I personally find of great benefit and always get my evening suit pressed to remove the creases it has gained from the suitcase. Priority embarkation is another alleged benefit. Why alleged, well I was on one cruise which had so many repeat passengers that the priority queue was huge whilst the non-priority was almost empty. Guess which one I joined. Certainly, one of the main benefits from some of the ‘Clubs’ is the free WiFi. We live in an age where everyone, well at least nearly everyone, wants to stay in contact by email and the various free telephone systems available over WiFi, so a free WiFi package is looked upon by many people as a real benefit whilst a lapel pin denoting their tier status is in the eyes of some something they would never wear.
Some give what I describe as ‘niceties’. A welcome on board lunch, a bottle of wine or champagne on ice in your cabin to welcome you, dinner with the captain or one of his senior officers, hors d’oeuvres served to you in your cabin before dinner, senior officer’s cocktail party during the cruise. Most do a ‘repeaters lunch’ during a cruise, which as the name suggests is for repeat passengers.
So do you get something worthwhile for nothing? Most passengers seem to think they do and that is what matters.