It pays to be a frequent cruiser because cruise lines reward travelers the more times they sail with a particular brand, and sometimes there are even reciprocal benefits across various companies.
Costa Cruises just recently updated its CostaClub program with a new entry Ambra Club tier for welcoming new cruisers and top Perla Diamante Club tier with impressive perks like home luggage pick-up and delivery, immediate embarkation, a "super upgrade" from an inside cabin to a suite, dedicated onboard booking staff, free access to the Club Restaurant, front-row theater reservations, dedicated limited-capacity excursions and a 20 percent discount on Privilege Departures for 2016.
"The new CostaClub is an important investment by Costa in terms of ideas, energy and resources, and all based on a passion for innovation and for people that provide inspiration and guidance for our work every single day, putting our guests and their desires in the spotlight," said Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises. "From when the CostaClub began 15 years ago, our most loyal guests have taken more than three million cruises with us. We listened to, gathered together and analyzed their opinions and their needs and worked intensively together with onboard personnel and travel agents with the objective of creating the best system of benefits in the cruise world."
So, now let’s take a look at the loyalty programs available from the other mainstream cruise lines and the membership perks that come with them.
Carnival Cruise Line ~ VIFP Club
Carnival Cruise Line features its VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) Club across five tiers starting with Blue. With your first sailing, you get members-only offers and a member e-newsletter. Upon your second sailing, you will receive a complimentary one-liter water bottle delivered to your cabin as a Red member. Benefits only snowball from there as you accrue more sailing points, one per cruise day. You hit Gold at 25 points or days which earns you an appreciation drink on cruises longer than four days in length as well as a Gold VIFP pin.
Things get way more exciting at 75 points or days for Platinum members. They get priority check-in, boarding, disembarkation, guest services, and spa and restaurant reservations; a complimentary cocktail party and a beverage at sea-day brunches; a logo gift; several bags of complimentary laundry and more. At 200 points and Diamond level, members receive the additional benefits: guaranteed restaurant reservations, special captain invites, a one-time cabin upgrade or a free third or fourth guest, one-time complimentary specialty restaurant meal for two, unlimited free laundry services and more.
MSC Cruises ~ Voyagers Club
MSC Cruises’ Voyagers Club also offers five membership levels starting at Welcome with one booking. There you receive an e-newsletter, private online area and onboard infopoint. From there, points are achieved dependent on a combination of cruise accommodations and sailing days. Points can also be achieved by spending on certain prepaid services and onboard costs.
At just one point for the Classic level, members begin receiving an unrestricted 5 percent cruise discount plus up to 15 percent savings on Voyages Selection Sailings, a welcome back cocktail, onboard offers and more. At 2,200 points for Silver, added perks include a $50 onboard credit, a milestone reward and stateroom fruit basket.
Privileges escalate most at Gold (4,300 points) and Black (10,000 points). Gold members get a bonus one-hour thermal area session; complimentary gift, photo and birthday cake; and priority tender disembarkation; and Black members additionally receive a complimentary specialty restaurant dinner for two, spumante, chocolate-covered fruit and chocolate ship; late stateroom checkout; priority cruise disembarkation; free dance class and party and more.
Where things get particularly interesting is that MSC Cruises offers a Loyalty Match program wherein the line will mirror similar benefits of other cruise lines, hotels and tour operators you have repeat status in.
Norwegian Cruise Line ~ Latitudes Rewards
Latitudes Rewards are available to Norwegian Cruise Line loyalists across four tiers. All levels are point based with one point tallied for every cruise night and additional single points for each night in a suite or The Haven, when making a reservation nine months or more in advance and from a Latitudes Insider Offer booking.
The entry Bronze level starts at one point with special sailing offers, magazine, multiple onboard shopping and internet discounts, a rewards representative, cocktail party, ship pin and priority pier checkin. At 20 points and Silver, members also get photo and spa discounts, evening cabin chocolates and a ship officers gathering.
Once you achieve 48 points and Gold status, members additionally receive priority tender and cruise disembarkation, a welcome gift and a 25 percent discount on a laundry service bag. The perks ramp up again for Platinum members at 76 points with chocolate-covered strawberries; concierge service; and complimentary Le Bistro dinner and wine bottle for two, behind-the-scenes ship tour, sparkling wine in the stateroom and a bag of laundry service.
Plus, special milestone gifts are awarded to guests for achieving 250, 500, 700 and 1,000 points.
Royal Caribbean International ~ Crown and Anchor Society
Royal Caribbean International has an extensive six tiers in its Crown and Anchor Society program based on points, one earned for every cruise night or double points when in a suite. With just three cruise points, you can achieve Gold status including base perks such as a newsletter, exclusive rates, onboard offers, a Welcome Back Party, priority check-in, a private departure lounge and more.
At 30 points for Platinum, members add on an exclusive top tier event, onboard-use robes, a signature pin and balcony and suite stateroom discounts; at 55 points for Emerald, members again add on a welcome gift and choice of beverage; and at 80 points for Diamond, members tack on more extras like milestone recognition, a chef’s choice gift, priority departure and excursion and spa waitlisting, Diamond Lounge access and nightly Diamond event, an entertainment tour and more.
Diamond Plus members with 175 points get the added benefits of more behind the scenes tours, another personalized gift, Concierge Lounge access, priority theater seating and more; and as they rack up to 340 points, they also get reduced single supplement fares, a meal with an officer and upgraded bathroom amenities. Even more gifts are provided to members when they hit 350 and 525 points.
At a whopping 700 points for Pinnacle Club, members receive bonus exclusives like a personalized lapel pin and a Pinnacle Club Gold Card with privileges. Achieving 700 and 1,050 points also comes with a cruise certificate valued at a seven-night cruise in a balcony stateroom, and at 1,400 points and 350 points thereafter, a cruise certificate worth a seven-night cruise in a junior suite.
Plus, reciprocal benefits are granted within Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited company brands. That is, Platinum and higher members receive comparable perks in Celebrity Cruises' Captain's Club and Azamara Club Cruises’ Le Club Voyage and vice versa with some restrictions.
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