Introduction — Status Matters – A New Cruising with MJ Series

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Carnival

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Disney

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with NCL

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Princess

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Holland America

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Celebrity

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status with Royal Caribbean

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status Reciprocity with Affiliate Brands

Cruising with MJ – Elite Status Summary

Well, considering I wrote the intro post in this series on May 7, one could say that this took a while. 🙂 There were a lot of cruise line programs to get through, but here we are.

What We Learned

Much like the airlines, cruise lines have loyalty programs meant to drive repeat business. The programs have elite status levels with increasing benefits as you climb the status ladder. That’s where the similarities end. With cruise lines, you don’t accrue thousands of points through the loyalty program to be cashed in for free cruises. (Note: several offer credit card points programs with points that can be cashed in for cruises – more on that soon.) You accrue points based on either the number of cruises taken or the number of cruise days. Based on the number of points, you are afforded elite status with familiar sounding names like Platinum or Diamond or sometimes nautical sounding names like 2 star Mariner. The benefits range from cruise discounts, complimentary laundry, and free internet to free booze and dinner with ship’s officers. For my money, the best benefits are the various discounts. For example, for my upcoming Quantum of the Seas cruise, I received a discount of $350 of the price of my balcony cabin as a Diamond Plus member of Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society.

Other Programs

I did not cover every loyalty program out there. Notably, the small ship lines like Azamara, Seabourn, and Regent, as well as big ship line MSC which now bases a ship in Miami full time. I touched on Azamara during the elite status reciprocity post because of their relationship with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. They and the others offer attractive programs as well. The small ship lines are high end, and their loyalty programs reflect it. MSC, while a more traditional sized ship line, offers a competitive loyalty program in the larger ship market.

Which Program and Cruise Line Would MJ Like to Try?

As you know, I’m a Royal Caribbean Diamond Plus, and diehard “loyal to Royal.” That said, the other cruise lines offer attractive products and loyalty programs that interest me. Of the programs I covered, Princess Captain’s Circle interests me the most. I mean, not only is Princess the cruise brand behind The Love Boat, Captain’s Circle Elite tier members get a complimentary mini-bar setup. What’s not to like? 🙂 There’s also a pretty generous internet credit benefit for higher tier elites among many other benefits. Small ship lines Azamara and Seabourn are also calling my name. And rounding out my cruise bucket list is a trans-Atlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary II as well. Yes, I really can wear a tuxedo every night if needed.

I hope this was a useful primer on cruise line elite status programs for you. What other cruising topics would you like to see here at MJ on Travel?

-MJ, July 20, 2013